We recently heard that the Browns‘ staring QB job is Cody Kessler‘s to lose, and while that still might be true, the team selected DeShone Kizer in the second round of this year’s draft for a reason, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Notre Dame product demonstrated superior physical skills during the first week of OTAs, especially with respect to arm strength and mobility. Cabot also says Kizer is picking up the offense quickly, and even if he does not start Week 1, he will get his chance early on in the season. Hue Jackson has spent more time with Kizer and will continue to do so, while quarterbacks coach David Lee will have a bigger role with Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan, per Cabot.
“I want to make sure I have my hand on him as much as I can,” Jackson said, via Cabot, of coaching Kizer. “I will continue to do so. I have to find out probably more about [Kizer] than I do any of the guys. He’s not going to get too far away from me, I know that. He’s done a good job. He just has to keep getting better. He’s improved from day to day.”
Here’s more from around the league.
- With only four draft picks, the Patriots allocated a considerable amount of funds to their UDFAs. The Pats guaranteed $415K to their 19-man UDFA class, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reiss pointed this out after Mike Zimmer revealed the Vikings spent $192,500 on their 13-man class, which the coach said was the most in his four years. The Packers, meanwhile, guaranteed their 20-man pool just $63K. The Pats were aggressive with possible late-round picks that slipped out of the draft in BYU linebacker Harvey Langi — who took up a sizable portion of New England’s total with a $100K base salary guarantee and $15K signing bonus — and Wyoming tight end Jacob Hollister, Reiss reports.
- Cowboys 11th-year quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson would be on board with the team bringing in competition for Kellen Moore, who is entering his sixth season but has just three career games (all with the 2015 Cowboys) to his name. “I do think that we need to create competition for him, and that’s at every position, but especially at the quarterback position,” Wilson said, via Matt Galatzan of Scout.com. “So because he hasn’t played, if there’s a veteran out there that we want to bring in and compete against him, I’d be all for that, but if not, I feel very comfortable about him going out there and playing.” The Cowboys were in on Josh McCown but didn’t come close to matching the Jets’ offer. They signed Moore, who is coming off a season-ending injury, to a one-year, $775K deal in March.
- Lamar Jackson dazzled the college football world last year, but Louisville’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback doesn’t strike NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks as a polished passer ready to make an NFL impact in that area yet. While Brooks described Jackson (1,570 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) as a more explosive runner than recent dual-threat prodigies Marcus Mariota or Robert Griffin III, he needs to improve upon his footwork, passing mechanics and defensive diagnoses to elevate into a franchise-type passing prospect. Both CBS and the Sporting News had Jackson as a first-round pick in their way-too-early 2018 mocks.
- Brooks also heard from an NFC scout that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley‘s early hype is justified going into what most expect will be his final college season. The anonymous evaluator viewed the junior Nittany Lion as a player who is as “complete as they come” at this position. This follows an NFL exec saying Barkley could be the best running back prospect in a decade.
Rory Parks contributed to this report.