Hue Jackson took advantage of every moment last week's NFL Combine provided, but it wasn't nearly enough for him to get a complete picture of the next member of the Cleveland Browns.
Jackson, speaking Thursday at the Cleveland Auto Show, echoed what Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said two days earlier on Cleveland Browns Daily. The organizational process that leads up to April's NFL Draft is a long one that is nearing its end, but the Browns have yet to make any final decisions, and they're going to maximize the final month and 25 days before they're officially on the clock.
"It's a long, grinding process that we need to go through to make sure you're putting the right players on your team, not just at quarterback, but it's every position," Jackson said. "Obviously, I know that that's the most important position everyone's talking about. We're spending time grinding on our quarterbacks, grinding on the other positions and we're not anywhere close to a decision for what's best for us now."
Jackson, in both an interview with ESPN 850 WKNR and a scrum with reporters, reiterated the Browns prepare to take the best player available at No. 2, regardless of the position, but understandably fielded a slew of questions about the draft's top quarterback prospects.
Asked for his overall takeaways on North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff, both of whom are consistently ranked as the draft's top quarterbacks, Jackson said, "I need to keep seeing them."
"I think all the young men we talked to did a great job," Jackson said. "I'm going to get an opportunity to see them more, talk to them more, spend more time with them. Again, 15 minutes is not enough time to have an opportunity to really get a feel for a quarterback and that was a process. I think they all did a great job.
"You ask how do I feel, I felt good watching them … At the same time, I can't wait to go see them in a whole different environment and spend more time with them."
Jackson plans to be active on the Pro Day circuit, particularly when it pertains to top quarterback prospects. Though college Pro Days are already underway, Jackson will have to wait a couple of more weeks before Goff's (March 18) and Wentz's (March 24).
As he did at the Combine, Jackson brushed off concerns about the "Air Raid" offense Goff operated at Cal and the Football Championship Subdivision competition (Division I-AA) Wentz faced at North Dakota State, which has won five straight FCS championships. Jackson joked that "everybody says I play a gimmicky offense," in regards to Goff, and pointed to Joe Flacco, a University of Delaware product whom Jackson groomed during his early years with the Baltimore Ravens.
"Can a guy play? Does he demonstrate the characteristics I'm looking for? If he does that, then he's got a chance to play," Jackson said. "I don't care what school he comes from, what offenses they play in. I get concerned about can they do the things we need a quarterback to do."
Jackson didn't rule out free agency, which kicks off Wednesday, as the means to an additional quarterback on the roster. He emphasized taking the best player available with the No. 2 pick ensures the team of someone "you know is going to be there and play for your team for a lot of years to come."
"We're going to take every shot we can to find a franchise quarterback," Jackson said. "My goal is to put a quarterback on this football team that our fans, that this city can be proud of and call their own because he'll be a guy that plays well week in and week out."