Analyzing the Options at Quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in 2013

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2013

In his rookie season, Brandon Weeden threw 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and finished the season with a 72.6 rating.
In his rookie season, Brandon Weeden threw 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and finished the season with a 72.6 rating.Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Going into 2013, one of the greatest questions the Cleveland Browns must answer is who will start at quarterback for them. 

The Browns have a number of options, including players who currently are on the Cleveland roster, and others who could be acquired through free agency or trade.

If Rob Chudzinski and the rest of his coaching staff choose to stick with someone who is currently on the roster, then the quarterback for the Browns in 2013 will be either Brandon Weeden or Colt McCoy.

Weeden, who just finished his rookie reason with Cleveland, showed some promise towards the end of the season, especially with the emergence of wide receiver Josh Gordon. The rookie QB out of Oklahoma State ranked fairly low in the NFL in completion percentage, 57.4, and struggled with a turnover problem, throwing 17 interceptions and 14 touchdowns. 

Only four quarterbacks in the league threw more interceptions than Weeden, and only four regular starting QBs had fewer touchdowns.

Assuming the Browns don't sign a new quarterback and choose not to go with Weeden, then the starter will be McCoy, who started 13 games for the team in 2011. 

McCoy has a lifetime completion percentage of 58.3 and a career rating of 74.8. McCoy's biggest advantage is his mobility, as he fits into the West Coast offense better than Weeden, who is a more traditional quarterback.

In college, Weeden had a cannon that he showed off quite often, but it seemed that under Pat Shurmur, he was encouraged to check down more than throw deep, as the majority of Weeden's passes were thrown to tight ends and running backs. 

Assuming that Chudzinski would want to run an offense similar to the one he had in Carolina, then McCoy could be the better option. However, if he wants to model his offense around the one he had when he was last in Cleveland in 2007 with quarterback Derek Anderson, then Weeden's arm power could be showcased.

The Browns will also have the option to look at quarterbacks on other teams, as well.

Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers will certainly be the hottest commodity when it comes to quarterbacks in the offseason, as the team will likely be shopping Smith to other teams.

Cleveland doesn't have much to offer San Francisco in terms of players, but the Browns could offer up some of their draft picks, as they have a conditional draft pick that they received from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for safety David Sims. 

Smith, prior to getting benched by the 49ers in favor of Colin Kaepernick, was having a really good year in 2012, especially compared to that of Weeden's. In nine starts, Smith completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 1,737 yards. He threw 13 touchdowns against only five interceptions.

Smith is a solid NFL quarterback, and if the Browns can offer something to San Francisco to bring him in, he could be the best option at the position for Cleveland.

Outside of Smith, there isn't much in the free-agent market or the draft to go after. Other free-agent quarterback names include Chase Daniel of the New Orleans, Rex Grossman in of the Washington Redskins and Jason Campbell of the Chicago Bears.

Certainly no one that Cleveland would want to pursue, and they are quarterbacks that Weeden would most likely perform better than. 

In the draft, Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the two biggest names at quarterback. Geno Smith had a solid senior season, completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 4,205 yards and 42 touchdowns, and only threw six interceptions. 

However, a number of scouts have been looking past Smith, but if the Browns wanted to take a chance on him, it certainly wouldn't be their worst move. Yet it's hard to say whether Smith could produce more than Weeden or McCoy.

As a senior, Barkley had a drop-off compared to his junior season, throwing three fewer touchdowns and eight more interceptions. If Cleveland went after Barkley, they wouldn't be getting anything more than they already have in Weeden.

The Browns have a number of options they could choose from at quarterback, and whether or not they choose to stick with whom they have or go after a new QB, it will likely be the most important decision Chudzinski and new general manager Mike Lombardi make in 2013.