PHOENIX: Browns coach Hue Jackson ruled out trading the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft for a veteran quarterback, but he left the door open for moving down the board from the top spot.
It’s not a door Jackson wants to walk through, however, because he believes the Browns ought to stay put at No. 1 and pick a special player. Jackson wouldn’t say Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the choice, but he is widely expected to be.
“There’s going to be a player that I think will be very good for our organization at [No.] 1,” Jackson said Tuesday during the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore hotel and resort. “I would not like to trade [down], but if there’s something, an opportunity to make our team better, I’m sure we’ll discuss anything and everything. I think that’s what you do. We all know there’s going to be some fine players at No. 1 to make our football team better.”
Jackson made it clear he hopes the Browns could still trade for a veteran quarterback like New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo or Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron.
But the coach insisted the Browns wouldn’t surrender the No. 1 pick for a veteran quarterback.
“No, [we wouldn’t],” Jackson said. “No. I can tell you no on that one. No.”
Jackson also spoke as if the Browns would be willing to give up their other first-round pick, No. 12 overall, for a quarterback.
“I think everything will be on the table to consider,” he said. “But you’d like to come to a consensus that that right guy is out there and could be on your team. Yeah, I think we’d do anything. If there was a possibility to put the right quarterback on our football team, there’s no question in my mind we’d do anything and everything we could to do that.”
The No. 1 pick, though, is off the table when it comes to a potential trade for a quarterback, and the Browns won’t deal it at all if Jackson has his way.
Jackson said although the Browns are getting closer to deciding whom to pick at No. 1, it’s a little early to definitively say Garrett will become the top pick April 27.
“He’s a tremendous player, but I think there’s also some other guys that are really good,” Jackson said. “I think it’s a little too soon to anoint guys right this second. He’ll definitely be in the discussion. There’s no question about that.”
Jackson said the Browns believe criticism about Garrett taking plays off in college stems from him pushing through a high-ankle sprain for most of last season.
“I think we’re solving that riddle,” Jackson said. “I think it’s very clear in my mind and a lot of our minds about where he was and what that was last year.
“He’s a tremendous player. We all know that. We’re getting to know him, he’s getting to know us and we’ll continue to go along with the process.”
The Browns have conducted a private workout with Garrett, and they’ll likely host him on an official pre-draft visit.
There was buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine about new Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loving Garrett, and the word spread before the edge rusher had a dominant workout.
At the combine, Garrett said he would apologize to the Browns for begging the Dallas Cowboys in an ESPN video to trade with Cleveland so he could play in his hometown of Arlington, Texas. Garrett has stressed he was kidding.
“I’ve had my jokes with him about it,” Jackson said. “He’s explained it. I don’t think he meant anything by it by any stretch. I think we made it into more than what it was. But I think he understands, too, you’ve got to be very careful with what you say. He’s handled it right, and I think that part is behind us all.”
What likely lies ahead is the Browns staying at No. 1 and picking Garrett.
“When you draft a guy as the No. 1 pick in the National Football League, you want him to be a very dominant player, you want him to be a cornerstone player, you want him to be a generational player,” Jackson said. “I think that’s got to be the focus as we continue to move forward.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.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.