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A comprehensive evaluation of DeShone Kizer: Cleveland Browns Film Room

After a big first day of the 2017 NFL Draft where they selected three new members of the team, the Browns began Day 2 with two picks over the course of Round 2 and 3. With the No. 52 overall selection, the Browns took quarterback DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame.

After missing out or passing on multiple quarterbacks on Day 1 of the draft (Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson), the Browns let the board come to them and nabbed their quarterback in the second round. Kizer completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 2,925 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while also rushing for 472 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games last season for Notre Dame. The biggest void the Browns have on the roster and the biggest hole the team has had since coming back in 1999 is the position he hopes to fill moving forward. Will he be the answer for the Browns at the quarterback spot?

We will have to wait and see to find out that answer. Nevertheless, what can the Browns expect in their newest signal caller? Let’s take a look at the film to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of DeShone Kizer. Come on in to the film room!

Cleveland Browns Draft Film Room Series: Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku



DeShone Kizer has great size, along with good athleticism especially for a man his size. Here are some examples of his athleticism. In the first play against Stanford, he is running a designed quarterback draw. He bursts through the middle of the line and shows good speed to run down the field and complete big play for his team. In the second play against Stanford, Kizer runs a quarterback read play. He reads correctly that the end is crashing down on the running back, leaving the edge open for him to run towards. He is able to get the edge, but shows a good cutback inside to follow his blocks and then power through defenders to the end zone.

On the final play against Texas, Kizer runs another quarterback read play, once again seeing the edge lose contain by over-rushing the edge. So, Kizer runs to the vacated edge where he meets the oncoming defender. The quarterback is able to elude the defender and race down the field for a touchdown. At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, Kizer has the height and weight teams would love to have in their signal caller. He is able to see clearly out of the pocket because of his size. Even with this size, he possesses dual threat ability to make plays with his legs. He is tough to bring down because of his size, which adds to his ability to extend plays and remain upright. He has the size and athleticism of a NFL quarterback.

Arm Talent

DeShone Kizer was blessed with great arm talent, as you will see in the clips above. In the first play against Virginia, he lines up in a shotgun. From the right hash marks, he is able to throw a dart to the left sideline. He is able to throw the ball just under 50 yards in the air from the opposite side of the field, placing it in the perfect spot for the touchdown. This pass came in the waning seconds of the game where his team was down. In the second play versus Stanford, he upstages the last pass. Once again from the right hash marks, he throws the ball 60 yards in the air to the left sideline, placing it in stride for the receiver to catch it and run it in for a touchdown.

The last play against Miami (FL), Kizer lines up in a shotgun inside the redzone. He drops back and targets the receiver running by the left hash marks. He shows off impressive zip on the ball, hurling it to the receiver who was closely covered. His zip allows him to throw it in the tight window for the touchdown. Kizer’s arm talent allows him to make any throw on the field at any speed depending on the situation. He can make the WOW throws that leaves you stunned.

Deep Ball Passing

Aided by his arm talent, DeShone Kizer has excellent deep ball passing, throwing with good accuracy and ball placement. The three plays above show this ability. In the first play against Army, Kizer drops back and throws a 40-yard strike down the middle of the field. He places the ball in stride for the receiver to catch and fall right into the endzone. In the second play against Duke, Kizer once again drops back and delivers an accurate pass for a touchdown. He is able to throw 50 yards in the air, dropping the pass with good touch and right in stride for the receiver to catch and run five yards into the endzone. The last play versus Michigan State, Kizer drops back and shows touch and accuracy on yet another deep pass. He is able to drop the pass between the coverage and right in stride for the receiver to run afterwards. But, the receiver falls down, negating a chance to run after the catch. Kizer has the arm to make every throw on the field. But, he uses good accuracy, ball placement and throwing speeds to make the passes accurately down the field. He has big play ability because of these skills.

Mobility and Eyes within the Pocket

DeShone Kizer has good pocket mobility to move in the pocket and keep his eyes down field. The three plays above show this ability. In the first play versus Michigan State, Kizer drops back out of a shotgun formation. When he drops back, he immediately feels pressure from the right edge. But, the quarterback is able to evade the rushing defender and flow outside the pocket where he is able to find an open receiver on the sideline. In the second play against Duke, Kizer once again drops back out of a shotgun formation. He is immediately met with pressure from the interior of the line, though he sidesteps the oncoming rusher and moves to a clear part of the pocket where he is able to get a throw away and complete the pass. Throughout the play, Kizer never looks at the pressure, keeping his eyes down field to look for open targets.

In the final play against Nevada, Kizer drops back from the shotgun formation. He receives pressure from the right edge of the pocket and from the right interior of the line. But, Kizer is unfazed by the pressure, moving to the left of the pressure and then up into the pocket where the area was clear. He is able to quickly find an open target and complete a pass because he keeps eyes down field and is looking to run. Kizer has excellent evasive moves to move in the pocket and avoid getting sacked. He also has the temperament to not worry about the rush and keep his eyes down field.

Tough/Fearless/Throwing under pressure

DeShone Kizer has a fearless and tough mentality that makes a quality thrower under pressure and in tight windows, as you can see in the three plays above. In the first play against Michigan State, Kizer lines up in a shotgun. He is immediately met with pressure on his left, but he uses his pocket presence to avoid the rusher and move up in the pocket. After evading the rusher, he immediately throws the ball as another rusher is about to lay a huge hit on him. Kizer stands tall and completes the pass down the field as he is getting hit low by the defender. In the second play versus Duke, Kizer is once again in a shotgun and facing pressure. He receives pressure on the right edge after his blocking gets confused on an up and under rush attack by the defense. The defender on the edge is also joined by a teammate in the interior, with both bearing down on Kizer to make a big hit. But, the quarterback stands tall against the pressure and is able to get off the pass, completing the pass down field.

In the last play versus Army, Kizer is faced with pressure after coming out in a shotgun formation. This time he is faced with rushers on both edges, including a free rusher on his left. Kizer is about to get annihilated by that rusher, but he is able to get the pass off and complete it. To make it even more impressive, Kizer was fearless in his throw, completing it in a very tight window. Kizer is a tough quarterback who will take the big hit if he can make a play for his team. His fearlessness also shows up in his throws, showing the willingness to throw it into tight windows if necessary. His ability under pressure is a true strength for Kizer.


Consistent Accuracy

DeShone shows good accuracy on his deep ball passing, he struggles with inconsistent accuracy, especially in short to intermediate routes. These three plays above show this struggle. In the first play versus Miami (FL), the key route in the play is the outside receiver on the right, running a quick slant route. The receiver is able to get past his defender and get open for Kizer to throw to. Kizer unloads the pass, but he leaves the pass low and little behind the receiver, causing the incompletion. If the throw was thrown accurately, the receiver could have added quite a few yards after the catch. In the second play versus Stanford, the key route to watch is the receiver on the outside on the right sideline, who is running a stick route. The receiver runs the stick route and is open from his coverage, who is five yards away from him. But, Kizer misses the throw, overthrowing the receiver and missing an easy completion. His overthrow also leaves the receiver vulnerable to the big hit by the defender.

In the final play versus Texas, Notre Dame is running a receiver screen on the left side of the field. The offense has advantage to that side, because there is only one defender on the line and another defender ten yards back defending the three receiver bunch. Kizer messes up the advantage, throwing the easy pass to the flat too low, causing the incompletion and the missed opportunity. Kizer can make the toughest throws look easy, but his consistency in completing the short and intermediate passes is frustrating to watch. He can miss completely or throw with bad ball placement on passes. He can have the perfect mechanics and footwork, but just flat out misses the target. His inconsistent accuracy is one of the bigger issues in his game.

Slow Progressions/Self-Inflicted Sacks

DeShone Kizer has good mobility and eyes in the pocket, but he has a propensity to take too long to move through his progressions and cause sacks because of his own actions. The three plays above show these problems. In the first play against Stanford, Kizer drops back from the shotgun formation and initially looks to the right side of the field. He stares down that side, but he does not have an open option. Rather than move to his next read, Kizer gets happy feet in a pocket that still allowed more time. His happy feet cause him to run right into a sack. In the second play against Duke, Kizer once again drops back out of a shotgun formation. He drops back and first looks quickly to his receiver on the right, but than progresses to the middle of the field where he has a target down field. But, this is where the play falls apart. He stays locked onto the receiver in the middle of the field and does not look anywhere else. Once he figures out that the receiver will not be getting open, he gets happy feet within a pretty clean pocket and once again runs into a sack. Had he stuck in the pocket, he would have seen the running back leaking out underneath.

The final play versus USC, Kizer is once again dropping back out of a shotgun formation. This time he does not go through any of his progressions. He locks onto the left side of the field, keeping his eyes just on that side. He has an open receiver on that side, but he does not pull the trigger. Kizer, then, gets happy feet in the pocket. He tries to escape the pocket, but runs right into yet another sack. Kizer shows the ability to use the entire field and go through his progressions. But, he far too often is too slow to go through those progressions and make a decision to throw the ball. He needs to get rid of the ball faster and not hold onto it for too long, especially now in the NFL. He also needs to trust the pocket and his mobility and not get happy feet.

Decision Making

DeShone Kizer’s biggest weakness most likely is his decision making, as you can see from the plays above. In the first play against Stanford, Kizer lines up with in the shotgun with three receivers out wide. Rather than scan the entire field, he focuses most of the play on the receiver to the left, running a post route. He stares down the receiver and forces the throw to that receiver. But, the receiver is covered by three defenders, including a cornerback underneath who can easily read that Kizer is targeting his coverage. So, the corner undercuts the route and picks off the pass. It was a bad decision to force the pass into triple coverage. In the second play versus USC, Kizer shows off his pocket presence early, evading the rusher and moving outside the pocket to keep scanning the field for open targets. But, he makes a horrible decision, throwing across the field, floating a jump pass to the other side of the field. The floating pass allows the defense to get to the receiver and tap the pass away for an incompletion. It is a golden rule to never throw across your body and across the field and luckily it did not get picked off for breaking that rule.

In the final play against Michigan State, Kizer makes yet another bad decision. He once again stares down the receiver on the left side of the field along the left hashes. After staring the receiver down, he makes the pass to the receiver, who is also being covered by three defenders in zone coverage. Kizer tries to force the ball in the zone, but his staring gave the underneath coverage a huge key to undercut the pass and pick it off. It was a horrible decision to make the pass in the tight coverage. Kizer can make the great pass on one play, but then turn around and make a play where you scratch your head. He needs to improve his decision making.


DeShone Kizer has some work to do with his footwork and base as a thrower. The three plays above show some of the problems he has with his lower half. In the first play against Stanford, he drops back and scans the field out of the shotgun formation. He quickly looks over the field, unable to find an option initially. But when he turns to the right, he sees a receiver running open toward the sideline. He rushes the throw and does not set himself to get his body square to the target. He keeps his lower half in the same direction and just uses his upper body to throw the ball, which causes him to overthrow the pass. He had time and space to get his body in the right position. In the second play versus Nevada, Kizer misfires and throws an incomplete pass to the receiver running a curl route on the left. One of the biggest reasons he missed the target was his wide throwing base. His wide base makes him have to follow through longer to get the ball out, along with causing his upper body dip too far away from his base. His upper body is leaning to the left more than upright like it should.

In the final play against Army, Kizer misses another target, overthrowing the receiver in the endzone. His inaccurate pass was caused by his base being in the wrong position. His feet were lined up towards the sideline, rather than the receiver. He throws the ball with mostly his upper body and his fades away on the pass, which also leads to the pass sailing. Kizer’s wide base is something he needs to work on in the NFL. He must shorten up his base, so his follow through can be shorter, which leads to more accurate passes. He also needs to be more consistent on getting his feet set and square to the target. His lower half needs some work.