Is Colt the man in Cleveland?

BY foxsports • April 5, 2011

Yesterday, we took what turned out to be a long look at the Bengals' quarterback situation.

There's another team in our great state that's also a complicated kind of mess, though the Browns' situation is certainly different than that of the Bengals. Both teams need talent upgrades. Both need stability. The Browns probably need more players than the Bengals need, but unlike the Bengals they are pretty sure they know who their coach and quarterback will be in two years.

Pretty sure. Until the Browns prove otherwise, there's no such thing as a sure thing on Lou Groza Boulevard in Berea.

The Browns have every intention to move forward with Colt McCoy as their starting quarterback. Mike Holmgren, Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert have said it on the record. Some of the tape from McCoy's surprisingly productive rookie season suggests it's the right call. Some of the late film suggests he has a ways to go, and he does.

But McCoy is a natural leader. He's a gym rat, a willing learner, a guy who can make plays with his feet. He's not the biggest or strongest QB, but he seems to have the right attributes for the Browns' new West Coast offense. Surrounding him with some real NFL receivers and actually sticking with a system should help. There's an actual long-term plan taking shape in Berea, and it includes McCoy.

The Browns are still doing their homework on the QBs in this year's draft, as they should. They can't afford to turn down a chance to upgrade at any/every position. Holmgren's roots make him want to draft a QB almost every year as long as he's getting paid to be in the draft room. Taking a long look at the top guys, even if they'd have to be totally blown away to draft one at No. 6 overall and change course again, can only help the team. If the Bengals are going to go with Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert, the Browns should know their strengths and weaknesses for game-planning purposes. Two more teams in the market for a QB, the Cardinals and 49ers, are on this year's schedule.

According to reports, the Browns plan to have Newton in for a visit later this week. They've also had reported interest in Nevada's Colin Kaerpernick, a guy who, in my opinion, is worth taking a shot on in the third or fourth round. It doesn't hurt to look and dig.

Guys like Newton and Kaepernick, among others, should appeal to the Browns. They're big and athletic and have upside that McCoy may not. Maybe McCoy does. Maybe everybody REALLY missed the boat last spring after he got hurt and didn't measure at 6'5 and didn't wow anybody with a little stat that says he won more games than any other quarterback in college football ever has. He came in and won a couple games under some tough circumstances with the Browns. He impressed some folks along the way.

The guy is a gamer. Is he a keeper? The Browns wish they really, truly knew, because they're really, really counting on Colt McCoy.

--Zac Jackson

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