MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns are getting a close-up look at a number of NFL prospects all week at the Senior Bowl.
It’s pretty clear the No. 1 pick is elsewhere because Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson turned down an invitation to the showcase game for senior NFL prospects and Texas A&M junior defensive end Myles Garrett is not eligible. They appear to be the most likely candidates for that top pick.
Jackson and his staff are coaching the South team for Saturday’s game, giving them a chance to study that collection of prospects for three days of practice plus meetings.
“To be able to put your hands on the players and coach them and push them through things is a lot different than sitting up there and seeing things kind of third-hand,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t see. You can’t see everything. Down here you can really focus on things and see them pretty clear about what a guy’s trying to do and what he’s trying to accomplish.”
Owner Jimmy Haslam paid a visit to Mobile this week as well.
The Browns are trying to rebound from a 1-15 season . They had the 31st-ranked scoring offense and the 30th-ranked scoring defense so there’s no shortage of both needs and draft picks. Cleveland picks first, 12th and 33rd in the April draft.
Garrett is widely rated as the best player available but the Browns desperately need a long-term quarterback, too. Jackson obviously isn’t dropping any hints about the Browns’ leanings but was asked if it’s more important to take the best player or the most valuable, in other words a quarterback or someone else.
“I think you have to go through it: What’s the best? Who is the best player?” Jackson said. “We haven’t determined that. Is the best player a defensive end, is it a quarterback, is it a defensive back? I don’t know that.
“We all know a quarterback is very important to our football team, but is he the best player? We’ve got to find that out. We need to put one on our team. We’re going to find one, I promise you that.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney weighed in while visiting Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m just telling you if they pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan,” Swinney told reporters.
John Fox and the Chicago Bears staff are working with the North team. They’re also hoping to benefit from the extra evaluation opportunity for the No. 3 overall pick and beyond.
“I think it’s a huge leg up as far as getting to know guys and how they respond,” Fox said.
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