MOBILE, Alabama -- Davis Webb has felt comfortable working with a coach that cares as much about quarterbacks as Hue Jackson does.
The Cal quarterback is accustomed to a hands-on head coach. During the early stages of his career at Texas Tech, Webb worked closely with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who similarly called plays and served as the team's quarterbacks coach. With the Golden Bears, Webb saw his head coach, Sonny Dykes, regularly attend his quarterback meetings.
It's served as a steadying hand of sorts for Webb, who is out to prove he's more than just a "system" quarterback in front of the eyes of all 32 NFL teams -- the closest-watching, of course, being Jackson and the Browns coaching staff.
"I can tell Coach Jackson's energy and passion for the game of football," Webb said. "He loves being around the quarterbacks, he loves teaching the quarterbacks and you can tell he has a certain air to him. He's passionate, he loves being around us three and it's been a lot of fun."
Webb is no different from his fellow quarterbacks on the South roster. Both Josh Dobbs of Tennessee and Antonio Pipkin of nearby Tiffin University ran offenses in college that aren't anything like what Jackson and the Browns coaching staff have thrown at them. They've had to adjust on the fly from their college spread attacks to a more traditional, pro-style offense, and that's a test that occurs inside the meeting room and on the field.
And Jackson's been the one feeding them the information and seeing how they react.
"He wants to see how much mental capacity we have, how much we can learn in a short amount of time and study and go out and play as if we've known the offense for years," Dobbs said. "That's the part about playing the quarterback position. It's a mental position. You have to be able to play the game in your head, see the game in your head, you have to be able to take mental reps and take advantage of your time off the field in your playbook and then play efficiently as well."
Both Dobbs and Webb appeared to make the most of the three days of practice with Jackson, who said he was pleasantly surprised by Dobbs' arm strength and repeatedly praised Webb for the big arm he's known for. Webb, who threw for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns this past season, was named Friday as the top quarterback of the week of Senior Bowl practices.
That kind of praise from Jackson bodes well for both -- even if the Browns don't end up drafting either player in the middle or late rounds.
"I still think at the end of the day, the guy needs to be able to process the football and arm talent," Jackson said. "I think that's really important, especially in our division, and everything in my mind goes through our division because we play in a lot of different elements and we think we have one of the better divisions in football. You can't stand in there in the snow and the elements and throw the ball, and it's tough if you can't process information because the defenses are so good — Pittsburgh and Baltimore and CIncinnati — it's hard to play. Those are things that are non-negotiable for me."
Dobbs has been an open book for criticism for the past four years as a starter at Tennessee, but one thing that can't be knocked is his smarts. An aerospace engineering major, Dobbs spent last summer interning at global aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and clearly has a bright future ahead of him even if he never plays a down of professional football.
That hasn't dampened his love of the game, and he's well aware of the open-ended quarterback situation in Cleveland.
"Of course you know a team needs a quarterback but as a player you've got to go out and play your game and control what you can control," Dobbs said. "That's the one big thing I learned during my time at Tennessee. Control what I can control so I can control how I practice, my preparation, how I throw down the field. I can control each and every throw. That's what I'm trying to do when I step on the field."
Webb, a Prosper, Texas, native wasn't completely up to speed on the Browns' quarterback situation but was more than knowledgeable about the sports resurgence in Cleveland. He watched the Cavs championship parade and followed the Indians in the World Series. He knows this week's audition could go a long way toward determining whether he has a chance to help the Browns re-establish a consistent winning tradition.
"I don't know if they need a quarterback or not. I'm not sure what they're going to do," Webb said. "But if they were to draft one, I'd love to be one. It's a great sports town."