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Browns coach Hue Jackson: Mitch Trubisky will be ‘tremendous player’

Before everyone learned that general manager Ryan Pace coveted quarterback Mitch Trubisky, everyone seemingly had an inkling that the Browns did.

One report before the NFL draft said that Browns coach Hue Jackson “loves” Trubisky. Another said it was the Browns’ analytics-based front office that was enamored with Trubisky. And another suggested that the Browns were “split” on selecting Trubisky or pass rusher Myles Garrett with the first overall selection.

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In the end, the Browns passed on Trubisky and took Garrett. Pace, of course, boldly traded up to No. 2 to take Trubisky — and did so knowing that the Browns had interest in him and that other teams also wanted to move up because he was fielding calls for the Bears’ original No. 3 selection.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky celebrates after his touchdown run against the Bengals. (AP)

For what it’s worth, Jackson sounded convinced during a conference call Wednesday with the Chicago media that the Bears drafted a franchise-changing quarterback in Trubisky.

“I know Mitch is there in Chicago and doing great things,” Jackson said. “Me following [and] figuring those things out wasn’t really important because obviously we took a different player. What I can speak to is a young man coming out of college. [Trubisky] had success, has the ability and all the characteristics that you would want in a quarterback.

“Over time, all these players, especially these quarterbacks, will prove what they are. I don’t doubt that Mitch will prove that he is a franchise quarterback for the Chicago Bears.”

It was high praise from Jackson on a day he seemingly didn’t have any for own rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer, who the Browns selected with the 52nd pick in the 2017 draft.

“We did not draft a quarterback in the first round and say, ‘This is our quarterback of the future.’ We took a quarterback. We’re trying to grow him,” Jackson told reporters in Cleveland. “We have a very young quarterback room. We need to continue to improve that room as much as we can as we move forward for it to be the best it can be.”

Consider Jackson’s comments as further proof that the Browns are in more flux than the Bears right now. The Bears might fire coach John Fox, but they believe they have a young quarterback to build around. They have an important starting point.

The Browns? Executive vice president Sashi Brown was fired and replaced by former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey on Dec. 8.

And they’re still searching for a quarterback.

Dorsey already has asked his colleae scouts to rank the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft. He also said that Kizer was his fourth-ranked quarterback in 2017, too, obviously following Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes (No. 10, Chiefs) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12, Texans).

Dorsey was the Chiefs’ GM when they traded up to select Mahomes, but the Chiefs also were believed to be higher on Trubisky.

In other words, a winning performance from Trubisky at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve could be a coal-in-the-stocking moment for the Browns, who also passed on drafting current Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in 2016.

Knowing firsthand how difficult it can be to win with a rookie quarterback – Kizer is 0-13 with 19 interceptions and a 59.4 passer rating — Jackson said he’s seen improvement from Trubisky over his 10 starts.

“It’s starts with him — his ability to complete the ball gives them an opportunity to do special things,” Jackson said. “As you look at things, I know they run the football a lot and they protect him, but lately, he’s really started to find his receivers and air the ball out a little bit.”

Again, Jackson’s not surprised.

“He’s a good quarterback. Smart. Bright,” Jackson said. “[He] knew how to play the game; could throw the football. Again, [he] had a lot of upside to him. Obviously, I think he’s going to be a tremendous player there in Chicago.”

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns
Email: ajahns@suntimes.com