When rookie DeShone Kizer reports for duty later this week, he'll join a Browns quarterback room that is working with a purpose as each member prepares for what is expected to be an open competition.
Browns coach Hue Jackson has been impressed by what he's seen from Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan as the trio returned for offseason workouts and recently moved into Phase II. What they've been able to do in front of their coach has been minimal, but it's been enough to make Jackson feel good about the overall state of the group as it prepares to welcome Kizer.
"What I've seen thus far from the guys that are here, they came back prepared and ready to play," Jackson said last week on Cleveland Browns Daily. "I can honestly say the group is ahead of where I thought they'd be."
None of the four, of course, went through offseason workouts at this time last year. It's a revamped group with a mix of young and older -- but definitely nowhere near old -- that Jackson expects to embrace and help bring the best out of Kizer in the coming months.
Kessler, a third-round pick last year, joined the group in May and is the only one of the four to experience a Jackson-led Browns training camp. Hogan, who joined the team shortly before the start of the 2016 season, and Kessler have the most experience within the Browns' system while Osweiler, the former Broncos and Texans starter, boasts by far the most NFL experience with 21 starts over the past two seasons.
"Cody's done a great job, Kevin Hogan has, too, and Brock has walked in the building and done an outstanding job," Jackson said. "I think all three of those guys are doing exactly what I thought they'd do and even more so, and now we're going to have a chance to add DeShone into this as well. I'm excited about the room."
The team practices at the training facility in Berea.
Kessler, who unexpectedly led the Browns with eight starts last season, has particularly impressed Jackson with his increased strength and overall preparedness. When he returned to Berea in April, Kessler said he'd spent "countless hours" in the weight room and on the field working on his mechanics, largely in an effort to improve his downfield passing.
Early indications are the work has paid off.
"He's stronger. The ball is stronger," Jackson said. "He looks more compact and stronger in the pocket when he's throwing the ball. We've just been in drills and those types of things but I can tell he's really worked extremely hard this offseason."
From the night Kizer was selected with a second-round pick, Jackson has stressed the team wouldn't rush the former Notre Dame signal-caller into anything. But at the same time, Jackson and the Browns won't stop Kizer if he ascends into the starting role as a rookie.
When Kizer worked out with the Browns, Jackson noticed a quarterback who was able to take coaching and promptly apply it. It's just clear he'll have to fend off some determined competitors while adapting to the big changes that will come his way as he adjusts to life as an NFL quarterback.
"We got to coach him from the ground up. We understand that," Jackson said. "But we're working with a guy that's very talented. We're working with a guy that has a skill set that's going to allow us to push and prod and get him where he needs to be."