NFL Draft 2012 Results: Why Cleveland Browns Will Regret Taking Brandon Weeden
The front office started off well enough by trading up to the No. 3 selection to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The selection was genius because Richardson is an amazing prospect and the Browns had a huge gap at the position thanks to the departure of Peyton Hillis.
The draft was all downhill from there.
Cleveland made a number of mind-numbing picks, such as taking Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes in the third round despite him being projected as a sixth- to seventh-round prospect. Reaching for Miami wide receiver Travis Benjamin in the fourth round was questionable as well.
However, the pick the Browns will regret the most is Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden at 22 overall.
Many will bash Weeden’s age, which is a good argument to a degree. He turns 29 in October, so he’s entering his prime years already. That’s not an amazing argument, though, considering Kurt Warner entered the league around the same age.
The issue is what could have been and how it cripples the franchise for the immediate future.
The incumbent starter at the position before selecting Weeden was Colt McCoy. He struggled last year in 13 games, completing only 57 percent of his passes and leading the team to a 4-9 record. McCoy didn’t exactly have a talented roster surrounding him, so it’s not all his fault for the embarrassment of a campaign a year ago.
Will the Browns regret selecting Brandon Weeden?
Instead of surrounding McCoy with more talent, the team elected to draft his replacement. Now Weeden is tasked with stepping into just about the exact same situation McCoy was stuck with—the major difference of course being the addition of Trent Richardson.
Weeden throws the ball extremely well and has the collegiate numbers to back it up. He also was fortunate enough to play with one of the best receivers in college football in Justin Blackmon. It also helps the program runs a pass-happy spread offense that tends to inflate numbers.
There’s always a steep learning curve for quarterbacks when transitioning from the college game to the pros. Weeden won’t be an exception. One has to wonder how long it will take, considering the talent around him isn’t spectacular.
The smarter move for the future of the franchise would have been taking someone like Stanford guard David DeCastro. He’s better than any guard on the Browns roster and would open up massive running lanes for Richardson and give McCoy more time to get the ball down the field without being decimated like he was all last season.
The Browns also could have gone with Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff who was considered a top-15 selection. He would have made the transition to guard nicely. A tremendous tight end prospect like Stanford’s Coby Fleener would have made McCoy’s life easier as well.
Add in the fact that Weeden could have plummeted down the draft board. There wasn’t a team before the Browns’ second-round selection that was going to take him. He could have potentially made it to their third round pick—his age was a huge negative to a lot of NFL front offices.
So now the Browns are stuck with a rookie quarterback once again and a disgruntled backup. McCoy may not be franchise quarterback material, but solidifying other pieces of the roster first in preparation of bringing in a potential franchise quarterback would have made more sense.
The only time picking a quarterback before having the surrounding pieces makes sense is if he’s an Andrew Luck, which Weeden is not.
Moving forward, Browns fans shouldn’t expect much in the way of change next season in the win column. Richardson is a great addition to be sure, but he’ll be stuffed in the elite defensive division that is the AFC North.
Weeden won’t fare much better in his rookie season in the AFC North either. It’s an unfriendly division for rookies, and even more so for rookie quarterbacks. Ask Andy Dalton how he did last season as a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals—he went 2-4 with two wins coming against the lowly, you guessed, Cleveland Browns.
In the end the Browns appear to have taken one step forward and two steps back. The Browns front office appears to have found a quarterback they actually like, but it’s hard to imagine those happy feelings toward Weeden will continue if he goes out and begins to struggle.
If Weeden struggles, it’s likely the Browns will be taking a quarterback high in another draft this time a couple of years from now. That’s what happens when franchises attempt to build a roster backwards.
The Browns are going to regret taking Weeden, but it's not all his fault. The historical ineptitude of the front office is mostly to blame. Just don't tell them that.
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