Tim Couch. Mike Phipps. Brady Quinn. Charlie Frye. Colt McCoy. Spergon Wynn. Luke McCown.
The Cleveland Browns do not have a good history with drafting quarterbacks.
But with two blue-chip quarterbacks expected to be taken in the top five picks of April’s draft, and the Browns currently holding the No. 4 overall pick, many expect Cleveland to once again take a potential franchise pivot early.
Rumors are swirling that Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur want Baylor quarterback — and Heisman Trophy winner — Robert Griffin III, enough so that, according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche, they might even consider trading up to the No. 2 spot to ensure that Griffin lands in their lap after the Colts inevitably take Andrew Luck with the top pick.
“Cleveland needs Griffin — and wants him,” league sources told Wyche, “and the Rams will still get their man.” (By that he means that St. Louis would probably still end up with Justin Blackmon with the No. 4 pick.)
The Browns have three of the first 36 picks and six in the first four rounds, so they definitely have the ammo to leap anyone who might consider trading up in an effort to steal Griffin.
There’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to hot draft prospects, especially at the quarterback position. But Luck and Griffin are two of the most intriguing signal-calling prospects the league has ever seen in one year. I’m sure there’s a fear among Browns fans that Luck could be this draft’s Peyton Manning while Griffin becomes the Ryan Leaf, and past failed picks surely haunt Clevelanders, but this is a totally different regime than the one that plucked Couch first overall in 1999. Randy Lerner didn’t even own the team then.
And it has to be worth the risk because Colt McCoy simply isn’t getting the job done. In 21 career starts, he’s won just six games while posting a passer rating of 74.5, completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes and throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns. His yards-per-attempt average dropped this year from 7.1 to 5.9, which ranked second-last in the league among qualifying quarterbacks.
Now, McCoy hasn’t received a lot of support. You could argue that more successful recent young quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have had better supporting casts. That said, he hasn’t looked the part at all two years into his career.
There’s a chance McCoy turns into a decent enough NFL quarterback, but you can’t win nowadays with that. In this league, you need a guy who can chuck it with great success. Could McCoy be a Joe Flacco- or Alex Smith-type player? Sure, but it’s a lot easier to compensate for a so-so roster with a superb quarterback than it is to compensate for a so-so quarterback with a phenomenal roster.