As perhaps the most important position in the entire world of sports, playoff contenders usually feature franchise quarterbacks who contribute with consistent play under center.
Unfortunately, as the Cleveland Browns know, finding one is a daunting task.
After watching Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan under center last season, Browns head coach Hue Jackson has a couple more quarterbacks to evaluate heading into the 2017 campaign.
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Cleveland acquired Brock Osweiler from the Houston Texans and the Browns drafted DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame with the 52nd overall pick in the second round of this year’s draft.
With Osweiler and Kessler both presumed to be in a quarterback battle heading into the summer, Jackson explained that he’s spending a lot of time personally developing Kizer this offseason.
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"I will continue to [spend extra time with Kizer],'' Jackson told Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot on Wednesday. "I have to find out probably more about him than I do any of the guys. He's not going to get too far away from me, I know that. He's done a good job. He just has to keep getting better. He's improved from day to day.”
Kizer was once regarded to be a top prospect in the draft, even going as high as No. 1 overall in some early mock drafts. However, due to a disappointing season at Notre Dame and some concerns about his fundamentals and work ethic, his draft stock fell. As a result, he is was not considered to be a candidate to come in and start right away at the time of the draft.
"There's a lot thrown at him now, but he's doing a good job,'' Jackson said. "He's been better than some guys I have been around [while working against] our defense and all of the different things our defense does, which is only going to make our guys better."
Jackson continued, "He has to learn how to play the game the way we want it played in our system. He's growing every day, but a lot of our guys are. Hopefully, you can see that there is better quarterback play throughout practice.’'
While some rookies might be overwhelmed with the constant, hands-on approach, Kizer seems to be relishing the opportunity to learn from his head coach.
"It allows me to start my learning curve a little faster when you have the guy who's calling the plays, the guy who's created this offense ... teaching you every day the fundamentals,'' Kizer said earlier this week. "It pushes you a little quicker than if it was someone else.”
While it appears as though Kizer will begin this season as the third option on the depth chart, if the Browns struggle as they have in previous seasons, he might get a crack in the essentially meaningless games at the end of the schedule.
Right now, he’s just putting in the work.
"The best thing for me right now is to not compare myself to those guys," Kizer explained. "I'm at a completely different level than they are. This is all brand new to me, so to compare myself to someone that's that far ahead of me would be probably tragic on my end because my self-esteem would go down. But at the same time, I'm holding myself to the same standards they are.''
While Kessler or Osweiler might shock the world and turn in an All-Pro season, it seems as though Jackson’s hands-on emphasis on Kizer’s development speaks volumes of his mindset regarding the potential of his young quarterback.
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