Colt McCoy: Does the Former Texas Longhorn Have the Ability To Stay in the NFL?

Kris HughesCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

Will Colt McCoy have a long-term NFL career?
Will Colt McCoy have a long-term NFL career?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Throughout the 2010-2011 NFL season, a quarterback controversy brewed in Cleveland.

The Browns were at odds whether to play journeymen veterans Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace under center, or go ahead and hand the reins to former Texas Longhorn standout, Colt McCoy.

Colt McCoy's exploits at the University of Texas are a thing of legend in Texas football. McCoy is the all-time wins leader in college football history, tallying 45 total wins, as well as rising to first place in nine University of Texas records.

McCoy's 45 win total may be surpassed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, dependent on his 2011-2012 season performance, but the other records which McCoy holds are not likely to be broken in the near future.

Entering the University of Texas, McCoy was met with all of the criticisms you would expect of a small-town Texas quarterback ascending to the state's largest football stage. 

Too small. Not strong enough. Not athletic enough.

Each of these criticisms were soundly rebuffed during McCoy's time on the Forty Acres, as he proved to be one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in Texas Longhorns history. If you were to ask a long-time Texas fan of their three top Longhorn quarterbacks, McCoy's name is almost sure to be mentioned alongside Vince Young, Major Applewhite or James Street.

Given his leadership ability and heart, combined with surprising athleticism, there was no doubt that Colt McCoy would get a chance to play in the NFL. The bigger questions were who would provide him the opportunity and when he would be drafted.

When the Cleveland Browns selected McCoy with the 85th overall pick of the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, these questions were answered. Cleveland appeared to be a great fit for McCoy. The Browns had signed both Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace as quarterbacks, and the impression was that McCoy would be given a full year to learn Eric Mangini's system before taking any snaps.

This proved to not be the case.

McCoy was thrust into the starting role in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not an envious position to be in for any rookie quarterback.

He held his own in the first few starts of his young NFL career, leading the upstart Browns to two huge upset victories over NFL powers, the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. 

A Week 11 ankle injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars did not allow McCoy to see snaps again until Week 14, finishing the season with a total of six touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

So the question must be asked: Does Colt McCoy have what it takes to be a long-term NFL quarterback?

Flashes of brilliance during the course of the 2010-2011 NFL season suggest that he does.

His leadership ability on the field is undeniable. He makes plays with his head and feet, not always trying to force the issue with his arm. He has the elusiveness to escape the pocket when necessary and pick up a tough first down.

All of these attributes are common among the top veteran NFL quarterbacks.

His size, though, could be a detractor, and ultimately lead to a short career. NFL linemen and linebackers are massive athletes, and the toll they can place on a small quarterback has been proven. McCoy's early injuries show that he's no exception to this rule.

Will his heart, toughness and leadership ability surpass the drawbacks of his lack of size and injury-prone nature? 

It will be interesting to see. The next chapter of Colt McCoy's story has yet to be written.