BEREA, Ohio -- Every team in the National Football League has their own ways of evaluating quarterbacks and what they place the highest emphasis on when breaking down film and interviewing potential prospects.
When new Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley goes in search of a quarterback, he wants someone that stays strong in the pocket, especially while under duress, and has the ability to be a leader of men.
“You’re looking for highly competitive guys with ability to weather the storms that are going to come up as a young quarterback in the league,” Haley said in his introductory press conference. “You’re looking for physical and mental toughness.
“Obviously, you have to have an NFL-type arm. You have to have great feel and awareness, great leadership, and it is a tough position to evaluate. It always has been, and there’s evidence of that, year in and year out across the league. But like I said, that’s one of the great challenges and I’m excited about that process.”
Haley came to the Browns after spending the last six years as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, and overall, has 21 years of coaching experience in the NFL, including stints as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009-2011), offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals (2007-2008) and wide receivers coach of the Dallas Cowboys (2004-2006), Chicago Bears (2001-2003) and New York Jets (1999-2000).
During Haley’s final year in Pittsburgh, the Steelers had six offensive players selected to the Pro Bowl, and that included quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 360 of his 561 attempts (64.2 percent) for 4,251 yards and 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions in 2017.
Over his six years under Haley’s direction, Roethlisberger completed 2,074 passes for 24,486 yards with 164 touchdowns against 74 interceptions, but things are a little different in Cleveland, where there is no established quarterback under center.
Having the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns have an opportunity to take the best player on the board for the second consecutive year, and many experts have predicted they will choose a quarterback for Haley to build the offense around.
“When you’ve got a couple real high picks like we do, it’s a great opportunity,” Haley said. “As my father always said to me, ‘When you’re picking in the top 10, Todd, you better be right most of the time,’ so that will be the challenge for everybody involved.”
Regardless of the route the Browns choose to go with the early picks in the NFL Draft, they will still have a young quarterback room, as DeShone Kizer, who made 15 starts as a rookie in 2017, is the most-tenured player on the roster at that position.
“If you act or react too quickly making decisions, you could regret it,” Haley said of developing a quarterback. “I think the key is to be patient and continue to develop and work with all guys playing that position because it does take time.
“Most of them, when I go to The Combine and you ask how to make a huddle call, they have not made a huddle call in grade school, high school, college, never got in a huddle and had to spit out a call, which the majority of the NFL is doing a good amount of time. There’s a lot to learn. It’s never going to happen overnight.”