NFL Draft Outlook: Quarterbacks

The Browns are likely to find a candidate who could become the team's 17th starting QB of the expansion era.

There have been volumes written about Colt McCoy's NFL potential – both this year and last. From being anointed in 2011 to being cast aside during the Robert Griffin III trade talks, McCoy has remained the focal point of Browns' discussion. However by now, all the popular narratives have been exhausted and Browns' management again seems poised to collectively stand behind their embattled quarterback.

At least until two weeks from now, when the Browns are likely to find a candidate who could become the team's 17th starting QB of the expansion era. As for how the Browns will arrive on such a candidate, the OBR has learned there is a growing feeling that Team President Mike Holmgren prefers Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill while GM Tom Heckert favors Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

With Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Griffin already practically committed to the Colts and Redskins, the Browns are looking at a thin, but still intriguing set of quarterback prospects.

But if it is more Luck talk you desire, here's an interesting read from NFL Films' Greg Cosell.

Cosell Talks: It's Not Always Luck

And here's a cautionary tale regarding the sheer volume of NFL quarterback failures over the past few decades.

Pro Football Reference – Drafted Quarterbacks

First Night Potential
Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M
Brandon Weeden – Oklahoma State

Tannehill is this year's inexplicable draft riser – a prospect that has been elevated based on his potential at the position as compared to actual experience. Tannehill is certainly athletically gifted, as he played wide receiver before converting to quarterback. As a quarterback, Tannehill has shown a strong arm and quick feet. However, Tannehill's experience in a gimmicky college spread offense offers little evidence of his transitioning to the NFL.

Or for another perspective, here's more from NFL Films' Cosell.

Cosell Talks: The Tannenhill Project

If Tannehill is the raw prospect, Weeden could prove to be the seasoned veteran. Literally speaking, Weeden – a former minor league baseball player – is 28. Unlike Tannehill, Weeden's college experience has proven that the Oklahoma State quarterback is tough, smart and boasts the draft's second-strongest arm behind Griffin. Possibly because of his age, Weeden appears to be the kind of composed, strong arm quarterback that usually finds NFL success.

In making a final decision – one that could prove monumental for the Browns – the choice could come down to Tannehill's potential versus Weedon's experience. Of course, transitioning to the NFL is difficult for all quarterbacks – let alone two who played in a Big 12 spread attack. In terms of hard to define intangibles, Weedon simply looks the part of a quarterback – similar to Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. As for the price involved, the Browns could find a bargain in Weedon later in the first round – or could find a prospect from the following names.

Second Day Talent
Kirk CousinsMichigan State
Brock OsweilerArizona State
Russell WilsonWisconsin
Nick FolesArizona

Add a strong arm, cowboy hat and the attention of a copycat media to Cousins and he could become this year's Tannehill. Instead, Cousins ranks as an intriguing mid-round talent – a quarterback who could eventually start for a team, but now looks like a backup candidate. Known as one of the draft's more cerebral talents, Cousins is an efficient passer – at least as showcased in Michigan State's pedestrian offense of short routes and swing passes.

Wisconsin's Wilson is a great example of a tremendous athlete and team leader stuck in a college-sized body. Wilson is easily one of the year's most accurate passers and could also possess one of the strongest arms of any 2012 prospect. Unfortunately for Wilson, he is among the draft's shortest quarterback prospects, standing 5'11 – which could make him a mid-round steal. If experience and generating a wildly successful completion percentage in college is an indicator of future success, then Wilson is truly the hidden gem of this year's draft.

Late Round Finds
Ryan LindleySan Diego State
Case KeenumHouston

So on and so forth – for an organization seemingly run by a person who covets quarterbacks, this could prove to be the year that the Browns finally stabilize the most important position in the NFL. After Luck and Griffin, there are appealing talents in Weedon and Wilson and interesting projects such as Tannehill and Cousins.

Yet for all the speculation regarding how to spot a franchise quarterback, perhaps football analysis is the last place to look. For another interesting insight on quarterbacks, try the non-football approach.

Freakonomics – Talent Evaluation is Different in the NFL and NBA.

Who knows, they could be onto something.

Past NFL Draft Outlook Articles:

Wide Receivers

Running Backs

Tackles and Guards

Outside Linebackers

Defensive Ends

The OBR Top Stories