Browns do not need to start DeShone Kizer in Week 1
The Cleveland Browns selected DeShone Kizer to be the quarterback of the future. But that future does not have to start the first game of the 2017 season.
The Cleveland Browns selected Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer around 8:42 p.m. on Friday.
It took until about 8:43 p.m. until people started questioning if Kizer will line up as the starter when the Browns open the 2017 regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It is a fair, but shortsighted question, one that head coach Hue Jackson handled as diplomatically as possible, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
"“I think it is a little early. I know that you want to get to that point really quickly, but we need to get him here, just like all of them, and give them the opportunity to compete. I think we are going to give all of our guys an opportunity to compete. I think that is what it is all about. It is not about who is the starter and who is this. Let’s let these guys get here and learn our offense, spend time with myself and (quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee and go out onto the field and let’s see how it all turns out.”"
Kizer, at least in theory, becomes the most talented player in a quarterback room that includes Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan.
Of course, he’s not so talented that every other team in the league passed on him – some twice – before the Browns selected him in the middle of the second round.
“I’m excited that he wants to compete, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it.” – Hue Jackson on DeShone Kizer
Related: Browns select DeShone Kizer at No. 52
Kizer, who is 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, certainly has the size and arm strength you want to see in a quarterback in the AFC North. He also was benched at times last season and struggled to make it work with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
Among some of the weaknesses listed in Kizer’s draft profile at NFL.com are that he locks in on his first read, has poor mechanics, doesn’t anticipate throws, is not comfortable in the pocket and, best of all, has “dreadful lapses in judgement.”
Still thinking that Kizer will be ready for the Steelers on Sept. 10?
For his part, Kizer is not planning to take his rookie season off the way the last quarterback the Browns drafted did, but rather is ready to get to work, according to cleveland.com:
"“Being the competitor that I am, I think that the best way to go out and contribute is to be playing yourself so I am going to be doing whatever I can to learn as fast as I can and as quickly as I can to play,. “That’s the reason you play football is to play and not to sit around and watch from the sidelines. I will do whatever it takes to contribute as quickly as I can.”"
The Browns need to go into this with the idea that if Kizer does not see the field until 2018, then that is OK. That will drive the media and the instant-gratification crowd batty (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but it is important that the Browns do what has to be done to maximize the potential for Kizer to hold down the job for the next decade.
Related: Browns fans react to selecting DeShone Kizer
Plans can change, of course, as we all saw just a year ago. The Dallas Cowboys had no intention of starting Dak Prescott until Tony Romo was injured, and the Philadelphia Eagles only decided to role with Carson Wentz after an opportunity to get rid of Sam Bradford came up.
The Browns need to go into this with eyes wide open, however.
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Kizer may be the best of the current group, but that is such a low bar that it can’t be used as the only criteria for selecting a starting quarterback for this fall. If they go through the process and Kizer is truly the best of the bunch, then fine. But if he doesn’t take on the starting role until after Cleveland’s bye week – which would be on the road against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 12 – or it is not until Week 1 of the 2018 season, that is OK.
This being the Browns there is a catch to that situation.
If Kizer sits the entire 2017 season and the Browns roll with Kessler and Osweiller, they will likely have a poor record again. Maybe not 1-15, top of the draft poor, but still Top 10 poor. And holding two first-round picks again in 2018 (along with three second-round picks) they desire to move up for a top quarterback may be difficult to resist.
But if the team doesn’t really know what Kizer brings to the field by next spring, would the Browns be willing to pass on a quarterback in the hopes that after a year in the system Kizer is ready to go?
The answer should be yes, because unless something drastic happens between now and the 2018 NFL Draft, Kizer will still be the same quarterback that the Browns thought was worthy of being drafted as the quarterback of the future.
Next: Rumor: Browns looking to trade for veteran QB
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, however. Let’s see how the situation plays itself out this summer and fall before we start focusing on the 2018 NFL Draft.
Just remember the longterm plan when Kessler is announced as the starter at the opener in September.