DeShone Kizer Named Browns Starting QB over Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2017

Cleveland Browns' DeShone Kizer (7) throws while Brock Osweiler (17) looks on during the team's organized team activity at its NFL football training facility Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns announced Sunday that DeShone Kizer will be their starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com first reported that Kizer beat out Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler.

"I feel comfortable with him," head coach Hue Jackson said after the team's third preseason game Saturday, per Cabot. "He has the right feel for me and for what I'm looking for.

"I need to talk to all of our guys and be very forthcoming and upfront with the guys about where we are."

The Browns opened training camp with a crowded, unsettled quarterback depth chart.

They acquired Osweiler in a trade with the Houston Texans, which also netted them two draft picks in exchange for taking on Osweiler's hefty salary—he's set to earn $16 million for the 2017 season, according to Spotrac.com. He arrived to the organization with 26 touchdowns against 22 interceptions and a lackluster 77.4 passer rating across 36 games over five seasons with the Texans and Denver Broncos.

Cleveland also drafted Kizer, who spent time in the conversation as the top quarterback in the draft before he slid to the second round. The Notre Dame product tossed 47 touchdowns with 19 interceptions in two years as a starter with the Fighting Irish.

Those two options joined Kessler and Kevin Hogan, who received limited playing time as a backup last year as the Browns cycled through five different quarterbacks.

In early May, general manager Sashi Brown told CBS Cleveland (via ESPN.com) he wasn't going to push for Kizer to make an immediate impact.

"Ideally we'd be able to come in and give DeShone some time, and again, Hue talked about this. ... Making sure he understands that he doesn't feel like he has to have the pressure on him to be the week one starter or even the 2017 starter at some point," he said. "We like Cody, we like Brock, we like Kevin, and he doesn't need to feel that pressure."

Jackson said in June the main goal was to try to find a quarterback who could finally provide stability at the game's most important position, per Pat McManamon of ESPN.com.

"As the years go by here, we want to have an established quarterback," Jackson said. "We don't want to have this question where you guys are saying, 'Who is the quarterback?' every year."

Ultimately, the Browns decided Kizer represented their best option under center, at least in the short term.

The rookie has impressed during the preseason, and he showcased his full skill set in a win over the New York Giants on Monday:


Rookie @DKizer_14 made plays through the air and on the ground in a preseason win over the Giants. His best plays from #NYGvsCLE! 👇👇👇 https://t.co/3HCj3fUZaZ

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Osweiler was the favorite prior to Week 2 of the preseason because of support from the veterans on the Browns roster.

Jackson said before Cleveland's third preseason game, however, that Kizer would be named the starter if he didn't take a major step backward. He finished 6-of-18 for 93 yards with an interception.

"He did not fall flat on his face," Jackson said after the game, per Cabot. "He didn't. Matter of fact, he did some things better than I thought he would, to be honest with you."

The Browns don't figure to be competitive during the 2017 season, though, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see multiple quarterbacks get playing time.

Jackson made it clear the team is in the evaluation process at the position, so getting a look at a few different choices comes with the territory. Kizer, however, could change that narrative by posting big numbers against the Steelers in the season opener.


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