DeShone Kizer was selected by the NFL franchise with the first pick of the 2017 Draft.
It just occurred 51 choices later than he would have hoped.
Cleveland selected the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Toledo, Ohio-product with the 20th pick in the second round, No. 52 overall.
Kizer was the fourth quarterback chosen with North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 to Chicago), Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II (No. 10 to Kansas City), and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (No. 12 to Houston) off the board by the conclusion of Thursday’s first round.
Kizer – who left Notre Dame with two years of eligibility remaining – became just the third quarterback in Notre Dame history to be selected in the second round, joining Jimmy Clausen (2010) and Terry Hanratty (1969).
The Notre Dame program has had 10 quarterbacks selected in the first round, most recently in 2007 when the Browns nabbed Brady Quinn at No. 22 overall.
Kizer’s second round selection followed a highly publicized weight gain during the 2016 season, myriad failed end-game situations, a sub-par NFL combine performance, a middle-of-the-road Pro Day at Notre Dame, and controversial comments about comparing favorably to Tom Brady’s intellect and Cam Newton’s physical prowess.
Kizer’s rise as a substitute for an injured Malik Zaire in the second game of the 2015 season was meteoric. He completed 211-of-335 (62.9 percent) with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games/11 starts, leading the Irish to a 10-3 season and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
He led the Irish with late game-winning drives against Virginia and Temple. He put his team in position to win at Stanford with a 15-play, 88-yard drive with 30 seconds remaining.
In Game 5 at Clemson, Kizer’s one-yard touchdown pass to Torii Hunter Jr. with seven seconds left pulled the Irish to within two with seven seconds left.
Trailing by seven with 18 minutes left in Game 7 against USC, Kizer led the Irish on 90- and 91-yard touchdown drives and a 52-yard field-goal drive in a 41-31 victory over the Trojans.
But Kizer’s record as a starter fell to 12-11 by the end of the 2016 season with opportunities to tie or take the lead on the final drive against Michigan State, Duke, N.C. State, Stanford, Navy and Virginia Tech – all Irish losses.
As a junior in 2016, Kizer completed 212-of-361 passes (58.7 percent) for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
Four of the previous five drafts included the selection of a Notre Dame player in the first round – the exception occurred in 2015 when tight end Ben Koyack lasted until the seventh round and the 229th selection overall by Jacksonville.
Kizer joins fellow Irish alumni Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin (2016), Stephon Tuitt and Troy Niklas (2014), Manti Te’o (2013), and Kyle Rudolph (2011) as second round selections during the Brian Kelly era.
He is the fourth pick of the Browns to date with defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1 overall), do-everything defender Jabril Peppers (No. 25) and tight end David Njoku (No 29) preceding him.