It goes without saying that unless you have a starter at quarterback in the NFL, you will never contend. Could Cody Kessler be the elusive answer in Cleveland?
By now, it is well chronicled in NFL circles—and even on social media—as to the current futility of Cleveland when it comes to finding and identifying it’s starting quarterback.
The names are familiar, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, just to name a few.
With the 2017 NFL Draft less than one month away and the likelihood of the Browns tabbing a quarterback in the form of Patrick Mahomes II, Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, DeShone Kizer or my sleeper pick in Davis Webb, I feel it would be wise to develop second-year quarterback Cody Kessler.
For whatever rhythm or reason, Browns fans seem against the idea of Cody Kessler starting and more enamored with former Mentor High standout—and former North Carolina quarterback—in the aforementioned Trubisky being drafted and ultimately starting.
In my soon-to-be 40-plus years as a fan of this once great and proud enema of a franchise, if there is one thing that gets my gears going is the overt homerism of local fans when it comes to a hometown playing being under center in Cleveland.
Yes..yes, I have seen this homer “let’s draft/start the local kid” remake countless times as the original movie starred Boardman native in Bernie Kosar and the sequels would feature the Dublin, Ohio-born former Coffman High star Quinn, Williard, Ohio-born Charlie Frye and most recently in former Lakewood-born and former Cleveland St. Ignatius standout in Brian Hoyer.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s because Kessler was born in the wrong zip code and state as in Bakersfield, California, but as much as my fellow Browns fans moan and whine about not being able to find a franchise-type of quarterback.
Their overt pining for a player in Trubisky—”Trubs” as he is already being called affectionately on various social media threads—who has only started 13 games is a bit absurd.
Heaven forbid if the Browns have multiple front office changes, new head coaches, a never-ending carousel of quarterbacks.
But if you even DARE to touch or even alter their timeless uniforms and fabled orange helmets, the fury and proverbial backlash from Cleveland Browns fans pale in comparison to not having a hometown product under center.
Look no further than last year’s backbiting and moaning after the Browns took Kessler over former Glenville High and Cleveland-born Cardale Jones of the Buffalo Bills and former Walsh Jesuit and Hinckley Township native Connor Cook of the Las Vegas-bound Oakland Raiders.
Last time I checked, Kessler actually STARTED for his time while both Cook and Jones didn’t.
And if you actually review Kessler’s stats, they are comparable to last year’s draft class standouts of Carson Wentz—who will forever haunt Cleveland fans in their nightmares—and Dak Prescott in terms of completion percentage (65.6), QBR (48.2) and passer rating (92.3).
Per Pro Football Focus, Kessler ranked fifth in the NFL last season with an adjusted completion percentage of 78.2 percent.
Regardless of where you stand on whether or not he should start, but that is pretty impressive for a guy who was seemingly running for his life every other snap last season.
Some will say that he didn’t throw it downfield enough, or that he has a “noodle arm”, but me personally, arm strength is vastly overrated, as II ‘d rather have an accurate quarterback over a strong-armed one with none—i.e. Derek Anderson.
Overall, despite playing behind a makeshift line, rookie wide receivers, Kessler performed fairly well in passing for close to 1,400 yards in nine games.
I feel it would be an injustice and a grave mistake not to invest in Kessler long-term to see what he can offer.
Thankfully the Browns are heading in that direction in naming him the start and bulking up the offensive line via free agency with the signings of J.C Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler.
Despite losing Terrelle Pryor to the Washington Redskins, the Browns actually upgraded at the wide receiver spot in signing Kenny Britt. These moves signal that Cleveland is at least interested in developing Kessler for the long-term and possibly beyond.
If current mock drafts linking athletic pass-catching tight ends such as Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Clemson’s Jordan Leggette and Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges to Cleveland, in addition to possible Josh Gordon replacements such as East Carolina’s Zay Jones, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and former USC teammate in Juju Schuster-Smith, could position Kessler to have a potential breakout year in 2017.
The question is, will the Cleveland Browns actually give the former USC star a chance to develop, or acquiesce to fan pressure like they have so much in the past in drafting Trubisky instead?