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Browns Notes: Deshaun Watson says winning history makes him best QB in draft, would be happy playing for Browns

INDIANAPOLIS — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson’s goal is to be the first quarterback drafted April 27. If it’s by the Browns with the No. 1 pick, even better.
Yes, he’s OK playing for the Browns.
Watson skipped the Senior Bowl in January when he would’ve been coached by Cleveland’s Hue Jackson and his staff. Then Watson joked at the Davey O’Brien Award ceremony in Texas — he was named the nation’s best quarterback for the second straight year — that he wanted the Cowboys to trade with the Browns so they could draft him No. 1.
So what if the Browns kept the pick and took him?
“First off, my reaction would be all excited and I’d really be excited to go up there and play for those guys and Hue Jackson,” Watson said Friday at the scouting combine.
He defended the comment about the Cowboys.
“It wasn’t a dis or anything like that,” he said. “If you know the whole story, it was a joke that me and (Cowboys coach) Jason Garrett had last year because I won the Davey O’Brien the year before, too, and Davey O’Brien are huge Cowboy fans and they wanted me to joke around and have the crowd excited and get laughs.
“It was just an insider joke and then someone filmed it and put it on social media and made it bigger than what it was. It wasn’t no dis to any team or any franchise. I’d be happy to go anywhere and I’m just blessed with this opportunity.”
Watson had a simple reason why he stands at the top of a quarterback class that includes North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. He won a state championship in high school and a national title in college.
“I’d just say my past history,” Watson said. “Being the face of college football for two years, handling the success, handling all the criticism and the adversity.
“So one thing that translates from college to the NFL is winners and I think, being a quarterback, that’s the biggest thing being recognized, winning games. That’s all I’ve been doing.”
Watson said he was scheduled to meet with the Browns on Friday night. He talked to Jackson when he decided to skip the Senior Bowl.
“We had a great conversation,” Watson said. “He knew where I was coming from and there wasn’t no hard feelings and we’re all on the same page.”
Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett preceded Watson with a video taped for ESPN in which he implored Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to trade with the Browns and draft him. Garrett is from Arlington. Jackson downplayed the comments Thursday.
“I think they’re both really good guys and I think at the time it was more having a little fun about it,” he said. “If it was something I thought was really serious, then I would be concerned, but I don’t think either one of those guys would be concerned about coming to Cleveland and playing.”
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt can’t be accused of being a fair-weather fan. As a 21-year-old, he’s never seen his hometown NFL team win a playoff game. And he’s only seen it play in one.
He doesn’t care.
“I’m going to be a Browns fan till I die,” he said Thursday.
Hunt, who starred at Willoughby South High School, would love to be drafted by them.
“It’d mean a lot,” he said. “I would be home and just be able to play and enjoy my time at home and just have a lot of supporters and family out there, and it’d be a huge experience.”
Hunt (5-foot-10, 216) is ranked ninth by in a deep running back class, but he had a different opinion.
“Well, I think I fit in right with the best of them, at the top,” he said. “And I’m going to keep competing. That’s what I do, I love to compete. I’m going to show up and be there every day.”
He rushed for 1,475 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, and carried 15 times for 118 yards in the Senior Bowl to be named North Outstanding Player.
A lot of mock drafts have the Browns taking a running back at No. 12, either Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Coach Hue Jackson seemed to shoot down that idea, but they could add a back like Hunt if he’s around in the middle rounds.
The Browns recently used the $2.81 million second-round tender to keep Isaiah Crowell and have Duke Johnson as a complement. Jackson said he feels “even better” about them than last year, when they didn’t draft a running back and Jackson expressed confidence in his pair.
“Crow’s a very talented player, so is Duke,” Jackson said. “I feel good about those guys, but I don’t think anything’s just set. However we can improve our team and make it better that’s what we’re going to do.”
Garrett measured 6-foot-4½, 272 pounds with 10¼-inch hands, 35¼ arms and an 82 5/8 wingspan. He’s the early favorite to be taken by the Browns with the top pick.
Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight said he’s worth it.
“Myles is one of the greatest players I’ve ever played against or with,” he said. “He’s a very gifted athlete but also a guy who comes to work every single day and is not going to be an off-the-field issue at all. He’s a guy you definitely want on your team and not rushing against you. Dynamic, explosive and can pretty much do it all on that side of the ball.”
The Browns allowed a league-high 66 sacks, so changes are expected on the line. The most unsettled spots are center and right tackle.
Austin Pasztor started 15 games at right tackle but is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Cam Erving spent the season at center before moving to right tackle for the finale.
“We need to improve it,” Jackson said of right tackle. “We have some candidates that we’ll put over there and give them a chance to compete and obviously, maybe we’ll find somebody in free agency or find somebody that can play the position in the draft.”
Erving, the No. 19 pick in 2015, struggled at center and isn’t expected to return there, creating another hole. He could be an option at right tackle.
Executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said he’s excited about young centers Gabe Ikard, Anthony Fabiano and Austin Reiter but there’s “some ways to go” for one to develop into a starter.
The reports keep coming about the New England Patriots’ willingness or unwillingness to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Boston Herald got in the mix Friday, reporting the Patriots are exploring options for backup quarterbacks on the free agent market, which would only make sense if they’re considering dealing Garoppolo.
ESPN reported earlier in the week the Patriots won’t trade him.
** The running backs ran the 40-yard dash. Cook timed 4.49 seconds, Fournette 4.51 at 240 pounds and Hunt 4.62. He had hoped to run in the high 4.4s.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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