Browns, NFL Draft

Will DeShone Kizer be a starting caliber NFL quarterback?

Nobody knows whether Deshone Kizer will become a significant NFL starter. Even Hue Jackson and Deshone Kizer can’t be considered reliable sources because there are just too many variables at play. That said, I want to discuss Kizer’s selection, his potential, and zero in on some of the reasons for excitement and concern.

First thing’s first, there’s a well-worn idea in the NFL that if a guy can play quarterback and proves that he can play the position, it doesn’t matter where you select him. For example, given hindsight, Dak Prescott would have been a superior pick to Corey Coleman, which was the Browns’ selection well ahead of Prescott. Even presuming that’s 100% true before Kizer has played a snap of real NFL football, it’s more encouraging that the Browns didn’t have to use such a high pick to add him to the roster.

Do these kinds of things have any impact at all on how you look at prospects, specifically Deshone Kizer?

Michael Bode: Let’s start off with Dak Prescott. If he doesn’t go to a team with the NFL’s best offensive line, some great receiving options in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, alongside the ridiculous Ezekial Elliott, then does he have anywhere near the success? His YPA was over 9.0 in six of his first nine starts. How does he do that in Cleveland? Prescott was great and he grew into the role faster than anyone could have imagined, but he would have also required a bunch more patience if he was on the Browns.

A long way of saying that the quarterback affects the team around him (Taylor Gabriel is nodding in Atlanta vigorously), but the team also affects the quarterback especially during the development stages. Undoubtedly, it is a good thing for Kizer that the Browns invested in the offensive line during free agency and were able to provide him a first-round talented receiving option in the 2017 NFL Draft- even having a more dynamic defense could also help him if Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers are able to give the offense better field position.

I would like to state that draft position is meaningless and that the team will figure out the best players and play them. However, draft position oftentimes determines the amount of faith a front office has in a particular player, which then lends itself to how many chances that player will get to prove themselves on the field. Perception can shape the reality for many players, especially quarterbacks. Cody Kessler is fine to be a career backup because he was a third-round selection. Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden, and Brady Quinn needed to be shipped out once the team realized they weren’t starter-worthy players because of the first-round yoke on their shoulders.

For Kizer, he might have been selected in the best possible area of the draft for him. He was selected higher than Kessler and in the range where developmental starting quarterbacks are taken. Yet, the “WE MUST SEE KIZER ON THE FIELD” cries will be somewhat quiet early as falling out of Day 1 could indicate the NFL does not deem him ready to play.

What type of plan do you think Hue Jackson should have for Kizer?

Craig: I don’t want to sit and try and make a bunch of fake rules for Kizer’s development. If he’s “ready” and beats everyone else in training camp, he can certainly start right away. I’m thinking that’s a tough thing for any young quarterback to do in such a short period of time. While Kizer’s talent may dwarf that of Cody Kessler’s very quickly, it’s unlikely that Kessler’s brief experience is eclipsed over the course of training camp and the pre-season. That’s a long, complicated way of saying that I think it’s best if he sits at the beginning. I’m not willing to say it unequivocally, but that’s where I’m leaning and that’s the hurdle Kizer must get over for me.

More generically, I’m interested in what you think his chances are to become a real NFL quarterback. I agree that situations like Prescott’s in Dallas and even Andy Daulton’s in Cincinnati help determine a quarterback’s outcome. That said, I think Kizer is as good a prospect as Prescott, Garoppolo, and probably even some of the quarterbacks taken in front of him in this very NFL draft.

In my mind, even given that confidence variability, I put his odds at about 20-25% to “make it” as an NFL starter. That speaks almost as much to the position and circumstance as it does to him as an individual. It’s all guessing, but what do you make of those (made up) odds?

Michael: I am with you on when he should start. The moment Hue Jackson believes he is the best starting option, Kizer should be behind center even if that is Week 1. In fact, I would go even a step further and state that if Kizer is almost at the same level as the others but his trajectory appears to be moving him ahead, then he should be gaining the experience on the field rather than on the sidelines. It is nice for the Browns and Kizer that there shouldn’t be as strong of a narrative that he ‘needs’ to be starting though.

There isn’t much reason that Kizer should be considered significantly behind (if behind at all) any of the other prospects in this particular class. He has more physical tools and a better body type to be a NFL starter than any of them, has as much experience, and he’s weathered a ton of adversity. His inconsistency and the mess at Notre Dame- which fed that adversity- are the reasons he fell to the second round (along with some wonky mechanics).

I’d put most of the Top 4 quarterbacks from this class right alongside your 25% odds. It seems fair that one or maybe two of them will establish themselves as the next six-to-eight year starter for a team, while the others spend their veteran days floating around as retread backups. As long as we are thinking Ryan Tannehill and not Andrew Luck, then it is a worthy goal for Kizer to reach towards.

Of course, for some Kizer needs to be the next Ben Roethlisburger or he’s a bust. But, we’ll never satisfy everyone. What level of quarterback does Kizer need to reach for him to have been a good pick?

Craig: That’s something I discussed in the recent podcast with Daryl Ruiter too. He name-checked Brian Hoyer and I brought up Colt McCoy as guys who Browns fans were convinced needed to be run out on a rail and yet could have been the C+ to B+ quarterbacks they were meant to be on a consistent basis for the team. I once surmised that the Browns should give Hoyer $10 million a year if memory serves. And judging by the quarterbacking we’ve seen in Cleveland and the prices of quarterbacks around the league going into the stratosphere, it might not have been all that bad to have a consistent guy who understood NFL playbooks. I hope that’s a part of the equation for this latest Browns front office regime. You can never stop looking for “the guy,” but having a healthy roster of “just a guy” is important too. And “just a guy” is the best version of himself with a tenure longer than a season or two.

Who knows? Maybe it’s Brock Osweiler anyway. I kid. I kid.

  • Saggy

    I still don’t think the Browns should have drafted a QB this season because the rest of the team isn’t ready (as is mentioned above).

    Michael, you said that draft slot doesn’t matter but I feel you contradict yourself when you mention the calls for him to start will be muted come opening day – mainly due to his draft number. For the record, I think the draft slot matters. Nobody wants to see your first-rounde pass-rusher getting owned by opposing offensive lineman and being consistently out of position and overpowered due to his light frame and tight hips, and…oh man, was having some Mingo PTSD there for a moment.

  • mgbode

    I would like to state that draft position is meaningless and that the team will figure out the best players and play them. However,

  • RGB

    An upright Kessler might have something to say about this.

  • jpftribe

    A year of NFL reps is a significant advantage.

  • Pat Leonard

    I’ll add to the reasons, or maybe clarify one reason, that Bode listed. Kizer is also the only QB from the top four who came from an offense that employs NFL concepts. The other guys came from the spread, quick-read college offenses that are in vogue now and I think it is going to take them longer to understand protections, go through progressions, and take good drops from center.

  • mgbode

    I am going to disagree a bit on the progressions. Both Watson and Mahomes employed concepts with multiple progressions. A lot of that is due to starting for as many years as they did. They still need to add more protection knowledge and drop muscle memory, yes.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think it’s similar to what you saw with Wentz and Goff last year. Both were talented young QBs, but Goff took longer to become the starter because he had a steeper learning curve.

  • tigersbrowns2

    there were many who weren’t high on & thought some of the same things about Prescott last year.

    with the Browns positioned to possibly make a run at Darnold next year , don’t they need to know what Kizer can & can’t do ??

  • mgbode

    I don’t think the Browns have any shot at Darnold. We had our year of pure embarrassing play. We need to be somewhat competitive if we are not going to lose an entire two classes of draft picks.

    If Darnold is as good as advertised, then there’s no amount of picks SF or NYJ will accept for him.

  • mgbode

    also, Jeff Fisher

  • Pat Leonard

    But what if Kessler comes out as the starter and plays really well? I wouldn’t want to sacrifice his growth just because Kizer is the bigger name coming out of college. I think the only scenario where I would be frustrated seeing Kizer sitting on the bench is if Kessler is hurt or bombs out of the starting role and the Browns decide to run with an ineffective Osweiler for the rest of the season.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi PAT … i am expecting Kessler to be the starter & play well next year.

  • mgbode

    I’m sort of surprised that no one has noticed Craig & I agree on Kizer. This is the first time I can recall that we agree on a QB. That does not guarantee success, but it sure is different (can only be a good thing!).

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … i’m hoping we’re set at QB now & don’t even have to entertain thoughts of Darnold next year.

    the Browns probably have a the best chance to move up & get Darnold , if they wanted to … we could swap 1st rounders , give them our other 2018 1st rounder & then our 2019 1st round pick … TWO 1st round picks might be plenty enough … everyone has their price.

  • Pat Leonard

    But for teams who don’t have a franchise QB, I’m not sure if that’s true. If no price is too high to get a starting QB then I think a lot of teams would just say “forget it, there is no price for buying this draft pick”.

  • tigersbrowns2

    and one last thought … i know my boy Ray loved Mariota … shouldn’t the Browns have went all-in on Mariota ?? who knows what might’ve happened.

  • tigersbrowns2

    like i said above , we should’ve went all-in on Mariota …

  • mgbode

    Man, I’m telling you if the other team is willing to take ANY deal, then it’s because Darnold has way more risk than we are thinking he might today.

  • Harv

    Would feel like a hypocrite claiming any ability to project what he might be since I mock others who claim he has the right attitude based upon a post-draft presser. But as to when or why he might start, one factor not mentioned is how the team is doing. If the Browns are more competitive and on track to win maybe 5 or 6 games, Hue might stay with Kessler (or unknown veteran) and let the rookie watch. But if the Browns start badly again, let’s say winless or just one win after 6-7 games … Hue knows the deal. He’s been fired before. In the very first year of his contract he got panicky and pulled Kessler mid-game. It’s not all about whether Kizer deserves it. Coaches can make improvident moves out of self-preservation instincts because they can’t help themselves.

  • mgbode

    How were we getting Mariota? Again, the Titans were so high on him and needed a QB. No way they make that trade.

    Our hope was for Winston to go No. 2 because there was significant talk the Titans were worried about his red flags. I would not have been happy there though even as Winston has worked out due to not wanting to ignore my morals when I cheer for a sport team.

  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    Yeah, but what you seem to agree on is “Meh, play him if he’s good enough, I guess.”

    I think you both and most Browns fans (at least around here, I dare not dive into the Cleveland.com comments) all agree that he looks like he might work out, but let’s not rush it, and let’s not pin our hopes on it.

  • tigersbrowns2

    there is only one thing you need to know about Kizer … he is from Toledo. there is no doubt in my mind he will be a very good NFL QB … next !!

  • Pat Leonard

    I currently have my eggs spread out among three baskets.
    1) Cody Kessler Year 2 (w/ improved arm strength!)
    2) DeShone Kizer Year 1 (w/ improved coaching and support!)
    3) College QB Year 0 (w/ all of the QB traits we desire, and more!)

  • tigersbrowns2

    there is always a way … Farmer would’ve been better off doing a “Ditka” (trading his entire draft) & then some , & he would’ve done better than what he did.

  • tigersbrowns2

    so , where does Osweiler stand in all of this ?? … unless some other team gets desperate , the Browns should just hang on to him … shouldn’t they ?

  • Pat Leonard

    I think so. He’s a warm body to put at QB3 and the Browns are already paying him anyway.

  • RGB

    No Kevin Hogan?
    He likes eggs.

  • mgbode

    Going into other things we wrote, Craig had him as his favorite QB from this draft class. I had him only behind Patrick Mahomes.

    Yes, we agree he is a bit of a project, but less so than any of the other QBs in this class (IMO), including Mahomes whom I loved for the upside.

    It is a far cry from RG3 vs Kessler or Manziel vs himself or any of the other QB debates we have had over the years.

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  • Pat Leonard

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  • BenRM

    I just can’t sign on for the “all costs” mentality.

  • Mike Bogucci

    Improvident!! NICE! I gotta start using that word more often.