Browns' Jackson keeps tabs on quarterbacks

By The Sports Xchange
Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson reacts to call during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in December. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson reacts to call during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in December. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Head coach Hue Jackson is approaching the interview process at the NFL Scouting Combine with his eyes wide open as the Cleveland Browns continue their never-ending search for a quarterback, which is their version of the Holy Grail.

"Having six of the first 65 picks is going to be a huge opportunity for us to move forward," Jackson said Wednesday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I've seen them all (the quarterbacks). This is another opportunity to talk to them, to get a feel for them.


"I think it's too early in the process to talk about where they rank, but this is really the start of it. I think it's really about getting to know them as people and digging into all the medical things and being able to put a face with the name. I like hand size, guys who are athletic, but it still has to fit in with what you're trying to accomplish on offense."


What a difference a year makes. Sashi Brown, a lawyer who in 2016 was put in charge of the Browns' entire football operation, has been replaced by veteran general manager John Dorsey. Dorsey and Jackson, along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, will collaborate in selecting a quarterback from this year's draft pool.

The Browns have the first overall pick for the second straight year. They also have picks 4, 33, 35, 63 and 65 in the first three rounds.

Jackson said he wants to add a veteran quarterback willing to take on the challenge of knowing that six weeks after free agency begins. the Browns will probably use the first pick on a rookie quarterback. Jackson is eager to get some questions answered, starting with why Sam Darnold of USC fumbled 21 times in 27 college games.

"You have to see where that's coming from," Jackson said. "Is it because the guy's not protecting the ball? Maybe somebody is hitting him on the arm. It could be his grip. It's something we have to find out about."


Jackson is disappointed Darnold is waiting until the USC Pro Day March 21 to throw in front of NFL personnel.

"Sam's making the decision," Jackson said. "We wish he would throw, but there are going to be times to watch him work out. Do I wish he was throwing to watch him compete with the other guys? Yes, I do. But that's not going to hinder us making a decision on what kind of player he is for our football team."

Baker Mayfield, at 6-foot-1, doesn't fit Jackson's profile of a quarterback needing to be at least 6-foot-2, but Jackson said Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are living proof there are exceptions to every rule.

"There are always outliers," Jackson said. "There are guys still playing that are below 6-foot-2 and have played really well. There is always that one player that's going to be special and this young man might be that."

Jackson is eager to meet with Mayfield to dig deeper into the Oklahoma quarterback's personality.

Another mission of the Combine: Find out why Josh Allen completed only 56.2 percent of his passes at Wyoming. He will face far superior secondaries in the NFL.


"We're going to find out why it's 56.2 percent," Jackson said. "That's why we're here at the Combine. That's what we'll be doing over the next month or two is finding out why those things are happening."

Jackson said he is not concerned about an ESPN December report saying Josh Allen of UCLA doesn't want to play for the Browns.

"Obviously, we'll ask that question and (Rosen) will be able to answer it," Jackson said. "I don't get concerned about those things because sometimes things get written that people don't say."

On Tuesday, Rosen told NFL Network he never said he didn't want to play for the Browns.

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