BEREA, Ohio -- Former University of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer was highly thought of by the Cleveland Browns throughout the pre-draft process, and that is why they took him with the 52nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft last month.
But before Kizer even allows himself to think about one day becoming the franchise quarterback, he knows “absolutely a lot of work needs to be done” between now and the start of the regular season with a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 10.
“There’s so much I need to learn before I can even consider thinking about competition and trying to play,” Kizer said during rookie minicamp over the weekend. “Right now, I’m at step one. I need to get to level 500 before I can even consider stepping on an NFL field.
“It’s going to take a lot of work. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and become a pro as quickly as I can.”
Although Kizer and the rookies were on the field for only three days before the veterans returned from their weekend break to resume the offseason program, he believes a lot of learning can be done in short order.
“That playbook is a whole new language,” Kizer said. “(It’s about) commanding the huddle, trying to figure out what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
“You can pretend you’re in that huddle all you want, but until you’re out there with 10 other eyes on you listening to the play, it’s a completely different situation, so we have a lot of practice to do with that.”
In his two years as a starter at Notre Dame, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer completed 423 of his 696 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.
Pressed into service because of an injury to starter Malik Zaire during the 2015 season, Kizer completed 211 of his 335 attempts for 2,884 yards and 21 touchdowns against 10 interceptions over 13 games with the Fighting Irish.
During a 4-8 season in 2016, Kizer battled through coaching issues to complete 212 of his 361 attempts for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions despite being sacked 25 times behind the Fighting Irish’s struggling offensive line.
“As soon as that playbook hit my hands, I understood you have to take it as your job and work at that playbook as much as you can,” Kizer said. “When you hear a story of guys who have been very successful, you hear about every season they step in with a new mindset.
“They get back into the playbook the same way they would if they were a rookie. Those lessons have taught me I’m going to have to buy into that and spend as much time as I possibly can learning as much I can so I can eventually try to compete.”
And Kizer is very much looking forward to learning that playbook under the tutelage of Browns head coach Hue Jackson because of “how much he loves ball and how much he loves quarterbacks.”
“He really prides himself on developing quarterbacks,” Kizer said. “I’m just excited to learn as much as I can from him. To have a head coach who we’re going to be in all the quarterback meetings and is going to be calling the plays makes for an easy relationship between the quarterback and head coach.”