Browns betting on Weeden's readiness

Mike Wilkening
Pro Football Weekly
Browns sign QB Weeden

Rookie QB Brandon Weeden will get every chance to start from the get-go in Cleveland.

Weeden, of course, is no ordinary rookie. He will be 29 years old in October. The Browns can live with that, and they believe it will help the No. 22 overall pick hit the ground running as he begins his NFL career.

Browns president Mike Holmgren, speaking to media after the draft, said that Weeden’s “maturity and what he brings immediately to the table” were attractive to Cleveland.

“Now, you couple that with his skill level, which is pretty obvious on film, and he has the potential, I think, to play well sooner because of that than other quarterbacks in the draft, so he became very attractive to us,” Holmgren said.

The addition of Weeden clouds QB Colt McCoy’s future in Cleveland. McCoy, who started 21 games in his first two NFL seasons, flashed intriguing potential as a rookie but had an uneven 2011 campaign.

McCoy’s status in Cleveland was fluid at presstime. Asked after the draft if McCoy could be traded, Holmgren said: “We’re going to see what happens here moving forward.” McCoy was expected to work out with the team after the draft.

Before the 2012 draft, an evaluator familiar with the Browns opined that McCoy had a “chance” to be a successful starting quarterback, citing his mental makeup, mobility and toughness as positive traits. But wherever McCoy plays in the future, his accuracy and durability will be key. He has missed multiple games with injuries in each of his first two seasons, and he completed just 57.2 percent of his pass attempts in 2011 — though drops were a problem for Cleveland. McCoy lacks a strong arm and needs to be pinpoint as often as possible to succeed.

Should McCoy depart, Seneca Wallace could be a solid backup for the 6-3½, 221-pound Weeden, as well as a passable short-term starting option if needed. But make no mistake: the Browns would like nothing more than for Weeden to seize the job. The Browns haven’t added a wide receiver in free agency, and they drafted only one in 2012 — Miami (Fla.) WR Travis Benjamin, a fourth-rounder. Weeden is the headliner addition to this passing game, one that has left much to be desired in recent years.