By Tony Grossi
This edition of Hey Tony is slightly shorter than normal because we eliminated all draft-related questions except those received after Thursday’s first round. Also, questions that do not include a name and city are not used.
Hey Tony: What's the latest on Eric Steinbach? We've paid a lot of attention to the right tackle position in the offseason but now that we have Trent Richardson, I want the best offensive line possible. Jason Pinkston did alright as a rookie and shows promise but if we can get a healthy Steinbach back at a fair price, how interested are we and what are our chances of him coming back?
-- Adam, Cuyahoga Falls
Hey Adam: I’ve thought all along that Steinbach would find a starting job with another team if he proves he’s healthy enough to play. Very soon he will be in position to take a physical. If he passes, I expect him to sign with Chicago or Baltimore. I don’t think the Browns view him as a potential starter and I don’t think he would return as a backup – unless that’s his only option.
Hey Tony: To be clear I really don’t like the Brandon Weeden pick. Even ignoring his age, taking a QB from a spread system who almost never had to take a snap from center had a 45% accuracy rate when pressured and had the nation’s top receiver for two years to make him look good at 22 in the first round is a huge reach. Adding his age to this just compounds the mistake. This was clearly a Mike Holmgren power play as I believe Tom Heckert knows better than this. My question is what do you think the players on the team think? When I looked through their twitter profiles almost all of them were clearly excited when the browns took Trent Richardson and then when the Weeden pick came, silence.
-- Este, San Francisco
Hey Este: Interesting take on the player Twitter responses. You follow them more closely than I do. I imagine their silence reflects some confusion about the future of Colt McCoy. As for Weeden, you make some good points. I would say that Holmgren’s marching orders were to find the team’s starting quarterback going forward. It’s perfectly within his job description to set the agenda at that position. I tend to agree with you that Heckert probably wouldn’t have made the same pick.
Hey Tony: Just curious, is Brandon Weeden represented by Bob LaMonte? Forgive my skepticism when addressing a franchise that has done nothing but disappoint and breed apathy in a blindly loyal fan base for over a decade.
-- Brendan Kilbane, Cleveland
Hey Brendan: LaMonte represents numerous NFL team executives and coaches – including every one of the key men running the Browns – but he does not take on players as clients anymore.
Hey Tony: My issue with the Browns is they continue to REACH/ROLL DICE with top picks year after year!! This franchise simply can’t afford MISSES on high draft choices! H&H seemingly always trying to prove they’re smarter than everyone else. Previous regime (Eric Mangini) just felt like trading down, stock-piling picks was the silver-bullet. Here’s a thought…stay with the pick you have and make the solid/mart/simple choice and move on! It’s clear in this draft they targeted Trent Richardson, Kendall Wright, Brandon Weeden. When Wright got picked, H&H panicked and reached for Weeden, who would have been available at #37. I’m hoping I’m wrong … but feel like another draft of blown opportunities to me.
-- JT, Hudson
Hey JT: The statement that Weeden would have been available at No. 37 is conjecture. What if he wasn’t? So the Browns lose a starting quarterback they’d targeted simply by guessing wrong. The Redskins were universally praised for going up and taking the quarterback they wanted, even overpaying for him. The Browns liked Weeden. Why wait for No. 37?
Hey Tony: Do you think Colt McCoy's father calling out the Browns last season when they put him back in the game after suffering a concussion played a part in the team replacing him?
-- Steve Bohnenkamp, Geneva IL
Hey Steve: I don’t think it was the driving factor, but I do believe it contributed. Those comments were never forgotten by the powers-that-be, I’ve been told.
Hey Tony: You're such a disgusting shill for these guys. I guess you have to, given the way you treated the prior coach. So you go all in with these guys. They got played by Minnesota, no one was gonna give up the back half of their draft to move up. But there you are praising them like they're demi-gods. Then Weeden at 22? Likely would have been there at 37. No one between those picks needed a QB, but by all means frame your argument to make them look good. Damn fools they are & you're their jester. All I'm gonna say is they better be right.
-- Mike, Dover
Hey Mike: Taking happy pills again? Good lord, you are such a blast of chemical-charred, sulfuric acid. I look forward to your next bombastic missive.
Hey Tony: T'was the night before the draft and all through Cleveland, not a Browns fan was stirring not even Big Dawg. The mock drafts were all filled out with care, in hopes that Trent Richardson, Michael Floyd, and Brandon Weeden soon would be there.
-- Rob, Strongsville.
Hey Rob: Looks like two of your three Christmas wishes were granted.
Hey Tony: Now that Brandon Weeden is the pick, I really think this is an upgrade at quarterback, but Holmgren and Heckert are really going "all in" here. If McCoy is traded, he's a backup somewhere else, why not have him simply back up here? Ego? Do the coaches consider Seneca Wallace a better guy to step in if something happens (Maybe)? To help McCoy save face? Focus the team and avoid a controversy (Bet that's it)? Or some of all of the above? What are your thoughts? Thanks, I bet the inbox is flooded.
-- Doug, Orange, CA
Hey Doug: The Browns view Wallace as the prototypical NFL backup – capable of stepping in during a game or for a couple games and holding the fort. McCoy might have a tough time adjusting to that mentality here. Plus, they don’t want to contribute to a locker room-splitting controversy with some players siding with McCoy. I believe it would be awkward for McCoy and his teammates if McCoy stayed on.
Hey Tony: A question for your column on Saturday: By the time you publish this, it may very well be a moot point…but who do you rate higher – Joe Haden or Morris Claiborne?
-Jim Jarrell, Lakewood
Hey Jim: They are different style cornerbacks with different strengths and weaknesses. Claiborne has those long arms coaches love and is rangier, probably more athletic and thus, more potential as a true “shutdown” cornerback. Claiborne is not a physical tackler and, in fact, shies from sticking his nose in the running game. Haden is a tremendous tackling cornerback – a quality many NFL coaches believe is essential for an elite player at his position. Haden, however, may trail Claiborne in other qualities. His numerous dropped interceptions last year were a concern. Both will play a long time.
Hey Tony: Great to see you established again. With the philosophy of the draft room being that you trust your board during the draft and NOT becoming impulsive and emotional, straying from the board (which Holmgren did), was it a mistake drafting Colt McCoy and not taking the original pick? I am sure it was mentioned a DL was higher on the board. Things could have been so different, for the better I fear.
-- Stephen Gaskell, Manchester, UK
Hey Stephen: The story of the McCoy selection is this: Heckert was preparing to use the 85th pick in the third round on Corey Peters, a defensive tackle from Kentucky. However, the Falcons selected Peters at No. 83 and he has become a starter in their interior defensive front. When No. 85 rolled around, Holmgren asked Heckert if he had a strong conviction on an alternate selection and Heckert said no. That’s when Holmgren suggested taking McCoy. A few players the Browns passed up: Denver WR Eric Decker (No. 87), San Francisco LB Navorro Bowman (No. 91), Kansas City TE Tony Moeaki (No. 93) and Saints TE Jimmy Graham (No. 95).
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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