The Cleveland Browns will head into the 2023 season with a properly constructed quarterback room for a change.
The team has the talented and unquestioned starter in Deshaun Watson, the “we hope he can keep the team afloat if he has to play” backup in Josh Dobbs, and the developmental player in Kellen Mond.
Even so, the Mond part of the equation is a little dicey given that he has only attempted three passes since entering the NFL in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
General manager Andrew Berry and the offensive coaching staff may still like what Mond brings to the team, of course, but that might not preclude Berry from looking for a new developmental quarterback in the upcoming draft.
That appears to be the thought process for The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, who released a full seven-round mock draft on Monday, in which he has the Browns selecting Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener in the fourth round.
So let’s dive in and take a look at Haener, who the Browns recently hosted on a pre-draft visit, to see what he would bring to the team.
Former Fresno State QB and incoming rookie Jake Haener explains why he's not a huge fan of the Brock Purdy comparisons pic.twitter.com/2JF7Sv1vXb— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) April 12, 2023
Name: Jake Haener
Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 207 pounds
College: Fresno State Bulldogs
Stats (4 seasons): 33 games, 29 starts, 68.2 completion percentage, 9,120 yards, 68 touchdown passes, 18 interceptions
Relative Athletic Score
Average “Big Board” Position As of Publishing Date
190th Overall (NFL Mock Draft Database)
TDN Consensus Grade: 73.50/100 (Fourth-Round Value)
PFF Big Board Rank: 167
What an Expert is Saying
Jake Haener - QB, #FresnoState— SCOUTD (@scoutdnfl) April 14, 2023
Pro Comp: Mike White
Team Fits: #49ers #Jets
Draft Grade: Round 4️⃣
Position Rank: 9️⃣#NFLDraft #NFLDraft2023
Pros and Cons
As we established from the jump, the Browns have a developmental quarterback already on the roster in Mond, but he may not exactly pose much of a current threat to actually develop into a viable option.
But does Haener represent a better option? On the one hand, he was a First-Team, All-Mountain West selection last season after completing 72 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. On the other hand, his size might be an issue and his arm is below NFL talent, according to NFL.com’s Chad Reuter.
But he makes up for any physical limitations by knowing the game inside and out, as Craig Bergman, Haener’s high school coach, told The Mercury News:
“Most scouts and teams would tell you he’s miles ahead of everybody in terms of recognizing defenses and how to call particular protections and the stuff you have to do at the NFL level. He’s far more advanced than most.”
Brugler likens Haener’s play to that of Taylor Heinicke, who has carved out a five-year career, which includes being Washington’s starting quarterback in 2021, and recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent:
Overall, Haener doesn’t have premium size or arm strength by NFL standards, but he helps compensate for his average physical tools with passing anticipation, natural accuracy and the competitive toughness to keep plays alive. As long as he is healthy, he has the mental makeup and instincts to be a resourceful NFL backup in the mold of Taylor Heinicke.
So … is Taylor Heinicke what the Browns should be looking for with a fourth-round selection?
Browns Player Drafting Could Impact
The answer would clearly be Mond as the Browns need to have a backup quarterback with at least some experience behind Watson, so Dobbs’ roster spot is safe for the upcoming season.
Low: If the Browns still had their first- and second-round draft picks, then a scenario could be created where they take a shot on a player like Haener later in the draft. But that is not the case, and given the holes that still exist on the defensive line, using their second selection in the draft on a quarterback with limitations feels like something Berry would rather not consider.