BEREA—Pat Shurmur met with the local media in the offensive line meeting room in Browns headquarters for close to an hour before he and his staff were scheduled to leave for the NFL Indianapolis Combine which begins Thursday. GM Tom Heckert was scheduled to take part, as well, but due to illness was unable to.
Much of the discussion and questioning surrounded the quarterback position with Colt McCoy and potential draft possibilities, with the most notable being Robert Griffin III.
Most of the draft experts have spent a lot of their talk assuming the Browns would do what they can do to either trade up to get the Heisman Trophy winner or draft him if he’s available at the fourth spot.
According to Shurmur, that talk is premature when asked if the draft pundits are jumping the gun.
“That’s a fair comment,” Shurmur said. “I think what happens there is a lot to be said and written. Folks are making predictions and we’re just digging and getting involved in the process. That’s the exciting part of the combine with 300 athletes there and looking at them.”
Shurmur said he hasn’t met Griffin and is looking forward to at the combine.
“First of all, I’ve never met the man,” Shurmur said. “That’s why it’s so important. Obviously, he’s very accomplished. I’ve watched the players on tape and as we go through it all we’ll determine if he’s (everything that’s been said about him).”
Shurmur didn’t sound as though he is ready to write off McCoy, although he didn’t name him the starter for 2012. Shurmur said McCoy is healthy from the concussion he sustained that caused him to miss the final three games of the season.
“I’m expecting him to attack this off-season and being as good as he can in our system,” Shurmur said. “You know him and I expect him to do that. Young players always have a lot to learn and he really works at it.”
Shurmur said he expects McCoy to improve much in the off-season.
“I think it’s fair to say he has things he needs to improve on,” Shurmur said. “There are things he needs to work on and be refined whether that be reads, decision making or footwork.
“He’ll have the off-season and will really critique himself,” he said. “Things that can be refined and with the off season and the pace slowed down, he’ll be able to do that.”
Shurmur said he’s been in contact with McCoy since the season ended frequently.
“I’ve communicated with Colt throughout this off-season,” Shurmur said. “Basically, I told him to prepare himself and take as much time as necessary to get ready and relax.”
Shurmur was asked how high a ceiling McCoy has.
“I think he can be very good and can play at a high level,” Shurmur said. “(If he plays) like I think he can when he makes these improvements, he can put the ball in the end zone and win games. I’m expecting him to (improve). What’s encouraging is he’s a guy who will work at it.”
One of the biggest criticisms about McCoy is that he doesn’t have a big arm, but Shurmur disagrees.
“I think he can throw the deep ball,” he said. “Most quarterbacks have to throw the deep ball in rhythm. I’ve seen him throw the deep ball.”
Over the next weeks as the front office evaluates what to do in free agency and the draft, Shurmur does admit that the Browns have to get the quarterback position right.
“It’s very important that we need to do what we can to get the quarterback right,” he said. “It’s important in the dynamic model as we put the team together as it’s structured.”
Shurmur said there is no question the Browns are developing McCoy and they have to decide if they want to do so again in the draft or bring in a veteran through trade or free agency—rather than stick with McCoy.
“When you’re developing a quarterback like Colt McCoy, it’s a process,” he said. “We’re trying to speed up the process. What happens when you’re developing a guy, you’re always going to focus on the details.”
Shurmur said he’s not worried about McCoy’s psyche being damaged with all the talk about Griffin or other quarterbacks. He views McCoy as a player going into his second year, even though it’s his third.
“It’s natural to watch who they bring in, but there’s a big difference in my mind from year one to year two (for a quarterback).”
When the process is all sorted through, Shurmur and Heckert will have all the information they want on Griffin and other candidates.
“You’d be amazed at how much information is out there and what we have access too,” Shurmur said.
The key is they make the right decision.