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Browns covering all of their bases in evaluation, pursuit of QBs

MOBILE, Alabama -- The Browns' focus this week has centered on future NFL players, but the weeks leading up to the 2018 Senior Bowl were heavy on the team's options in free agency.

And when it comes to addressing the quarterback position, an area in which new general manager John Dorsey has labeled as his top priority, the Browns could very well use both avenues to upgrade the room.

Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson made it clear in interviews this week: Everything is on the table.

"I consider all options, and I always will as we move forward here," Dorsey said Tuesday when he was asked about the team's plans at quarterback. "I think the one thing you'll find out about me is I try to plan for everything, and I will as this plan moves forward."

The Browns entered and finished the 2017 season without a quarterback on the roster who had won an NFL game. Second-round rookie DeShone Kizer started 15 of 16 games and experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout the winless season. Both Dorsey and Jackson have expressed their excitement about the 22-year-old's potential but are committed to providing more competition around him.

Without identifying specific players, Dorsey said Tuesday there were "four or five" quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class who could be worthy of the No. 1 pick. The Browns and the rest of the NFL's 32 teams got a closer look at two potential members of that group, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, at this week's Senior Bowl practices.

Meetings with potential quarterbacks of the future will kick into overdrive at next month's NFL Combine, when all of the top candidates, including UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold, will be present.

"I know we are going to vet out every quarterback there is, and I think John was very honest with you guys about there is four or five prospects that could land in this first seat. Let's see how that all unfolds," Jackson said. "I still think it is early as he said. I think we are working through that minute by minute. I think this starts the process now, and John said it – Let's let the process take us through it and give us the right answer at the right time.

"I think we gather all of the information we can and work through this thing. There are a lot of questions that we need to have answered when that time comes."

What happens in March could have an impact on how the team conducts its draft in late April. Dorsey is no stranger to that particular set of circumstances, as he opted to acquire his starting quarterback, veteran Alex Smith, via trade shortly after he took over as general manager. He then used the No. 1 pick on offensive tackle Eric Fisher, whom he dubbed as the best player available.

It remains to be seen what options will be available to the Browns when free agency opens March 14. A number of possibilities exist, but the dominoes of franchise tags and re-signings need to fall before Cleveland has a clear-cut view of who's available.

In an ideal world, Jackson said he'd love to surround the young quarterbacks currently occupying the room with a veteran. It's just too early to guarantee anything at this point in the process.

"You need to have a quarterback that knows how to win in the National Football League, but circumstances sometimes dictate otherwise," Jackson said. "You just don't know how things will unfold, but if we had the best of all of the worlds, we would want a guy in there who has won in the National Football League and knows what that looks like and what that position has to play like to have that."

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