BEREA: The Browns finished the NFL Draft with what they believe is an upgraded roster, but the organization also has a dilemma on its hands.
How will it manage its quarterback situation?
Browns President Mike Holmgren must decide whether quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden can co-exist. The Browns selected Weeden, a 28-year-old former minor-league baseball player from Oklahoma State, with intentions of having him replace McCoy as their starting quarterback.
After the Browns took Weeden 22nd overall on Thursday, General Manager Tom Heckert said the team would discuss whether it will try to trade McCoy. But in a draft wrap-up news conference Saturday night, Holmgren said no decision has been made.
So is it likely the Browns won’t trade McCoy?
“You know what? I can’t answer that right now,” Holmgren said. “ ... Colt’s at home. He’s coming back for his workout. He’s going to be at workouts this next week, so I’m not going to speculate on anything. We’re going to see what happens here moving forward.
“I like [Colt] a lot. But, you know, it’s our job to see how we [can] make the team better. We evaluated all the quarterbacks. Now, how could we perhaps improve the position or at least see if another guy could come in and maybe be the man?”
That’s where Weeden enters the equation for the Browns. He’ll be paired with running back Trent Richardson, whom the Browns drafted third overall after trading up one spot. Together, they’ll be counted on to help revive one of the league’s worst offenses.
“I think an outstanding quarterback brings synergy to the whole team, just like the addition of a running back helps the quarterback,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “A quarterback that throws the ball accurately on time makes the receivers look good. … When you have outstanding quarterback play, all the players on offense and all the [entire organization], we all look good.”
The Browns started the third and final day of the draft by adding another offensive weapon, selecting Miami wide receiver Travis Benjamin 100th overall. Shurmur said Benjamin will receive a chance to earn significant playing time.
They also bolstered their depth at linebacker in the fourth round, picking Nevada’s James-Michael Johnson at No. 120, a choice they acquired from the Denver Broncos by trading down 20 spots in the third round. In the fifth round, they added Colorado offensive lineman Ryan Miller (No. 160). Shurmur said the versatility of Johnson, who can play middle or outside linebacker, and Miller, who can play guard or tackle, is appealing.
With their compensatory picks, the Browns drafted Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho (No. 204) and Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn (No. 205) in the sixth round, plus Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade (No. 245) and Alabama fullback Brad Smelley (No. 247) in the seventh. The league awarded the Browns the four extra selections because they suffered net losses in free agency last year.
“We’d all like to see a big jump this year,” Holmgren said. “That’s our hope, and we think that’s possible. That’s reasonable. So who knows for sure on the draft? You really don’t analyze the draft for a couple three years on how that draft went. But we’re playing a lot of players from [the previous] two drafts, and they’re playing pretty well.
“So there’s no reason to think these kids won’t come in and do the same job. So our team foundation is better. Now we have to be able to score points. That was a problem for us last year.”
Of course, finding the right quarterback would solve the problem. And the Browns hope Weeden proves to be the right guy.
McCoy, though, has started 21 games in the past two seasons, so it might not seem realistic that he would accept a backup role. However, Holmgren thinks it could work. It remains to be seen how far the Browns are willing to go with such an experiment.
“I would think that’s difficult,” Holmgren said. “It could be a difficult situation, except if it’s ever going to work, it will work, if that happens, because I think Colt McCoy is a special young man. Of course, he wants to play. They all want to play. Again, nothing’s been done yet.
“We don’t know how it’s going to sort itself out. But if that were to be the case at some point, we have the best chance of making that work because of who the players are. It’s never easy, everyone wants to play, but you’ve only got one ball and one guy can play at a time.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.