For the first time in more than a decade, it appears that the Browns are not targeting a quarterback with their first-round draft pick. While the rise of Colt McCoy is still a tenuous narrative, it seems like Browns' management is sold on the Texas native, at least for 2011.
For a franchise that has suffered through the instability of 15 starting quarterbacks since 1999, this is most welcome news. Considering the multiple needs found among the roster, the timing couldn't be any better.
Of course, any talk of timing has to be cast aside based on the whims of team president Mike Holmgren. Holmgren, a well-documented lover of quarterbacks, could easily pull the trigger on selecting a new project when it comes time for the Browns to use their sixth overall pick.
Much in the way that McCoy was originally viewed as a play thing for Holmgren in 2010, it's possible that a player like Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert or Washington's Jake Locker could become McCoy 2.0.
Yet, for such a scenario to unfold Holmgren has to develop a serious man-crush on some quarterbacks who are now little more than suspect prospects. When weighed against the Browns' other team needs, including adding defensive line depth, offensive playmakers and just about everything else, Holmgren has to become less of a love struck teenage girl and more of a responsible organizational leader.
Otherwise, the Browns will go backwards by adding a player who will not immediately contribute.
Even if this situation was not weighed in reality, a case could be made that none of the projected first-round quarterbacks are worth such a huge investment. If McCoy had not announced his potential during the 2010 season, it's obvious that this year's draft debate would take on a very different tone – meaning that somehow we would be talking ourselves into the likes of Newton and Gabbert or another incredibly flawed prospect.
Based on a variety of mock drafts, the best of a weak class of quarterbacks is Auburn's Cam Newton. Blending terrific size, strength and athletic ability, Newton dominated the college ranks for one season and appears to be one of the most impressive physical specimens to enter the NFL draft in years. However, most of Newton's success in college came on the heels of his immense physical gifts and executing a simplified, run-option offense.
In the NFL, Newton's strengths could be negated thanks to the sophistication of both the league's offensive and defensive schemes. While he does possess a strong arm, Newton will struggle with the type of timing throws that dominate NFL offenses. However, accuracy could prove to be the least of Newton's concerns, as even the most simplistic of NFL offenses will give the still raw passer a monumental challenge.
A situation that sees Newton arrive in Cleveland would only reinforce these issues – as the Browns are moving ahead with plans to fully install the West Coast Offense – a system filled with voluminous terminology and a reliance on repetition. Handing Newton this massive load of information would be a lot to ask. Expecting him to succeed would truly be another story.
Especially when the Browns don't really need a quarterback.