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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 24, 2010

NFL draft: With Joe Montana’s titles in mind, Holmgren bets on Texas’ McCoy

By Rick Gosselin
The Dallas Morning News

NEW YORK — Joe Montana was a third-round draft choice in 1979, taken 82nd overall.

Montana was a winner at Notre Dame, but he didn't fit the NFL prototype for quarterbacks. He was too short at 6-2 and too lean at 205 pounds to withstand the punishment he was sure to take from NFL pass rushers.

But Mike Holmgren watched Montana develop into the league's best as quarterbacks coach of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s.

Holmgren won two Super Bowl rings with Montana. Now he's the first-year president of the Browns with the daunting task of building woeful Cleveland into a contender.

Can lightning strike twice for Holmgren?

The Browns selected another quarterback long on intangibles but short on measurables Friday night in the 2010 draft, claiming Colt McCoy of Texas in the third round with the 85th overall pick.

The NFL disregarded the on-field achievements of McCoy, a four-year starter, and focused on his lack of size. At 6-1, 216, McCoy is considered an injury risk in the pocket.

But Holmgren looked past the measurables — just as Texas coach Mack Brown looked past them four years ago.

"Nobody expected him to have the career that he had at Texas because he came from a small school, and he's a little bit shorter, a little thin — all the things they still say about him," said Brown, who attended the draft as a guest commentator for the NFL Network.

"My expectation is that he'll do a great job in the NFL."

Brown arrived at Radio City Music Hall with the draft well into the third round. He had talked to McCoy by phone earlier and offered him encouragement.

"He was in a great place," Brown said. "He told me, 'Coach, I've been through this my whole life. I just want to go to a team that wants me and I'm going to prove it again."'

The tipoff that McCoy's draft fortunes were about to turn came when Brown walked across the stage to announce a pick.

Brown strolled to the podium to announce the choice of the Browns one pick after Cincinnati had ended the slide of Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley. As Brown announced McCoy, you could sense his relief on the stage — it probably could be felt it all the way back home in Austin.

McCoy deserved better. He set an NCAA record with 45 career victories. He was a four-time team MVP and the school's career leading passer.

McCoy won the Maxwell, Unitas and O'Brien awards during his college career for his excellence as a passer and football player. He became the first quarterback in NCAA history to win at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. He lost seven games in his career.

McCoy passed for 13,253 yards and 112 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,571 yards and 20 TDs. He set an NCAA season record by completing 76.7 percent of his passes in 2008.

"He's the most accurate passer in the history of college football," Brown said. "Mike Holmgren is a guy who believes in the West Coast offense. I'm excited for the Browns — and I'm excited for Colt. I think he will be perfect in that offense."

Cleveland also offers McCoy a quick path to the field. The Browns are patching the quarterback position together this season with aging Jake Delhomme and Wildcat option Seneca Wallace.

McCoy didn't wait long to play at Texas and he might not wait long to play at Cleveland.

Now it's all up to McCoy. He's familiar with the turf and he likes his chances. So does Mike Holmgren.