Though they’re still the Cleveland Browns, there’s no doubt the organization has enjoyed a strong offseason and is a better team now than they were a year ago. Leading the offense is set to be Cody Kessler, despite the team drafting DeShone Kizer in the second round of this year’s draft.
Head coach Hue Jackson confirmed Kessler will enter the offseason and camp as the starter. Here’s what he said, via the Browns’ team site.
“That’s really why I brought his name up first,” Jackson said. “He’s really improved. He’s worked his tail off. He deserves the right and the opportunity to walk into this building and walk out there first.”
Jackson would add that anyone else would have to “take” the job from Kessler.
That doesn’t mean the starting gig is locked up but in the organization’s mind, Kessler is the clear front runner. For a rookie, he had a good season, completing over 65% of his passes and tossing six touchdowns to only two picks. He showed mobility and most of all – behind that offensive line – toughness. I’m certainly not as clued into the Browns but I’m betting he earned a ton of respect in the locker room.
In all, he was sacked 21 times in 195 attempts. Had he qualified, he was five attempts off, it would’ve ranked for the third highest sack percentage, trailing only Jared Goff and Colin Kaepernick.
And while Kizer is likely the long-term goal, he’s considered a project coming off a tough 2016 season at Notre Dame. It’s likely he serves as Kessler’s backup for most, if not all, of the season as the Browns Sam Hinkie it up and take the long road in their rebuilding program.
When Week One rolls around and the Steelers take on the Browns, expect Kessler to be under center. In one appearance last season, he completed half his passes for 128 yards and a pick against the Steelers before getting knocked out of the game with a concussion. The Browns would go onto lose 24-9.