NFL Insider draft notes: Why teams disliked Kizer; how 49ers snaked Skins for a QB
Also, why Doug Williams looks like Washington's next top personnel guy
The Browns finally took a quarterback with some legit long-term starting potential after grabbing Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer in the second round Friday, a pick that will once again define the course of the organization. They blow this and the perennial QB chase continues and there will be more turmoil in Cleveland.
I spoke to execs from several teams that drafted a quarterback in this process and heard the same thing time and again as to why Kizer, the projected first overall pick back in September when the season began, fell out of the first round entirely. The more time some teams spent with him and the more work they did on him, it gave them pause.
"The quarterback has to be clean, especially when you are taking him that high," one exec said. "He can't be a pain in the ass. It isn't just what [Notre Dame coach Brian] Kelly said about him. That's not really it. It's that he wasn't really a team leader.
"When you brought in kids from that school and you asked them about Kizer, no one ever really got excited. It wasn't like, 'He's the man! That's my guy! You ask Clemson kids about [Deshaun] Watson, and it's like, 'That's our dog! He is our leader. We'd do anything for that guy.' You talk to kids from UNC about Trubisky and it was the same thing. But with Kizer it was like, 'He's a cool guy.' That's going to be a challenging situation for him, going to Cleveland, having to be the savior."
Redskins leaning on a legend
The Redskins have very quietly had a very nice free agency period and I love what they did in the draft, not forcing anything and grabbing some excellent talent from Alabama that fell to them in the first and second round. They have done this without a general manager, having released Scot McCloughan after the combine, and while reaching out to other top candidates who have largely said no thanks.
I continue to hear the most likely course for the team will be promoting personnel exec Doug Williams to a more senior role overseeing the football operations staff. It could include -- and should include -- promotions for others like rising scout Alex Santos and chief cap guy/contract negotiator Eric Schaffer.
Team president Bruce Allen loves dipping back into the team's lore, and Williams is one of the iconic figures in Redskins history from his days as a Super Bowl winning quarterback, and he has been a stalwart for the team in the personnel department as well. Many around the league believe the Skins never really wanted to hire from outside for a new GM anyway -- hence the modest compensation they were advertising around to potential candidates -- and Allen in effect would continue to be the top man in charge, with him controlling the purse strings for owner Dan Snyder.
It would make sense to announce the promotion or promotions sooner rather than later, and Williams is plenty deserving. Doing anything other than that would be a surprise to me at this point based on what I heard leading into the draft. This group has functioned quite well the past few months since the organization's ham-handed handling of McCloughan's departure, doing so under duress and pressure.
49ers get the next Cousins
Interesting quarterback dynamic to watch between the 49ers and Redskins. Everyone knows new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, formerly of the Skins, loves Kirk Cousins and if Washington doesn't extend Cousins on the franchise tag by the July 15 deadline, then Shanahan will pounce in 2018. I expect the Redskins to make a concerted effort to actually make that happen this time around, but Cousins could always balk and play for $24M this year and then test the market a year from now.
Regardless, it was far less known that both teams were jockeying for potential backup quarterbacks as well. The Redskins really liked C.J. Beathard out of Iowa. He's the grandson of former Washington GM Bobby Beathard and Allen had him identified as a fourth-round target. Shanahan, who with his father drafted Cousins in Washington, saw a lot of Cousins in Beathard and decided to grab him in the late third round, above some projections but in keeping with the mounting buzz on the passer I was picking up pre-draft. Funny how these things work out sometimes.
Big Ben's new backup
Speaking of backup passers, the Steelers were pretty pumped to land Josh Dobbs out of Tennessee. It will likely take an injury for him not to beat out incumbent backup Landry Jones this season, but this move was made for the future primarily. I'm told the Steelers fully intend to keep three quarterbacks this season. That's the plan for now.
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