Catching up on the Cleveland Browns ...
The signing of Drew Stanton is one of those quiet moves that should not be quickly dismissed.
In adding Stanton, the Browns added a backup who was 9-4 with Arizona the past four seasons. In 2013, then-Arizona coach Bruce Arians pushed to sign Stanton to a three-year contract. Arians’ intention was to make Stanton the starting quarterback. Though those plans changed when Carson Palmer became available, it did not shake Arians’ belief in Stanton.
Arians said Monday that Stanton will be “perfect” as the guy to back up Tyrod Taylor, and he'll also be the veteran mentor to the quarterback the Browns draft.
A year ago, the Browns' depth chart did not have a quarterback who had more than one year of experience or who had won an NFL game. They wound up force-feeding the rookie, DeShone Kizer, who led the league in interceptions with 22.
They now have Taylor, who has started 43 games the past three seasons and threw 51 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
They also have Stanton, who in his seven years in the league is 11-6 as a starter.
And they will soon have a highly-drafted player at quarterback.
2. Flying on: Air Haslam put some mileage and air time into quarterback work last week, jetting from Cleveland to Los Angeles to Oklahoma to Wyoming and back to Cleveland before heading South to the NFL’s annual spring meetings.
Jimmy Haslam had dinners with candidates, private workouts with UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahaoma’s Baker Mayfield and pro days with USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Among those along for the ride were Halsam (not to scout ... it’s important for an owner to meet the guy he’s going to select first overall), general manager John Dorsey, coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Todd Haley, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and executive vice president Alonzo Highsmith.
Next will be interviews in Berea, Ohio, with the candidates the Browns bring to town. Safe to say all will be flying to Cleveland.
The most interesting thing to watch this week will be Jackson’s morning appearance at the annual coach’s breakfast at the meetings.
Jackson’s table will draw a huge crowd, given the team he coaches has the first and fourth overall picks. Hearing his assessments on what he saw from the quarterbacks could perhaps be the most intriguing comments this week.
3. Allen or Darnold. If pro days mattered, Allen and Darnold put themselves in tremendous position to be taken first.
Allen showed his rocket arm. He wowed everyone who watched. This was not a surprise. He did the same thing at the combine.
Allen’s arm is unquestioned. The Browns must decide whether his 56 percent completion rate is something he can or cannot overcome or if he can improve with better coaching and personnel around him?
Darnold’s pro day was more important not because he was more impressive, but because he chose not to throw at the combine. That made his pro day the first time scouts, coaches and front office types could see him throw. It’s also part of the reason Darnold tried to challenge himself in his pro day. He threw in uncomfortable situations, didn’t let the rain stop him and made a good impression.
Darnold has been considered the “safest” pick at quarterback. Allen has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns will keep going through “the process” as they work to get the most important draft pick they’ve had since 1999 right.
4. Let it rain. One thing Darnold did before his pro day seems to matter, at least a little bit, and it came via MMQB.com. When word came that it would be raining, it was proposed to Darnold that he move his workout up and move the offensive linemen’s back.
He quashed the idea.
“I don’t care if it rains,” Darnold said. “I’m trying to go to CLeveland.”
5. Cornering the market. The addition of E.J. Gaines is one of those quiet signings that could matter. ProFootballFocus.com graded him at 86.6 last season (high quality) and had him as the 13th overall corner in the league. TJ Carrie at 84.3 is not far behind.
Those two additions bolster the cornerback position -- Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun figure to compete for the nickel spot -- and the addition of Damarious Randall allows Jabrill Peppers to move closer to the line. On paper, the secondary has undergone an upgrade this offseason.