Myles Garrett and Mitch Trubisky have each been infamous newsmakers this year in their own right. Garrett has been suspended for the remainder of the season and Trubisky has just been playing poorly, but not long ago they were the top two picks in 2017 NFL Draft—and that provides a lesson for the Bengals.
I’ve written extensively about the idea of drafting a quarterback over the course of this season. Joe Burrow is a Heisman favorite and the likely top quarterback in next year’s draft. Despite his injury, Tua Tagovailoa is still in contention and Justin Herbert is still a dark horse candidate.
Of course, the best player in college football is not a quarterback. It is Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, and few will argue against it. Young is a dominant pass rusher who has 16.5 sacks going into this weekend’s Big Ten Championship.
In 2017, it was another defensive end who was the undisputed top dawg of the class: Garrett. After a one-win season, the Browns had the choice between Garrett and Trubisky, the man widely accepted as the top quarterback prospect. They chose Garrett and although they went on to 0-16 the following year, it was the right decision.
At least it was the right decision between those two prospects.
Trubisky was considered the top quarterback by most of the experts, but I would wager that he was not No. 1 on Andy Reid’s board for the Chiefs and he probably wasn’t at the top of Bill O’Brien’s board for the Texans either. Reid’s Chiefs traded up to take Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick and O’Brien’s Texans traded up to the 12th pick to take Deshaun Watson. I can’t say for sure about O’Brien, but Reid knew exactly what he was doing.
When you throw in those names, the Browns were fantastically wrong to take Myles Garrett. Of course, Bengals fans will commiserate over not taking Mahomes with the ninth pick, but the fact of the matter is almost everybody with a pick in the top-nine was wrong to pass on Mahomes. The only exception is the Carolina Panthers, who selected Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been simply phenomenal and the Panthers had Cam Newton at quarterback.
The Bengals are still the most likely team to hold the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but regardless of where they fall in the draft’s order they will have a decision to make.
If there is a franchise quarterback in this class, they need to get him. That is the absolute top priority. Maybe it’s Burrow. Maybe it’s Tagovailoa or Herbert. It may even be Jordan Love or Jacob Eason. It doesn’t matter. Identify him and go get him.
If Mahomes or Watson is there, you take them. If you don’t have the first pick, you do what you have to do to get to them. If the best you can find is Trubisky, just take the stud pass rusher.
The trick is identifying who is a stud and who is a dud, and unfortunately the NFL doesn’t have the greatest track record with that.