The Cleveland Browns were interested in DeShone Kizer all along. They just had three other players – and draft picks – to use on three of the better players in the draft.
Defensive end Myles Garrett (Texas A&M), linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) and tight end David Njoku (Miami) are now members of the Browns organization, and so, too, is Kizer.
Kizer, who sat by in the NFL’s Green Room with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly waiting for a first-round call Thursday night in Philadelphia, had to spend an extra night in the City of Brotherly Love before the Browns showed him the love with the 20th pick of the second round and 52nd overall.
“I cannot wait to learn from Coach (Hue) Jackson,” said Kizer, who spent time with Jackson during the pre-draft interview process.
“Even these last couple of months getting to spend a little time with him, he has been able to make a couple of adjustments to my footwork and to my mentality that allow me to be a little more consistent and accurate within just a month or two.”
Kizer was the fourth quarterback taken in the draft, but 40 picks and about 24 hours after the Houston Texans tabbed Clemson’s Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall selection Thursday night.
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky went No. 2 to the Chicago Bears and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes landed with the Kansas City Chiefs two choices before Watson at No. 10.
“He’s very coachable,” said Jackson Friday night. “He wants to work at it, and I think that is what it is going to take. We will find out how good this guy can be over time.”
Kizer will compete with two youngsters and one failed attempt by the Houston Texans to find a franchise quarterback.
USC’s Cody Kessler was Cleveland’s third-round choice a year ago. Stanford’s Kevin Hogan went in the fifth round to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. Brock Osweiler looked like a world-beater in an extended stint with the Denver Broncos in 2015, which he parlayed into a four-year, $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract with the Houston Texans.
None of those three showed enough in 2016 to continue Cleveland’s talent-grab at other positions of need when the 52nd overall pick rolled around.
“Obviously, he has the measurables,” Jackson said. “A big, physical quarterback who can make all the throws that anybody needs to make in the National Football League. He’s intelligent. So he has the characteristics that we’re looking for.”
“I can’t wait to actually be with them where we can spend as much time together as needed to maximize the potential that I think I have,” Kizer said.
And so the latest chapter in the book of Kizer comes to a close with much work ahead. The need to live down his boastful exuberance has been tempered now that he has an organization and a huge opportunity to live up to his recent comments that created a pre-draft firestorm.
“I’ve truly figured out in this process (that) if I can maximize all my potential in every aspect of the game – this is bold – I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play,” said Kizer in a recent USA Today interview.
“Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”
Kizer later downplayed the comments, saying he “aspires” to the level of Brady and Newton. But the damage had been done.
More damaging was an inconsistent 2016 season with the Irish, a weight balloon, a poor showing at the NFL combine, and a solid-but-nothing-spectacular Pro Day.
“I honestly think this is the best opportunity for me as far as teams to be selected (by) and to be around a great coach who can fix those lulls and create some consistency,” Kizer said.
“I can’t wait for Coach Jackson to go back and continue to allow me to improve from that last year and to take those spurts of greatness and allow that to push forward for a long time.”
Following the Browns’ selection of Kizer, former Vice President of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, tweeted: “DeShone Kizer needs time, but I think he’ll end up being the best QB in this draft.”
Somewhere between bust and all-time great likely lies reality.