BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – When it comes to the big picture the Browns are handling second-round pick DeShone Kizer with kid gloves.
No one within the organization – publicly or privately – is willing to say they’ve solved the long lost QB conundrum with the 52nd pick in the draft, nor should they be.
On the field, head coach Hue Jackson has taken the gloves off and is giving the kid a crash course in NFL football which is one of a few reasons why it stands to reason that he would start Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here’s 5 other reasons why Kizer might have the inside track to be the Browns’ starter Week 1:
– This offseason the Browns broke the bank to repair their decimated offensive line from a year ago that was ravaged by injuries by investing over $127 million – $65 million in guaranteed money – by extending left guard Joel Bitonio and adding center JC Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency. On paper, it stands to reason the protection up front should be vastly improved to help keep the rookie QB on his feet.
– Jackson plans to run the ball in 2017. He wanted to last season but circumstances – injuries and the scoreboard – dissuaded him from using Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson more, a mistake he pledges not to repeat again. Crowell averaged 4.8 per carry while Johnson averaged 4.9 per tote last year and with a bolstered line, Jackson should have the confidence to hand off often on Sundays. A strong running game is a quarterback’s best friend (along with protection from the line). It’s also a nice crutch to lean on with a young QB.
– Jackson and Kizer are practically glued at the hip during practice. Not many head coaches are as hands-on with players as Jackson is, but Kizer is Jackson’s project. When Kizer isn’t getting reps he’s often next to Jackson and when he is taking snaps, Jackson steps in often to coach Kizer up between plays.
– While the practice completion percentages won’t support it, Kizer already looks to be a better player than Cody Kessler in the early stage of training camp. Kessler has the advantage when it comes to the playbook and Jackson’s system but Kizer is bigger, stronger and the ball explodes out of his hand. Last year Kessler – a third-rounder who was the fifth player in a 14-member class taken – wasn’t supposed to see the field as a rookie. He ended up starting by week 3 following injuries to veterans Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. While Kessler’s arm looks stronger thanks to offseason workouts and training, it’s not better than Kizer’s.
– Brock Osweiler, acquired in March from Houston along with that 2018 second-round pick for eating his $16 million salary, isn’t in the team’s long-term plans so why would they waste game reps on him this year? They won’t if they don’t have to. And if practice reps are any indication, he’ll be the backup or not even here. Osweiler continues to spend the bulk of his time with the second-team offense while Kizer and Kessler work with the starters.
The reality is that none of these quarterbacks have flashed enough early to pull away as the unquestioned starter so ‘the best chance to win’ measurable doesn’t really apply at this point, so why not start Kizer from day 1 and see what he has?