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Press Conference

Hue Jackson press conference - 4/28

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

Opening statement:

"Obviously, I am very excited about our 2018 draft class. From top to bottom, I think it is a really good class. Obviously, this is always an exciting time. I have been through this now for the third time here, but we do know that all of this has to parlay to the field. This is still about winning drafts, but at the end of the day, it is about winning football games. We really feel like we put some guys on the team that can help us do that. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Get these young men here and get them acclimated to the things we do and how we go about it. From top to bottom, I think it is a really strong class. I just want to thank (General Manager) John Dorsey and the personnel group for of all their work. It is a lot of work put into this and to my coaching staff, it is a lot of hours and time and commitment to get things done this way. We had to make some tough decisions, and we did that. We are going to move forward with this group and coach them up." 

On if the front office was more aggressive or took more chances this year, given where some players were ranked by draft analysts:

"I am not going to say more aggressive. I just think as a group how we go about it, working together and collaborating on it all – I know it can be seen as more aggressive – but I think what we did is totally believe in how we go about evaluating players and making decision to putting players on our team."

On selecting a few players with 'checkered backgrounds':

"Obviously, there are some guys in this group who do have some spots on them, but trust me, we did our due diligence on them and making sure that we vetted it all out. We feel very good about putting these guys in our organization. There is no question that we have the resources in place to help them through it, and we will go from there."

On the decision making process when selecting players with off-field issues:

"John said it earlier, I think it is a case-by-case basis. I think you really dig into it because you have to. You have to make sure that you understand all of the different angles of it all to be able to make a decision. When it is all said and done, we make a decision as an organization and we make a decision, all of us, to do our part to make it right. I think we feel about what we know and how we are going to attack the issues."

On WRs Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley:

"They are good football players. Obviously, Callaway's statistics for the one year or year and a half were outstanding. Ratley obviously he does not have a lot of numbers, but he is a very talented player and has played and made plays. We are really excited about getting these two young men on our team."

On where OL Austin Corbett will begin his NFL career:

"He is versatile. He can play tackle. He can play guard. We are going to give him a chance to do both and see where he fits. He is a really good football player. I do not think you can have too many good football players. If we have to do some shuffling along the line, when it is all said and done, we are going to put our best five guys out there."

On if Corbett would also play at C this year:

"I probably would not go that far, but if need be, we would because he does have that skillset. I think having guys whether they are starters or backups that have the versatility to play all five spots is very important."

On if OL Joel Bitonio could play LT:

"You may see anything. When it is all said and done, my job is to make sure that we have the best group of guys out there. If it means that, then we will do that, too." 

On if LB Genard Avery will play inside or outside:

"We will start him on the inside at MIKE, but I think he can play all of the different spots. Obviously, he is going to be a real core special teams guy. There are a lot of different things he can do. This guy, he knows how to go sack the quarterback and make plays on the ball so we are excited about him."

On public discussion about already occurring about whether QB Baker Mayfield could start Week 1:

"I respect that. I think anytime you draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall everybody wants to see him play, but I have made a true commitment to our football team – (QB) Tyrod Taylor is going to be the starter. Baker is going to compete. However that unfolds, it unfolds. Right now, Tyrod is the starter. If Baker can understand the National Football League and all the rigors and the grinding that you have to go through, I am not going to ever stop a player from being the best he can be, but we have a plan and I want to work that plan as much as we can. Now, can a player supersede that? You never know. I have not had that happen. Right now, this team is going to be led by Tyrod Taylor."

On handling the public excitement about Mayfield playing and if he will also have to manage himself in that regard:

"I have been through this, not a No. 1 overall, but I have been through this the last two years. I have to do what is best for the football team, the organization, and the player. I do not think you want to put a player out there too soon if they are not ready to go. We have the luxury to do that and make sure that Baker is in the right spot before we ever put him in that predicament."

On if Mayfield can be the second string QB:

"He is starting No. 3 right now. He has got to work his way up. He has to earn it. We are not going to give anybody anything. Draft status is just that. You still got to earn the right to play for the Cleveland Browns, and that is what we are going to create here."

On the most significant benefit for Mayfield by not playing immediately:

"I think the biggest benefit to him is understanding – John said it the other day – and just coming in and learning. First, how to prepare, making sure that process and what that is going to be from him and starting to understand defenses in the National Football League, especially within our division, outside of our division. How you have to prepare day in and day out just for the rigors of pro football. I think a guy has to learn how to do that, and that takes time. Some people can do it faster than others, and we just have to figure out what that is going to be for him." 

On what Mayfield's biggest transition will be:

"I think the biggest transition that Baker is going to have is going to play under center somewhat. We will put our quarterback under center. Obviously, I think about probably 95 percent of the things he has done has been in the shotgun so that is going to be a big change for him." 

On what convinced him that Mayfield could be an 'outlier,' in reference to his size:

"I am being very honest, it started at the Combine just talking to him and listening to some of the things he has said, and I go, 'OK, well, that still didn't convince me yet.' Then going down and working him out in Norman and working him out in Norman and watching him with his teammates and how he throws the football. The ball jumps off his arm. He has a quick arm. He is very accurate with the ball. From there, obviously, spending some more time with him when he came here. Baker Mayfield from a football IQ standpoint is as good as I have been around. He has tremendous arm talent, more so than anybody knows. Obviously, he has proved that he is very accurate with the football. I really think he is a tremendous leader. He has a lot of qualities that we look for. It is somewhat coming out, I think a lot of people had him as their best quarterback. We are very excited to have him and very glad that he is going to be here in this organization."

On Mayfield 'breaking the mold' of what he may typically look for in a QB:

"No, you have to think through it. I know there are outliers to this, there is no question about it. I think of my time with Michael Vick a little bit. This is not a cookie-cutter situation when you are trying to find the right quarterback that fits for you. There are things that you are very bullish on and this has got to be there, but there are also things where you keep watching the tape. You have to let the tape tell the story for you. If you watch his tape, it says it all. The guy can play quarterback and play it well."

On RB Nick Chubb:

"I see an AFC North back is what I see. I see a guy that is very physical, very tough. He can create runs on his own. Obviously, he had a really good career at Georgia, the No. 2 rusher in all of the SEC in his time there. This is a guy that if we are going to run the football the way that we plan on running it, you have got to have good backs. With him and (RB) Carlos (Hyde) and (RB) Duke (Johnson, Jr.), we feel like we have some guys that we can do that with."

On managing touches with the number of offensive options:

"It will work itself out. I know right now, when you look at us from an offensive standpoint, you wonder where all of these balls are going to go because a year ago, that was not a problem. I think it is a good problem to have. I think that when you are really trying to become really, really good, what other way to do it than with good football players? All it does is raise the level in the room. It raises the level on the practice field. Guys are going to have to compete to earn the right to get the ball in their hands."

On Mayfield displaying his football IQ:

"First, I think you guys have watched him play. You watch his tape, and if you are really in tune to it, you will see him making all the decisions and the calls up front. That said a lot to me, and it is not just hold up a sign. He had to give the information to his offensive players while also making sure he understood the defense and then go back and execute at a high level. That right there gave me an idea as to this guy can either really memorize things really well, a photographic memory or that he really understands a process to get information. Then you put him on the board here with our information, and he is able to spit it back pretty fast. That tells you a lot."

On comparing Mayfield's personality to other NFL QBs, given his charisma:

"He really does. I haven't been around this guy, but I have competed against him – again, I hate to compare him to anybody and you are talking about just from afar and Just that personality, that fire and that fight – when I think of (Los Angeles Chargers QB) Philip Rivers, that is what it is. These guys are trying to beat you every chance they get, and it is just in them and it shows."

On if it can be difficult for Mayfield's to exude his leadership qualities when he is not playing:

"It is, but that's where I have to help him. When his time comes, his time comes. He has to understand that Tyrod is that leader right now and allow Tyrod to be the best that he can be that way and assist and help when he can, but also, I don't want to muzzle him. I want him to be who he needs to be, as well. I think there's a way to get those things done."

On potentially only adding one starter from the draft class on paper:

"I think that is the building of a good team because that says that, again, these are players that we are putting on our team that we feel real good about, and they are going to have to compete at a high level with the guys at certain positions that you have just mentioned that are here on this team. Either our guys that are here are going to step up and get it done or the players that we have drafted are going to step up and get it done. It is one or the other. I think that is an excellent problem to have because it means that you have a chance to have a better football team.

On potentially having concerns adding Callaway to the WRs room, given past off-field incidents:

"No, we have talked through all of those different scenarios, and I feel very comfortable with the room and where the room is. There is no question, I understand the concern and rightfully so, but I think when we talked through it all and really dug into it all, we feel good about No. 1 one, that we have the right resources to give this young man the best chance to be the best person first and then the best football player he can be."

On Callaway's skillset with his statistics in college, given Dorsey said Callaway may have been the first or second WR selected if there were no off-field questions:

"He didn't play a lot so that is probably why the numbers don't say as much, but the guy can score the football. He is very sudden. He is very fast. He can catch the ball. He can make tough catches, big catches. At the end of the day, we know what kind of football player he is. We need when we get him here just make sure that he understands what the culture is here in the Cleveland Browns, and he will do that."

On embracing second-chance opportunities for players, specifically in reference to his experience with it in Cincinnati:

"I have been through this before, and you said as a position coach. First of all, I feel very comfortable with our position coach (wide receivers coach) Adam Henry being there, and then (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley and myself. Obviously, my role has changed so that allows me to go around and be a little bit more of a per se assistant to a position coach. I truly feel that and I think that if you address the issues upfront and you have a plan for it, I think the players at the end of the day, they want to play. They want to have an opportunity to play in the National Football League. The carrot is having that chance to play, and if you don't do things the way we see fit, then obviously, we have to move forward. I feel very comfortable with us taking this chance – because that is what it is, let's just be honest – and dealing with this because I think we have the right resources in place."

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