The Browns' offseason would not be complete without controversy at the quarterback position.
This year is no exception with the dramatic departure of former starter Trent Dilfer, whose exodus propelled Charlie Frye into the starting position. It also left the Browns with the most inexperienced group of quarterbacks in the National Football League.
The Browns currently have five quarterbacks on their roster. Of the five, only Frye and Ken Dorsey have taken a snap in an NFL game. They have just 15 starts between them. The situation becomes magnified when you consider the punishment taken by Browns quarterbacks since their return in 1999.
Frye quickly learned what life is like as the Browns' starting quarterback when he was sacked 24 times in just five starts. In those games, he had very little support. Four of the starting offensive linemen were out with injuries or playing through injuries. The rushing attack was also abysmal, averaging just three yards and failing to produce a touchdown.
Despite the negatives surrounding the rookie quarterback, Frye managed to win two of the final three games. He also put together solid performances in losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The main concern with Frye is the number of hits, as well as sacks, he has taken. Twenty-four sacks in five games equates to 77 sacks over a full season. He does have a quick release and exceptional mobility. The sacks are a result of indecision and trying to do too much.
Fye should show a dramatic improvement in these areas through game experience, a better comfort level within the offense and adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He also will have an improved receiving corps with the return of Kellen Winslow Jr. and arrival of Joe Jurevicius. His protection has also improved with Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley and up-and-coming left tackle Kevin Shaffer.
The backup quarterback situation has to be of great concern. The door is still open for a more experienced quarterback to join the team before training camp opens, especially if Dorsey struggles to impress the coaching staff.
I believe it is imperative to have a veteran quarterback sharing his knowledge with the young quarterback. In addition to the experience a vet would bring, this team does not want to be in the thick of a playoff race only to have the season thrown away due to no viable backup.
Dorsey is the early favorite to be No. 2 behind Frye, but he has a couple of glaring issues. He is an effective passer in the short to intermediate game, but his deep ball ducktails, which gives opposing safeties plenty of time to break on the ball. He is not very effective in poor weather conditions, which he will face constantly in the AFC North. Going back to his college days at Miami, he had the label of "Fair Weather Quarterback."
Lang Campbell is coming off an up and down year in NFL Europe. He is familiar with the Browns' offense and looked very good in training camp last year. He lacks ideal height for an NFL quarterback. This was an issue in preseason last year and in NFLE this year. Even more of a concern is his poor decision making. There is no excuse for throwing the ball among three defenders on first down when inside the 20. He will have difficulty in making the roster.
Derek Anderson earned the No. 3 spot on last year's depth chart. He will have that comfort level with the offensive scheme. He possesses very good size and tremendous arm strength. He might become a solid NFL quarterback, but is still a long-term project.
He negates his tremendous size with a sidearm delivery that is just as likely to hit his own linemen as it is to hit the receiver. And his overall mechanics are seriously lacking. This is the reason for his high interception ratio in college. The Browns will have to decide if Anderson is worth the long-term investment in developing.
Darrell Hackney is one of the most interesting young quarterbacks on the roster. His one glaring negative: He is only 5-11. It is becoming almost impossible for the short quarterback to make it in the NFL, but he has a very good chance to make this team.
He has an incredibly strong arm with outstanding accuracy. His completion percentage would have been much higher in college if his receivers had better hands. He has exceptional mechanics as he throws a crisp, tight spiral and is just as effective throwing a 40-yard pass as he a 5-yard slant. He has a high delivery that negates some of his height concerns.
Hackney shows exceptional poise in the pocket, can move within the pocket and will step into throws as he is being hit. He might be the second-best quarterback on this roster and will provide stiff competition for not only the third quarterback, but he could push Dorsey as the primary backup.