Quarterback, how Browns plan to address it a hot topic for Hue Jackson at Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- Smiling and laughing along with the reporters who peppered him with questions Thursday, Hue Jackson admitted he didn't want to field the same types of queries at this time next year.

The focus Thursday was on the quarterback position and how Jackson and the Browns plan to address it in the important, upcoming months. If the team executes what it hopes to accomplish over the next few months -- whether it be via free agency, the draft or simply developing the in-house talent -- Jackson will be thrilled to tackle a different set of questions at next year's scouting combine.

"I think we all get it," Jackson said. "We need to find a guy to lead our team, to lead this organization to winning week in and week out."

Quarterback is one of Jackson's strongest areas of expertise and it's a position at which he plans to continue to be hands-on alongside new, veteran quarterback coach David Lee. After last month's release of Josh McCown, the Browns have three quarterbacks on the roster -- Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan -- but no definitive starter as they eye the start of offseason workouts, which will kick off shortly before the draft in April.

Six different quarterbacks saw the field for Cleveland in a season that was marred by injuries and inconsistency on both sides of the ball. Jackson has been adamant about the Browns never again experiencing a season like 2016, and the path toward following through with it starts with evaluating each position group and finding the best possible solution to get more out of it.

It just hogs a little more of the national spotlight when that evaluation is happening at the quarterback position.

"Anytime you don't have your starting quarterback there should always be an urgency," Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said, "and there is."

When free agency opens next week, the Browns will get their first opportunity to upgrade the quarterback position. It's how they acquired Griffin in 2016 and McCown in 2015, but there's no guarantee Cleveland will use that avenue in 2017.'s top 101 free agents list includes just four quarterbacks with Tampa Bay's Mike Glennon, who hasn't started a game since 2014, leading the way at No. 34.

Asked if the path toward an improved record would be smoother with a veteran quarterback, Jackson pointed to the 10 other spots on the field alongside the signal-caller.

"I don't know if it's just experience. You have to surround the team with talent," Jackson said. "It's not just putting a quarterback on the team. He's a huge piece of it, but you also have to equip that quarterback with an opportunity to win. A lot of things go into that. We understand where we are and what we need to do. Our executive staff, along with our coaching staff, that's what we're setting out to do."

And then there's the reason why the entire NFL world is here in Indianapolis.

Thursday served as a day of measurements and interviews for the top quarterback prospects, and the Browns plan to be especially active interviewing the ones they have rated highest on their board. Teams are allotted 60, 15-minute interviews with the hundreds of players invited to the Combine, and Jackson confirmed the team would exhaust its resources digging into the signal-callers.

Jackson said it was "too soon" to say whether any of the rookie quarterbacks would be ready to play Day 1 in the NFL.

"That's why we're here, to spend more time with them and see what they know and what they don't know and how we can help them and how they would fit in our system," Jackson said. "We'll know more about all these guys as we continue to move forward."

Finding a franchise quarterback has been a charge Jackson has embraced from the moment he took the job with the Browns, and it's continued through what he's described as a stretch of offseason that is a "pivotal" moment in the team's history.

"It's a collaborative effort but I think our whole staff is wanting me to help them make the best decision for this organization and I've said it before, that's what I came here for," Jackson said. "But we're doing this together, hopefully they'll use my expertise along these lines that we can make the best decision."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content