The Cleveland Browns did not use a second-round draft pick on quarterback DeShone Kizer because they believed they needed him urgently to start as a rookie. They took him because they envisioned him as their possibly long-term answer at the quarterback position, an answer to a question that has been asked since the franchise re-entered the league in 1999 without an acceptable response.
But the 21-year-old was just handed the keys to the franchise earlier than many anticipated, largely because the Browns did not feel that they had any other sufficient alternatives after they were less than thrilled with the work that they got out of free agent acquisition Brock Osweiler and second-year Cody Kessler, the latter of whom started the majority of last season for the team.
“He’s earned the right to play through his preparation. He has established a work ethic that I think has earned the respect of his teammates”, Head Coach Hue Jackson told reporters in making the announcement on Sunday afternoon that the rookie quarterback would be named their starter heading into the regular season.
“I think we all dove into this the right way to go find a guy who hopefully can solve our quarterback issue”, he continued later in his press conference. “It’s not over with yet. This guy has been named the starter, but he still has to earn the right to be the starting quarterback for this team week in and week out and I think he gets that”
“But”, he added, “he has the talent, he has the makeup and he has the things we are looking for. Now, we just have to go get him and push him onto that next level.”.
Jackson also said that both Kizer and the team are perfectly aware that they are not going to have smooth sailing right off the bat in their union together. “Things are going to happen, and I think we get that, he gets that”, he said. “We’re not going to blink about it. We are just going to correct it and keep moving forward”.
The Browns drafted Kizer with a “purpose” in mind, with the head coach saying, “we thought that he had exactly what we were looking for”. While he may have been given the starting job from the get-go, they recognize that this is a long-term process, and that failure now doesn’t mean failure in the future.
Through the first three preseason games, the rookie has completed 25 of 49 pass attempts for a completion percentage of just over 50, including a 6-for-18 performance in his most recent game. He has thrown for 351 yards and one touchdown with one interception, running eight times for 47 yards.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be his first opponent in the season opener in Cleveland, and then he and the Browns will travel to Baltimore for the second game of the season.