DeShone Kizer slipped out of the first round of the draft, but it seems he’ll have the same hype as a first-round pick.
There is constant pressure on teams to play first-round picks at quarterback. It’s rare when a team doesn’t give into that pressure and give the prized rookie at least one start. And there are already whispers about Kizer starting from Week 1 on.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is one of the best beat writers in the NFL, and she hinted that Kizer has looked so good in OTAs, he has a chance to work his way into the competition to start the season opener. He has been getting reps with the starters lately, which is telling. Here is what she wrote:
“But there’s no denying that Kizer is coming up the learning curve quickly and that he’ll press for the opening day start. In fact, he’s progressing so well in camp that Jackson might be tempted to start him against the Steelers even if it’s against his better judgment.
“As for now, Kizer is still third in the rotation behind Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler, but taking reps with the first-teamers in camp — meaning Jackson wants to see how he looks with the starters.”
There are a lot of caveats to attach to those observations. First, it was far from a proclamation that Kizer is going to start. Also, it’s just mid-June and everything changes when pads go on in training camp and definitely for preseason games. Kizer can look great in OTAs with no contact, but it might be a different story in August. Kizer still has to pass Cody Kessler, who did fine with his opportunities as a rookie last season, and Brock Osweiler, who is also getting praise through OTAs. Kizer was considered a raw prospect out of Notre Dame, and while he has obvious skills, he didn’t seem like a candidate to start from Week 1 on.
However, what Cabot wrote follows in line with the growing praise for Kizer since he was drafted. All Cleveland media outlets have noted how good he has looked in practice. And it would make sense for the Browns to get a good look at Kizer before next April, when Cleveland will presumably have a high pick and many good quarterback prospects to choose from. They’ll want to know by then if Kizer can be the franchise quarterback they’ve longed for. Kessler did some good things but he doesn’t have Kizer’s ceiling. Osweiler is coming off a horrible season with the Houston Texans and it’s hard to believe he becomes a star in Cleveland. And the Browns aren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot no matter who starts at quarterback. There are good reasons to just give Kizer the shot, if he keeps progressing.
Browns coach Hue Jackson wants to make sure Kizer doesn’t get ahead of himself, however. Cabot’s story mostly focused on how Jackson scolded him for declaring right after the draft that he wanted to start.
“He laid it right to me, and he said ‘look, this is not about you playing right away, this is not about a timetable on when you’re going to play,” Kizer told Cabot. “It’s about you just learning as much as you possibly can and becoming a better quarterback and that’s been my mindset since the day he said that.”
When asked when he thinks he’ll be ready, Kizer smartly replied that it’s “Coach Jackson’s call.” But there’s a lot of buzz about Kizer, and that will only grow if he continues to impress before the season starts.
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