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.