The Browns might not have been convinced Texas' Colt McCoy can be the team's quarterback of the future. But he was available in the middle of the third round -- 85th overall -- and the Browns rolled the dice.
"It's important to find the next quarterback for the Cleveland Browns," team president Mike Holmgren said.
Eleven years ago, the Browns returned to Cleveland. And they have been searching for stability at quarterback ever since.
With the first pick in the 1999 draft, the Browns selected Tim Couch. Since then they have spent draft picks on Brady Quinn (22nd overall in 2007), Charlie Frye (67th; 2005), Luke McCown (106; 2004) and Spergon Wynn (183; 2000).
The Browns' best quarterback in the past decade might have been Derek Anderson, a sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2005. He went 10-5 as a starter in 2007 but quickly regressed and was benched in favor of Quinn before being released earlier this offseason.
And so even with the addition of veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace this offseason, the Browns' search for the answer at quarterback continued. It's debatable whether they've finally found an answer.
McCoy has "everything you look for" in a quarterback, according to Holmgren.
Even as the winningest quarterback in college football (45 victories) history, he lacks NFL size (6-feet-1 1/4), has small hands and was injured in the last game of his career at Texas. However, he makes some sense for Cleveland. His vision and accuracy in a West Coast-style offense should be assets, even if the long wait and relatively modest third-round expectations create a stigma at the outset of his career.
McCoy can make plays with his feet and throw out of a moving pocket. He'll go to training camp battling for a backup job. That might be the catbird seat, considering Delhomme is infinitely replaceable -- Wallace has never been more than a solid backup and Brett Ratliff's best showings have been in preseason games -- and McCoy will show up in Berea, Ohio, with a chip on his shoulder.
It will be pointed out, for better or worse, that the Browns passed on McCoy several times. He was thought to be in the mix when Cleveland picked 38th overall. Instead, safety T.J. Ward of Oregon was the pick.
The Browns traded up to No. 59 -- not to take McCoy, but Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty. Those moves make it difficult to believe Holmgren when he says McCoy is the answer.
McCoy responded to the longer-than-expected wait by saying the Browns were "going to win a lot of games." He isn't the first quarterback who felt his talent and credentials merited consideration much earlier in the draft. Holmgren can point out Matt Hasselbeck and Tom Brady were sixth-round picks. Chiefs starting quarterback Matt Cassel was a seventh-rounder and not even Drew Brees or Brett Favre were first-round picks.
Another quarterback Holmgren worked closely with, Joe Montana, was selected 82nd overall in the 1979 draft.
Film doesn't lie
Bigger, stronger, faster doesn't mean better, at least not in the NFL Draft.
Two of the biggest surprise "workout warriors" at the NFL scouting combine are still available entering the fourth round. Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell, almost unanimously considered a better athlete than football player, had been projected as a top 40 pick by most analysts and even a top 10 pick by some after running a 4.75 40-yard dash and lifting 225 pounds 34 times to go along with a 42-inch vertical in Indianapolis. But his game tape wasn't nearly as impressive and teams resisted the urge to take the rare physical specimen in the first three rounds.
Dorin Dickerson (Pittsburgh) also lit up the combine. A former linebacker who made the switch to offense with the Panthers and is an H-back candidate for the pros, worked out as a tight end in Indianapolis, but doesn't have a natural position entering the NFL. His 4.4 40, 43 1/2-inch vertical and 10-5 broad jump hasn't forced a general manager to leap for the phone.
Clemson's Jacoby Ford (4.22 40) and LSU's Trindon Holliday (4.21) are two other blazers to watch on Day 3.
Mays takes shot at Carroll
Taylor Mays, a talented and athletic safety from USC, lasted until the 49ers' pick at No. 49 overall mostly due to questions about his coverage ability and maturity. Mays might have proven his doubters correct in his opening remarks as a pro, when the new 49ers safety took exception to not being drafted by former USC coach Pete Carroll. Carroll's Seahawks took Texas defensive back Earl Thomas with the 14th overall pick.
"It was just interesting," Mays said of not being draft at No. 14 by Carroll. "I thought, I definitely thought from the relationship that we have, from the things that he had told me about what I needed to be, what the draft process is, things that I needed to do, I felt he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was definitely alarming. There were things he told me I needed to do as a football player versus the actions he took and who he took as a safety. I understand it's a business, but with it being a business, honesty is all I'm asking for."
Mays added that he will, "look forward to playing for coach [Mike] Singletary 16 games a year more than I look forward to playing against coach Carroll twice a year."
Patriots focus on gators defense
New England traded the 89th overall pick to the Panthers for Carolina's second-round pick in 2011. The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds next year with two of their own, the Panthers' second-rounder and a first-round pick from the Raiders which is the final payment from the Richard Seymour trade.
The Patriots did draft five players in the first two rounds. They added two defensive players from Florida -- end Jermaine Cunningham and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes -- in the second round who could contribute heavily as rookies. Spikes' paint-drying 40 time downgraded him on many team's boards. But his passion, leadership and production were enough to convince the Patriots he can play at the next level. Cunningham was less heralded than Carlos Dunlap, but he's a solid fit in the Patriots' defense. He'll slide to outside linebacker in a pass-rushing role and immediately challenge Adalius Thomas for playing time.
• RB Toby Gerhart, selected 51st overall by the Vikings, has a much different game than Chester Taylor, who served as Adrian Peterson's top backup and the Vikings' primary third-down back before leaving for the Bears via free agency in March. Gerhart (6-0, 231), a Heisman Trophy finalist from Stanford as a junior last season, is more power than finesse and will figure prominently in third-down and short-yardage situations. Not only will using Gerhart as a complementary back save Peterson from some pounding, he could emerge as a key short-yardage and red-zone factor to protect from Peterson's propensity to pull the ball on the ground.
• Tampa Bay used two of the top 35 picks in the draft on defensive tackles. The Buccaneers queued up Brian Price (UCLA) with the third pick in the second round, having already selected Oklahoma All-American Gerald McCoy with the third overall pick. Price had 23.5 tackles for loss for the Bruins last season. Too many tackles? The Buccaneers don't believe that. Tampa Bay was last in the NFL against the run and veteran underachievers Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan weren't getting the job done. McCoy and Price should become featured players in a deep D-line rotation along with 2009 third-round pick Roy Miller.
• Only six running backs were drafted -- all in the top 59 picks -- in the first two rounds and none were selected in the third. The top running back available, according to NFLDraftScout.com, is Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer.
Jeff Reynolds is an editor for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.