Let's get this out of the way immediately - I am not writing this article in the hopes to convince anybody that Cody Kessler is an elite talent nor am I writing this because I believe (as we sit here today) that Cody Kessler is the answer to Cleveland's quarterback drought. I'm writing this because having watched none of his film leading into the draft, I was pleasantly surprised at what I did see each time I turned on new tape last week. And I'm writing this because Cody Kessler appears to have a decent skill set that we all hope can be further developed under coach Jackson's tutelage.
All that considered, I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't scratch my head after the pick. Rewind to that Friday, I had planned to go camping that weekend so by the time the 3rd round was underway I was busy unpacking, setting up camp and sitting on Makua beach with a cold refreshment looking out at the ocean for dolphins. When I heard my Browns app "bark" on my phone I realized I had missed some picks and needed to catch up. I walked over, checked my phone and delivered the following comment, dripping with sarcasm, to my buddy and fellow Cleveland fan: "Dude, we seriously just drafted USC QB - Cody Kessler in the 3rd round, our QB prayers have been answered!"
Needless to say, I was shocked at the pick. Kessler was a player I hadn't even considered for Cleveland. So after watching both of his 2014 games twice (at Draftbreakdown) I tweeted this video, along with a few others:
- Yes, this clip was vs. Colorado.
- Yes, Colorado.
- No, USC can't change the PAC-12 teams they play every season.
- No, I wasn't focusing on the opponent.
- Yes, I focused on the situational traits and decisions I demand from a starting NFL QB.
- No, I wouldn't consider this series of throws elite, but I would say that it shows his ability to do some nice things and maintain his accuracy and eyes down the field.
- Yes, "the struggle was real" - As I watched his game tape, I struggled to accept that what I was watching was somehow "good" or at the very least "intriguing". Nonetheless, in Kessler I feel that there's a "refined lump of clay" that needs to be further detailed and honed.
"I kind of put my head down, kept my mouth shut and worked as hard as could," Kessler said. "I ended up becoming a three-year starter when I wasn’t supposed to."
"I remember (Pro Football Hall of Fame RB) Marcus Allen was a guy that came in and kind of looked me in the face and said, ‘I don’t care if you’re a sophomore or what year you are. This is your team. You’re the leader, and you’ve got to be a captain,’" Kessler said. "I took that and kind of ran with it."
Following that meeting, Kessler led USC to a 5-1 record and finished with 2,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions, earning his spot as USC’s starter for the next two seasons.
- Accuracy (78%)
- Protects football
- Pocket presence / footwork
- Football intelligence
- Overcoming adversity / Leadership - although never able to settle into one playbook or head coaching style among Lane Kiffin 2013, Steve Sarkisian 2014/15 and Clay Helton 2015 - still earned starting job all 3 years and team captains honors in 2014 and 2015
Target Improvement Areas
- Deep ball accuracy
- Processing speed
- Delivery within the pocket
- Operating under pressure
Kessler vs. Wisconsin
On the plus side, Cody Kessler has ginormous hands. 10 7/8".— Pete Smith (@_PeteSmith_) April 30, 2016
The clipboard is in good hands.