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Hue Jackson gains 'new appreciation' for Baker Mayfield in private workout


ORLANDO —** Browns coach Hue Jackson said he has a "different appreciation" for Baker Mayfield following a private workout with the decorated Oklahoma quarterback last week."I think he's outstanding," Jackson said Tuesday at the NFL's annual meeting. "Spending that time with him, what a leader, tremendous person."Mayfield is among several quarterbacks the Browns are considering selecting with the one of their first-round picks in next month's draft, a group that also includes USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen. While each of those signal-callers have different strengths and weaknesses, perhaps none are as polarizing as Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and one of college football's most productive passers.

There's one school of thought that believes Mayfield can become a game-changing quarterback whose accuracy (68.5 percent), production (33 career wins, 12,292 passing yards, 119 touchdowns) and competitive fire will serve him well at the next level. Others believe he's an undersized passer (he measured in a hair over 6 feet tall) prone to emotional outbursts, like when he celebrated a win at Ohio State by planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield. Mayfield was also arrested last spring in Arkansas for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Throughout the draft process, however, Jackson and general manager John Dorsey have said they've gotten to know a different side of Mayfield. "I think he's very competitive on the football field. I think his teammates absolutely love him," Dorsey said. "I think everybody in the support organization of Oklahoma loves him. I think he's got a degree of humility in his person."

Jackson, meanwhile, pointed to Mayfield's well-documented friendship with an 11-year-old girl who died of leukemia in December that speaks to his character both on and off the field. "That was a tragic story, but I truly believe that's who Baker Mayfield is," Jackson said. "He is important in the community. I think he's important to his teammates. I kind of feel like he's the Pied Piper of Oklahoma football." To illustrate that point, Jackson said Mayfield had a commanding presence about him before Cleveland's workout with him last Thursday. "When we walked into the building, he made this sound. He just kind of came out of nowhere. He kind of went, 'Hee, hee!' And all the players in the building started going, 'Hee, hee!' And here they go," Jackson said, laughing. "It's the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. That shows you something about what he means to young men and how he leads them. And that's who Baker Mayfield is."

The Browns, of course, have four more weeks to determine if Mayfield is the right for fit for them.

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