April 20, 2014

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NFL Draft: Undersized Colt McCoy not short on talent

Another 2 inches, and Colt McCoy would be a top-five pick.

“I’d like to say I was 6-4, but this is what God gave me,” he said at the scouting combine. “I’m going to use it the best I can.”

McCoy won 45 games at Texas, the most by any quarterback in the history of college football. He set an NCAA season record with a 76.7 completion percentage and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2008, then led the Longhorns to the BCS title game as a senior.

But at 6-foot-11/8 and 216 pounds, he doesn’t measure up to the prototype sought by NFL scouts, coaches and general managers in the draft. His winning history and impeccable intangibles are still valued, just not at a top-20 level. McCoy is considered the third-best quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen and is projected to be taken late in the first round or in the second.

If the Browns don’t trade up for Bradford or take Clausen at No. 7, they could trade into the bottom of the first round for McCoy or hope he falls to them at No. 38. President Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have researched McCoy and hosted him for a visit.

“He’s a very impressive young man,” Holmgren said. “Clearly cares, very productive.”

Holmgren said he wasn’t bothered by McCoy’s height, or average arm strength.

“I’ve had the privilege of coaching a guy who threw it as hard as anybody in Brett (Favre) and the guy that everybody said didn’t have the rocket arm but may have been the best quarterback who ever lived in Joe Montana,” Holmgren said. “I’ve had a real positive experience with arm strength. If I can get the ball to you on time, having a rocket isn’t the No. 1 thing.

“Colt falls somewhere in the middle.”

Longhorns offensive coordinator Greg Davis spent the last five years with McCoy. He watched him sprint into Vince Young’s giant shadow, never shrink and develop into an icon himself.

“We had just won the national championship game and Colt comes in in January after Vince leaves and says, ‘Coach, I’m going to be the best you ever had,’” Davis said last week by phone. “He has a quiet confidence in himself.”

Davis said McCoy’s height was never an issue behind Texas’ NFL-sized line and he has the arm strength to complete the all-important deep out.

“He can make those throws and he has such great anticipation with those throws,” Davis said.

Davis had dinner with McCoy on Thursday and said he had a “great time” on his visit to Berea. Davis said accuracy, athleticism and intangibles are what make McCoy special.

“He’s got the ability to put the ball where he wants,” he said. “He’s tremendously competitive and has as many intangibles as any quarterback I ever coached. He already graduated and went on two mission trips to Peru. He’s bright and a gym rat.

“All the things you think of in terms of leadership, work ethic, things that make a quarterback the face of a franchise – he has it.”

McCoy was knocked out early in the national championship loss to Alabama in January when he took a shot to the right shoulder and injured a nerve. He said he didn’t feel any pain, but the arm and fingers went dead and he couldn’t grip the ball. He’s 100 percent and silenced any doubts with a near-flawless showing at his pro day.

Yet he still lags well behind Bradford and Clausen in most predraft conversations. They could both go in the top 10, while McCoy might be around at No. 40.

“I had a great career. I won more games than anybody else who’s played before,” McCoy said on WKNR 850-AM. “I’m truly blessed, but at the same time I’m very confident in my ability, very confident in the way I lead a team and carry a team.

“I could go really early, I could slip and fall. My mind-set is I just want to get on a roster. At that point, I’ll earn a job, I’ll work my tail off and I’ll play in the NFL for a long time.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called McCoy a “strong-armed Jake Plummer,” but most of the comparisons are to Drew Brees, who carried the Saints to the Super Bowl last season. Brees is 6-0, 209, doesn’t have a huge arm and rebounded from a serious shoulder injury.

“If you don’t like Colt McCoy, you didn’t like Drew Brees, either,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden said on a conference call. “I know he’s going to be a great acquisition for someone. All he does is win games.

“When you’re around him, you believe he can lead an organization. He’s a guy you want in front of your football team, fans and media.”

McCoy set Texas records with 1,155 completions, 14,815 yards of total offense and a 70.3 career completion percentage. Davis said his offense used many of the West Coast concepts being installed in the Browns’ scheme.

“Quick drop and the ball’s out,” Davis said. “Trying to leverage the defense based on rhythm and timing. That’s where I think he’s at his best. It would be a wonderful fit for him.”

“It’s a strong possibility,” McCoy said of being drafted by the Browns. “What they do and what we did is very similar. I’m excited about possibly being a Cleveland Brown.”

No matter where he goes, he believes he’ll be a success.

“I’m going to continue to do what I’ve done my whole career, that’s work harder than anybody else, that’s prepare better than anybody else,” McCoy said. “And I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.