2020 NFL Draft

Browns QB DeShone Kizer says Notre Dame prepared him for NFL spotlight

The flashing cameras and eyeballs trained on new Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer were nothing new. That's what happens, he said, when you play football's most important position at Notre Dame.

"As far as a stage at the college level gets," Kizer said on Saturday. "I don't know if there's one bigger."

Indeed, Kizer, whom the Browns selected with the 52nd overall pick late Friday, spoke of how that environment prepared him for what awaits at the next level and, particularly in Cleveland, which has long searched for a sustainable answer at the position.

"Representing something a lot bigger than yourself is one concept, but when you are doing it at an international level with a fan base that truly expands all over the world, it was an honor and privilege," he said.

"Now, I'll be able to pull from those experiences to see if I can take that and apply it to the professional level here in Cleveland."

The past 48 hours or so have been a whirlwind for Kizer, a two-year starter for the Fighting Irish who was once believed to be a top-10 prospect.

Invited to the draft in Philadelphia, Kizer didn't hear his name called Thursday night and returned home to Toledo the following day. A 2016 season of highs and lows that saw Notre Dame finish 4-8 had tempered his draft stock and raised questions about his NFL readiness.

Those are things, though, that Kizer has taken in stride, owning up to those inconsistencies through the draft process. Sashi Brown, the Browns' executive vice president of football operations, described Kizer as remarkably "self-reflective."

"He's a guy who has played really good football. Various people and I have talked about how he obviously didn't have the year that he wanted to have last year and he recognizes that," Brown said, "but he has tremendous skills to work with, rare skills and traits to work with."

Indeed, Kizer's physical toolbox and makeup were what the Browns were searching for in a quarterback. A two-year starter, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 5,805 yards, 47 touchdowns and 19 interceptions (plus 19 rushing touchdowns) and helped lead the Fighting Irish to the Fiesta Bowl in 2015.

"He has the measurables. He's a big, physical quarterback who can make all of the throws that I think anybody needs to make in the National Football League," head coach Hue Jackson said. "He's intelligent. He has the characteristics that we are looking for."

"We were impressed by his intelligence, impressed by his maturity, his preparation in our meetings," added vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry. "He has all of the tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL."

And the spotlight, Kizer said, won't be too bright. The stage won't be too big.

"The responsibility of being a quarterback at Notre Dame, I think, covers all of that," he said.

"In that last year or two and a half years, I was able to see a little bit of everything. The experience of having some success in 2015 and then not having so much success in 2016 is the one that allowed me to see it all from every perspective.

"Now going back and reflecting both of those seasons, I will be able to hopefully pull from all of that for the next couple of years now and make sure that I can do whatever it takes to get back to winning the way I know how."

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