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2017 NFL Draft Selections: Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers pass on quarterbacks

By Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange

The meek may inherit the earth, but it's said they'll never get anywhere in the NFL, and within the next couple of years, we are going to find out if that really holds true.

Cleveland, which had the first overall pick, and San Francisco, which had the second, both needed quarterbacks and yet both passed on picking a quarterback at the top of the draft. Further, both teams traded away a first-round pick that another team used for a quarterback.

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Meanwhile, three teams -- Chicago and Houston, which have immediate needs at quarterback, and Kansas City, planning for the future -- made dramatic trades to select three quarterbacks among the first dozen players chosen.

Remember the names Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson because rarely have the fates of so many NFL franchises been so clearly tied up in the careers of three players from a single draft.

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Of course, we won't find out for a time, perhaps a couple of years, who was right. That's what makes the NFL draft so unique among the most hyped events in sports; there are so many different opinions. And, often, by the time we can learn who was right and who was wrong, we usually have forgotten who said what about whom.

This, however, will not be one of those times.

These were not draft picks about which people can whisper and hide their opinions. The actions of all these teams are out there for everybody to see. We'll be looking back on these selections for years to come, because those five teams -- the Browns, 49ers, Bears, Texans and Chiefs -- clearly have defined their future paths.

RELATED 2017 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears trade up to No. 2, select North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky

Perhaps most interestingly, the Bears, who have a long-running issue -- they haven't had a Pro Bowl QB for three decades -- got their guy only because the 49ers let them have him. Not that the price was cheap. The 49ers actually managed to extract a pretty significant price for dropping down one spot, getting two extra third-round picks plus a fourth-rounder.

But if Trubisky can solve Chicago's long-running issue, the price will have been cheap. And, if he can't, well, it will be a problem for a coach and general manager other than John Fox and Ryan Pace because, if that happens, they won't have much future in Chicago.

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Even if it took Fox and Pace too long -- two full seasons -- to get rid of Jay Cutler, give them credit for finally taking a shot and, barring evidence to the contrary, give them credit, also, for having a plan.

RELATED 2017 NFL Draft: Three quarterbacks in first round in latest mock draft

Suddenly, the offseason signing of veteran free agent quarterback Mike Glennon to what is essentially a one-year contract looks like an inspired move because Glennon can play while Trubisky, who started only one season in college, can get some seasoning on the sidelines and in practice.

Meanwhile, Cleveland, which last year traded away the second overall pick in the draft rather than choose a quarterback, used the first pick this time on defensive end Myles Garrett. While Garrett was a consensus choice as the so-called best player available, Cleveland -- which remarkably has started 26 different quarterbacks since returning to the NFL in 1999 -- still has a void at that position.

As for San Francisco, the 49ers have the same quarterback void and their lack of interest in filling that need at the top of the draft has a clear explanation. The new GM-coach combination, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, has six-year contracts, so they felt under no urgency to choose a quarterback with their first selection when the team has so many other needs.

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A year from now, they probably won't be able to afford such patience. But given the 49ers' sorry recent history -- they were the only team in the NFL to allow more than 400 yards a game last year -- the choice of defensive end Solomon Thomas plus the cache of extra picks is defensible if not exactly promising a quick turnaround. It was the third year in a row -- under three different coaches -- that the 49ers chose a defensive lineman with their first pick, and the fifth year in a row they chose a defensive player first.

The failure of both Cleveland and San Francisco to pick a quarterback, however, was made all the more glaring when Houston, which suffered a big miss last year with the free agent signing of Brock Osweiler, traded again with Cleveland (which accepted Osweiler in a previous trade) and chose Watson No. 12 overall.

By then, we had long forgotten how the Browns got the draft going by picking Garrett, the player most people thought was the best available. But unless Garrett and Thomas turn into Joe Greene, and Trubisky, Mahomes and Watson flame out, the Browns and 49ers will need a long time to live this draft down.

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--Ira Miller is an award-winning sportswriter who has covered the National Football League for more than five decades and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He is a national columnist for The Sports Xchange.

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