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2020 NFL Draft

Cody Kessler: '​I was hoping it would be Cleveland'

Late in the third round of Friday's NFL Draft, former USC quarterback Cody Kessler was waiting anxiously for a phone to call from the Browns.

"I actually flew to Cleveland in March and had a great meeting with coach Jackson and everyone in the facility. It was awesome, I was very excited and I knew that was one of the teams that I had a great connection with," said Kessler, whom Cleveland drafted at No. 93 on Friday night.

"Honestly, I was kind of sitting there waiting and I knew they had a lot of picks and I kind of just kept talking to my family and my agent was sitting there and I was just hoping.

"I was hoping it would be Cleveland and I was excited every time their name came up, and it worked. I'm very blessed and very thankful to be heading to Cleveland."

And Kessler, who leaves the Trojans as one of their most accurate passers, said he's coming to the Browns with a workmanlike attitude.

"I'm from Bakersfield, so I kind of have a blue-collar work ethic," he said, "and I've had to work for everything I've gotten to this point."

After all, Kessler — who joins a quarterback room that includes Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw — had to work his way up the ranks at USC before taking over as the school's starting quarterback in his sophomore season after once facing a third-string placement on the depth chart.

"I took that mentality and went in there and ended up winning the starting job as a sophomore," he said. "I took my opportunity and never looked back. And that's the same mentality I'm going to take into the NFL."

Kessler, a three-year starter at USC who threw for 10,339 yards and 88 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions, said he prides himself on his ability to zip the ball on time and on target.

"I've always prided myself on accuracy, that's the biggest thing for me is just getting the ball to the right guy at the right time," Kessler said. "It's something that's overlooked a lot for quarterbacks — everyone looks at arm strength, how he does this, how he does that — for me, I've always wanted to be the most accurate quarterback, the most efficient quarterback."

Browns first-year coach Hue Jackson echoed a similar sentiment.

"This young man has pinpoint accuracy. (He had) 88 touchdowns, 19 interceptions over three years. Tremendous, tremendous touchdown-interception ratio, knows how to play in a pro-style offense, has a lot of characteristics that we look for in a quarterback," Jackson said.

"He has great poise, pocket presence, works at the game, comes early, stays late. He is everything that I think you look for in a quarterback. Doing a lot of work on him, it showed that way. At the end of the day, this is a young man who is on our football team."

At USC, Kessler went through five different coaching staffs, a dynamic he said forced him to take a greater leadership role on and off the field.

"I don't know if (the change) was a good thing, but I kind of got used to it. How to handle it, and it definitely prepared me for the next level," he said. "I'm excited to accept every challenge that comes way."

The Browns wrapped up a busy third round Friday by selecting USC quarterback Cody Kessler with the No. 93 pick.

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