Editor’s note: This is the sixth part of a weeklong series about Browns players who are expected to vie for starting jobs or other important roles during training camp, which opens to the public Saturday in Berea.
BATTLES OF BEREA: QUARTERBACKS
Players to watch: Brandon Weeden (6-foot-3, 220 pounds, rookie); Colt McCoy (6-1, 215, third year); Seneca Wallace (5-11, 205, 10th year); and Thaddeus Lewis (6-2, 200, second year).
2011 stats: Weeden (at Oklahoma State — 12-1 as starter, completed 409-of-565 passes, 72.4 percent, for 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a rating of 159.68); McCoy (4-9 as starter, 265-of-463, 57.2 percent, 14 TDs, 11 INTs, 74.6 rating); Wallace (0-3 as starter, 55-of-107, 51.4 percent, 567 yards, two TDs, two INTs, 65.4 rating); Lewis (did not play).
Analysis: It’s only a matter of time before coach Pat Shurmur officially names Weeden the starting quarterback. The only real suspense lies in these questions: Who will be the No. 2 quarterback, McCoy or Wallace? And will the organization part ways with whichever one doesn’t become Weeden’s primary backup? McCoy, the incumbent starter, and Wallace, a career backup, each have a record of 6-15 as an NFL starter and share similar physical traits (undersized with good mobility). Wallace, 31, has the better arm of the two, but McCoy, 25, is younger and has more upside. His base salary of $540,000 is also less than Wallace’s $2.4 million, though the Browns’ cap space minimizes McCoy’s edge on the financial front. It’s also worth noting that Wallace has nine seasons of experience in a West Coast offense compared to one season for McCoy. And because McCoy was the starter last season, his presence could create a distraction for Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, no matter how much anyone tries to downplay such a notion. Last month, Shurmur and President Mike Holmgren outlined the characteristics they seek in a No. 2 quarterback. Both explained the backup must be able to perform well without many practice reps or much time to prepare, and he should be mobile, too. Shurmur said experience helps, and Holmgren added the backups he’s had in the past were trustworthy and usually popular in the locker room. Considering Holmgren’s strong bond with Wallace going back to their six seasons together with the Seattle Seahawks and the qualities the Browns prefer in a backup, it appears the organization is leaning toward Wallace.
Ulrich’s take: Don’t be surprised if the Browns trade McCoy at some point during the preseason, leaving Wallace and Lewis, a developmental player, second and third on the depth chart, respectively. It would be the best move for Weeden and McCoy.
Coming Saturday: Defensive backs.