Few know what to expect from the Notre Dame product at the NFL level. Kizer has offered lofty self-comparisons to Cam Newton and Tom Brady, while vowing that he won’t “sit around and watch from the sidelines.”
Head coach Hue Jackson quieted some of this talk from the rookie. But it’s clear that Kizer is looking good out on the practice field.
“He [Jackson] laid it right to me, and he said ‘look, this is not about you playing right away, this is not about a timetable on when you’re going to play,” Kizer said after signing a four-year rookie contract worth about $4.9 million. “It’s about you just learning as much as you possibly can and becoming a better quarterback and that’s been my mindset since the day he said that. I’m going to continue to believe that until they tell me otherwise.”
It’s clear that with the way the Browns’ quarterback situation is, Kizer will have a chance to do more than just learn in his first year. But for now, he’s just listening to Jackson and picking up the playbook.
“There’s so much I have to learn,” he told Cleveland.com. “I’m still in the same position I was last time we talked and that’s just trying to put myself in the position to compete one day. I don’t know if that day is now. It’s all about learning as much as you can and becoming as comfortable as you can so I can compete one day for that starting job.”
First QB in the Rotation
Kizer has done a very good job of picking things up during the OTAs. In fact, Jackson put him in as the first quarterback on the second day of minicamp. This marked the first time that anybody besides Cody Kessler has been put in this situation.
“It’s awesome,” Kizer said regarding being in with the first team. “When you’re out there with the guys who have done if for a while, some veterans who have completely seen everything, it not only helps me with my confidence, but also it puts me in the best position when I’m wrong to get it right.”
Jackson has yet to offer DeShone anything on why he’s suddenly playing with the starters. He also downplayed the matter to the media, saying that he’s trying different combinations. But whatever the case may be, Kizer is taking full advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s been, once again, an opportunity just to learn as much as I can,” he explained. “We all have the same mindset in the sense of it’s a learning game for me and trying to put myself in a position to compete one day. I think coach believes that it’s the best for me to get out there and learn from the guys who have been doing it for a while.”
Kizer added, “To sit here and say that a month’s worth of learning that offense and being out here is enough to be a starter would be really naive of me. There’s so much more I have to learn. I haven’t gameplanned for a team yet. We haven’t gone in and sat down and put in the hours to prepare for Pittsburgh yet. So to say that I’m in a position to go start against that team, I’d be completely wrong.”
Despite the progress he’s shown, Kizer isn’t immune the rookie gaffes that all first-year players struggle with. On Tuesday, he thew a short flat pass to rookie David Njoku, only to watch linebacker Jamie Collins jump the route and return it for a pick-six.
“The challenging plays are the more valuable of the two,” Kizer said. “The biggest learning experiences for me are the situations in which a guy who’s a Pro Bowler — who’s won a Super Bowl — plays me like a fiddle and comes off the edge and picks one off.
“Now I get to see what that looks like on film and be able to take those mental reps from that and learn from it. I’ll continue to learn from this great defense throughout all of training camp.”
He’ll also be studying Cleveland’s playbook during the break as well.
“I was just talking to my parents about it,” Kizer explained. “I like to consider this like a calculus class. You miss one day of a calculus class, you’re set back for the whole semester. So I’ve been in that playbook as much as I possibly can and truly trying to figure out what my process is to learn this as fast as I can so that when it does come time to game plan I understand the offense before he starts throwing different things at me.”
Despite all of the work he’s putting in, Kizer knows that there’s a strong chance he’ll be watching from the sidelines – at least in the beginning. But he also plans to continue working for when his chance does arise.
“It’s obvious that the more time you spend on something the better you’re going to get at it,” he said. “Right now, my mindset is all just about learning and when coach says ‘hey look, here’s the situation’ then I can go out there and change my mindset.”
We won’t have a full idea on where Kizer stands on the depth chart until the preseason begins in August. But right now, it looks like he at least has a shot to compete with Kessler and others for the starting role.
2017-18 Cleveland Browns Futures & Betting
There’s no telling how DeShone Kizer will truly impact the Browns’ upcoming season at this point. But it appears that Kizer could possibly improve a position that was sorely lacking for the Browns last season. So keep this in mind if you make any early bets on Cleveland.
Check GTBets.eu for both Cleveland’s Week 1 line and futures (when available). At this time, the Browns open as a +8 underdog at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.