DeShone Kizer has been the most talked about player in the Cleveland Browns Training Camp despite being a Round 2 pick and not ever having sat a top the quarterback depth chart. Veterans, coaches, and reporters have raved about the rookie’s work ethic. Staying on the field after practice, understanding the playbook much quicker than anticipated, and his feel for the game are ahead of where many expected him to be. With that said, he will be quarterback No. 3 in Thursday night’s preseason opener, behind starter Brock Osweiler and second-stringer Cody Kessler because he still has much work to do.
Many anticipated the rookie would get the starting nod after all three struggled in the Orange and Brown scrimmage last Friday night. But, Kizer remained confident Monday afternoon while speaking to the media. He not only trusts himself and his game, but he’s also confident in terms of the competition to be the starting quarterback in Week 1.
“The Orange and Brown Scrimmage was the same way,” the rookie said. “I was the second guy to step out on the Brown team. I think this is just another step in the process of me trying to get better. This whole training camp is about me developing and going out and performing when my number is called. When it comes to Thursday night, it has been said that I will be the third guy to step out there and when I step out, it is time to perform.”
As a rookie, Kizer knows that he has a lot more to prove than both Osweiler and Kessler. Although this is also Osweiler’s first year with head coach Hue Jackson, the veteran gets somewhat of an advantage just because he’s been in the league a little longer. Kizer is doing everything possible to not only improve his game, but to catch the eyes of the coaching staff as well. Now, it comes down to his performance on the field, no matter what group — first-, second-, or third-string — he is with. “I have no idea. Once again, it is my job to perform when he (Jackson) calls my number. If it is with ones, twos, threes, if it is a preseason rep, a training camp rep, a game rep, whenever my number is called, I am going to go play,” he said. “Everything that I have been doing up until now to try to develop and become the best quarterback I can. Whenever my number is called, I will go out there and perform the way I know how to.”
Kizer learned from his performance just by watching the film from last Friday night. “I see a lot of room for improvement, a lot of room to take my game to the next level. After watching that, it definitely plays right into where I think I am and that is a guy who is looking to learn as much as I possibly can, a guy who has some consistency things I need to clean up,” he stated. “There is still a lot of work for me to do before I become the quarterback that I want to become one day.”
Kizer knows that he still must improve all parts of his game, but he also realizes that accuracy must top that list. He has the arm strength to be a franchise quarterback, but he need the accuracy and fundamentals to go along with it. “That is always going to be No. 1. This game does not work at the quarterback position if you can’t put the ball on the receiver. The things that separate the guys from good to great are typically being able to make passes and complete passes when there is tough defenders on them. When they are in man-to-man situations, when it is mono y mono, it is up to the quarterback to make sure he puts the ball where it needs to be.”
In order to earn the starting nod in Week 1, September 10 against the Steelers, Kizer needs to continue to demonstrate the work ethic of a veteran both on the field and in the film room, while upping his performance on the field. If he can, Jackson will have no choice but to start the rookie in the regular season opener. Do you dare bet against him?