Friday morning, Mel Kiper posted an article that highlighted the Top 20 rookies through the first six games of the 2016 season. This is the third time he’s done the list this season, and making his debut on it is QB Cody Kessler of the Cleveland Browns.
17. Cody Kessler, QB, Cleveland Browns
Previously ranked: NR | Final 2016 Big Board rank: 184
Kessler, forced to play because of injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, has been better than expected. I thought the undersized (6-1, 215 pounds) signal-caller would be a career backup -- he regressed as a senior at USC, and he doesn't have a big-time arm. But he has been efficient early on, completing 65.6 percent of his passes and throwing just one interception (with four touchdown passes). Now, Kessler's efficiency hasn't led to wins for the 0-6 Browns, but his play is one of the few bright spots so far. I ranked him as my No. 13 QB before the draft.
Heading into the draft, Kiper ranked Kessler as his 184th prospect. For him to rise up the charts as quickly as he has is something no one — well, except maybe Hue Jackson with his “trust me” comments — saw coming.
Absent from the list, and absent from the honorable mentions section, are fellow rookies Corey Coleman and Carl Nassib. Their broken hands probably had something to do with that.
The Cowboys dominated the Top 5 with QB Dak Prescott ranked #1 and RB Ezekiel Elliot ranked #4. The other players in the Top 5 included QB Carson Wentz at #2, OT Jack Conklin at #3, and ILB Jatavis Brown at #5. The Browns had brought Conklin and Brown to Berea for visits prior to the draft, and they’d had some contact with Prescott and Wentz.