BEREA - When a NFL prospect says he doesn't read draft publications, don't believe it.
At least don't buy into it in the case of Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. Most of the stories in those publications weren't always kind about Weeden's play at Oklahoma State. Overlooking some very good statistics, the focus was on his age (28 at the time of the draft) and what was perceived as a lack of adequate pocket presence.
"All the media was talking about my pocket presence," Weeden said. "I did have good pocket presence. I would stand in there and make throws.
"I can't respond to that. Everyone was questioning my ability to stay in the pocket. At this level guys are going to come free and you're going to get hit. You have to step into it, deliver it and make a throw. It doesn't feel good, but it feels a lot better if you're able to complete the ball after getting hit in the mouth."
There's still a long way to go in Weeden's development, but there are signs that he might be able to solve a longstanding issue at quarterback. He's developing a trust with his offensive teammates. Captains D'Qwell Jackson, Joe Thomas and Phil Dawson selected Weeden to be the alternate fourth captain for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.
"It's cool," Weeden said. "I'm a rookie, and the veteran guys have the confidence in me that I may be that guy. I'll be honest; I'm superstitious. When I was the captain at Oklahoma State, I never went out for the coin toss. I always stayed on the sideline. I threw exactly where I throw; where I got trapped underneath the flag (on opening day).
"I'm going to go out for the coin toss, but I'm going to make sure I get a couple of throws in from the 30."
The scouts and coaches obviously scoured every scouting report written on Weeden during his college career. They're now beginning to see some inconsistencies in the reports.
"It was up to conjecture a little bit how he would deal with coming from underneath the center," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "I think he's done a decent job with that stuff in the pocket.
"It's very hard to evaluate quarterbacks in general these days, just because the center-quarterback exchange is not something that you get to see and it's a fundamental of the position. You can say, well I think he'll be okay, but I can't tell you how many Senior Bowls I've gone to where all those shotgun guys come to the Senior Bowl and balls are on the ground and it screws up a drill."
What stands out to coach Pat Shurmur is Weeden's ability to learn quickly. More importantly, he doesn't dwell on mistakes.
"That tells me he's working on it," Shurmur said. "That tells me that we're coaching the right things. As we go along every once in a while you're going to get a batted ball. Every once in a while you're going to make a bad decision.
"They become points of emphasis the first time they creep up. Then we make efforts to correct them and you see corrections. That tells me he's working on it."
It also says that the Browns might finally have their quarterback.