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Browns rescue Colt McCoy, take Texas QB in draft

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Colt McCoy's slide finally stopped in Cleveland. The Browns roped the Texas quarterback before he could fall any further.

Passed over in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, McCoy was selected in the third round with the No. 85 overall pick on Friday by the Browns, who have spent the past decade searching for a quarterback to take them to their first Super Bowl.

McCoy won't be expected to do that right away, but guided by new Browns president and QB guru Mike Holmgren, McCoy could be the solution to a troublesome position. The Browns have had eight different opening-week quarterbacks since their 1999 expansion return.

The Browns had two earlier chances to get McCoy before grabbing the Longhorns' four-year starter.

"My heart skipped a beat," McCoy said of getting the phone call from Holmgren. "I am where I'm supposed to be, and that's Cleveland. It's a blue-collar town, and that's how I am."

Holmgren never thought McCoy would still be on the board when the Browns' turn came up again in the third round.

"It was something I really wanted to do," Holmgren said, adding he pitched McCoy to coach Eric Mangini and general manager Tom Heckert. "If it happened, it happened. Sometimes it just kind of falls to you."

The Browns have spent the offseason reshaping the quarterback position, which has been an almost constant headache since they returned as an expansion franchise in 1999. They traded Brady Quinn, released Derek Anderson, acquired Seneca Wallace and signed free agent Jake Delhomme.

Now, they've added McCoy, who was drafted after fellow college stars Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen were chosen. He also went one pick after Jordan Shipley, his former Texas teammate and close friend was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.

In four years at Texas, McCoy passed for 13,253 yards and 112 touchdowns, both school records. He went 45-8 as a starter and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy as a junior and senior.

"We love his leadership. We love his track record," Holmgren said. "He runs well. He's intelligent. He's fiery. He's everything you look for in the position."

McCoy said he spoke to both Browns coach Eric Mangini and Holmgren.

"They asked me if it had been a long day, and I said, 'Yes sir,'" said McCoy, whose selection in New York was announced by Texas coach Mack Brown. "I told them I can't wait to be a Cleveland Brown and that we're going to win a lot of games. Cleveland has a little orange in their jerseys just like UT.

"It's a perfect fit."

Mangini said he was impressed with McCoy on a personal level during previous visits.

"He taught me more about raising cattle than I wanted," Mangini cracked. "He has won a lot of big games."

Holmgren, hired by Browns owner Randy Lerner to restore this fumbling franchise, said the new management team of he, Mangini and Heckert worked well together during their first draft. Holmgren joked that his efforts to get McCoy were met with rolled eyes from Mangini.

"If I had allowed him to make every pick, we would have taken six cornerbacks," Holmgren said.

"One of them could have played guard," countered Mangini.

Earlier, the Browns made their secondary a primary priority.

With speculation swirling that they would take McCoy or Clausen, the Browns chose Oregon safety T.J. Ward with the No. 38 overall pick. Ward, who walked on with the Ducks, is a hard hitter who could immediately move into Cleveland's starting lineup.

The 5-foot-10, 211-pounder was the second defensive back selected by the Browns, who took Florida cornerback Joe Haden in the first round Thursday.

"He's just a super-tough kid, who makes a lot of plays in the run game," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said. "We think he can cover. He's got good athletic ability, and he adds a lot to our defense. He's lighting people up (on film) and that's an intriguing thing for us."

The Browns had not taken two defensive backs with their first two picks since 1984, when the club selected Don Rogers and Chris Rockins. Cleveland was ranked 29th overall against the pass last season and the Browns recorded just 10 interceptions, second-fewest in the AFC.

Although McCoy was still available, the Browns traded back into the second round and selected Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty with the No. 59 pick. Cleveland dealt one of its three third-round picks — No. 71 — and two fifth-rounders — Nos. 134 and 146 — to Philadelphia to grab Hardesty, a bruising inside runner with his own bruises.

Hardesty, who gained 1,345 yards and scored 12 touchdowns for the Volunteers last season, had history of injuries at Tennessee.

He was granted a medical hardship after undergoing multiple surgeries on his right knee as a freshman. The following season, he missed time with ankle problems and then was limited as a junior because of a foot stress fracture.

Still, the Browns are confident Hardesty is fit to play.

"That's why we have doctors and trainers," Heckert said. "They feel comfortable with his health."

Hardesty said he hasn't missed a game in the past three years because of injuries. He's coming to Cleveland with big goals.

"I want to be a star, man," he said.

Ward was overwhelmed to see Hall of Famer Jim Brown get introduced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and then step forward and announce the team's selection.

"To hear him say my name was pretty wonderful," Ward said on a conference call. "I'm at a loss for words right now. I've been waiting for this moment for all my life."

With the No. 92 pick, the Browns took Arizona State offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao.

"We can't fix what we want to do in one year," Holmgren said. "But we've taken a good first step."