CLEVELAND -- It began when Josh Allen declared following Wyoming's win over Central Michigan in the Potato Bowl last month.
Late last week, UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold followed suit.
One day later, Louisville Lamar Jackson's made his intentions clear. And with that, the quarterback class of the 2018 NFL Draft was set, leaving the Cleveland Browns with no excuse not to leave this spring without having selected their signal-caller of the future.
It's been 19 years since the Browns selected a quarterback higher than 22nd in the draft, despite the franchise routinely struggling at the position and consistently drafting in the top-10. Since taking Tim Couch first overall in 1999, Cleveland has entered the draft with a top-10 pick 13 times -- including 8 top-five selections -- but has been more prone to trading down and picking players at other positions than investing at signal-caller.
That should change this spring.
Thanks to their own 0-16 season and a trade with the Houston Texans from a year ago, the Browns enter the 2018 draft stockpiled with the No. 1 and No. 4 picks. What's more is all of the top quarterbacks -- the four aforementioned underclassmen plus Oklahoma senior Baker Mayfield -- have declared for the draft, giving QB-needy Cleveland every opportunity possible to land its man.
Fortunately for Browns fans, taking a quarterback with the top overall pick appears to be the direction new general manager John Dorsey is leaning. At a press conference announcing Dorsey's hiring, owner Jimmy Haslam admitted to an increased impetus being placed on finally getting the quarterback position right.
“Let me say it this way, the Cleveland Browns are not going to be successful until we get a quarterback," Hasalm said. "We are going to look at free agency, and we are going to look at the draft. As was mentioned earlier, we have a substantial amount of capital. We are going to do whatever it takes to find a quarterback we need to be successful."
Whether the Browns opt to use that capital on Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, Allen or Jackson will be determined in the coming months. But with all of the top signal-callers declaring and Cleveland picking twice in the first four picks, there's no reason 2018 shouldn't be the year that the Browns finally identify -- and select -- their man at the top of the draft.
A quick rundown of the top-five quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft:
Following a breakout performance in the 2017 Rose Bowl, the USC signal-caller entered this past season as the top prospect in the draft and didn't do much to lose pole position. Although his combined 22 interceptions in the past two seasons leave something to be desired, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect is a prototypical pro-style quarterback.
Should the Browns opt to take the 20-year-old Darnold -- who has already said he wouldn't shy away from playing for the Browns -- the team would be wise to acquire a veteran in an effort not to rush his development.
Nicknamed 'Chosen Rosen,' Josh Rosen has been considered a top-level quarterback prospect since his freshman season at UCLA. The former 5-star prospect, however, has already reportedly expressed a desire to spend his NFL career elsewhere than Cleveland and his injury history could be cause for concern.
Last month, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reported Dorsey had told others he'd 'stay away' from Rosen.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Mayfield will be one of the most polarizing prospects at any position in this year's draft. His stats -- and advanced analytics -- suggest a potential star signal-caller, while his size (listed at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds) and perceived attitude issues make him an outlier.
In an interview with Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King, Dorsey said he had already scouted six of Mayfield's games.
A polarizing prospect in his own right, some have already labeled Wyoming's Josh Allen 'The Next Carson Wentz.' Others have even gone as far to link Dorsey to the 6-foot-5, 240-pound prospect, with an anonymous veteran college scout telling King: “I believe there is no way Cleveland, at number one, will pass on [Wyoming quarterback] Josh Allen. This is Wentz reincarnated. Allen's a perfect Dorsey quarterback. Just watch.”
We'll be watching. But at this point, Allen at 1 feels like a stretch.
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson is not just a prolific passer, but dynamic runner as well. He also possesses ideal height for an NFL quarterback, measuring in at 6-foot-3.
Due to his unique style, Jackson hasn't often been mentioned along with the likes of Darnold and Rosen as the potential No. 1 overall pick. But if Dorsey -- who has favored non-traditional signal-callers in the past -- opts to take a different approach in his first draft with the Browns, Jackson could make for an intriguing candidate at quarterback in Cleveland.