As They Explore Their QB Options, Browns Should Look At Joe Webb


Cleveland Browns fans have stuck themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Everyone is afraid to draft a quarterback with a high first round pick given all the needs they have at other positions. But at the same time, pretty much everyone is coming to the conclusion, that while Colt McCoy would benefit from better players around him, his upside isn’t high enough to get you to the Super Bowl out of the AFC North.

Thus, the Browns need to get a new quarterback, but they can’t draft one, even though the upcoming draft has two promising quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

A lot can change between now and April, but for the moment it looks like Luck will be gone, leaving Baylor’s Robert Griffin III as the more realistic option. But what if they don’t like what they see in RG3?

I would hope the Browns next course of action would be to trade a low draft pick for a developmental quarterback, or to sign one in free agency.

First of all, this is exactly what Mike Holmgren’s history would suggest. The Green Bay Packers traded for Brett Favre in 1991, and Holmgren’s Seattle Seahawks traded for Matt Hasselbeck in 2001 – both advanced to the Super Bowl under Holmgren.

Second, this should be a win-win for fans because the Browns would still get to spend all their high draft picks on playmakers.

One of the names that’s been floating around is Matt Flynn, backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. I don’t hate it. He’d be cheap, has experience in a system similar to the Browns’, but the idea that he will be good just because Aaron Rodgers is good is too preposterous to swallow.

The Browns might also be linked to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford at some point. This weekend, if St. Louis loses to the San Francisco 49ers (highly likely) and the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars (actually kind of likely), then St. Louis would slide into Andrew Luck town and look to trade Bradford. Browns fans would love this one because they’d get to keep their hard-earned top-five pick while dealing their later first-round pick, or even a few second-rounders for their new franchise quarterback Bradford, who went No. 1 overall just two years ago. Still, a lot has to fall the Browns way for this to become a reality.

How about adding Minnesota’s Joe Webb to the mix? I love this guy.

Webb was a sixth-round pick two years ago by the Vikings, who just drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round this year. Webb’s not untouchable; in fact, he’d be cheap too.

Side note – This is totally how the Browns have viewed Colt McCoy: a cheap, low-risk prospect they could throw in the pool to see if he swims. What they didn’t realize was Colt is actually a pretty high profile player for his talent level, thus maybe making him more trouble than he’s worth.

Now Webb, unlike McCoy, would be a developmental player who actually has some tools to develop. He’s bigger than McCoy, Robert Griffin III, and Matt Flynn. He can also throw the ball farther than McCoy ever will and he looks like Cam Newton in the open field.

The more I look at Joe Webb the more I see a B-side version of Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger, and for all we know, he’s just sitting there in the bargain bin. As NFL Newtork analyst Mike Lombardi illustrated earlier this month, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow are succeeding now by taking pages out of the book Ben Roethlisberger wrote seven years ago.

Take a look for yourself, this is what the quarterback of tomorrow needs to be able to do:

This is the way the NFL quarterback game is trending: outside the pocket. Aaron Rodgers is smaller than Roethlisberger and Newton (and Webb for that matter), but he moves around better and throws with more unrealistic accuracy. Like Big Ben, he actually uses broken plays to his advantage. He looks for a couple of set throws, and if they aren’t there, he splits out of the pocket and runs his receivers open.

Even Drew Brees, the idol of McCoy fans and short superstar quarterbacks, stands in the pocket for a few reads, but eventually, and mostly on third down, looks to move his feet and convert a schoolyard play. Watch him this weekend (and in the playoffs).

The sad part is, McCoy has this game too. He’s more dangerous and creative on the move as a stretch-play quarterback, but his accuracy simply isn’t good enough to overcome his lack of arm strength (again, see Drew Brees). If he had one or the other, maybe he’d be fine.

McCoy is also smaller and injury-prone, a common flaw of the modern mobile quarterback—just look at Michael Vick. Always inconsistent with accuracy, but has a big arm and tons of ability on the move. He just gets injured all the time because he’s smaller. The smaller Brees and Rodgers were injury-prone early on in their careers as well. San Diego let Brees walk as a free agent because they feared he had a significant shoulder injury, and Rodgers suffered at least three concussions last season.

Odds are simply this: McCoy will never become the accomplished thrower that Brees and Rodgers are to help him gain an edge with his feet while also staying healthy.

Joe Webb, at 6-4 and 220 lbs, has more of an AFC North body, and has the raw tools that are at least worth taking a look at.

Minnesota might value Webb as a backup, but if the Browns offered their fifth-round pick for him, that should be considered above market value. Seneca Wallace was traded for a seventh-round pick after all. Mr. Popular Matt Flynn was drafted in the seventh round as well.

The fans might not be able to stomach another developmental period, but keep in mind, the Browns would be making this move so they could bring in some new blood at quarterback without totally scalping their draft this year and in the future. It puts speed on the field and allows them to still draft the best players available.

It goes without saying that there’s no guarantee Webb will be any good; all I am saying is his style and game make him an intriguing option to at least bring in and compete with Colt McCoy.

The bottom line is, the Browns are expected to research all of their options, including potential quarterbacks in the draft and free agency, to the fullest extent of their ability. It makes sense for Joe Webb to be in that conversation.


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Tags: Ben Roethlisberger Cam Newton Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy Joe Webb Matt Flynn Mike Holmgren Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford