Kizer could solve Browns’ problems
DeShone Kizer looked distraught.
He had fumbled in the final minute of a playoff game, his final high school game.
Clyde had won the Division III regional semifinal, 42-41, a stunning result. The Irish were the defending state champs.
I didn’t talk to Kizer afterward. I didn’t have to.
As Irish coach Greg Dempsey answered the questions, Kizer, who had by then committed to Notre Dame, lurked in the background, coming to the realization his high school career was over.
It was one of the best football games I’ve covered. And when Fliers defenders pounced on the football and — minutes later — ran out the clock, it seemed as though all of Clyde poured onto the field at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green.
Now, less than four years later, that once-disappointed quarterback will be tasked with resurrecting the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns took three players in the first round before Kizer, and there will be expectations for all of them.
Myles Garrett, a defensive end from Texas A&M the Browns grabbed with the first pick overall, can turn revitalize a traditionally weak pass rush. Miami’s David Njoku is a promising tight end and Jabril Peppers can play all over and perhaps be a gamebreaker on special teams.
But the success of this draft, and perhaps the success of this front office, is tied to Kizer.
Last season, in the first year of the Sashi Brown-Paul DePodesta era, the Browns bypassed quarterback prospect Carson Wentz, and then opted against taking future Cowboys star Dak Prescott, choosing instead to land likely-backup-for-life Cody Kessler.
This year, reports had the Browns zeroing in on North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky, a Cleveland area native. But they took Garrett, and then watched as the Bears took Trubisky at No. 2. The Browns also passed on Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, opting to trade their second first-round pick to the Texans.
Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech was taken by the Chiefs in the first round, making Kizer the fourth quarterback selected when the Browns took him with the 52nd overall pick.
Kizer’s not a finished product. But he has the potential to be the best quarterback taken in this draft.
Kizer certainly believes that. In an interview with USA Today, he compared himself to Tom Brady and Cam Newton.
Hey, better to be confident than timid.
But when I look at Kizer, I see a guy who’s 6-foot-4, 234 pounds. He has a big arm and mobility. I’d argue he’s the most athletically-gifted quarterback the Browns have had on their roster in my lifetime.
Few expect Kizer to start right away. He played just two seasons at Notre Dame, and his career there was a mix of tremendous highlights and mediocre finishes. His college coach, Brian Kelly, even said he probably should have stayed in school.
But those sorts of things never seem to matter when it comes to the Browns. Due to years and years of injuries, poor play and poor self-discipline (Johnny Manziel), the franchise has started more than one quarterback every year but one since 1999.
Last season alone, the Browns used five quarterbacks, six if you count receiver Terrelle Pryor.
Odds are, Kizer will start, quickly.
I’m optimistic. If Kizer succeeds, maybe he can be the kind of regional hero Bernie Kosar was 30 years ago.
If he doesn’t, well, Browns fans are used to that.
I’m just hoping that this time, the Browns got it right.
They have to one of these times.