There’s an open quarterback competition in Cleveland. And if all things are equal, it makes sense to put the guy with the most potential on the field.
That could eventually be happening, and by “eventually” I mean “soon.” Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that rookie second-rounder DeShone Kizer has “considerably narrowed the gap” with Cody Kessler during offseason workouts, and that Kizer “will press [Kessler] hard for the starting job in training camp.”
Currently, Kizer stands at No. 3 behind Kessler and primary backup Brock Osweiler. So first Kizer must overcome Osweiler, the unwanted appendix to the trade that allowed the Browns to buy a second-round pick from Houston for $16 million. The Browns have been praising Osweiler for his offseason performances, but they’re possibly still looking for someone to take him off their hands — and fully or partially off their books.
As to Kizer, the question becomes whether the Browns would give him a baptism by blast furnace in Week One, against the Steelers. With games after that against the Ravens, Colts, and Bengals, some believe the Browns should keep Kizer in bubble wrap until Week Five, when they face the consciously nosediving Jets.
Cabot notes that coach Hue Jackson has experience with a rookie quarterback who started from Week One, when Joe Flacco earned the No. 1 gig in Baltimore and Jackson served as his position coach. But Flacco was destined to be the backup until Troy Smith came down with tonsillitis during the preseason, giving Flacco a chance to show that he could get the job done without getting himself hurt before the Ravens rolled the dice with a guy who in his fifth season won a Super Bowl with the team that used to be the Browns.
Regardless of whether it’s Week One or Week Five or some other week during the season, Kizer seems destined to join the ever-growing list of starting quarterbacks since the team returned to the league in 1999. Whenever it happens, Kizer’s first start will put him only 58 more behind Tim Couch for the second-iteration franchise lead.