Spotlight On ... Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Cleveland Browns' quarterback Brandon Weeden once thought he would be playing in front of a New York audience ... as a pitcher for the New York Yankees.

Everyone currently knows Brandon Weeden as the starting rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns out of Oklahoma State.

However, not everyone may know that this isn't Weeden's first try at playing a sport at a professional level.

Weeden was drafted out of high school in 2002 by the New York Yankees in the first round. It was an up-and-down professional career for him that never led to the big leagues. In 2003 he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Jeff Weaver, and thanks to the Rule 5 Draft he was selected by the Kansas City Royals after the 2005 season. Weeden played his last season in 2006 with Class-A High Desert Mavericks.

In five professional seasons Weeden compiled a record of 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA, never advancing above Class A.

Weeden may have quit baseball, but he still had a love for football.

He enrolled at Oklahoma State the following year and decided to play. He was redshirted his freshman year and played just one game in 2008.

Weeden was named the starter in 2010. Some would have thought that the amount of time off from football would be marring to his play, but Weeden would succeed. In 2011 where Weeden led third-ranked Oklahoma State to an 11-1 regular season record. Weeden was 342-for511 in pass completions (66.9 percent) for 4,328 yards. Oklahoma State played Andrew Luck and Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, where Weeden led the Cowboys to a 41-38 victory.

His success in college helped his rise on the draft boards and Weeden was a surprising first-round pick (22nd overall) by the Browns in the 2012 NFL draft. At 28, much older than your normal rookie, Weeden now finds himself as an NFL starting quarterback.

Weeden threw four interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. He has completed 90-of-167 passes for a 53.9 percent completion rate, with Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets and Luck, now with the Indianapolis Colts, being the only starting quarterbacks in the league completing a lower percentage. He has three touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Weeden's 60.4 passer rating is the lowest in the league through four games.

"He's obviously unique in terms of the rookie status because he's 28-29 years old, but I will say this, there are certain things that although his age has helped him with some of the off the field things that young players deal with, you still have to go through the process of playing; first your opener, then on the road, then at home, before or after a loss, you have to go through the process," Browns' head coach Pat Shurmur said earlier this week. "I think he's displayed, at least to me, that he's improving. I think now he has to improve and put together a winning performance, much like Eli [Manning]."

Even though the Browns are currently 0-4 and Weeden's numbers haven't been impressive Shurmur isn't the only one seeing improvement from the rookie quarterback. Chris Pokorny of SB Nation's 'Dawgs By Nature' believes Cleveland has finally found a quarterback it can build around:

"He steps into his throws well, has a cannon for an arm, and has the confidence to not let an interception or a dropped pass bother him. ... Weeden is the long term answer at quarterback."

The Browns haven't been blown out in any of their losses. They lost to the Eagles by one point and the Baltimore Ravens barely got by them with a seven-point victory. Weeden threw for 320 yards that game.

The Giants should be Weeden's toughest challenge, but Giants' coach Tom Coughlin told the team not to expect Cleveland to be a pushover.

"Don't be misled by Cleveland's record," said Coughlin. "They're a good, young team. They played tough in all of their games."

Whether or not the Browns can give the Giants a tough time on Sunday will depend largely on Weeden's play. It will be interesting to watch.

Follow Kelsey O'Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell

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