With new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner making it clear that the starting quarterback position is up for grabs next season, that means the starting QB for 2013 may or may not be on the roster at present. Let’s take a look at what the various options are.
The Browns have several viable options if they want to bring in a quarterback from another team. Some make more sense than others, and some I just dislike for one reason or another. Here are the most likely moves the Browns might make from outside the team or draft:
Michael Vick – The odds are the Eagles are going to go in a different direction at QB next season (probably Nick Foles). If so, they are not going to want to pay Vick’s salary, and will look to move him/release him. Vick is probably my least favorite option. He’s injury prone, he doesn’t do well in the pocket, and he’s slowing down with age. Still, there are rumors that the Browns might make a play for him if/when he becomes available.
Ryan Mallett – There have been rumors floating since Jimmy Haslam bought the team that he was going to bring Mike Lombardi in to manage personnel, and that that would lead to Ryan Mallett being traded for from New England because of Lombardi’s ties to Bill Bellicheck. Mallett has seen very limited playing time behind Tom Brady (4 pass, 1 completion), but his raw abilities are worth looking at. He’s big, strong, and smart. He has a huge arm and has the potential to really spread the field. That said, he hasn’t started since college, and there’s not enough data to try and gauge how he’d fair in the pros. He has a lot of the same upsides as Weeden, but is much younger.
Matt Flynn – Matt Flynn lost the starting job in Seattle to rookie Russell Wilson after being the biggest target in free agency last off season. If you remember, he played exceptionally well coming off the bench for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. While there isn’t a ton of film to get a definitive picture, what NFL playing time he has is pretty solid. And losing the starting job to Wilson isn’t really an indictment either, as Wilson was easily one of the top 5-10 quarterbacks in the NFL last season. It will be interesting to see if the Browns make a play for Flynn.
Alex Smith – Alex Smith had his best two seasons over the past two years under coach Jim Harbough. He led the team to the NFC championship game last season, and had them off to a great start before being benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick. As with Flynn, Smith being benched isn’t really a slam on him. Kaepernick has been a huge success in his six starts, and it’s hard to argue with the move. That said, Smith has a great arm, is incredibly smart, and is a fantastic game manager. He’s not going to great chaos in the defense like a Kaepernick/RGIII, and he doesn’t have the raw QB skills of a Manning/Brady/Brees, but few do. He’s good enough to start in the NFL, and if he has a solid run game (ie Frank Gore in SF, T. Rich in Cleveland), he can be a solid leader.
The Browns’ other option is to try and snatch up a new QB via the draft. This move is likely to not sit well with the Cleveland faithful, especially if the Browns trade up to get one of the few QBs consider to have pro level starting potential. This draft class is pretty weak on sure thing quarterbacks. Still, there are a couple options worth looking at…
Geno Smith, West Virginia – Smith is 6’3″, 220 pounds, and FAST. He put up some eye popping stats last season, on a less than stellar West Virginia. If Chip Kelly had become the Browns’ head coach, I would have put money on him drafting Smith.
Matt Barkley, USC – If Matt Barkley had joined last year’s draft class, he probably would have been a top 5-10 overall pick. He had a rough senior year, so his draft stock has taken a hit, although he’s still expected to go in the first round. At 6’2″, 230 lbs, he’s got a solid frame and great pocket passer mechanics. I think a team could really build him up if they invested a few years in to him.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – Wilson is expected to go near the end of the first round, possible early second round. He’s got a solid skill set, and at 6’2″ 218 lbs, hes big enough to play in the pros. Some team might take a shot at him to develop him later on.
Mike Glennon, North Carolina State – At 6’7″, 220 lbs, it’s not hard to see what has some NFL teams considering Glennon. He’s massive, hard to hurt, and can stand tall and absorb hits in the pocket all day. Not as slow as you’d expect for a guy with his frame, and he has a big arm and can really air it out. He might be the dark horse to surprise people out of this draft class.
On the Roster
Weeden/McCoy – Brandon Weeden still has the best shot at retaining his job as the starting QB, in my opinion. It’s hard to see the Browns calling it quits on a 1st round pick after only a season, but the team’s noncommittal voice on Weeden certainly shows a lack of love for him. McCoy is a study in contrast to Weeden, and I won’t rule out a return. Weeden has the size of a typical NFL QB, a huge arm and a good pocket presence. McCoy is smaller, but faster. He can’t air it out like Weeden, but his is significantly more accurate. If the Browns want to run more of a read option type offense, McCoy should be their guy. If they want to stick to a more typical pro style or west coast type offense, Weeden will improve his odds to get another shot under center.