August 11, 2009

Eric Mangini is no stranger to controversy at the quarterback position. He welcomed it last year when he recruited Brett Favre to the Big Apple, and he seems to be welcoming it again this year by fueling the on-going battle between Cleveland signal callers Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.

In June, Mangini predicted the competition would not be decided until the final hours of training camp. "It'll be pretty clear as to who should have the spot," Mangini told reporters during the team's minicamp. "It just has to reveal itself."

If the team's recent scrimmage is a sign of things to come, the decision may not be as "clear" as Mangini predicts it will be. Quinn completed 11 of 19 passes for 121 yards (including a 51-yard touchdown to Lance Leggett), as compared to Anderson's 12 of 21 for 107 yards.

It's a close race. Perhaps too close to call, at this point.

No matter, Mangini plans to remain patient -- a luxury fantasy owners do not have, which is why both quarterbacks are drifting in drafts this summer. The popular choice among fans is the fresh-faced Quinn, but is he the best choice for the Browns, and for fantasy owners?

Why Quinn will win the job: He possesses ideal NFL quarterback size and a face fit for a billboard. The only thing missing is the starting job. For the last two years, Quinn has patiently waited for that opportunity. Finally, in Week 10 last season, Quinn was handed the reins to the offense and did not disappoint (65.7 completion percentage, 239 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions). The Browns lost that game, but Quinn did guide them to victory the following week at Buffalo. The biggest reason Quinn should win the job, however, is because he can offer the Browns something they have not had in nearly two decades -- a star at the position. Not since Bernie Kosar have the Browns been able to make their quarterback the face of the franchise. Quinn has the ability to change that in 2009.

Why Anderson will win it: Because Quinn has not earned the right to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. By most accounts, Quinn's career at Notre Dame was a disappointment. In two seasons with the Browns what has he accomplished, really? Quinn has completed just 48 of 97 throws (49.5 percent) for a grand total of 563 yards and two touchdowns. Anderson, on the other hand, can say he had at least one productive pro season (3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2007). And while both players have good size, Anderson's 6-foot-6 frame is slightly more appealing. Anderson missed a few days of minicamp in June due to a right calf injury, but arrived at training camp in full health, ready to compete. So far he has kept even pace with Quinn, and appears determined to prove that it was his 2008 season that was a fluke, and not 2007.

Don't forget about:Brett Ratliff

To be clear, Ratliff will not be allowed to compete for the quarterback job in camp, but he could be a factor deep into the season. Ratliff comes to the team with Mangini from the Jets, where last year he sat behind Favre and Kellen Clemens. Ratliff has not taken a single NFL snap, but he did post better numbers in the scrimmage (6-of-10 for 151 yards) than either of the two guys ahead of him on the depth chart. If that continues through camp, and neither Anderson nor Quinn becomes the obvious choice as Mangini suggests, Ratliff may get his chance at some point down the road.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Quinn

The future is now in Cleveland, where change is being made across the board. Why not at quarterback? Anderson was given every opportunity last year to duplicate his success but he just couldn't do it. Quinn figures to be the more consistent performer -- something fantasy owners desire from the quarterback spot.

Drafting data from this summer suggests fantasy owners have already made their clear choice: Quinn's Average RapidDraft Position has been 149th overall (21st among quarterbacks). Fantasy owners have picked Anderson at pick No. 268 on average (32nd among quarterbacks).

Neither player should be expected to duplicate Anderson's success from two seasons ago; the Browns are not the same team, and without tight end Kellen Winslow the offense is certainly not as well-equipped. However, the winner of this camp battle will be a viable No. 2 quarterback for fantasy owners, and someone capable of pulling off a few big weeks.

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