The Owl: Finding Tom Brady

We drafted our Tom Brady in 2000. His name was Spergon Wynn. We tried again last year, picking Luke McCown. After losing four straight games under the rookie from Louisiana Tech, the Browns may once again consider drafting a quarterback. The nocturnal sage from the Berea woods offers his thoughts on the matter...

Tom Brady is the kind of guy that ruins things for the rest of us.

Everything comes easy for the Patriots quarterback, except maybe changing into Superman with all those other players in the locker room watching him. At least Clark Kent had a phone booth.

Brady is handsome, a hit with the ladies. How would you have liked to be sitting in the same classroom with him in high school or college? I don't know about you, but The Owl was not a babe magnet. Still isn't.

Brady has a chance a week from Sunday to be the quarterback of the winning Super Bowl team for the third time in four years. He made beating the Steelers in the AFC championship game look easy, and the Steelers were 16-1 before he tore apart the defense.

All this from a sixth-round draft choice in 2000. Six quarterbacks were taken before the Patriots selected Brady that draft five years ago, including Giovanni Carmazzi from Hofstra by the 49ers in the third round. One of the other earlier picks was Spergon Wynn.

The Browns drafted Wynn 16 picks before the Patriots took Brady to be the clipboard holder for Drew Bledsoe. If the Patriots had known then what they know how, they would have drafted Brady much earlier. Of course, the Browns had Tim Couch and did not feel a need to draft a starting quarterback – but neither did the Patriots.

Wynn was a brief part of the painful early history of the reborn Browns. Not that this is any less painful. The difference is 4-12 is recent history.

Wynn did play in the pathetic 3-13 season in 2000. He threw 54 passes. He completed 22 of them. Most of his incompletions crashed about three yards in front of the receiver, like a toy rocket with one fin. He threw only one interception – no touchdown passes – because his throws were so inaccurate even the bad guys could not catch them.

But the point of this column is not to trash Wynn, who was a nice guy and probably still is. We wish him well in whatever he is doing now.

The point of this column is the late rounds of the draft produce 100 Spergon Wynns for every one Tom Brady that turns into a bigger than life superstar.

In other words, when the Browns search for a quarterback – since they currently have none – they should think seriously about using their first or second round draft choice on one.

Of the 12 teams that were in the playoffs at the start of the 2004 postseason, six of their quarterbacks were first-round picks and three were second-round picks. Oddly, the other three were all taken in the sixth round, but of the three only Brady is still with his original team.

Marc Bulger, now playing with the Rams, was a sixth-round choice by the Saints in 2000. He was chosen 31 picks ahead of Brady. Matt Hasselbeck, now with the Seahawks, was a sixth-round pick by the Packers in 1998.

Brady's success makes every coach and general manager think he can select a quarterback on the second day and win with him. The Browns tried it with Luke McCown of Louisiana Tech in the fourth round last year. McCown started four games after Terry Robiskie took over as interim head coach and lost them all. He was not careful with the football – something that Brady definitely is.

The Browns choose third in the draft in April if they do not trade down. Aaron Rogers from California and Alex Smith from Utah are regarded as the best quarterbacks in the draft.

The question for Romeo Crennel, expected to be named the Browns head coach a day or two after the Super Bowl: If a quarterback is drafted high – is do you start him as a rookie, or do you let him watch for a year, as the Bengals did with Carson Palmer?

The Owl votes for sitting and watching. To make that happen, the Browns must re-sign Kelly Holcomb or sign another veteran, such as Kurt Warner. Forget Jeff Garcia, please.

Tom Brady is a great quarterback and a great story. He added to his legend last week in Pittsburgh. He had a 103-degree fever the night before the game and was hooked up to an IV in his hotel room. He made the Steelers sick 24 hours later.

Tom Brady is one of a kind. As good at evaluating talent as Phil Savage is, he cannot count on finding another Brady on the second day of the draft in April.


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