In 2014, the Cleveland Browns drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel, who, although he had plenty of talent on the field, had more baggage off the field that ultimately ended his tenure with the team in less than two years. But, in 2016, the new front office seems to have learned their lesson. Third-round quarterback Cody Kessler is the polar opposite of Manziel. He not only is one of the first players at practice, but he is one of the last to leave as well, even if it means that he has to call the shuttle driver to take him back to the team hotel or to the practice facility in Berea because he doesn't have a car yet. In short, he is doing everything he can to be the Browns starting quarterback this fall.
From Kessler (full transcript over in our forums):
"I take the early shuttle, every morning at 6:15. I need to get a car or something. For me it's always been that I don't ever want to have an excuse as to why I didn't grasp the offense or anything. if I have the opportunities, if there's a film room open, if I can stay here as long as I can, I want to take advantage of that.''
He not only spends a lot of time at the practice facility, but when he is away from Berea he continues to work on his game as well. Whether it's FaceTiming with first-round wide receiver Corey Coleman to study the playbook or continuing to work with quarterback guru Tom House (who's also tutoring Browns quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown), the rookie is doing everything he can in order to give himself the best chance to be behind center in 2016.
"Coach [Hue] Jackson set me up with [House]. I want to come into camp and act like I've been in this offense for 10 years. I want to completely understand everything. I want to know how to read defenses in the NFL. However many different looks there are, I want to know what to do.''
The quarterbacks, who continue to work together and help each other become the best they can be, will likely all be in California together while working with House once minicamp concludes. Coleman will also be there to receive reps from his quarterbacks as well, especially RG3. But no matter who is there, Kessler realizes that it's another opportunity for him to get better.
"Fortunately for me, I'm from that area, so I'll be out there anyway. So it'll be easy for me to just go back and be able to train the whole time and probably just work out at USC also and be able to just kind of eliminate all distractions and stay focused and kind of worry about myself and get ready coming back into camp."
Whether it's getting to practice early, staying late, studying the playbook with fellow rookies, or any other things the rookie quarterback is doing to get better and prepare for his first season in the NFL, head coach Hue Jackson wasn't surprised to hear that Kessler is doing everything he can to maximize his rookie season.
"That's very encouraging. That's what you want out of your quarterback. You want a guy that's totally committed to the process. I don't know too many quarterbacks that it's not a seven-day job. It's an everyday grind ... This young man's future is still out in front of him and he's working hard. He can throw the ball. He makes good decisions. He's learning the pro game. It's a faster game and he's learning that. But he has all the talent and ability that I thought he had when we drafted him."
For the first time in a few years, the Browns seemed to have drafted a quarterback who has the right mindset and head on his shoulders. It's nice to see that a rookie like Kessler has his job as his No. 1 priority, unlike Manziel did. Hopefully it will pay off for Kessler down the road.