As draft choice, McCown can#039;t turn down Davis

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 26, 2004

BEREA - Luke McCown snubbed Browns coach Butch Davis once before. The quarterback didn't have any choice this time.

McCown, from a family of QBs and the same college that produced Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

The team wanted to find a quarterback for the future, and McCown, who passed for 12,994 yards at Louisiana Tech after turning a scholarship offer from Davis at Miami, might be that guy.

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''We believe enough in him to bring him in here, groom him and see where his athleticism and expertise takes him,'' Davis said. ''We're going to bring him in and coach the living daylights out of him like everybody else.''

The Browns used their fifth- and sixth-round picks on Stanford teammates Amon Gordon and Kirk Chambers.

Gordon is a 6-foot-2, 302-pound defensive tackle, who revealed that the Browns worked him out at fullback. Chambers started 45 games at left tackle for the Cardinal, but says he'll play anywhere.

''I'm a tackle,'' he said. ''But I can play guard if I'm asked.''

Cleveland chose California running back/kick returner Adimchinobe Echemandu in the seventh round.

''All his friends call him Joe, and from this time on so will the coach,'' Davis joked.

With Tim Couch on the trading block and Kelly Holcomb under contract for just one more season, Davis was seeking a quarterback to develop who could someday replace starter Jeff Garcia.

Davis had pursued McCown in high school, but was unable to persuade the 6-foot-3, 208-pounder to play for the Hurricanes. McCown wanted to stay close to home in Jacksonville, Texas, and enrolled instead at Louisiana Tech, which also sent San Francisco starting quarterback Tim Rattay to the pros.

The McCown household has developed its own fair share of QBs.

McCown's older brother, Josh, starts for Arizona and another brother, Randy, started for three years at Texas A&M.

So, who's the best?

''Two other guys are probably going to say they are,'' McCown said during a conference call. ''I would have to say Josh because he's proved it on the field at the next level. We'll just have to see how long it takes me to do the same.''

McCown estimated it would take him three years to adjust to the pro game.

It didn't take him nearly that long to adapt in college.

As a true freshman, McCown completed 42 passes and threw for 444 yards in a 42-31 loss to Miami, a game that reinforced Davis' belief that he was after the right quarterback.

''He was a snotty-nosed freshman, who had one or two starts and he almost lit us up,'' Davis said. ''I saw the statistic where he threw for over 12,000 yards. I thought he got all 12,000 that night.''

Davis had more talent with the Hurricanes, and he needed every bit of it to hold off McCown.

''We blitzed, zone-dogged and tried to defend,'' Davis said. ''We dropped nine and rushed two and none of it seemed to work. Then, we made enough plays. It was interesting.''

McCown felt his body weight was the biggest reason he slid to the fourth round and was the sixth quarterback taken. But he compensates for any lack of girth with a high-powered arm and quick feet.

He's also confident it won't take long to learn the Browns' playbook.

''I'm a cerebral guy, especially being able to start for four years,'' he said. ''I've seen tons of football and I have tons of experience and I've seen tons of defenses.''

The Browns were also impressed with his toughness.

Last season, McCown was injured late in a game against Michigan State and had to leave the field. But after getting smelling salts, he returned and threw a game-winning TD pass with two seconds left.

Unlike Eli Manning, Phillips Rivers and three other quarterbacks who were drafted in front of him, McCown won't be rushed into playing. The Browns will take their time with him.

''The learning curve for him won't be as severe for those guys,'' said quarterbacks coach Steve Hagen, who doesn't know when McCown will be able to take over. ''I don't know if you can put a time or date on it.''

Couch and wide receiver Dennis Northcutt had been expected to be traded this weekend, but the Browns couldn't find the right deals.

''Now that the draft is over, we'll pay attention to these two guys,'' Davis said. ''What's going to happen, I can't predict.''