This just in: the Browns don’t even know what they will do yet.
“We’re not anywhere close to being able to make a decision on what’s best for us right now,” Jackson said Thursday night while making an appearance at the Cleveland Auto Show being held at the I-X Center through March 6.
Everyone assumes it will be a quarterback.
The Browns, who have started 24 different quarterbacks since 1999 and drafted 4 of them in the first round of the draft over that span, are in the market once again for the next hope.
Cal’s Jared Goff, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz are the top 3 quarterbacks in contention to be drafted by the Browns.
Jackson has studied tape, met with the 3 for 15 minutes during formal interviews at the NFL Combine and seen their workouts, but he still doesn’t have enough information on the prospects to come to any conclusions yet.
“I’ve seen potential. but again, until I can spend more time with those players will I know for sure,” Jackson said. “I mean, again, this is so early in this process. April 28, that’s still a little ways away, so we have a lot of time. but there’s some good players there at a lot of positions, but obviously my eye was on the quarterbacks, but I think it’s way too early to know.”
Jackson plans to attend the pro days for all 3 where he will get another opportunity to evaluate them up close.
“How fast can I get there,” Jackson joked.
The pro days will play a critical part in the evaluation process.
“This is a process and it’s a long, tedious grinding process that we need to go through to make sure we put the right players on our team,” Jackson said. “It’s not just quarterbacks. It’s at every position. But obviously I know that that’s the most important position everybody is talking about. So we’ll spend the time grinding on our quarterbacks, grinding on every position that’s there.”
So what is Jackson looking for when he evaluates this latest class?
“My eye really goes to their poise under duress,” Jackson said. “Can a guy really manage and hold himself back there when everything’s bearing down on him? Is he willing to stick his back foot in the ground and be compact and deliver the ball down the field? If a guy will demonstrate that, it tells me he’s not scared. But a guy that has a soft back foot, you better look out, he can’t play long in this league.”
The problem for the Browns is that there is not a clear cut, sure fire franchise quarterback in this draft. Every one – including the top 3 – all have questions.
Jackson denied a report that Goff did not interview well with them last week in Indianapolis.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Jackson said. “I think all the young man that we talked to did a great job and again I’m going to get an opportunity to see them more, talk to them more and spend time with them. Again, 15 minutes is not enough time to really get a feel for a quarterback. That was the process and I thought they all did a great job.”
As for Goff’s hands coming in at 9 inches during measurements at the combine, Jackson clarified his comments last week about the importance of hand size and the evaluation process.
“It’s important, but I didn’t say it was the only thing,” Jackson said. “Hand size is important because in the AFC North, there’s snow, there’s rain, there’s all kind of elements that you have to deal with. And sometimes if a guy doesn’t have a big enough hand, he can’t hold onto the ball and the guy can get stripped. I’ve seen it happen too many times. But that is not the only characteristic that you look for. But it is something that does go into an evaluation.
“As long as he can hold the ball and he doesn’t get stripped, it’s not a problem to me.”
Like Goff’s hands, the critics see the level of competition for Wentz being a major issue, but Jackson disagrees because he knows from experience.
“When we took Joe Flacco everybody said the same thing,” Jackson, who worked for the Ravens in 2008, said. “I think we’d love to have him right now, wouldn’t we? So that’s just the way it goes.
“If a guy can play, he can play.”