Former UT star McCoy faces uphill battle in NFL
AUSTIN — Colt McCoy is learning how the other half lives.
Or rather, how the bigger half lives.
He made the Cleveland Browns roster as we all expected despite those silly rumors he might get cut, but the deck is clearly stacked against him for the same reasons he was taken near the end of the third round of the NFL draft while Sam Bradford was the football jerseys
first pick overall.
Those are two of the biggest predictors of NFL success, and Bradford has both. Trouble is, a quarterback can't learn either. He can't pick that up with extra film study. He can't gain them with more wind sprints. Quarterbacks are who they are.
And McCoy, at 6-1 and 216 pounds but tougher than a British Petroleum publicist, is a few inches shorter and several pounds lighter than your stereotypical NFL quarterback. That doesn't mean he can't be the exception to the rule. Joe Montana, after all, was only 6-2.
Asked why Bradford went so far ahead of the guy he tutored for five seasons, Longhorns offensive coordinator Greg Davis said, "It's 6-foot-3/4 as opposed to about 6-5, that's part of it. And overall strength. When you're an NFL evaluator, there's a huge difference between 6-1 and 6-4 even. Major (Applewhite) will be the first to tell you. He said he battled that all his life."
Colt will as well.
Bradford also has a much bigger arm than McCoy. Heck, Garrett Gilbert has a stronger arm than McCoy. Davis said the difference between Gilbert and McCoy's arm strength is "noticeable."
Beside the arm strength that separates NFL starters from would-be starters/future grad assistants, bigger quarterbacks generally have more durable bodies that can stand up to long careers and weather those weekly collisions. Seventeen starting NFL quarterbacks carry 230 pounds or more on their frames.
"Just look at the hits those guys take," Davis said. "Tom Brady's a big man. Big Ben's (Roethlisberger) a big man. (Peyton) Manning's big. (Joe) Flacco's big. Even Colt would say that. Drew Brees is not, but there are not many (of his size), and he was horrible his first year in the NFL."
In fact, the inimitable Brees, who's already thrown for more than 30,000 yards and 200 touchdowns in eight years as a starter, is the only quarterback among the 32 NFL starters who is listed as being 6 feet tall. He's also the leanest, weighing 209 pounds or so, depending on whether he's wearing his Super Bowl championship ring.
Jacksonville's David Garrard is 6-1, and the Jets' Minnesota Vikings jersey
Mark Sanchez, Cowboys' Tony Romo, the Vikings' Brett Favre and the Browns' Jake Delhomme — the quarterback with the job that Colt wants — are all 6-2.
The point is, NFL coaches, general managers and other front-office execs like 'em big and bigger. Nineteen starters are all of 6-4 or taller. Flacco and Derek Anderson top out at 6-6.
Clearly there are other critical skill sets that quarterbacks bring that will dictate whether one becomes a Hall of Famer or Ryan Leaf.
We all know McCoy wrote the book on intangibles, on want-to, on smarts. He gets by on guile, intelligence, savvy and know-how. No one should bet against him succeeding.
Texas never would have won 45 games during his tenure here had he not had the "it" factor. But it doesn't go as far on the next level as it does in college, leaving the Doug Fluties and Troy Smiths to fight for survival.
McCoy faces an uphill battle in Cleveland, but who doesn't in Cleveland? The franchise hasn't had but two winning seasons in the past 12 and has won exactly one playoff game since 1989.
"I still have a long ways to go," McCoy told reporters after his last game.
He might also be fighting resistance from his head coach, Eric Mangini. It seems apparent that Mangini isn't enamored with the former Texas quarterback although he has praised McCoy's work ethic and smarts.
"Colt has shown growth," Mangini said after McCoy's last preseason game, in which he completed all 13 of his passes. "He has improved on the decision-making from the earlier games. We are not where we need to be, but it has been better than it was."
Team president Mike Holmgren made it clear he used his power to take McCoy in the draft (even though Mangini and his entire offensive staff spent three hours with McCoy in Austin before the draft) and sees some of the same headiness in him that he saw in Favre and Matt Hasselbeck.
Those who know McCoy admit he is feeling some frustration.
Before one preseason game last month, the Browns coaching staff told McCoy he wasn't going to play and didn't bother giving him the weekly game plan. Then, McCoy was inserted into the action anyway unprepared through no fault of his own.
Asked if Mangini still hasn't warmed to McCoy, one close friend of the quarterback said, "This is a sense I get."
Mangini does have a buffer with both Delhomme and Seneca Wallace ahead of McCoy on the depth chart. Delhomme, on his last legs, will become the sixth different starting quarterback for the Browns in the past seven seasons when he trots out for Pittsburgh Steelers jersey
the first snap at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Last season, Cleveland started four quarterbacks. Mangini might as well stick a revolving door in the backfield.
Who knows when McCoy will get his chance? Will it even come in Cleveland? He's never going to be much bigger and his arm not that much stronger, but maybe he'll outlive Mangini in Cleveland.
McCoy already knew some of his shortcomings. Now he knows it's a cold business as well.