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Jackson on Cody Kessler pick: 'You've got to trust me'

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The Cleveland Browns stunned most football experts Friday night by eschewing more highly thought of quarterbacks to select Cody Kessler in the third round.

It's been easy to skewer the Browns for their millennium-long search for a quarterback. This time around, however, it's clear new coach Hue Jackson pushed for the pick.

"I understand where everybody's coming from, but you've got to trust me on this one," Jackson said of questions about Kessler being a reach, via the Akron Beacon Journal. "This is a guy that we feel very comfortable with, and we feel he's going to have an opportunity to ascend."

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Kessler's tools don't wow: He has an average arm, stands just 6-foot-1, has mediocre pocket presence. He is, however, very accurate, completing 67.5 percent of his passes at the University of Southern California. Kessler's other positive trait: he doesn't turn the ball over. After three full seasons as a starter, Kessler left college with 88 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions.

Hmmm. A game manager with mid-level tools who is accurate and doesn't turn the ball over. Who does that remind you of? Oh, right, Andy Dalton. Jackson just coaxed the best years out of Dalton in Cincinnati. The coach didn't compare his old QB to his new protégé, but it's easy to see the similarities, especially in work ethic.

"This young man has pinpoint accuracy, 88 touchdowns, 19 interceptions over three years, tremendous touchdown-to-interception ratio," Jackson said. "(He) knows how to play in a pro-style offense and has a lot of the characteristics that we look for in a quarterback. I think he has great poise, pocket presence. He works at the game. Comes early, stays late, he's everything that I think you look for in a quarterback. We're very excited about him."

While Jackson wouldn't say Kessler would spend at least one year as a backup, the pick seems to cement Robert Griffin III's place atop the depth chart for 2016. 

For his part, Kessler said he wanted to become a Brown.

"I was hoping it would be Cleveland and I was excited every time their name came up, and it worked. I'm very blessed and very thankful to be heading to Cleveland," Kessler said, per the team's official website.

Stop laughing.

Sure Cleveland has become a quarterback graveyard. But with Jackson in town, it finally has a proven quarterback purveyor to harvest talent. Given Jackson's presence and a chance to compete for a starting gig within the next two years, a late-round talent like Kessler should want to go to Cleveland. He could come out with a starting gig or at least get an education that might keep him as an NFL backup for many years.

The pick might have been a surprise with Connor Cook, Dak Prescott and Cardale Jones still on the board, but it spoke loudly about Jackson's place in the organization. 

Jackson clearly has weight with executive vice president Sashi Brown and the rest of the Browns' brass -- as he should. Jackson wanted Kessler. He got his man.

Jackson trusts Kessler can become a quality player. The Browns trust Jackson's judgement. The question is: Can Cleveland fans -- a perpetually burned group -- trust that hope once again?

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