Flash Analysis: Scouting Seneca

Doug Farrar of NorthwestFootball.net and Lane Adkins of the OBR give us the low-down on new Browns QB Seneca Wallace? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Can he come to Cleveland and be the starter?

Doug Farrar, NorthwestFootball.Net

Wallace was drafted out of Iowa State in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, which was the first since 1998 in which Mike Holmgren wasn't the Seahawks' general manager. Stripped of those powers before the season, Holmgren stayed on as head coach until after 2008. It's always been speculated that interim GM Bob Ferguson was behind the Wallace selection, because he's not the "typical" Holmgren quarterback at all -- he came out of college as a short, first-read, run-first, option-style guy -- that's not the profile of the Holmgren West Coast offense quarterback, and indeed, there was talk for several years of moving Wallace to receiver, a move that Wallace always resisted. He has always believed that he could be a successful quarterback in the NFL.

When he first came into the league, he had a great fastball -- probably the best arm of any quarterback Holmgren tutored since Favre. But everything was on a rope; there was no arc to his throws. When you factor in his height (5-foot-11, if we're feeling generous), it was tough for him to make all the throws Holmgren wanted in his offense. But Wallace was persistent, and he learned under the sometimes-withering Holmgren glare. He developed a nice (if inconsistent) arc on his throws, got the timing of the intermediate stuff down, and while he'll never rival Matt Hasselbeck on his touch with the short stuff, Holmgren knows exactly where his strengths lie.

His best year was 2008, when Hasselbeck missed nine games and Wallace started eight. The most impressive aspect of his performance that season was an 11/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in a very pass-happy offense -- Seattle's run game had fallen apart due to offensive line neglect. Wallace is at his best when rolling out and getting a quick read to the right; this plays to his option background. But he's developed a decent pocket presence. There have been times when he was so conscious of the need to be a pocket passer that he'd stay put and take hits when it was to his benefit to run, but he's transcended that for the most part. He doesn't have anything left to prove. 

Wallace is a very good backup. I don't think he has the tools to be a playoff-caliber starting quarterback; he's still pretty limited in his reads and he doesn't have the full palette you'd like to see in an optimal field general. But he's smart, tough, and persistent. He's got good wheels (I can only imagine what having Wallace and Josh Cribbs in the same backfield might look like), and he'll help the Browns transition to the Holmgren offensive philosophy.

Lane Adkins, TheOBR.com

Looking to add experiene and depth at quarterback, the Browns have opted in favor of familiarity. Former Seattle Seahawk Senaca Wallace comes to Cleveland as a number-two QB, and potentially more.

A seven-year veteran, Wallace is extremely athletic. Having played WR, as well as QB, Wallace provides a sense of experience and familiarity to an evolving Browns offense which is expected to incorporate some of the West Coast scheme which team president Mike Holmgren prefers.

In Wallace, the Browns receive a capable backup, that has shown some flashes of solid play when starting for injured starter Matt Hasselbeck -- the QB Holmgren sought when originally talking with the Seahawks weeks ago.

Somewhat short (5'11"), Wallace is not the proto-typical NFL QB. Quick of foot and possessing better than average arm strength, Wallace has to work on getting the ball out of the pocket quicker, relying less on his athletic ability.

The key of this deal for the Browns is obtaining a QB that knows the Holmgren offense and possesses the athletic ability to compete in what is quickly becoming an NFL which teams are relying more so on athleticism at the QB position.


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