It may have a been in a meaningless pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints, but the future of the Cleveland Browns arrived Thursday evening in DeShone Kizer.
Kizer, a 6’4 245-pound quarterback out of Notre Dame, who prepped roughly 45 minutes west of Cleveland at Toledo Catholic, provided his boyhood team to a 20-14 win thanks to two long passes, one for a touchdown and another that set up one.
Yes, while most of Kizer’s work was against third and fourth-stringers, most likely future security guards and Walmart employees aside, but the 21-year-old former Golden Domer displayed the rocket arm and deft touch, that was the talk of training camp, OTA’s and rookie minicamp on his game-winning 45-yard touchdown pass to WR Jordan Payton in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Kizer finished 11-of-18 for 184 yards, and all but stamped his name on the starting Browns quarterback throne. Again, this is just pre-season and Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler played against starters, but they didn’t exactly separate themselves in the NFL’s most hotly contested annual derby of being the Browns starting quarterback.
In terms of the proverbial eye test, you cannot help but wonder, how Kizer would fare playing behind the Browns re-built offensive line, you’d also can’t help but wonder how he’d do against first-team NFL defenses.
If you’re a long-suffering Browns fan such as yours truly, you have to ask yourself, when was the last time Cleveland had a quarterback prospect like Kizer that’s tall enough to stand in the pocket, throw the ball downfield with both strength and touch, ability to make plays with his legs and extend plays?
QB’s such as Colt McCoy, Kessler and former Notre Dame alum were considered weak-armed, one-time Pro Bowl starter Derek Anderson lacked touch, but had a rocket arm, Robert Griffin III was too fragile and poor Tim Couch never had a line give him more than three seconds to throw the ball.
There just seems to be something different about this Kizer kid. Arm strength. Mobility. Rocket Arm. AFC North build and size. Have the football gods finally smiled on the so-called Factory of Sadness?
Could Kizer be the savior that the nomadic Browns have been searching for after 20-plus years of wondering in the harsh desert of failed QB?
If first impressions mean anything, especially in a QB-starved town like Cleveland, you cannot help but think that the future arrived on a early August night of pre-season football, and it’s name is DeShone Kizer.