The Browns won’t have the advantage of coaching Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the Senior Bowl next week.
Watson, who recently led the Tigers to the national championship with playoff victories over Ohio State and Alabama, declined an invitation to the all-star game, Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage confirmed Wednesday. Watson is a junior but was eligible because he graduated and declared for the NFL Draft.
Browns coach Hue Jackson and his reconstructed staff will coach the South team, of which Watson would’ve been a member. The Browns have the No. 1 pick in the draft and need a quarterback, so having Watson in meetings and on the practice field would’ve given them an inside look at one of the draft’s top prospects.
Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer are considered the best quarterbacks available.
Watson will focus on preparing for the scouting combine that begins March 1 in Indianapolis.
Star Alabama defensive players Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster will also skip the Senior Bowl. The Browns could consider Allen with the top pick and Foster at No. 12.
The top players on the South, according to CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler, are Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp and Mississippi tight end/receiver Evan Engram.
Jackson hired veteran assistant Bob Wylie to coach the offensive line, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram. The C-T reported last week Wylie was likely to get the job.
Wylie, 65, was line coach for Jackson in his previous one-year stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2011. The Raiders ranked tied for fourth in the league by allowing only 25 sacks – improving from tied for 26th with 44 sacks in 2010 -- and were seventh rushing (131.9 yards per game).
Wylie replaces Hal Hunter, who was fired by Jackson after one season with the Browns. The line was plagued by injuries -- guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco were placed on injured reserve with Lisfranc injuries -- and allowed a league-high 66 sacks, 17 more than the next team.
The Browns didn’t make the Wylie hire official, as they are waiting to announce the new assistants together. That could come Thursday prior to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ introductory news conference at noon.
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