DeShone Kizer is the Browns' latest franchise quarterback. The 2017 second-round pick arrived in Cleveland with lofty expectations though coach Hue Jackson has no plans to put Kizer under center until he's earned it.
With OTAs and minicamps behind us, it appears that Kizer is one step closer to earning it. Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot writes that the rookie "has narrowed the gap" on Cody Kessler, the second-year quarterback who started eight games last season and was the frontrunner for the starting gig as recently as last month, and will challenge him for the top spot in training camp.
Kizer began the recent three-day minicamp third on the depth chart behind Kessler and Brock Osweiler, but was elevated to the No. 1 spot on Day 2. Even when he was back to No. 3 on the final day, he was still splitting first-team reps with Kessler. And while it's important to remember that it's the middle of June and Kizer has just a handful of practices under his belt, his potential has the Browns intrigued.
"What I see in him is a big, strong guy which is defined in this division by Ben [Roethlisberger] and by Joe Flacco, and this kid's in that mold," Browns quarterback coach David Lee said recently, via Cabot. "He's 6-4 3/4, he's got a 10-inch hand, he's smart, he can run, he can move. He's not (Bills quarterback) Tyrod Taylor, but he can run and make plays. He's got a great future. He's just a long way from being ready. He's not ready, but he's climbing on it and he's making progress. ...
"He's going through a lot right now and his head's swimming, but when he gets it, and he gets the lower body, he's got a chance to be special."
Jackson echoed similar sentiments shortly after Kizer was drafted.
"He's a big man," Jackson said in early May. "He has the AFC North stature that I love. He has a big arm. He's very intelligent. He's played in a real big-time football program. He understands the demands of playing the position. He understands the demands of being a quarterback and the face of a franchise."
And last month during OTAs, Jackson admitted that he was spending extra time with Kizer to help hasten his transition to the NFL.
"I will continue to," Jackson said at the time. "I have to find out probably more about him than I do any of the guys. He's not going to get too far away from me, I know that. He's done a good job. He just has to keep getting better. He's improved from day to day."
Should Kizer find his way into the starting lineup next season, he would be the Browns' 27th different starting quarterback since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999. For some perspective, the Patriots have had five during that same time.