|McCoy's stint as Cleveland's starter may already be over. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
The Browns begin this offseason like most others: with plenty of questions at key positions and plenty of needs at others. Chief among them: quarterback.
Cleveland drafted Colt McCoy in the third round in 2010, team president Mike Holmgren's first year with the organization. Injuries forced McCoy onto the field as a rookie and despite the odds, he fared well. So well, in fact, that he appeared to have the job for 2011 and hopefully longer.
Instead, McCoy's sophomore season was a combination of an unoriginal offensive philosophy, a paucity of playmakers, and in the end, injuries. He didn't play the final three weeks of the season and first-year head coach Pat Shurmur was uninterested in committing to McCoy as the team's starter in 2012.
“As we go forward here with Colt, he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said according to wire reports. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop. I expect that Colt will improve just like I expect (backup) Seneca (Wallace) will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here. I think that can be said for all positions, so the best quarterback will play when we start the season.”
The Browns have the No. 4 and No. 22 picks in April's draft and it's reasonable to think that they'll seriously consider a quarterback. Andrew Luck is destined for Indianapolis, who'll take him first overall, but the next two teams -- the Rams and the Vikings -- drafted their franchise QBs in 2010 (Sam Bradford) and 2011 (Christian Ponder). Which means that, even with USC's Matt Barkley returning to school, Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor should be on the board. And Cleveland could be interested.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi writes that "I would not automatically eliminate the Baylor quarterback from consideration with the Browns' top pick simply because he is a product of the one-read, shotgun spread offense."
Not a ringing endorsement, but it's also January. A lot can change between now and late April. A lot can change between now and the start March too, when the Cardinals owe Kevin Kolb a $7 million roster bonus.
So why mention Kolb in the middle of a post about the Browns' quarterback needs? Yep, that's right -- should the Cards decide to cut their losses with Kolb after one season, Cleveland might be a potential landing spot.
And that prospect brings us back to Grossi:
"Baylor coach Art Briles was the coach at University of Houston when Kevin Kolb rolled up similar numbers -- without the rushing yards and touchdowns -- in the very same offense. … Kolb was a much better quarterback in the West Coast offense in which he was schooled in Philadelphia. Arizona doesn't run it. Also, Kolb was drafted by Philadelphia partly based on evaluations made by (Tom) Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur -- the Browns' top two football men. Heckert was the Eagles' general manager, though he didn't have final football authority, and Shurmur was the team's quarterbacks coach."
Kolb is one year into a five-year deal in Arizona that will pay him $63 million, including $20 million in guarantees. But a concussion and a toe injury limited him to just nine games in 2011 where he completed 57.7 of his passes for 1,955 yards, 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
We're not convinced Kolb is much of an upgrade over McCoy, and certainly not at starting-quarterback money. Which is why, at least at this early stage of the process, that RGIII could be the frontrunner. Unless, of course, the Browns draft Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot writes that the team "will likely take a hard look" at him, too.
Whatever happens, the organization has to nail this draft. With an extra first and fourth-rounder courtesy of the Falcons, and coming off a four-win season, Holmgren can turns things around quickly with the right players. Otherwise, the team's future will look a lot like its past and present.
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