Cleveland Browns starting QB still a mystery for opener

By The Sports Xchange  |  June 17, 2017 at 1:46 AM
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BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer says he isn't ready to compete for starting job, and the Cleveland Browns coaches agree.

Kizer got his share of reps with the first team offense in the Browns three-day minicamp that ended Thursday. Quarterback coach David Lee had high praise for the second-round draft choice from Notre Dame, but the Browns do not want to push Kizer before he is ready.

"We don't know who the starter is right now," Lee said. "And he's competing, too. He moves the football. He moves it out here against a great defense. So when is that? I don't know. But when I look out there and I see him miss a protection call and he gets hit upside the head, I know he's not ready.

"That doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, you can't put him out there and endanger the team as well as get him killed."

Coach Hue Jackson says he would like to name his starter for the 2017 season before the first preseason game, but he is letting the mystery build. Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler are also contending for the job.

"I'm pretty happy with where I am right now in the sense this whole OTA experience and now veteran camp was an opportunity to put myself in position to potentially compete when it comes training camp time," Kizer said. "Once again, I'm not in position to even consider myself in the competition, but after getting this base (offense understanding) and getting the reps I've gotten the last couple weeks, I think by the time training camp comes around, with a little more work with this month off, I'll be ready to compete with these guys and see what I can do."

Kizer was the fourth quarterback drafted in 2017. Mitchell Trubisky went second to the Bears, Patrick Mahomes went 10th to the Chiefs and Deshaun Watson went 12th to the Texans. All three were acquired by their respective new teams moving up in the draft.

Kizer's humility is the opposite of the cockiness he showed in the days leading up to the draft.

"No one else can do what I can do," Kizer said on April 20 in South Bend, Ind. "I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback ever to play.

"Imagine taking (Tom) Brady's intellect and Brady's preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton's body. Why can't I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me."

Kizer showed the same boldness the day after the draft when he said his goal is to start for the Browns as soon as possible. Jackson quickly set him straight.

"(Jackson) laid it right to me," Kizer said on June 14. "He said, 'Look, this is not about you playing right away. This is not about a timetable on when you're going to play. It's about you just learning as much as you possibly can and becoming a better quarterback.'

"This is a completely different level, and to sit here and say that a month's worth of learning that offense and being out here is enough to be a starter would be really naive of me."

Kizer has shown improvement since the rookie minicamp two weeks after the draft, but he still isn't ready to go head to head with Kessler and Osweiler in a battle for the starting job, Jackson said, echoing Lee.

"We'll see," Jackson said. "Not yet. I just think there's a lot of work to do and a lot of growing to do. As I said before, I won't know more about him -- I'll get to know more about him though, I should say, as I keep putting him out there and keep putting him in tough situations."

Kizer started 23 of 25 games at Notre Dame. He passed for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns and rushed for 992 yards and 18 touchdowns. He threw 19 interceptions.

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