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Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden is Team's Best Option at Quarterback

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COMMENTARY | The NFL draft came and went and the Cleveland Browns refrained from drafting yet another quarterback to lead their franchise.

It was the perfect storm for new president Joe Banner and new general manager Michael Lombardi to wipe the slate clean; to make an instant and critical mark on their new team.

And they didn't do it.

That evidently speaks to their confidence in former first-round pick Brandon Weeden.

You have to imagine that Weeden's potential played a part in their decision-making process. The 29-year-old sophomore signal-caller had a rocky rookie season in 2012 but showed glimpses of an elite player at times.

For every baffling mistake that made us all collectively scratch our heads in disbelief, he made a good decision, throw, or read.

It was his inconsistency, not a lack of ability, that made us wonder whether or not the organization's new regime would afford Weeden another shot at proving his worth.

So, why didn't the Browns make a move on draft day if they weren't content with Weeden?

Before the draft the team tipped its draft plans. Journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell was acquired on a free-agent contract to compete with Weeden and Colt McCoy for the starting job.

That wasn't a move that was supposed to inspire the Browns fanbase. But it did signal that Weeden would likely be given every opportunity to earn the starting quarterback job before opening day.

Campbell is a lot of things but he's not any team's solution to its quarterback puzzles.

A lot of what he is capable of is already known. He's a big (6'5", 230 lbs), strong-armed quarterback who has had his share of chances to make it in the NFL. In seven seasons--two of which he started in all 16 games--he has amassed 14,682 yards passing and thrown 76 touchdowns while giving up 52 interceptions. His 60.9 percent career-completion mark ranks him 24th on the all-time passer rankings, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Weeden completed 57.4 percent of his pass attempts during his rookie campaign. On the other hand, Campbell completed just 53.1 percent of his throws as a rookie in 2006.

While accurate, Campbell has struggled in delivering intermediate and deep balls. In 2009, his best statistical season as a pro, he completed just 39 percent of his throws that went 11 or more yards through the air. Weeden, as a rookie, completed 40 percent of those throws, according to ESPN.com.

Those numbers are troubling when considering the new vertical passing scheme being installed by Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Then, recently, Lombardi opted to add another arm to the mix by acquiring recently released Arizona Cardinals QB Brian Hoyer. Don't let that confuse you. While bringing in another player may be exciting, it isn't an answer. There is little, if any, chance that Hoyer ends up seeing the field for the Browns this season.

Even if he does--would you want him to?

He has been released by three different franchises over the past 12 months and started just one game during his time in Arizona last season. That makes it hard, no, impossible, to believe that he will step in and impress Chudzinski enough to put him in the driver seat of his new team's offense.

Let's put this in perspective for a moment. Hoyer was most recently released by a team that had horrible quarterback play a season ago. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton were all retained on the Cards' depth chart instead of the 27-year-old.

Despite the odds stacked against him, Hoyer does have someone in his corner rooting for him. Lombardi has, in the past, expressed interest in Hoyer. He said the quarterback "is a starter" and that "he's got all of the traits you need, in terms of leadership, toughness, the arm strength, the ability to move the team," according to ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi.

Those comments came in 2011 when Lombardi was an analyst with NFL Network.

If you want to read into his nearly two-year-old words, you can, but they don't likely mean very much in present discussions. Realistically, Hoyer lacks elite arm strength and is just as inconsistent and unproven as Weeden has been thus far during his short career.

It's pretty simple at this point: Weeden has the best potential of the group and he is the best fit for the new coaching staff's system.

Campbell and Hoyer, while not poor players, are limited as quarterbacks.

Weeden will have to rise to the occasion and realize his potential to put the Browns in the best position to win games in 2013. If not, he'll find himself relegated to backup duties while Campbell or Hoyer serve as caretaker until another rookie is brought in to fill the void.

Mike Hoag lives in Cleveland and has covered the Cleveland Browns and NFL for two years as a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. He also contributes to Cle.Scout.com and DraftInsiderSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHoagJr.

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