The Cleveland Browns hit a home run when they took a chance on 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden. He's going to give the franchise a quick return on its investment, too, as I predict he'll lead the team to a playoff berth in 2013.
I know it has only been two preseason games, but from what I've seen of Weeden, he has all the tools he needs to become an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL. He has a strong, accurate arm, has poise in the pocket, possesses leadership in the huddle and has ideal size for an NFL pocket quarterback.
Weeden's stats from the team's second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers aren't going to jump out at you and shout "franchise quarterback," but I saw some impressive things from him while watching the game.
His first pass of the night was a 19-yard play-action gem to Josh Gordon—another player who'll help shape the fortunes of the Browns in years to come. He also hit Greg Little on a few impressive timing patterns—something we're going to see a lot more of from the two of them in years to come.
One of the things I noticed throughout the game was that Weeden didn't hesitate to check down to his shorter routes, contrary to what we saw from him in the team's first preseason game.
Head coach Pat Shurmur liked what he saw, too, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer:
For the most part, Brandon played well. Today, he saw some different things. He played against a lot of pressure. He moved the team and he found a way to drive the ball. He completed a couple of third downs that were important.
Faux John Madden posted this during Weeden's second preseason game, though I'm not sure if he meant to hit the nail on the head:
Brandon Weeden doesn't look like a rookie tonight, he looks like a 28 year old!Wait a second..— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) August 17, 2012
Weeden is obviously older than most rookies, and he has the look of a man who has been around the block a few times. His maturity on and off the field is evident for all to see.
Even better, the Browns have given him some legitimate talent at the wide receiver position.
Greg Little is going to be a legitimate No. 1 receiver, if he isn't already, and Gordon is going to be phenomenal if he can stay out of trouble. Additionally, Travis Benjamin, Josh Cooper and Mohamed Massaquoi are burgeoning receivers who will continue to get better as Weeden progresses.
The Browns will stay committed to the run in 2012, unlike how they approached 2011. If Trent Richardson can stay healthy, Weeden will be extremely dangerous in the play-action passing game, much like Sam Bradford was in his rookie season behind the running game of Steven Jackson.
Considering the team's already-strong defense, this team is going to challenge the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North by the time next season rolls around. With Weeden at the helm, they'll surprise them all by making the playoffs
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