If the Cleveland Browns start Baker Mayfield at some point, will it be a case of Kizer 2.0 or can we expect better?
The Cleveland Browns‘ master plan is to start veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, which is probably wise as the Browns have proven time and again how hard it is for quarterbacks to succeed in their rookie year. If he is called upon though, rookie Baker Mayfield has much better college preparation from four years as a starter in Division I, compared to his counterpart of last year, DeShone Kizer, who left Notre Dame two years early.
This is not a knock on Kizer, but more on the Browns management for thinking that a 21-year-old with two years of mediocre success in college is prepared for the National Football League.
Let’s look at the numbers, starting with age. Surprisingly, Mayfield is a year older at 23 years old, while Kizer is still only 22. Kizer came out of college not one but two seasons early, after a moderately successful college career at Notre Dame.
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He played in only 25 games, followed by 15 games at the Pro Level which ranged from poor to disastrous. In total, he has played in 40 games post-high-school and has thrown for 8,609 yards. If Kizer had stayed in College, he would have been a junior last year, and 2018 would be his senior year.
If you assume he can be a starter in his second pro year, his timetable should be for 2020. Coach Jackson figured he could accelerate Kizer’s development by three years, but it didn’t happen. In fact, there has never been a 21-year-old with a winning record in the NFL, unless you want to count Jack Concannon, who went 1-0 back in 1964. Even the cerebral Bernie Kosar posted a 4-6 record for a team that made the playoffs.
Is it better for a quarterback’s development to experience a terrible year in the NFL rather than a great year in college like Mayfield had? That flies in the face of reason. Though Kizer has better familiarity with the footwork under center as well as a Pro playbook, Mayfield is vastly more experienced at completing passes, which is probably the better skill to have.
Mayfield has already thrown for 14,607 yards in his post-high-school career, or nearly 6,000 more yards than DeShone Kizer has now, even after his year in the NFL. In other words, Mayfield has literally thrown for more than three miles more than Kizer, and that includes Kizer’s Pro yards.
If you prefer comparing Kizer’s rookie year with Mayfield’s, Kizer’s college resume was short by more than five miles (8,802 yards) compared to Mayfield’s college experience.
While the Browns unsuccessfully tried to accelerate DeShone Kizer’s progress, Baker Mayfield was setting the college football world on fire.
Bill Parcells once gave a list of four criteria for quarterbacks: (1) be a senior, (2)graduate, (3) be a three-year starter and (4) win 23 or more games. Of course, this was before underclassmen were permitted to enter the draft.
Nevertheless, Mayfield has four of those four criteria, and Kizer had zero. On top of that, Kizer had a so-so Combine, and barely completed 50% of his passes in preseason (25 for 41 or 51.0%). In short, there was zero evidence that Kizer was ready. He started over second-year players Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan — both of whom, by the way, met all four of the Parcells criteria. In time, Kizer might prove to be a good NFL quarterback.
In fact, he’s been getting very good reviews for the Green Bay Packers this summer, where he is working his tail off and trying to learn from Aaron Rodgers. In any case, the Browns have moved on.
The next question is, should the Browns go ahead and start Baker Mayfield in his rookie year? Well, that depends, Browns Nation. If you have already given up on winning in 2018, it is appropriate to concentrate on player development over winning.
But if you want to win right now, Tyrod Taylor probably has a better chance to beat Pittsburgh on September 9. But he had better win because there is a capable rookie breathing down his neck. This is so not Kizer 2.0.