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Browns Mailbag: Where does DeShone Kizer fit in 2018 QB battle?

Posted Feb 2, 2018

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

It’s Super Bowl Friday, and we’re sending you into the big weekend with four super questions.

All this talk about QB, what about our guy DeShone Kizer? What if he gets better in his second year like Jared Goff did? Are we just writing him off as a bust already or did we forget he is a rookie and very young? -- James R., Warren

No one inside the building is writing off Kizer. That was made clear when Kizer and Hue Jackson met with reporters in the wake of Kizer’s final start of the season, perhaps his best effort of his rookie year. Though the Browns fell to 0-16 with their loss in Pittsburgh, Kizer showed why, at the age of 22, he’s viewed by many as having so much potential. In bringing the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit, Kizer threw for a career-best 314 yards, two long touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards. He threw a costly interception, his 22nd of the season, in the fourth quarter, but he had the Browns on the doorstep for a potential game-winning touchdown in the final minutes.

“We have a young player who has played a lot of football,” Jackson said. “DeShone is a young player who we drafted on this team. He started the first game that we played this year. I think DeShone has the necessary tools to be a good player to play in this league. We just have to continue to work with him and get him over this. There are a lot of players before him who are young who have come in this league and played and not had success right away, and then you look up and these guys some of them are Hall of Famers.”

That doesn’t sound like writing off to me.

What’s clear, though, is Kizer will face some competition for the spot he occupied for all but one of Cleveland’s games in 2017. If he’s the best option at the position, even if the Browns use one of their top picks on a quarterback and add another in free agency, he’ll start. If he’s not, he’ll sit and continue to develop behind the scenes. The former second-round pick knows nothing will be handed to him, and he plans to embrace the challenge.

“Every year there is going to be some sort of guy who comes in. Whether it be a young guy, whether it be a guy who comes over from another team or a guy that you are going to spend a lot of money on, there is going to be a new guy,” Kizer said. “It is just about doing whatever you can to improve yourself and focusing in on your own craft so that whatever situation does pop up, you are the best-equipped to go win it.”

Now with Alex Smith headed to the Redskins. what free agent QB, if any, will the Browns try to sign or trade for? -- Tim C., Cambridge

That’s the big question after the Redskins and Chiefs pulled off the blockbuster deal earlier this week. Plenty of people drew a connection between Smith and the Browns because of new general manager John Dorsey, who traded for Smith shortly after he took the same job with the Chiefs in 2013. Alas, Smith won’t be with the Browns next year, but there are plenty of other options if Cleveland looks to add a veteran when free agency opens in a little more than a month.

Here are a handful. Many others could be available via trade.

(We didn’t include Washington’s Kirk Cousins, who falls into his own category when it comes to projecting the type of contract he may sign, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo [same reason] and Drew Brees, who has vowed to return to New Orleans.)

-- Minnesota’s three quarterbacks -- Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford -- are all poised to be unrestricted free agents. One could be franchised or re-signed before free agency.

-- Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron will learn if he’ll be classified as a restricted or unrestricted free agent later this month. If he’s restricted, the Bengals could put a tender on him that would require teams to part with a first- or second-round draft pick in order to sign him away from Cincinnati.

-- Chase Daniel, who spent three seasons in Kansas City during Dorsey’s tenure, is set to become a free agent. He’s started just two games but has been one of the game’s most coveted backups.

-- Matt Moore of the Dolphins has started 30 games over the course of his 11-year career, including 12 in 2011. He also started Miami’s playoff loss to the Steelers last year.

What would it take for the Browns to get a first-round pick and realistically how high in first round could we move into? I would like the Browns to get a QB, LB Roquan Smith from Georgia and best player available after that. -- Raimund R., Plant City, Florida

You only need to look to last year to see how plausible it would be for the Browns to finish this year’s draft with three first-round selections. All it took was for the Browns to part with their second-round pick (No. 33) and a fourth-round selection in a deal with Green Bay to move up to No. 29, where they drafted tight end David Njoku. Considering the Browns hold picks No. 33 and No. 35 in this year’s draft, a similar trade certainly could be executed. If Cleveland wants to move any higher than 29th with a third potential pick, it’d obviously take more. But with the team’s surplus of draft assets, anything is possible.

Assuming the Browns go QB at 1, if somehow Saquon Barkley and Minkah Fitzpatrick go at No. 2 and No. 3, who would be the next best pick at 4? Surely if this were to happen, a trade back with, say, the Jets is the best move? -- B.B., Brisbane, Australia

In this scenario, the Browns certainly would receive their fair share of offers to trade back from quarterback-needy teams. If Cleveland held pat, it’d have players such as North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb, the talented offensive line duo of Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at its disposal.

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