Cleveland Browns: The case for Cody Kessler


The Cleveland Browns selected USC QB Cody Kessler in the 2016 NFL Draft and he is a pick not many expected.

Yes, a quarterback! Wait, what? Who did they pick? But what about Connor Cook and Cardale Jones? Who is Cody Kessler?

Cody Kessler started three years for the USC Trojans and of all the quarterbacks drafted this year only California’s Jared Goff threw for more completions, yards and touchdowns. Goff also had more attempts and interceptions.

Kessler, on the other hand, has a higher quarterback rating and completion percentage. According to, Kessler also had a higher accuracy percentage than the top two picks in this draft. Statistically speaking Kessler is the second-best quarterback in this year’s draft right behind Goff. He did this with five different head coaches during his college career.

As nobody is perfect he does have weaknesses. His biggest issue is his lack of elite arm strength. While he can throw the deep ball with accuracy he does not throw with a lot of velocity. This lack of velocity could hold his progression back, although it is possible he develops this throughout the course of his career.

He made up for his weaknesses with hard work, preparation, high accuracy and the ability to anticipate his receiver’s routes. As with any quarterback, he has had some bad plays and even some bad games.

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Kessler possesses good, not great, pocket presence and awareness. He can play within the pocket and climb the pocket as needed to deliver an accurate ball to his receivers. When the pocket does collapse he is mobile enough to escape the pressure and extend the play or make a play. When outside the pocket he can also rush for yardage but usually tends to keep his eyes downfield for the throw. There are are also instances when he does decide to run, but he pulls his eyes down and does not see open receivers.

He usually tried to avoid contact when running by sliding or running out-of-bounds, as most quarterbacks do. Yet he is not afraid of contact either.

Kessler has been known to lower his shoulder and initiate contact to gain extra yards for a first down or to score a touchdown. He also is willing to stay in the pocket to deliver the throw fully knowing he is going to get hit hard.  That’s not to say he never makes mistakes or bad decisions under pressure, as he has made bad throws leading to interceptions and has taking unnecessary sacks trying to avoid pressure.

Is he ready to start day 1? No, and he does not have to since the Browns have Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. Should he be competing for the starting job? Yes, every quarterback on every football team at any level should be competing to be the starter. That competition is how they get better, and it is how all the quarterbacks on the team get better.

Next: USC QB Cody Kessler is a low-risk pick

The Browns selected him with their third pick in the third round and with his production he should bring value to that pick. It was late enough in the third round that it could almost be considered an early fourth-round pick. That should make this pick be seen as one with a low level of risk and a potentially high reward.

At worse, he is a high quality backup that could come into a game, compete to win and maybe even start a few games. At best, he develops into the future franchise quarterback the franchise and the fans have been longing for.