It’s a busy, busy Friday in Berea, but we’ve still got time for three of your questions in this week’s installment of the Browns Mailbag.
With DeShone Kizer getting better each week, do the Browns still draft a QB or sign a free agent QB? — Mark H., West Palm Beach, Florida
That’s the big, big question heading into a pivotal offseason for the Browns. With two first-round picks, both of which could be in the top 10, the Browns have the ability to get their top choice at the game’s most important position if that’s the path they choose to follow. There also could be a deeper quarterback class in free agency compared to recent years, as Washington’s Kirk Cousins and more could be available to the highest bidder. Determining that course is the No. 1 priority that falls on the shoulders of John Dorsey, who was introduced as the team’s new general manager Friday.
“That is why I was excited to get here, get a head start and be around the group and see from my own eyes and perspective those three weeks to kind of evaluate and see,” Dorsey said. “What you have to do is you have to sit down as a group after the end of the season. Let’s sit down as a group. I want to understand from a coaching perspective how they see it. I want to see how the personnel staff sees it. I want to sit down with the head coach and see how he sees it. Let’s begin to build a plan moving forward and identify.”
Dorsey made a specific mention of Kizer during his press conference, referencing that the former Notre Dame star was one of a handful of quarterbacks to make a pre-draft visit to Kansas City. The Chiefs ultimately went in a different direction, trading into the top 10 to nab Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. It’s the same kind of aggressive move Dorsey made to fix Kansas City’s quarterback situation when he took over in 2013. With the first pick at his disposal, Dorsey opted instead to make a trade with San Francisco to acquire veteran Alex Smith, who remains the starter today.
Kizer’s had an up and down rookie season that Jackson and others hope ends on the upswing with four positive performances. Kizer will be a part of Cleveland’s quarterback room moving forward in some shape and fashion. It’s just a matter of what the team does to surround him, and whether or not he’ll be taking a backseat to an established veteran or competing with a highly touted rookie.
“I think we all know that is the big piece that we still have to get right,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think that is what we will definitely sit down and talk through. I think John has some tremendous ideas on how to accomplish that.”
Any news on DB Howard Wilson? How’s the knee looking? Any possibility we’ll see him this year or is he totally shut down? I thought there was news earlier that he might test it out late in the season but I missed any follow-up. — Eric D., Toledo
Time is running out for Wilson to return to the field this season, making it unlikely he’ll be available for any part of 2017. He’s yet to practice, and the Browns have just three game weeks left on the docket. Wilson’s been in the building on a daily basis ever since he suffered the unfortunate injury way back in May. He’ll be essentially viewed as an extra draft pick on next year’s roster when the Browns return for their offseason workout program.
Much like you did for the kickers, is it normal for first-year QBs to struggle like Kizer is? — Justin R., Mercer, Pennsylvania
Glad you liked our analysis of kickers in last week’s mailbag. As the following breakdown of quarterbacks in their rookie season shows, the data is all over the map.
DeShone Kizer – 52.5 comp. percentage, 2,038 yards, six TDs, 15 INTs, 308 rushing yards, 5 TDs
Aaron Rodgers – 63.6/4,038/28/13 (Didn’t start until his fourth season)
Peyton Manning – 56.7/3,739/26/28
Andrew Luck – 63.5/4,240/31/13/255 rushing yards/5 rushing TDs
Russell Wilson – 64.1/3118/26/10/489 rushing yards/4 rushing TDs
Derek Carr – 58.1/3270/21/12
Matthew Stafford – 53.3/2,267/13/20
The big thing that stands out for Kizer compared to the rest is completion percentage. As he said multiple times this week, it has to be better than his current rate of 52.5. The goal, he said, is 65. That will be nearly impossible to reach before the end of the season, but he’s striving to hit it during this final, four-game stretch.
“That is what it is going to take for us to get out there and win consistently,” Kizer said. “As a quarterback, it is almost unacceptable to be at about a 50 percent completion rating. There are too many guys who are talented out there and there is too much time and effort that we put into the week for us to not go out there and complete at least 60 percent of passes.”