On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns made a decision on who is starting week one of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the answer is none other than rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. The franchise elected to draft Kizer just a few months ago at the 2017 NFL Draft within the second round.
With the Browns already naming him the starting quarterback, there are critics questioning this decision, calling it “too early” for Kizer to start for Cleveland. Even though the Browns have two other options on the depth chart, was ultimately naming Kizer the starting quarterback the right choice?
In his three seasons at the University Of Norte Dame, Kizer threw for 5,589 yards, 45 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and even finished with a passer rating of 148.75. The underdog proved that he may have the ability and potential to become a franchise starting quarterback within time.
Even though few experts have voiced their concerns about Kizer’s overall play at Norte Dame, the positives sincerely outweigh the negatives in his game. One thing to look at during his time in college is his ability to be a dual threat quarterback, meaning someone who can make plays with his arm, along with his feet.
Leading up to the NFL Draft, Kizer was considered to be one of the better quarterback prospects. Yet at the NFL Scouting Combine, he did not help his draft stock whatsoever. At the Norte Dame Pro Day, he completed 50 out of 60 pass attempts, which ended up redeeming his declining stock.
A handful of scouts viewed Kizer as a first or second round draft pick, and claimed that he has a lot of potential to become an efficient individual under center at the NFL in years to come.
Kizer has been everything the Browns were hoping for when they drafted him, as he has consistently impressed the coaching staff, and even went on to receive a few reps with the first-team offense. So far this preseason, Kizer has proven why he should be named the starting quarterback. His composure in the pocket alone has given him an advantage over both Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler.
When the off-season started, Cleveland acquired Osweiler and draft picks from the Houston Texans in an unexpected trade. Even though Osweiler seemed to have a shot at winning the starting quarterback job heading into the preseason, his play through the month of August has been forgettable.
In his rookie season, Kessler threw for 1,380 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and only gave up 2 interceptions. On the other hand, the rookie started off 0-8 in his eight starts last season. Even though Kessler did not win a game, he showed promise in most of his starts. Heading into the off-season, on paper, Kessler seemed to be a favorite to win the Browns starting quarterback battle, due to the fact that he has a year under the playbook.
Heading into this season, the expectations for the Browns are not high by any means, so the expectations for Kizer are pretty much rock-bottom. If Kizer can go on to even win three games in 2017, it would be a major improvement from last season. Considering this is his rookie campaign, not many are expecting Kizer to go out and compete for a division title, or even Rookie of the Year.
For the last eighteen years, Cleveland has been cursed with disappointing rookie quarterbacks that did not work out, including the likes of Johnny Manziel. If Kizer can be somewhat decent, many critics may begin to give the rookie a sense of credit over time.
At the end of the day, the Browns by no means expected to start Kizer when they initially drafted him within the second round. In reality, the franchise was aiming to let him sit for a season or two in order to learn the playbook. With his outstanding early potential, Kizer essentially forced the hands of the Browns to give him the nod.
Photo Credit Ron Schwane/Associated Press
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