BEREA: The Browns still intend to start quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but now that No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield is aboard, coach Hue Jackson acknowledged plans can change.

“Anytime you draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall, everyone wants to see him play, but I’ve made a true commitment to our football team: Tyrod Taylor’s going to be the starter, Baker’s going to compete, however that unfolds it unfolds, but right now, Tyrod is the starter,” Jackson said Saturday after the Browns made their ninth and final pick of the draft.

“If Baker can understand the National Football League and all the rigors and the grinding that you have to go through, I’m 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 haven’t had that happen. But right now, this team is going to be led by Tyrod Taylor.”

Last month, new Browns General Manager John Dorsey traded a third-round pick (No. 65) to Buffalo for Taylor, who went 22-21 as a starting QB for the Bills. Dorsey and Jackson repeatedly insisted Taylor would enter next season as the starter, so the incoming rookie everyone expected them to draft at No. 1 could watch and learn from the sideline.

If it were Southern California’s Sam Darnold, who had widely been considered the favorite among analysts to become the top pick, keeping him behind Taylor would have been an easier sell because he had 22 interceptions and 21 fumbles (14 lost) in 27 collegiate games.

But Mayfield, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, might be ready sooner than later. He’s also a fiery competitor — Jackson compared him to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in that regard — who will likely consider sitting unpalatable. For now, he’s behind Taylor and free-agent acquisition Drew Stanton on the depth chart.

“He’s starting No. 3 right now,” Jackson said. “He’s got to work his way up. He’s got to earn it. We’re not going to give anybody anything. Draft status is just that. You’ve still got to earn the right to play for the Cleveland Browns.

“I don’t think you want to put a player out there too soon if they’re not ready to go. We have the luxury to do that and make sure that Baker’s in the right spot before we ever put him in that predicament.”

Dorsey, assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and consultant Scot McCloughan each graded Mayfield independently. When they compared notes, they had each given him nearly the same grade, the best among the quarterbacks in this class.

At 6-foot-? and 215 pounds, Mayfield lacks prototypical size, but he has exceptional accuracy and above-average arm strength. His intelligence and ability to read defenses are among his best assets.

Darnold possesses ideal size (6-3? and 221 pounds) to go along with good accuracy and arm strength. But some in NFL circles question his ability to read coverages.

Jackson admitted Mayfield “didn’t convince” him he could be worthy of the top pick until the Browns conducted a private workout with him March 22 at Oklahoma. Mayfield’s pre-draft visit to team headquarters April 3 proved to be crucial, too.

“Spending that time in Norman and watching him with his teammates and how he throws the football — the football jumps off his arm, he has a quick arm, he’s very accurate with the ball, and from there, then obviously spending some more time when he came here,” Jackson said. “Baker Mayfield, from a football IQ standpoint, is as good as I’ve been around.

“He has tremendous arm talent, more so than I think anybody knows. Obviously, he’s proven he’s very accurate with the football, and I really think he’s a tremendous leader. So he really has a lot of qualities that we look for, and I think it’s now somewhat coming out that a lot of people had him as their best quarterback, so we’re very excited to have him.”

Still, Dorsey’s reputation for valuing height, weight and speed and Jackson’s well-known preference for QBs 6-2 or taller are reasons the selection of Mayfield was surprising.

So was it difficult for Jackson to buy into the idea of drafting a QB at No. 1 who didn’t fit his ideal mold?

“This is not a cookie-cutter situation when you’re trying to find the right quarterback that fits for you,” he said. “There are things that you’re very bullish on and this has got to be there, but there’s also things when you keep watching the tape, you have to let the tape tell the story for you. And if you watch his tape, it says it all. The guy can play quarterback and play it well.”

Perhaps he’ll play sooner for the Browns than the team advertised leading up to the draft.

Jackson said sitting would allow Mayfield to learn how to prepare as a professional and gain a better understanding of NFL defenses. He would also have more time to adjust to playing under center, something he rarely did at Oklahoma.

Of the 1,047 snaps Mayfield took last season, only seven were under center and the rest out of shotgun, according to ESPN. In 2017, NFL offenses operated from under center on 41 percent of snaps. The Pittsburgh Steelers, with new Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley calling their plays, were under center on 30 percent of snaps last season.

“The biggest transition that Baker’s going to have is he’s going to have to play under center somewhat because we will put our quarterback under center,” Jackson said. “Obviously, I think about 95 percent of the things he’s done have been in the shotgun and that’s going to be a big change for him.”

On the third and final day of the draft, the Browns selected Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway in the fourth round (No. 105 overall), Memphis linebacker Genard Avery in the fifth round (No. 150), Texas A&M wide receiver Damion Ratley in the sixth round (No. 175) and Louisiana cornerback Simeon Thomas in the sixth round (No. 188).

If Mayfield doesn’t disrupt the Browns’ plan to keep him on the bench out of the gate, there’s a chance Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, the fourth overall pick, will be the only player among the nine draft selections to start in Week 1.

Jackson said he believes it’s a sign the Browns are in the process of “building of a good team” after records of 1-15 and 0-16 the past two seasons.

“Either our guys that are here are going to step up and get it done, or the players that we drafted are going to step up and get it done,” he said. “It’s one or the other.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.