MOBILE, Alabama -- Three months from tomorrow, the Browns will be officially on the clock with the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
It's both a long and short ways away for an organization that is focused on injecting as much talent as it can into one of the league's youngest rosters. The evaluation process has kicked into overdrive this week at the Senior Bowl, as the Browns' team of scouts watch every move of the players from both the North and South squads while Cleveland's coaching staff works hands-on with players from the South, both on the field and inside the meeting rooms of the Mobile Convention Center.
Odds are, the first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft isn't playing in Saturday's game. The only No. 1 pick to play in the Senior Bowl in recent years was offensive lineman Eric Fisher (2013), and current projections have a number of participants landing in the first round, but mostly in the second half of it.
It just hasn't quelled the buzz and chatter about what the Browns will do with the No. 1 pick. Hue Jackson understands it but urged Wednesday that the organization is using the time it has on its side to make sure it gets it right.
"I think we're working through it," Jackson said. "I think it's a little early, there's still a lot of work to do to make those kind of decisions but I'm sure we'll do our due diligence on every player that has the potential to be the first pick and make sure we get the right one."
It's early enough in the process, Jackson said, that anything can be truly considered to be on the table.
"Everything for right now is gonna be negotiable and talked about until we sit down and talk about where we are and what we're trying to do will we know," Jackson said. "We haven't had those discussions, I think right now we're in the beginning phases of all of it. We've got a long way to go before we get to that decision."
Since 1998, a non-quarterback has been selected just five times with the No. 1 overall pick. The "best player available" mindset has been embraced by the Browns, and Jackson admitted it will take a healthy discussion to determine who that is while weighing the importance of the player's position.
"You have to go through and weigh what's best. Who is the best player? We haven't determined that," Jackson said. "Is the best player a defensive end? Is it a quarterback? Is it a defensive back? I don't know yet until you can evaluate them all and line them all up and see where they are and see what's best. And we all know the quarterback is very important to our football team. But is he the best player? We've got to find out. We need to put one on our team. We're gonna find one, I promise you guys that. We're going to do that. I think that's imperative, I think we all know that."
Beyond the first overall pick, there likely are some future Browns here. Year after year, the team has added Senior Bowl players to the roster, whether it be in the first round (Danny Shelton), second round (Nate Orchard) or third round (Carl Nassib).
Players such as tight end O.J. Howard (Alabama), offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) and defensive tackle Montravius Adams have been standouts during the first two days of practice and could very well be available when the Browns make their second pick of the first round (No. 12) or their three other picks in the draft's top 65.
"There's a lot of good players out there — so many — and I think every night you go back and you see something different so I'm sure there are, and we'll evaluate it all," Jackson said. "We're evaluating it now and we'll continue to evaluate it as we get back to berawe and really sit down and watch the tape in detail."