“We drafted a young quarterback that we think can come in and play right away,but we’re not just going to hand him the football. I still love Colt McCoy, but we had a chance to get a mature quarterback who has a chance to come in and contribute right away. Whether that happens or not we have to let it play out. We have to let them compete. We have to let them play and see what happens. The fact that we drafted him so high means that we like him, but we also like Colt McCoy and we like Seneca as well.”
Unlike the story I wrote earlier this week about how Mike Shanahan has already named Robert Griffin III the starting role in Washington, Browns President Mike Holmgren is taking a different approach.
When Cleveland chose Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State, it was met with plenty of jokes about his age (he’ll turn 29 before the Browns bye week this year) and if it was a reach to take him so high in the draft. But if he is as “NFL Ready” as a lot of scouts feel that he is, then it makes sense for a team that is reportedly frustrated in waiting on the development of their younger quarterbacks.
My big gripe about the decision that Shanahan made as opposed to this one, is that even if everyone in the country knows that Griffin is going to be the starter, you just don’t say it. If you let a guy feel entitled from day one without having to earn it, it’s just asking for trouble.
Even if Weeden is penciled in to be the starter in week one, letting him know that he has to compete for the job is the right move. It isn’t like the Browns are in “win now” mode or anything. They still have a ways to go and they can afford to let him develop a bit if he isn’t ready by opening day kickoff.
But just how real would that competition be? Seneca Wallace was unable to unseat Colt McCoy last year and there seems to be no real belief he can beat out both of them in camp this year. He also famously said that he has no interest in mentoring any young quarterbacks. And as for McCoy, the rumors of the team being “finished” with him after comments his father made about the franchise aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
Unlike last year, Cleveland actually drafted some weapons to help out whoever is under center in 2012. Adding a stud running back in Trent Richardson will take the pressure off any quarterback. Small but quick, Travis Benjamin, taken in the fourth round, can play slot receiver and create match up problems. And by selecting their tackle of the future in Mitchell Schwartz, whoever is in the pocket will have more than two seconds to get rid of the ball, unlike last year.
The so-called “reach” for Weeden in the first round has been looked at a lot of ways. Some love it, many more hate it. But I’m a believer of if the guy you want is on the board, you take him. Why risk losing him late in the first instead of early in the second?
Then there are the concerns about his age. Most prospects need a good three year learning curve to pick up the speed, playbook and match ups on the field. If his experience can cut into that time and he plays into his late 30’s, then it will be a homerun pick. But to judge it now is ludicrous. Give it time before calling it a horrible pick.
The decision to make him compete for the starting job is the right move and even if it is just hearsay, it’s the right thing to do. The last thing Cleveland wants is another Ryan Leaf who thinks he’s the one calling all the shots. Haven’t the Browns quarterback woes lasted long enough?