NFL Combine 2011: Which QBs Will the Cleveland Browns Have Their Eyes On?
There is a lot of speculation over which quarterbacks will raise or lower their draft stock at the NFL Combine this weekend. While most of the focus is who will go in the first round, there are more than three quarterbacks in this draft.
The Cleveland Browns have been in search of a franchise quarterback since their return to the league in 1999. Tim Couch was mismanaged and then injured. Other quarterbacks came and went before they drafted Brady Quinn in 2007, only to see him mismanaged and then traded for Peyton Hillis.
Team president Mike Holmgren has drafted a quarterback almost every year since he became head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Holmgren has declared last year's third-round draft pick Colt McCoy is "the guy" for 2011, which means very little. The Browns will draft a quarterback to add depth if nothing else, so here is a look at some of the quarterbacks at the combine and the chances that the Browns will pick one of them in April.
1. Cam Newton
Let's address the elephant in the room and get that out of the way.
Cam Newton is the Golden Boy of quarterbacks in the draft this year. That being said, the Browns aren't looking for a quarterback in the first round. They have too many needs on defense to go for a quarterback that high and Colt McCoy has shown enough promise that this would be a counterproductive pick.
Chances Newton goes to Cleveland: Zero
2. Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton had good numbers in a spread offense at TCU. This means he'll need time to learn the position as a pro.
He has "adequate" arm strength, which is a matter of debate with McCoy, and he is one of the more accurate passers in this year's draft.
Dalton is rising fast on the draft boards, but if he falls on draft day and is available in the fourth round, Holmgren may pull rank in the draft room and decide to take him.
Chances Dalton goes to the Browns: 10 percent
3. Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder has the most to gain out of the combine. Elbow and shoulder injuries at FSU become big black marks when it comes to draft day.
However, Ponder had a great Senior Bowl week, earning MVP honors and comes from a pro style offense at FSU.
Ponder played in 10 games last season, throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the draft, and he has great physical attributes.
Ponder probably will go off the board in the second round, long before the Browns are going to commit to a backup, but if he falls into the third, the Browns just may take him and consider it a bargain.
Chances Ponder goes to Cleveland: 20 percent
4. Ricky Stanzi
Ricky Stanzi was capable enough at Iowa, but he grades low on a lot of the skill sets needed to be successful in the NFL.
Stanzi is projecting as a backup quarterback due to his tendency to force the ball and make bad throws when under pressure.
Scouts note his technique and footwork are sloppy, so he is a project.
The Browns wouldn't consider him any higher than the fifth round, but another team may reach for him in the late third or early fourth round, so the chances the Browns end up taking him are low.
Chances Stanzi comes to Cleveland: 25 percent
5. Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is 6'4", 225 lbs. He's got good arm strength, he can read defenses and make adjustments, he knows when to throw the ball out of bounds and he's fairly accurate.
So why isn't he a first-round pick?
He plays in that dreaded spread offense system that translates to problems in the NFL.
As a backup, Kaepernick would have no pressure to develop, and he's got the size to be used in Wildcat formations instead of risking further injury to Joshua Cribbs.
If Kaepernick adds more muscle to his frame, he almost could be a tight end.
Chances Kaepernick comes to Cleveland: 45 percent
6. Pat Devlin
Pat Devlin is a smart quarterback, but questions on arm strength and the tendency to check down too often will hurt his draft stock.
Devlin does have a reputation as a quarterback who protects the ball and is a good game manager. There are positive and negative connotations to this, but it means Devlin will end up going in the middle rounds somewhere.
If Eric Mangini still were the head coach, I'd give Devlin a 90 percent chance of being drafted because Mangini valued ball control over anything else, and a "game manager" reputation was right up his alley.
With Pat Shurmur in charge now, it's difficult to say exactly what he's looking for, but I don't think Devlin is it.
Chances Devlin goes to Cleveland: 15 percent
7. Nathan Enderle
Nathan Enderle is regarded as a good leader who makes good decisions. His arm strength is considered adequate, but it is felt he can make all the throws necessary to be successful in the NFL.
Enderle's accuracy has improved every year in college, which is what Holmgren and the rest of the coaches will look at. To succeed in a West Coast offense, you have to be accurate.
Enderle is a very good candidate for the Browns to take, because not only does he appear to have the right skills and intangibles, he's 6'4", 240 lbs.
Chances Enderle goes to the Browns: 55 percent
8. Greg McElroy
Greg McElroy has the kind of gritty toughness that would go over great in Cleveland, but there are serious questions about his arm strength, especially in windy conditions.
That factor is huge, especially in November and December in Cleveland. Even as a backup, McElroy could be called on at any time. The Browns lost three quarterbacks to high ankle sprains in one season, so McElroy conceivably could have to come in and play on a 30-degree day with high winds.
However, McElroy is extremely accurate in the throws he does make, and if the Browns only are looking for a project quarterback, they could do worse than McElroy.
Chances McElroy comes to the Browns: 30 percent
9. T.J. Yates
T.J. Yates is a late-round prospect, meaning he's perfect for Mike Holmgren and the Browns.
Some scouts think Yates has reached as high as he's going to go. While he is a very smart quarterback, he gets downgraded for his size, arm strength and accuracy downfield.
Some of those things are fixable, and if the Browns go with McCoy as the starter and keep Seneca Wallace as the backup, Yates is a perfect third-string quarterback to develop.
Chances Yates comes to Cleveland: 40 percent
10. Scott Tolzien
Scott Tolzien only had one year as a starter at Wisconsin, so he is about as raw of a recruit as you are going to get.
While the negatives of a quarterback with that little experience are high, the positives are he is very teachable.
Holmgren and Shurmur might see Tolzien as a blank slate they can mold in their image and take advantage of what look to be good physical attributes even if his skills are sloppy.
Chances Tolzien comes to Cleveland: 20 percent