The Browns are expected to start No. 22 overall pick Brandon Weeden as a rookie, but they won’t get a good feel for Weeden’s pro readiness until the bullets start flying. While Weeden draws high marks for arm strength and accuracy — which surely will translate beautifully to the practice field — the 28-year-old’s ability to sustain effectiveness under pressure is a potential stumbling block.
NFL Films guru Greg Cosell saw some struggles under pressure on Weeden’s game tape, and in interviews with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Big 12 coaches who faced Weeden in college said they noticed the same thing.
“He got quick feet. He got nervous,” observed Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham, whose Cyclones defeated Weeden’s Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2011 regular season finale. “He really threw the ball away in a hurry. I’m not saying he was scared, he just wanted to get the ball out to his hot receiver.”
Former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, now on Clemson’s staff, faced Weeden twice in college and similarly surmised that Weeden’s ability, or inability, to improve under duress will indicate his career path.
“The challenge in the NFL,” said Venables, “will be when the pocket’s collapsing.”
Weeden played behind a solid offensive line at Oklahoma State, and in a Big 12 conference that generated inconsistent to poor pass rush. His highlight reels largely consist of throws made from a clean pocket.
Weeden may be in for a rude awakening in the NFL.