Brandon Weeden

Draft Grades: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns hit a home run with their first selection… and it was all downhill from there. The Browns entered the draft with 13 picks – an opportunity to completely change the direction of this floundering franchise – but whiffed in such a way that it could cost Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert their jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Even taking into consideration the somewhat questionable trade, Trent Richardson was a great selection at No 3. The Browns needed to land a can’t-miss prospect in the top 10, and Richardson was arguably the best on the board. He will be a star from day one.

If the Browns were looking to change the face of the franchise, the accomplished that by selecting Brandon Weeden. But it feels like a lateral move to me. Regardless of your opinion of Weeden, the Browns are going nowhere fast. Even if all goes as planned, they won’t be serious contenders until 2014, when Weeden will be 31 years old. I could understand a more established team gambling on Weeden, but the selection simply does not make sense for a franchise with a steep uphill climb just to enter the playoff discussion.

Mitchell Schwartz was a reach in the early 2nd round. At best, he’ll be an average starting right tackle, and that’s not worth the 37th overall selection. He’s essentially a younger Tony Pashos, who the Browns recently released.

John Hughes may have been the reach of the draft. The Browns have two above average starting defensive tackles, and plan to use Frostee Rucker as the three-technique in passing situations. So where does Hughes fit in? It’s hard to do worse than a reach that doesn’t even fill a need.

Travis Benjamin is a track star masquerading as a football player. He could have value as a return specialist, but the Browns already have Josh Cribbs, who is backed up by the more-than-capable Buster Skrine. At best, Benjamin develops into a decent 4th option who can stretch the field, but he was not worth the 100th overall selection.

James-Michael Johnson adds some much-needed depth at the linebacker position. He will likely back up D’Qwell Jackson, but could play any of the three spots in Cleveland’s 4-3 defense.

Ryan Miller adds some depth at guard and could push Shaun Lauvao or Jason Pinkston for playing time, both of whom are coming off disappointing seasons. Lauvao led all guards in sacks allowed and penalties in 2011.

Emmanuel Acho will compete for the backup weak-side linebacker job, and could actually see some playing time early due to Scott Fujita’s suspension.

Billy Winn was arguably the Browns best selection other than Richardson. I gave him a fringe 3rd/4th-round grade and had him rated significantly higher than John Hughes.

Tevin Wade will compete with Buster Skrine for the 4th cornerback job. Like Skrine, he’s undersized and his upside is limited to playing the nickel corner role.

Brad Smelley blocked for Richardson at Alabama, and the Browns reportedly called Richardson about him before making the selection. It’s not a bad decision, but the Browns drafted Owen Marecic in the 4th round last year and parted with Lawrence Vickers to make room for him. What does that say about their evaluation process if they’re willing to give up on Marecic after one year?

I fail to see how this draft class changed Cleveland’s direction in any meaningful way. They have a power running game and a rookie quarterback… is that any different than two years when their offense featured Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy, who, at the time, was viewed as a promising young quarterback? This draft class, coupled with the strong drafts of their division rivals, cemented the Browns place in the AFC North cellar.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Browns wanted Kendall Wright, settled for Weeden

A quarterback should never be your fall-back option in the 1st round, but that’s exactly what happened to the Cleveland Browns.

According to Adam Schefter, the Browns were prepared to take Kendall Wright at No. 22 and were disappointed when the Titans surprisingly grabbed him at No. 20.

Brandon Weeden felt like a 1st-round reach to begin with, but this report further calls into question the strategy being used in the Browns war room. If you have a similar grade on a quarterback and a receiver in the 1st round, you always target the quarterback. Quality receivers are found in the mid-to-late rounds every year. Quarterbacks are not.

If the Browns were targeting Wright at No. 22, they obviously felt comfortable moving forward with Colt McCoy. Now it’s possible that they could have landed Weeden at No. 37 or traded up to get him, but you certainly can’t count on that option. If they took Wright at No. 22 they had to be OK with McCoy as their starting quarterback.

So if they were willing to move forward with another year of McCoy, why make Weeden the backup plan?

This entire situation makes it looks as though the Browns panicked, and calls into question just how much confidence they have in their new franchise quarterback. This is definitely not the type of publicity Mike Holmgren’s front office needs when they’re already losing the confidence of the fan base.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

Cleveland Browns select Brandon Weeden, Grade D

The Cleveland Browns got themselves a starting quarterback, but it sort of feels like a lateral move to me.

I can’t give them a failing grade because I do think Brandon Weeden can be a starter. However, he is much more of a developmental prospect than he’s been made out to be. Being 28 years old doesn’t make you NFL ready. He needs time to develop, and by the time he does, he’ll be 30 years old. Weeden’s ceiling, in my opinion, is only as a Chad Pennington-like middle-of-the-road starter.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

5 teams that will draft a quarterback

1. Indianapolis Colts/Washington Redskins
This is a done deal, so I’ll group these teams together.  We know that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are headed to Indy and Washington, respectively. But I will add this, don’t be surprised if Colts draft another quarterback to compete for the backup job with Drew Stanton. They own six picks in the final three rounds of the draft, and could add a guy like Russell Wilson or B.J. Coleman late in the draft.

2. Miami Dolphins
I’m not convinced the Dolphins will take Ryan Tannehill, but they will draft someone to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job. If they pass on Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins could be options on Day Two.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are another candidate to land Tannehill. But even if they miss out on the Texas A&M signal caller, they’re likely to bring in someone to groom as Matt Cassel’s replacement in the 2nd or 3rd round.

4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns will have the first crack at Tannehill, but they’re unlikely to pull the trigger at No. 4. In fact, the Browns may simply chose to stick with McCoy and pass on most of the top signal callers in this draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find someone. Mike Holmgren is a quarterback guru, and is likely to pick out someone in the 3rd round or later that he would like to develop.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously the Steelers aren’t in the Tannehill sweepstakes, but they’re also unlikely to enter the 2012 season with Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith as Roethlisberger’s backups. Look for them to add a quarterback at some point, potentially as a early as the 3rd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, Redskins, Steelers Comments Off

Brandon Weeden scouting report

Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma State #3
Ht: 6’4″

Wt: 217

Prototypical height. A decent athlete; pitched in the Yankees minor league system before returning to football. Fairly mobile; looks comfortable on roll outs; capable of buying time with his feet and occasionally taking off running. Strong arm; can make any throw on the field. Accuracy is shaky at times, but often appears due to footwork issues which are easily fixed. Mature for a rookie due to his age. A team leader; well respected by teammates and coaches.
Already 28 years old. Tends to lose his accuracy when throwing on the run. Decision making needs to improve; forces the ball into tight coverage, often when trying to force-feed Justin Blackmon the ball. Primarily took snaps out of the shotgun and did not play in an offense that translates well to the NFL; may take some time to adjust to an NFL playbook. Accuracy on throws beyond 15 yards is inconsistent. Mechanics are shaky at times; looks good when given time, but often rushes his throw and fails to set his feet; has a tendancy to throw from an open stance. Shoulder injury ended his baseball career; claims he only feels pain when throwing baseballs, not footballs, but it’s an issue that could pop up again as he ages.
If Weeden were 22 he could potentially be worth a 2nd-round or even late-1st-round pick, but his age significantly limits his value. To draft a 28-year-old before the 3rd or 4th round, you’d have to be confident in his ability to start and be effective almost immediately. While there is a lot to like about Weeden – his arm strength, leadership, work ethic – he still needs to improve his footwork and become more comfortable with his decision-making skills under pressure. While he definitely has starter potential, he’ll be 30 before he’s ready to make a significant impact.
2011 vs Stanford (bowl game)
2011 vs Oklahoma
2011 vs Iowa State 
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off

Does Brandon Weeden’s age matter?

Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden is coming off a record-setting season which put him in the Heisman conversation and elevated his NFL draft stock to surprising heights.

But there’s one problem. He’s 28 years old.

In a younger man’s body, Weeden’s talents may have earned him a late 1st-round grade from some scouts, but draft prospects – especially quarterbacks – are graded as much on their current ability, as their potential to improve. And just how much room for improvement is left in a 28 year old?

Where Weeden should be drafted will be an interesting debate to follow in the upcoming months. In 2011, 19 different quarterbacks younger than Weeden started at least five games in the NFL, many of whom could be acquired at a relatively cheap price this offseason. Alex Smith (unrestricted free agent) may be the most highly sought after, but will likely re-sign with San Francisco. Others, such as T.J. Yates, John Skelton or perhaps even Mark Sanchez could be available on the trade market.

Games Passing
Rk Player Age ▾ Tm GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Sk Y/A
2 Aaron Rodgers 28 GNB 15 343 502 68.3% 4643 45 6 122.5 36 9.25
3 Alex Smith 27 SFO 16 273 445 61.3% 3144 17 5 90.7 44 7.07
4 Matt Moore 27 MIA 12 210 347 60.5% 2497 16 9 87.1 36 7.20
5 Kevin Kolb 27 ARI 9 146 253 57.7% 1955 9 8 81.1 30 7.73
6 Joe Flacco 26 BAL 16 312 542 57.6% 3610 20 12 80.9 31 6.66
7 Matt Ryan 26 ATL 16 347 566 61.3% 4177 29 12 92.2 26 7.38
8 Curtis Painter 26 IND 8 132 243 54.3% 1541 6 9 66.6 16 6.34
9 Mark Sanchez 25 NYJ 16 308 543 56.7% 3474 26 18 78.2 39 6.40
10 Sam Bradford 24 STL 10 191 357 53.5% 2164 6 6 70.5 36 6.06
11 Tim Tebow 24 DEN 11 126 271 46.5% 1729 12 6 72.9 33 6.38
12 Colt McCoy 24 CLE 13 265 463 57.2% 2733 14 11 74.6 32 5.90
13 Andy Dalton 24 CIN 16 300 516 58.1% 3398 20 13 80.4 24 6.59
14 T.J. Yates 24 HOU 5 82 134 61.2% 949 3 3 80.7 15 7.08
15 Matthew Stafford 23 DET 16 421 663 63.5% 5038 41 16 97.2 36 7.60
16 Christian Ponder 23 MIN 10 158 291 54.3% 1853 13 13 70.1 30 6.37
17 Josh Freeman 23 TAM 15 346 551 62.8% 3592 16 22 74.6 29 6.52
18 John Skelton 23 ARI 7 151 275 54.9% 1913 11 14 68.9 23 6.96
19 Blaine Gabbert 22 JAX 14 210 413 50.8% 2214 12 11 65.4 40 5.36
20 Cam Newton 22 CAR 16 310 517 60.0% 4051 21 17 84.5 35 7.84

And this list doesn’t even include others such as Chad Henne and Matt Flynn, both unrestricted free agents, who could be given an opportunity as starters elsewhere in 2012.

So who would you rather have, an unproven Brandon Weeden or a player roughly the same age who is, to some extent, a proven commodity?

While some teams may prefer Weeden, unfortunately he has little value to anyone not interested in his services as a starter. As a 28-year-old rookie, his value as a developmental prospect is limited. If you don’t envision him helping your team within the next three years, why spend a pick on Weeden, when you could spend a similar pick on a prospect with more long-term upside such as Brock Osweiler or B.J. Coleman?

[polldaddy poll=5864121]
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

What type of pro prospect is Brandon Weeden?

In the past few weeks Brandon Weeden has established himself as a legitimate Heisman candidate and, in the process, is starting to generate a buzz around his NFL Draft stock.

He may be one of the most controversial figures in this year’s draft class, and teams are likely to have a wide range of opinions on where he should be selected.

Weeden was a 2nd-round pick of the Yankees in 2002

He’ll be a 28-year-old rookie next year, older than a significant portion of his teammates, some of whom may be five or six-year veterans.

So how do we evaluate him?

My belief is that a prospect’s age is only relevant in the context of his NFL-readiness.

Weeden’s rookie contract will likely span three to five years, which is still well within the range of a quarterback’s prime. However, if teams believe he needs two or three years of development, he may not be worth the trouble.

Take Tim Tebow as an extreme example. The Broncos were willing to take a chance on him as a 22-year-old, but would they have been willing to invest in him had he been 28? By the time a 28-year-old Tebow had fully developed he would be in his early 30s and his skills would begin to decline almost as soon as he reached his peak.

Take Aaron Rodgers as an extreme example on the other end of the spectrum. He’s two months younger than Weeden. Would you sign him to a five-year contract after this season? Of course.

Somewhere in between Tebow and Rodgers is where Weeden stands today.

My early assessment is that Weeden has the physical tools (arm strength and accuracy) to be effective at the next level, but I have concerns about his decision making ability for two reasons.

First, he has a tendency to force the ball into tight spaces – often when targeting Justin Blackmon. This is probably due to Blackmon’s elite skills, which occassionally makes a poor decision by Weeden look like a brilliant pass. This works at the college level, but he will rarely, if ever, have the luxury of taking advantage of mismatches in the NFL that Blackmon creates in college.

Second, Oklahoma State’s spread offense generates a lot of open space and easy throws – especially against some of the porous defenses in the Big 12. We’ve seen quarterbacks such as Zac Robinson excel in this system but fail to make an impact on the next level. Weeden may possess the skills to succeed in a more demanding system, but he simply hasn’t been tested yet. This will slow his progress in the NFL.

Ultimately I believe Weeden is worth a mid-round pick and could be a serviceable starter at some point in his career. However, I would not be comfortable investing in him as the future of my franchise. There are 21 and 22-year-olds available in every draft with Weeden’s skill set; it would be safer to wait for a younger option with a higher ceiling than to settle for Weeden.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Exclusive Comments Off