BEREA, OHIO - Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson admitted on Monday that DeShone Kizer still probably isn't ready to play in an NFL game just yet.
But that hasn't stopped the second-round rookie out of Notre Dame from strengthening his case for being the Browns' starting quarterback when their Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers rolls around.
With neither Cody Kessler nor Brock Osweiler separating themselves through the first five days of training camp, Kizer remains very much in the mix of Cleveland's seemingly annual quarterback derby. And on Monday, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound signal-caller showcased a skill set neither Kessler nor Osweiler can lay claim to, using his legs to effectively move the ball downfield on an otherwise stagnant day for the Browns offense.
On one play in particular, Kizer kept the ball on a zone read for a long touchdown run. The play was in line with what the Toledo native showed in his two seasons as a starter for the Fighting Irish, when he rushed for a combined 997 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"He has the skill set," Jackson said after practice. "There's some things he can do that are maybe a little bit different and we'll give him the opportunity to do those things."
"Those things" could ultimately be what separates Kizer in what's been a largely underwhelming first five days of camp for the Cleveland quarterbacks. While Kessler and Osweiler may look more polished as passers, neither has made a significantly compelling case that he is that much further ahead of the Browns' rookie that Kizer's upside shouldn't be factored into Jackson's decision.
In fact, between Kessler's check downs and Osweiler's propensity for turning the ball over, one could argue that Kizer as been the most complete quarterback of Cleveland's three legitimate starting candidates.
For now, however, he remains behind both Kessler and Osweiler -- in that order -- on the depth chart, which Jackson said he'll revisit following the team's Orange & Brown Scrimmage on Friday. But if Kizer looks as impressive at FirstEnergy Stadium as he has in Berea, Jackson will likely have no choice but to give his rookie signal-caller a harder look.
Kizer may not be ready to be an NFL starting quarterback just yet, but he appears to be on his way. And he's getting there both through the air and on the ground.
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