When we all woke up today, a lot of people thought that the Cleveland Browns would trade up to the first pick of the 2nd round and select Texas QB Colt McCoy.
As it happened, the St. Louis Rams kept the 33rd overall pick and selected Roger Saffold out of Indiana to shore up its offensive line and protect its investment in #1 pick Sam Bradford.
Then the Browns took a safety…and then they took a running back…and finally, with the 85th pick in the draft – some 50 picks after many people thought he’d be selected – Colt McCoy was the choice of the Cleveland Browns.
And it was the best pick in terms of value in the first three rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft.
What’s that? You want some reasons? Fine, here we go:
According to no less an authority than Gil Brandt, one of the most important attributes that predicts a quarterbacks’ NFL readiness is the number of games they started in college. Well, if that is true – and do you want to doubt Gil Brandt? – then it doesn’t get much better than Colt McCoy.
Not only was McCoy a 4-year starter for a team from a power conference that had national championship expectations every year, but he set an NCAA record by leading his team to 45 wins. Even the mighty Sam Bradford, with his sniper-like accuracy, can’t say that.
In Colt McCoy the Browns are getting an experienced, battle-tested, proven winner. There haven’t been many proven winners in Berea since the Browns came back to the NFL. They have one now.
2. Colt McCoy is accurate
The single most underrated attribute of quarterback success in the NFL is accuracy. If you want to know the reason why Drew Brees has become a star in the NFL despite being undersized and lacking a rocket right arm, that is it: he is accurate.
There is a reason that more than one draftnik has compared McCoy’s NFL potential to that of Brees, another highly successful college QB who was picked after Round 1.
If you like numbers, here you go: Colt McCoy is 2nd all time in NCAA history with a career completion percentage of 70.3. That’s right, the Browns could barely complete 50% of their passes last year with a former 1st round pick and a former Pro Bowler playing QB. Now they have a QB to develop who is used to completing 7 out of every 10 passes.
There is a caveat. McCoy played in an offense that rarely asked him to throw the ball deep. The majority of McCoy’s throws were within 5-10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and he does struggle sometimes with his downfield accuracy.
Mitigating that concern, however, is the offense he is going to. The Browns will be shifting towards more of a West Coast attack with Mike Holmgren and his magic mustache at the helm. That means a lot of shorter, timing-based routes, which are similar to what McCoy succeeded in throwing at Texas.
3. Value, value, value
Look, the NFL draft is all about value. If the Browns had taken Colt McCoy with the 7th pick in the draft, I might be writing a post calling it the worst pick of the entire draft; but they didn’t. They were patient. The Browns trusted the grade that their scouts had on Colt McCoy and refused to reach for him – again, according to their grade – in the second round.
By being patient, not only did the team hang onto its valuable 2nd and 3rd round picks, it was still able to get McCoy in a round that works out well for both team and player. McCoy will not require the kind of financial investment that makes the team beholden to his ultimate success or failure (hello Denver and Tim Tebow) and McCoy does not head to Berea with the gargantuan expectations of a 1st or 2nd round pick.
The Browns can be patient with McCoy, and he can be patient with the team.
The Browns have a veteran QB with a maximum of 2-3 years left and another QB who is unproven as a starter. McCoy will ultimately get a chance to start and earn his money. Unlike Sam Bradford, however, he won’t be saddled with the hopes, dreams, and expectations of an entire fan base and organization; and vice versa.
Update: A reader just reminded me that the Browns got Colt McCoy lower than they picked Charlie Frye. Take that for what it’s worth; I’ll take it as another example of the supreme value the Browns got with pick #85.
4. I love a scorned competitor and leader
It is not debatable that Colt McCoy is an incredible competitor.
You do not get a scholarship to the University of Texas – a school that can have its pick of the Southwest litter every year – without competing for it. Additionally, you don’t start as a freshman at a school like Texas without competing and proving your mettle to coaches who face immense pressure to win big every year.
And you certainly don’t set an NCAA record for wins – yes, even more than Lord Tebow himself – without being a tremendous competitor and a strong leader.
The Browns have drafted a guy with those proven characteristics, and they get him more motivated – I don’t care what any player says, they want to prove their worth to people who passed on them – yet at a lower price. Sounds good to me.
5. If his play warrants it, Colt McCoy can be the face of a franchise
Colt McCoy spent his freshman year at Texas trying to fill the shoes of one of the greatest players in school history (the immortal, at least in Austin, Vince Young). After proving himself, McCoy then spent the next three years as the unquestioned leader of one of college football’s gold standard programs.
He never got in trouble. He never said the wrong thing. He did nothing but represent himself, his family, his team, and his school with incredible class. And he did this while still maintaining the competitive fire and leadership I just spoke about.
The Browns have not had a true face of their franchise since they returned from exile. A lot of people have been put in that position, but none have had the combination of on-field skill and off-field grace to pull it off. We have no idea if Colt McCoy will break the Browns’ sorry post-return mold or just be another in a long line of failed Browns’ attempts at finding a franchise QB.
But I do know this: if his play on the field develops, his attitude and disposition off of it will be beyond reproach. In this day and age of Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger – when franchise quarterbacks are $100 million investments – that is important. Character is important.
To get a guy in the 3rd round with that kind of on- and off-field potential is tremendous.
6. McCoy makes the Jake Delhomme signing infinitely more valuable
Jake Delhomme was signed for many reasons, chief among them being his history of winning, his high character, and the belief of Mike Holmgren that he still had something left in the tank. Because of those three attributes, Delhomme has a great chance to start next season.
Do not, however, dismiss the importance of Delhomme’s willingness to be a mentor to younger QBs in the Browns’ decision to bring him into the fold. When the Browns announced the signing of Delhomme, I read story after story from Panthers’ beat reporters who lauded Delhomme’s willingness to be a mentor to Matt Moore, the guy who ultimately took his job in Carolina.
Now that the Browns have a potential franchise QB who is humble and willing to learn, the team can maximize its short- to mid-term investment in Delhomme.
7. Something about this quote…
Look, I know that you shouldn’t read too much into sound bytes, and most players sound very polished and say the right things on draft day; still, there is something about this quote from Colt McCoy – made immediately after getting selected, during an interview with ESPN’s Jenn Brown – that I really liked:
“You won’t regret it and we’ll win a lot of games.”
Now look, Tony Pike might get picked later in the draft and say something similar. What will it mean? And 95% of QBs who have ever been drafted have probably said some derivative of this statement. There is, however, a difference between them and Colt McCoy: he is talking a talk for a walk that he’s already walked.
No, Colt McCoy has not won anything yet at the NFL level; and he may never win a game as a starting QB in the NFL. We have no clue. But we also have a) never seen a QB with 45 career college wins come into the NFL after being b) passed over for a guy he’s beaten (Bradford), that he’s more polished than (Tebow), and that he’s more mature and a better leader than (Clausen).
Give me the choice of those three guys at their respective draft slots or McCoy at his and I’ll take McCoy at #85.
And this leads me to my final reason why Colt McCoy is the best pick of the 2010 NFL Draft…
…and it’s merely a reiteration of reason #3, because it cannot be overstated…
McCoy’s draft position, when taken into account with everything else I’ve expatiated in this post, eliminates any potential regret about his selection. The Browns cannot possibly ever regret this pick, even if McCoy never takes a snap in a Browns uniform.
This is in stark contrast to the Rams and Broncos, each of whom used 1st round picks on a QB. Similarly, the Panthers used their first pick, though a 2nd rounder, on a QB. The success of Bradford, Tebow, and Clausen ultimately defines their teams’ respective drafts in 2010. Colt McCoy, on the other hand, is merely a piece of what has been a very solid Browns draft so far.
Make no mistake about my point with this post: I am not saying that Colt McCoy is better than Sam Bradford, or Ndamukong Suh, or Jimmy Clausen, or even, hell, even Dan LeFevour for that matter. I’m just saying that when you take into account draft position, salary, pedigree, pre-draft rankings, and team needs, Colt McCoy at #85 is as good as it gets from a value perspective.
In closing, here is something else that Colt McCoy said tonight to Jenn Brown – might her last name be a sign? Anyone? – after waiting nearly three full rounds to be selected:
“God’s plan is perfect and I am where I’m supposed to be.”
I’m not sure if God really thinks about the NFL draft (because if he did, why would he smite us with Todd McShay?), but I sure am excited that McCoy is so confident in God’s plan and the road it has paved for him to Cleveland.
Folks, a franchise that has spent its last decade defined by losing just drafted – at the end of the 3rd round – the winningest quarterback in college football history. I think it’s a match made in football heaven. And we all know that Ohio is football heaven, with respectful apologies to my current home of Texas.
That this match was made with the 85th pick makes it a perfect match, in my eyes the best one between team, player, and draft position in the 2010 NFL draft.
Welcome to Cleveland Colt. (Side note: you thought Texas fans were nuts? You ain’t seen nothing yet.)
* – Colt McCoy running photo credit: Black Christian News
* – Colt McCoy with hands in air: NBCSports.com
* – Colt McCoy celebrating photo credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin via GoColtGo.com