BEREA, Ohio — Jimmy Haslam is upbeat about the Cleveland Browns‘ chances to be an improved and competitive team — in 2018 and ’19.
Haslam said Saturday that fans should see a “substantially better football team” in those years.
That doesn’t throw away 2017. It merely accepts that the Browns are early in a major rebuild and are not, on paper at least, on the verge of a worst-to-first season.
However, in the 2018 draft the Browns will have five picks in the first and second round to go with the 24 picks they had in 2016 and 2017. Accumulate all that talent and improvement figures to follow. So Haslam’s projection isn’t a complete head-scratcher.
But it is dependent on one factor, which is pretty much the same factor that has held the Browns back since 1999: Finding a quarterback.
This isn’t an outrageous thought. Hue Jackson even admits that the Browns will not be a complete team without identifying and nurturing the guy they hope and believe can be their franchise quarterback.
A team that has had 26 different starters since 1999 — think about that jersey that used to hang in downtown Cleveland with all the names — is flailing without its guy.
The Browns are looking at 2017 as the season when the foundation was set for future success. They have improved the defense and offensive line, and they look to further improve in the next offseason.
As for quarterback, they have four on the roster, with the prime competition taking place between Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and second-round pick DeShone Kizer. The Browns gave themselves a chance when they drafted Kizer, a big, strong-armed player who has skills they like.
But there are concerns about his accuracy, his 4-8 record last season at Notre Dame and about how long it will take him to be ready.
If the Browns see something they like in Kizer this season, they can move forward with him. If they…