Let me be crystal clear, I want DeShone Kizer to succeed in Cleveland.
It’s evident he has some solid tools and traits. It’s also apparent that some in the Browns community already believe these tools alone warrant him being named the starting QB next season. While there’s nothing I want more than a great QB in Cleveland, this is where I will part ways with any of you fans. I truly hope he can develop to become “Good Kizer” on a consistent basis, but barring injury I do not feel he should start this season, nor do I think he’ll be ready to. And that’s OK.
Going into this film room, Kizer was my 4th ranked QB in the 2017 draft class. I felt he should have gone back to school for one more year of “seasoning” but I can understand why he wanted to leave for the NFL. That said, he’s young. He’s raw. And there’s a lot of work that needs to get done before he’ll be able to be a consistent passer in the NFL, but overall his arrow is pointing up.
Full disclosure: I admit, I had major concerns pre-draft after watching his tape. I didn’t quite see what everyone was so hyped about when discussing him at 12. I too, was enamored with his footwork in the pocket as well as his ability to feel pressure and extend plays. What I didn’t like was his inconsistent ball placement and accuracy. I also noted that he tended to stare down receivers and/or one side of the field.
OK. There you go. All my cards are on the table.
Continued disclosure: I had a much more grim outlook on Kizer before this film room. I have walked away believing that he has the tools and ability to be a productive NFL starter, he just needs time to develop and mature as a passer. Look, we finally have a prototypical QB in regards to size/arm/age who has plus pocket presence and plus mobility. Let’s not rush him. Let Kizer and Hue marinate.
If Kizer comes in and blows away the competition, then good for Kizer. It would be HUGE for this team if he can do that. Alas, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong but if he comes into camp and can somehow accelerate his learning and execute it consistently, then that’s a fantastic sign. Again, if not, that’s OK.
Switching gears, kind of.
While Cody Kessler doesn’t have the strong arm Kizer has, Kessler does have the accuracy and experience DeShone lacks. I’ve long argued that Kessler’s floor is an average starting NFL QB and his ceiling is above average starting NFL QB. I am hopeful that he will be able to expedite his progressions and processing speed this season behind our vastly improved offensive line. As such, I feel Kessler has the potential to be a surprisingly effective starter for however long Kizer develops. Ultimately, if Kizer plays this year it’s going to come down to a point in time when Hue is willing to / needs to sacrifice overall efficiency for the ability to stretch defenses and push the ball down the field.
Enter Thursday’s radio interview on Cleveland Browns Daily with Hue Jackson where he addressed Kizer and said:
Fans need to recognize that if Kizer wasn’t able to consistently put all his tools together in college it’s going to be hard for him to do so suddenly in the NFL. He’s going to have a new playbook; limited practice reps; limited time together with staff / teammates; and then on top of that he’s going to have to improve in multiple areas of his own game that typically don’t improve quickly (within 4 months).
Also, keep in mind that he didn’t exactly lead his team to a winning record in 2016 giving way to recent questions about his leadership. I also felt it was noteworthy that he mentioned on Gruden’s QB Camp that he considered quitting football when things didn’t quite go his way to begin the 2015 season. Exactly how that should be viewed is ultimately to be determined by the coaches and scouts. Either he was being unnecessarily candid and it’s a strong sign of his character or perhaps it means that he may lack the fortitude and confidence when the going gets tough or things don’t work out for him.
Outside of his height, weight, arm length, and hand size (all of which are positives and very applicable to his position) he’s a below average athlete who appears to be a better college runner than he ever will be in the NFL. Kizer definitely has the instincts, vision and ability to extend plays with his feet both inside and outside the pocket however his 3 cone performance is downright miserable. Lastly, if you’re a “metric guy”, Kizer tested close to last among the 2017 QB’s in nearly drill at the combine.
CHARTING / STATISTICS
Further to what’s shown above, Kizer’s has two areas where he performed among the top 25% percentile:
- Completion rate under pressure
- Completion rate on 3rd down and long (9+ yards)
While he does meet several of the NFL performance thresholds - especially if you throw out the hurricane game in 2016 - Kizer was not that impressive compared to the rest of his 2017 QB class.
Pro Football Focus’ advanced QB stats above represent Kizer’s ranking amongst the 2017 Draft Class. Now, I’ve heard the argument that he had no supporting cast in 2016, and that’s why they lost so many games. I can say that his guys did fumble and drop the ball in some crucial times. However, while watching the tape I feel it can be argued that he was throwing to quality receivers in both seasons. Regardless of which year it is, it’s hard for even the best receivers to make off frame / highly contested catches.
This is the “Good Kizer” wheelhouse. Play action success is something that I definitely saw on the tape as well. This might be one of his best “metrics” and one that I think can easily transfer to the next level. It’s exciting to think of his deep ball coupled with an effective running game. It could spell trouble for NFL defenses in the future. The chart above is again courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
KRUPKA’S DRAFT GRADE
This draft grade is based on my film review, not Kizer’s potential. I feel we got a good value for him at 52 but I’m surprised other teams didn’t have a higher grade on him than I did. The bottom line is that Kizer has a lot of work to do but he has the ability and the tools to develop into an above average / productive starting NFL QB if given time to crawl before he runs.
Size / Height
Pocket presence / Poise
TARGETS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Accuracy / Placement
Anticipation / Timing
Targets for Improvement: Ball placement, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Mobility, arm strength, and quick release
Targets for Improvement: If I have to pick something, the spiral on the ball.
Building Blocks: Mobility, extending the play, throwing on the move, quick release, accuracy. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Perhaps the referee calls the pass interference here? If I had to pick, I’d say a slightly lower placement, but no by much.
Building Blocks: Placement, anticipation, touch ... I just imagine Njoku or DeValve under this pass and I think that this is caught, assuming there’s not a hold like what happens here. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Ideally, this pass is a smidge lower
Building Blocks: This is pretty much identical to play 3. Imagine one of our giant, athletic TE’s on the receiving end of this pass, “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Next. None.
Building Blocks: Timing, placement / accuracy, quick release, arm strength to allow YAC “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Placement
Building Blocks: Pocket Presence, touch, reads coverage, “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Placement, accuracy, footwork, “Bad Kizer”.
Building Blocks: Arm strength, quick release
Targets for Improvement: Back-to-Back poorly placed throws from a clean pocket. No rain to impact these ducks. “Bad Kizer”.
Building Blocks: Movement in pocket with eyes up field, arm strength
Targets for Improvement: Quicker decision to get rid of the ball.
Building Blocks: Pocket presence / movement + ability to avoid blitzing DB is fantastic. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Footwork
Building Blocks: Timing / anticipation - route was thrown before the break, arm strength, placement, progressed from inside out, “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Placement
Building Blocks: Quick release, arm strength, pump fake, accuracy, “Good Kizer”.
Targets for Improvement: On the first throw, he needs to place it better. Allow his WR to get to the first down, that said it was tight coverage. Second throw, he could have led his RB a tad bit more.
Building Blocks: First throw, steps up in pocket well, high delivery with touch. Second play is the very next play, great way to bounce back and get the much need score. “Good Kizer”.
Targets for Improvement: There are a lot here in this series of bad throws, bad decisions, placement, and then all capped off with a pick 6 on a terrible read and throw. This was not edited, this was his true sequence of throws on multiple possessions. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Hard to find much in this sequence. He’s a big, strong kid who’s hard to bring down in the pocket. He’s got a good arm.
Targets for Improvement: I mean, this was a bounce pass from a clean pocket. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Looks good in the pocket.
Targets for Improvement: Placement could be a bit better on the second throw. The first throw was fantastic.
Building Blocks: Timing, placement and arm strength on the curl along the sideline. Great pass. Second pass was also a perfectly placed pass where only his WR could make a play. “Good Kizer”.
Targets for Improvement: Nothing, this is beautiful.
Building Blocks: Play action, deep accuracy, arm strength, accuracy, “Good Kizer”.
Targets for Improvement: Decision making, placement, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Arm strength, quick release
Targets for Improvement: Decision making; placement, accuracy, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Avoids rush / extends play, mobility
Targets for Improvement: Accuracy, placement on this pass are terrible. This is an achievable conversion here. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Quick release, probably the right option given the coverage
Targets for Improvement: Terrible decision to take on the defender in the first play, albeit a big gain. Placement could use some adjustment on the first PI call, ball was behind his receiver. Footwork is a bit jumpy on a few of these.
Building Blocks: An entire drive of mostly good passes and big chunk plays before the 4th quarter. Arm strength, quick release, pocket presence mobility. “Good Kizer”, mostly.
Targets for Improvement: Not much on this play, great throw under pressure to tie the game in the 4th quarter.
Building Blocks: Great touch, placement and accuracy here. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Consistency, can’t move the ball then turn it over on 2nd down. Decision making. Placement, accuracy. “Bad Kizer”.
Building Blocks: Nice change of platform, on target throw to the flat on the first throw. Mobility.
Targets for Improvement: It is playoff basketball time, but let’s leave the bounce passes to the LeBron. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Not much on this play.
Targets for Improvement: Not much, perhaps some minor mechanic adjustments with his feet.
Building Blocks: This is a great timing throw, great placement allows the WR to attempt to turn and gain YAC. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Must be careful of the smaller windows over the middle in zones.
Building Blocks: Arm strength, timing, placement, quick release. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Not much.
Building Blocks: Play action, placement, accuracy, timing. “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Yo, is that you, Kyrie-zer?
Building Blocks: Nope.
Targets for Improvement: Misses wide open target, doesn’t read coverage, decision making. Throw is behind receiver. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Deep ball, nice placement for a jump ball challenge type play,
Targets for Improvement: Placement, accuracy. “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Correct read, good touch pass
Targets for Improvement: Decision making, late game turnovers, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Big play ability; Mobility
Targets for Improvement: Nothing, perfect pass
Building Blocks: Touch, placement, timing, accuracy, quick release, “Good Kizer”
Targets for Improvement: Vision, decision making, throwing into double coverage, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: Stands in pocket under pressure, change platform
Targets for Improvement: Footwork, placement, accuracy, “Bad Kizer”
Building Blocks: It’s the right read, timing is OK, ball just sails high
Targets for Improvement: Re-set footwork, balance, negative the pump-fake when not needed unless it was used to avoid rusher’s hands
Building Blocks: Pump fake, arm strength, accuracy, placement, avoids deflection “Good Kizer”
FUTURE WITH THE BROWNS
The Browns walked away with 3 first round picks, an extra 1st in 2018 and used an acquired 2nd round pick on DeShone Kizer. They didn’t panic. They had a plan. While I can confirm that Hue Jackson loved Mahomes, he was plenty happy to have landed Kizer, especially where we did.
If Kizer shows strong signs that he can be the quarterback Hue Jackson wants, he may have the ball turned over to him at some point this season. However, the much more likely outcome of Kizer developing ahead of schedule (and doing so to the liking of Hue Jackson and the team) is that we won’t need to use any of our hoard of 2018 draft picks to move up for a QB. If he doesn’t show signs that he can quickly improve, then we’ll be debating about Allen, Rudolph, and Darnold soon enough. In a world where DeShone can develop into “Good Kizer” the majority of the time (I hope we find this world) I realistically see a quarterback that can lead the Browns to a winning season by 2019.
That’s a big leap.
For now, let’s see how quickly he can climb each of his mountains. If Kizer can emerge and become the best version of himself, we could be in business.