Not so long ago, the Browns enjoyed a time of prosperity, led by a talented quarterback from Boardman, Ohio named Bernie Kosar.
Browns fans have since yearned for a quarterback as determined and effective as Kosar. Twenty-six quarterbacks have tried to replace Bernie, all have failed.
Could the answer be lurking nearby in Columbus?
The 2015 NFL Draft came and went without the Browns drafting a quarterback. General manager Ray Farmer and the Browns focused on other positions, leading fans to look forward to the 2016 draft's quarterback prospects.
The most tantalizing option for Browns fans? Cardale Jones.
The similarities between Jones and Kosar are few, but striking. As a redshirt freshman in 1983, Kosar led the Miami Hurricanes to a national championship. As a redshirt sophomore, Jones steered the Buckeyes to glory in the first College Football Playoff. Kosar hails from Boardman (a close suburb of Youngstown), Jones from Cleveland. Kosar played at 6'5, 210 pounds, while Jones also stands at 6'5, weighing in at 250.
Some fans have suggested that Jones could take Kosar's route to the Browns and enter the supplemental draft this summer. As ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi recently pointed out, this would be impossible since Jones remains at OSU and his draft eligibility has not changed. (For an in-depth explanation of the supplemental draft, click here.)
The Browns must wait a full year for a chance at the big signalcaller. Much could change between now and April 2016. Heck, Cardale isn't even guaranteed the starting job at OSU, and Johnny Manziel could establish himself as the Browns' starter.
That hasn't stopped the speculation, particularly from draftniks.
SB Nation's Dan Kadar pegged Jones to the Browns at #6 in the first major 2016 mock draft on Sunday. Kadar said of Jones:
"Also among the Buckeyes listed is Cardale Jones. This is obviously a major projection considering that Jones has only started a few games in college and may not even be Ohio State’s starter this season. If he’s not starting, don’t expect to see him this high in the draft."
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller followed suit this morning, predicting Jones to the Browns at #12 in 2016. Miller said of the selection:
"The second quarterback comes off the board, and Ohio State's Cardale Jones won't have to move far to take residence as the Cleveland Browns' new star.
"If the Browns are drafting at No. 12, it's likely Johnny Manziel didn't progress in his second season and the Browns are still in need of a quality quarterback. Jones' size, arm strength and athleticism would have made him my No. 3 quarterback in the 2015 draft, so the potential is there for him to be a legitimate first-rounder in 2016.
Some of this projection is based on Jones continuing to show the promise he flashed in three starts for Ohio State last season, but the tools are all there for him to become a first-round prospect."
Some of the speculation is simply based on the fact that Jones is from Cleveland. But its roots trace back, in part, to this January 22 picture of Jones with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam:
Obviously, all of this is a little silly. But Browns fans are still excited at the possibility.
Cardale Jones just has to be the guy to end the Browns QB woes, right? He just has to. The fit couldn't be better (if he's legit of course)— David Jason (@DJ84) May 1, 2015
The 2016 NFL Draft is too far away to predict. It's far too early to crown Cardale Jones the future starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. But it's certainly an intriguing storyline to watch heading into the 2015 season.