Different year, same story.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson looks forward to the day when he can come to the NFL Combine and not have to answer dozens of questions about quarterbacks, but it wasn’t this year.
“Absolutely. I don’t like it,” Jackson said. “I think we all get it. We need to find a guy to lead our team, to lead this organization to winning week in and week out.”
Such is life when you coach in Cleveland.
“We’re going to keep searching,” Jackson said.
As of Thursday the Browns have Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan on the roster. None of the three seem like appealing options for the starting job in 2017 but there is a chance – albeit a slim one – that they might be stuck with the trio.
“I know we’re doing anything and everything we can to improve that position,” Jackson said. “I think that’s really important and I think that’s where Sashi [Brown] is coming from. It could happen that way – not that we want it to be that way, but that the same time, that’s a reality too. But we’re going to do everything we can to go find a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.”
North Carolina’s and Mentor, Ohio native Mitch Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes are this year’s headliners at quarterback in the NFL Draft for the Browns to mull over.
Could one of those 4 be the long lost savior the Browns have been searching for?
“That’s why we’re here, to spend more time with them to and see what they know and what they don’t know and how we can help them and how they would fit in our system,” Jackson said.
The Browns plan to meet with all 4 this week in Indianapolis as they begin to peel away the layers beyond what they’ve already seen on film.
Jackson admitted that they have an idea who they like the most, but with 8 weeks to go before the draft, a lot can change before then.
“We kinda have an idea but there’s no final, final [ranking] right now,” Jackson said. “I think we have an idea heading into it who are the guys that we really want to see more and find out more about but I think it’s way early to make a decision about exactly where that position is.”
When evaluating college quarterbacks Jackson said that he asks the following questions of them: “Can you throw? Can you process? Can you lead your team?”
So what is Jackson looking for specifically within his evaluation process?
“I think, most importantly, obviously guys have arm talent and can a guy process football at the rate that you need him to be able to do it,” Jackson said. “Is he a guy who can lead an organization, because I think we all know the quarterback becomes the face of the organization, I think that’s really important and a lot of pressure comes with that, so a guy’s got to be able to handle that.”
Complicating the evaluation process, especially on film, for Jackson and the Browns is the fact that not many college coaches run a traditional pro-style offense. Instead they opt for the spread and developing duel-threat quarterbacks that can also run.
Success for those type of QBs at the NFL level is the exception to the rule, not the norm.
“You like to see some of the same skillset that you’re going to use,” Jackson said of spread system quarterbacks. “But at the same time I think you have to kinda throw that out the window because there’s so many of the teams that are playing the spread offense and you have to develop a way to evaluate that position with those guys doing something that’s totally different than some of the NFL teams do.”
As the Browns spend another offseason searching for a quarterback, Jackson expects that executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown will lean on him heavily as they decide whether or not to draft, trade or sign the next one through free agency.
“It’s a collaborative effort but I think our staff is truly wanting me to help them make the best decision for this organization,” Jackson said. “I said it before – that’s what I came here for but we’re doing this together. Hopefully they’ll use my expertise along these lines so we can make the best decision for our organization.”