The Cleveland Browns continue their search for their franchise quarterback and DeShone Kizer appears to be a valid nominee if chosen in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Hue Jackson is well aware this Cleveland Browns team needs to find its franchise quarterback in order to contend in the future.
The Robert Griffin III experiment didn't pan out and Josh McCown is now a member of the New York Jets. Currently, the Browns roster consists of Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan at the quarterback position. Selecting a QB in the draft becomes a realistic possibility due to the fact the franchise guy remains unidentified.
Considering the amount of draft capital the Browns possess, if they feel a potential cornerstone quarterback is available then trading up to get one shouldn't be an issue. Of course, there are four quarterback prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft that are getting first-round attention. This includes Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer.
Throughout the offseason, rumors have linked Cleveland's interest to Watson, Mahomes and Trubisky consistently. Interestingly enough, the rumors haven't been as prevalent between Kizer and the Browns. The Browns front office has held the cards close so this could raise some eyebrows as Kizer fits the prototypical frame for a AFC North quarterback.
Hue Jackson even laid out what he looks for in a quarterback earlier this offseason at the NFL Combine:
"I think a guy has to be about 6-2 to play in this league,'' he said. "The special guys, I don't want to take anything away from any of the other quarterbacks--there have been guys who have played in this league who are not 6-2, but the majority of the guys who have played are 6-2 or a little bit better and that's just what I like in a quarterback."
The Toledo, Ohio native fits that description and might be the quarterback the Browns have their eye on.
2016 - 12 games, 2,925 passing yards, 58.7 completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions.
2015 – 13 games, 2,880 passing yards, 62.9 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
Kizer has impressive arm strength and a nice frame to work with at the next level. He has general awareness of where his receivers are, though gets caught up with primary targets at times. The Toledo native has a great pocket presence and isn't afraid to take a shot in order to deliver a pass.
He is a true playmaker that can use his legs as a weapon when the pocket collapses, often utilizing a spin move to avoid big hits. Kizer also had 18 total rushing touchdowns and 997 yards in his two seasons at Notre Dame.
Good footwork combined with a vision for defenders and a strong arm allows Kizer to whip it to receivers in big moments. He is sharp in deep and medium-range throws, although there is room to improve. Kizer gets the ball to the receiver, but pinpoint accuracy is a definite area that needs improvement to survive at the next level.
The potential to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL is all there with Kizer. But accuracy is a serious issue with him and his success will require solving this. In college, he was bailed out by leaky coverage and good receiver play but NFL defensive backs won't give Kizer the room he had at Notre Dame. Good catches or incompletions in college will result in turnovers in the NFL.
His deep ball is quite accurate and he has the ability to hit receivers in stride in a vertical route. However, Kizer struggled to lead his teammates in slant and dig routes often in college, but this should be fixable with good coaching.
For all of the quality traits DeShone Kizer attains, there seems to be a flaw that follows it. His quality decision making helps out his lack of pinpoint accuracy, but it will only get more difficult in the NFL. Though his stature and arm strength will certainly entice NFL general managers and coaches, making him a projected first-rounder.
If the front office members feel they can get a franchise quarterback outside of No. 1 overall, they should. Of the "big four" quarterback prospects, Kizer has the biggest hands (9 7/8 inches), weighs the most (233 pounds) and is the only QB above 6-foot-2 (6-foot-4).
The AFC North climate is difficult to play in and bigger quarterbacks tend to have greater success. Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have had great careers and both are bigger than the average quarterback. Kizer fits the mold for the ideal AFC North quarterback and his ability to whip it downfield with tremendous power only helps his stock.
At only 21 years old, Kizer is the youngest quarterback of this class and has tremendous upside. He has a serious personality and doesn't goof around like most young players in the spotlight such as himself.
Cleveland.com's Scott Patsko wrote about the the maturity and dedication Kizer displays with his laser-focus. He doesn't use social media, hasn't signed any marketing deals and is focused on improving his play in order to succeed at the next level.
The article also noted Kizer's unique up-and-down experience at Notre Dame, including benefiting himself by playing in poor weather conditions:
"I've seen a lot. For my [time] as a Notre Dame quarterback, only playing there two seasons, I've seen quite a bit. I was able to play in the snow, I was able to play in the rain. I was able to win games we were supposed to win. I was able to experience a not-so-good season this past season. I think I will learn from it all and all those experiences will prepare me to play, hopefully in that first game come next season.
The Browns established their focus in the running game with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson in 2016. 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman is expected to make a significant leap in his sophomore campaign and the signing of Kenny Britt should help bolster the receiving corps as well. Cleveland also rebuilt their offensive line in free agency by adding right guard Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter.
DeShone Kizer has the size, pocket awareness and arm strength to survive in the NFL and he could be an ideal fit with this Browns offense moving forward. The potential of having a premier offensive line in Cleveland should only benefit the impressive Crowell/Johnson tandem at running back. In turn, the receivers should find more ways to get open and finding a quarterback that can sling it like Kizer seems to be a smart play for Cleveland.
The Browns organization for once is building with a clear plan and is on the right track to creating a winner. Though, no NFL team is competing without a franchise quarterback and Cleveland still is searching to fill that hole. Kizer projects to be a mid-first to early-second-round pick and, if available at No. 33, the Browns would be wise to pounce.
The accuracy concerns are real with Kizer and hitting receivers in stride is a necessary trait in order to succeed in the NFL. However, his good use of pump fakes and ability to create plays helps offset those problems and his stellar arm strength and awareness will throw him into the discussion for the best quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft.