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Jackson: All QBs are still in play at No.1

By MARY KAY CABOT • Updated Apr 17, 2018 at 10:41 PM

CLEVELAND — Hue Jackson laughed when he heard one report after another last week that the Browns were set on Josh Allen at No. 1 overall.

"A lot of things get said I know aren't true,'' Jackson said Tuesday during a press conference to kick off the offseason program. "If there was a consensus John (Dorsey) had come to at this point, he would have told me, so I know that's not the case."

Jackson, who has more input in the quarterback decision this year under Dorsey, insisted that the Browns new GM has not made up his mind yet on his No. 1 QB. Dorsey will conduct his pre-draft press conference on Thursday.

"I talk to John Dorsey three, four, five times a day,'' said Jackson. "When I say John Dorsey goes dark, he goes dark. Whoever thinks they're finding John Dorsey — trust me, you're not finding him.''

With the draft just eight days away, Jackson insisted that all four of the top quarterbacks — Sam Darnold, Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen — are still in play at No. 1 or wherever the Browns take their quarterback.

"They all are today,'' said Jackson. "We haven't settled on that yet. When I say this, I mean it.''

Likewise, Jackson hasn't zeroed in on his man yet either.

"No, I'm the same way,'' he said. "I'm sifting through my side of it too.''

He said he's learned a lot from Dorsey and his staff too, including how to be patient and let the process play out.

"Myself and Kenny (Zampese) and Todd (Haley), we've had great dialogue, great conversation and we're all still going through it too,'' said Jackson. "There are times they want to pull me in, 'let's talk about it' and I'll say 'no, not yet.' Because I want to make sure that I'm sure. I don't want to be 'well, it's this one, well no, it's that one, it's based on this.' You need to really know and feel very comfortable about that decision when we get there.''

He said he's not torn or grappling with his decision.

"I'm just going through the information,'' he said. "I didn't spend as much time here. I had some other personal things I had to take care of and tend to, so I'm kind of catching back up a little bit myself. So I feel good about where I am, and when it's time for us to make a decision, I think we'll be ready to do that."

Jackson said the right man for the job will be revealed as the week unfolds, after months of the scouting at games, the Senior Bowl, combine, pro days, private workouts and top 30 visits to Cleveland.

"It's going to be pretty crystal clear at the end what's the best player for us,'' he said. "First you have to know exactly what it is you're looking for and then you have to set out amongst that group of people to find that.''

He said he's been in the draft room every day with Dorsey and his men.

"I've been the one constant from the coaching staff,'' he said. "John's really good at what he does, because again, it's hard work. It's nothing more, nothing less. He just knows what it looks like, what it feels like and what it should be and his other lieutenants do too.''

After wrapping up the QB visits last week with Allen on Thursday and Lamar Jackson on Friday, Jackson said they haven't all sat down to talk through it yet.

"I still think it's a little early,'' said Jackson. "John is still finishing up the second or third or fourth phase of his process. The way they go about it, and you guys really should ask him about it, it's different. But it's really informative, and I don't think you have a chance of getting it wrong. We all know that we might draft a player and things don't go right. That's just part of it. But at the same time, we have a better chance of making sure we make a right decision than a wrong one.''

He noted that Dorsey and his new staffers in Eliot Wolf, Alonzo Highsmith and Scot McCloughan have been working around the clock to prepare of their first draft together. Andrew Berry from the previous regime is also heavily involved.

Jackson said it's not the end of the world if not everyone in the building is in agreement come draft night. The top four quarterbacks all have different styles, and evaluations are all over the board.

"In these situations you win your why,'' said Jackson. "Why is this the best player for the Cleveland Browns? You have to be prepared to step up and win that and say why this guy is the best fit for our football team and our organization going forward. And when you do that, it gives everybody a calmness to where you feel like, 'OK. I see. I understand how he's looking at this and why he's looking at it this way.'”

Jackson said fit, talent and projection are equally important.

"Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback of this football team,'' he said. "That's first and foremost. So when you say fit, I think it's very important. When you say projection, I think that's very important, because the guy is probably going to sit and watch. And then talent. Talent is everything, but it's not the only thing. I think the organization led by John Dorsey is going to make a decision on draft night on what's going to be the best way for us to travel."

As for not bringing top players such as Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Minkah Fitzpatrick to Berea for pre-draft visits, Jackson said not too much should be read into it.

"I don't think it's not a good sign or is a good sign one way or the other,'' he said. "We feel very comfortable with what we know about those guys at this time."

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