Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are in full swing, which means that a complete Cleveland Browns quarterback evaluation and depth chart analysis is in order.
The most important position in football has befuddled this Browns team since it returned to the NFL in 1999.
Is Brandon Weeden going to show enough to earn his starting job? Does Jason Campbell have enough left to truly battle and become "the man"? Is there a place for Thaddeus Lewis on this club?
Let's break it all down.
QB DEPTH CHART
Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, Thaddeus Lewis
Brandon Weeden: 6'3", 220 pounds, 29 years old
The 2012 first-round draft pick of the Mike Holmgren/Tom Heckert/Pat Shurmur regime was left all alone when that group was turfed at last season's end.
No free rides for Brandon Weeden under CEO Joe Banner and new head coach Rob Chudzinski. To remain the starter, he will have to earn it all the way.
An underwhelming 2013 quarterback draft class has essentially given No. 3 a one-year tryout. Can Weeden rise to the challenge or is he going to fall into the bottomless pit of Cleveland QB failures?
For the former Oklahoma State Cowboy being under Chudzinski and highly touted offensive coordinator Norv Turner is a best-case scenario.
On paper, Weeden should thrive on Turner's vertical downfield offense that is coupled with a power running game. BW took the majority of his snaps out of the shotgun in college, but was forced to go under center in Shurmur's lethargic version of the West Coast.
As sideline general in San Diego, Turner utilized the powerful arm of Philip Rivers in shotgun formation 76.6 percent of the time. Now it is up to Weeden to prove that he is able to learn the system quickly and make any necessary mechanical adjustments.
If that wasn't enough he has free-agent signee Jason Campbell breathing down his neck to take that top spot.
Weeden's statistics from a mediocore rookie campaign are well known. Fourteen touchdowns to 17 interceptions and a 72.6 QB rating are certainly not stellar; however, hurling over 3,000 yards was a definite positive. Finding long-ball success with the large and physical receiver Josh Gordon was also a building block.
It will be interesting to see how the 29-year-old's progress is judged by the coaching staff. Are they interested in working through any growing pains because of a high upside possibility?
He made these comments to ESPN Cleveland Browns Daily radio show host Vic Carucci on May 14:
"You can’t be looking over your shoulder all the time. You’ve got to worry about what’s most important, and that’s me getting better, building on what I did last year, and continue to grow as a player. And, if I can do that, and not really worry about what’s going on around me, and kind of have that tunnel vision, that’s going to make me a better player and that’s going to make this team better."
Jason Campbell: 6'5", 230 pounds, 31 years old
Off a one-year stint as a No. 2 in Chicago, journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell was brought in by the new Browns brain trust to compete for the starting job.
Locking up the nine-season veteran for a couple of years is a smart insurance policy by a front office that did not draft the incumbent starter Brandon Weeden. If BW flops in training camp or in the first few games then Mr. Campbell is in for 2013.
Seventy-one career starts and a 76-52 touchdown-to-interception ratio are definitely respectable statistics.
If all goes well this offseason then the former Washington Redskins first-round selection will be a mentoring backup as Weeden thrives in Norv Turner's downfield passing attack.
Naturally, head coach Rob Chudzinski isn't tipping his hand on which man under center he would prefer. He told CantonRep.com, "We'll just see as we go forward. I expect both of these guys to compete."
There's that buzzword, "compete."
Could Campbell storm in, blow everyone away and boot Weeden to the island of failed Cleveland quarterbacks? Anything is possible, and the Auburn alum felt that he was cheated out of the top spot in Oakland when he went down to injury in a 2011 game versus the Browns.
"I was off to the best season of my career," Campbell said. "To wake up and find out about the trade[for Carson Palmer] and know I wasn't starting anymore, it was a tough pill to swallow...I feel I was really taking off, really blossoming, really having an opportunity to control the line of scrimmage." Courtesy of Pro Football Talk on NBCSports.com.
The 31-year-old is eager to become a NFL starter once again, but appears to have the right mindset if he does become the sideline clipboard holder.
"It's not about egos and things like that," he told Pro Football Talk. "I'm going to help Brandon as much as possible, but at the same time, I'm going to push him and compete."
Thaddeus Lewis: 6'2", 200 pounds, 25 years old
Before Thad Lewis became the 18th starting quarterback since the franchise returned in 1999, he would not have been in this conversation.
The third string/practice squad QB made his first career start in the 2012 season finale versus Pittsburgh.
No one knew what to expect.
Well the former Duke University Blue Devil turned some heads by delivering 204 passing yards, one touchdown, an interception and a solid 68.8 completion percentage.
His overall composure and mobility in the pocket was also encouraging.
However, let's remember that this was one game, a matchup that meant nothing for either team outside of rivalry bragging rights.
When the 53-man roster is finalized the Browns could very well eliminate the third-string QB in favor of using that extra spot to keep the two kickers they signed, Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81
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