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Dan Parker
Browns Blogger

Dan Parker

DP is a Cleveland Browns' season ticket holder and currently writes for the Cleveland sports site Waiting For Next Year.

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Rating a draft's quarterbacks can be risky business. As a Browns fan, I need only look back to 1999, the supposed "Year of the Quarterback" for reference. Couch! McNabb! Smith! McNown! Culpepper! All first-rounders. The first three went 1-2-3 in the draft itself. There were so many franchise quarterbacks to be had! How could you go wrong?

Well, the Eagles have been laughing for the last decade, as their pick was the only one that worked, and ironically they were lambasted for it by their fans because they chose McNabb over Ricky Williams. The only other one of those five to have any success at all was Culpepper, and his best years involved Chris Carter, Randy Moss, and a solid o-line and running game. My Browns picked Couch first overall, and honestly (through no real fault of Couch himself) it set the franchise back five years.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: you'll pardon me if I don't like rating quarterbacks.

All of that having been said, with the Browns' current scorched-earth landscape at the quarterback position (though he sounds like a great guy, it takes a lot of work for me to get excited about a year or two of Jake Delhomme), the prospects of them drafting a quarterback high in the draft are very real.

Though not just for the reasons above, I come from the school of: you don't take a quarterback with a high first round pick unless he's literally one of the last three "pieces" you need to win it all. Think Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. There are exceptions (in other words, if a Peyton Manning is sitting there, you take him no matter what), but with the number of mid- and even late-round quarterbacks that end up successful in the NFL, I just don't see the need to sink that kind of money into a QB when your team (well, my team, anyway) has so many other holes. In short, take 2005 as an example: just because you have the No. 1 pick, 49ers, doesn't mean you have to take "the best" quarterback. But I digress...

So, all of that blustering and disclaimer-ing out of the way, how does this year's class look? In truth, it looks fairly solid, especially if you're willing to wait a couple of rounds. There are, of course, the two expected blue-chips: Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen. Assuming 100% health for both, if I had to pick one of those guys I would pick Bradford. His career at Oklahoma was stellar, even with the injury-ruined senior season. He excelled in a tough conference against tougher competition, was a four-year starter, is an accurate passer, and is very smart. These are not knocks on Jimmy Clausen so much as they are acknowledgments that I feel Bradford has all of the qualities that best fit into the supposed West-coast offense the Browns will be running. I think Clausen can be successful, but it will depend on him landing in the correct situation.

Beyond those two, there are plenty of other intriguing options at the position to be had later on down the line. Colt McCoy certainly has a strong pedigree. Two that spring to mind are Tony Pike and Dan LeFevour. While the Orange Bowl may have taken some of the shine off of Cincinnati last season, Pike's physical tools and numbers can't be ignored. At 6-feet-6 and 225 pounds, he's got the size to play in the NFL, and his two years as a starter had him over 61 percent in completion percentage. He threw 48 touchdowns against only 17 interceptions. Those are the kinds of abilities that make for a good NFL quarterback.

LeFevour comes from the less prominent Central Michigan program, but the numbers he put up as a four-year starter cannot be ignored. He, too, has good size at 6-3 and 238 pounds. The lowest completion percentage he ever had in college was 63.4 and that was during his freshman year; that stat improved all four years at CMU, topping off at almost 70 percent his senior year. He has 102 career TD passes againt only 36 picks.

There are some others: Jevan Snead (Ole Miss) and Zac Robinson (Ok. State) have mid- to late-round potential; Sean Canfield (Oregon State) might make a nice late-round project with his physical tools. I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the one player at the position I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole: Tim Tebow. Don't get me wrong, I think Tebow can be a great football player in a certain niche in the NFL. But he won't be a great quarterback. And, if my team drafts him as their quarterback, I will shred my season tickets and mail them back to Berea.

So, at the end of the day, I think there are some definitely prospects in this class assuming they end up in solid situations and aren't asked to do too much too soon. While I think Bradford has the pedigree, if I were doing the drafting for the Browns I'd take a look at either Pike or LeFevour a bit further down in the draft and develop them over time. There is a lot to like about many of these quarterbacks, but those two guys have a lot of positives and not a lot of negatives other than perhaps where they played and who they played against. But I remember another quarterback that Mike Holmgren targeted and developed. He played at Southern Mississippi, and ended up having a pretty solid NFL career. What was his name again?

By Dan Parker  |  March 17, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  | Category:  Draft , NFL , Quarterbacks , Scouting Combine Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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