Cleveland Browns: The case for starting Cody Kessler

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Cody Kessler /

As training camp commences, one of the most intriguing position battles for the Cleveland Browns is at the quarterback position. The following is an argument for Cody Kessler to start if he impresses at camp.

The Cleveland Browns haven’t had a consistent solution at the quarterback position since their reinstatement into the league in 1999. Fans are growing impatient at the constant turnover at the position, and are hungry for a long-term solution, or “franchise” quarterback.

This season may be one full of new beginnings and optimism, but the quarterback position is no different. Fans have grown so tired of the incompetence of the position in the past that they didn’t even react all that much when veteran Brock Osweiler was acquired in a trade this offseason.

Drafting DeShone Kizer brought a little bit more optimism, as he brings the potential of a quarterback for the future. Entering camp, Kizer’s ceiling is very high due to his athleticism. He also has the ability to take risks and manage to come through, whether that means throwing on the run or fitting deep balls into tight windows.

Entering training camp, there is no doubt that this is the most open quarterback competition in recent memory. To many, Osweiler represents the past, a West Coast type of quarterback who the Browns only signed for a year or two to bridge the gap until a franchise signal-caller emerges. On the contrary, they view Kizer as the potential franchise quarterback who needs to play as soon as possible. With this view, it is clear who the fan favorite to win the job is.

But a lot of fans miss the third option, and what appears to be the slight favorite at the moment. Yes, Cody Kessler is still a Brown. And while his 0-8 record last season is discouraging without a doubt, now is as good of a time as ever to give him his opportunity.

What does starting Kessler accomplish? First of all, it gives the Browns another opportunity to evaluate the 24-year-old. If Cleveland had seen enough of Kessler in 2016, they wouldn’t have kept him on the roster with two other potentially capable quarterbacks. Starting Kessler now makes sense because it gives Kizer a chance to develop and allows Kessler a fresh start to a season while he’s still young.

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Also, stylistically, Kessler simply fits Cleveland’s offense the best. The Browns lost star wideout Terrelle Pryor this offseason to the free agency. Though they still have the explosive Corey Coleman, Cleveland’s big-play ability is limited.

A quarterback like Kizer is strongest when taking shots down the field. Kessler, on the other hand, plays a more conservative style which meshes well with Cleveland’s receivers who aren’t big playmakers.

Kessler had a very high completion percentage of 65.6 last season, and was picked off just twice in 195 pass attempts.

Ball protection and accuracy are two valuable assets which works best with Hue Jackson’s scheme, one which uses tight ends and slot receivers heavily.

This isn’t to say that Kizer shouldn’t start under any circumstances this season. Eventually, the Browns need to know what they have in their rookie. They would be wise to take a good look at the Notre Dame star.

But as far as opening day against the Steelers goes, Kessler should be the starter as long as it isn’t made clear between now and then that he shouldn’t. The reason for this is simple. The Browns have the best chance of winning with Kessler on the field, at least at the moment. Even if 2017 is pretty clearly a rebuilding year for the team, the goal from the beginning should be to win.

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Cleveland can experiment at the quarterback position later on if Kessler proves not to be the answer. But as for now, starting him accomplishes both giving him a second look as well as giving Kizer a chance to adjust before starting. Osweiler remains the veteran insurance policy, a valuable piece on the bench.