DeShone Kizer Wins Browns QB Job & His Rookie of Year Odds Shorten

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, August 27, 2017 11:54 PM UTC

Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017 11:54 PM UTC

It appears there will be just one rookie quarterback to start Week 1 of the NFL season, and he wasn’t even a first-round pick: Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer. His Offensive Rookie of the Year odds have gotten shorter.

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You win a prize – OK, just my respect – if you can name me the 26 starting quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns since the franchise rejoined the NFL in 1999. On Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, rookie second-round pick DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame will be No. 27.

In a moderate surprise, Kizer beat out Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler to win Cleveland’s quarterback derby. Kizer will be the first rookie to start the opener for the Browns since Brandon Weeden in 2012. That didn’t go so well as Weeden was just 12-for-35 for 118 yards with four interceptions in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Kizer will be the fifth different opening day starter in the past five seasons, following Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III.

As a quick aside, what does Kizer winning the job say about Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly? He made waves back in April by saying Kizer should have stayed in school and wasn’t ready for the NFL: "He should still be in college. ... He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field."

Kizer was benched at one point last season for the Irish -- he was off target on 14.5 percent of his throws in 2016, worst among all quarterbacks who attended the combine -- and slipped to the 52nd overall pick of the 2017 draft. It’s an interesting decision by Coach Hue Jackson because he started Brock Osweiler in the team’s first two preseason games. Jackson went with Kizer in the third game Saturday and he wasn’t very good, completing just 6-for-18 for 93 yards with a pick against the Buccaneers.

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DeShone Kizer is QB1.

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 27, 2017

Overall this preseason, Kizer has completed 25 of 49 for 351 yards, a touchdown and interception – good for a rating off 72.7.  By comparison, Osweiler’s rating is 41.3. Jackson added that he’s committed to Kizer for the long term. Back in May, GM Sashi Brown said he wasn't going to push for Kizer to make an immediate impact.

Right after the draft, Kizer was +1400 on 5Dimes NFL odds to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Now he’s +900. Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette remains the +350 betting favorite followed by Houston’s Deshaun Watson at +425 (rather strange considering Tom Savage has been named the Texans’ starting quarterback) and Carolina tailback Christian McCaffrey (+500). The Associated Press has handed out the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award since 1967 and a Cleveland player has yet to win it.

The Browns aren’t going to be any good unless Kizer is Johnny Unitas from Day 1.  They are +1450 to make the playoffs and -2750 to miss out again. Cleveland might be favored just once all season: Week 5 in the Toilet Bowl against the visiting New York Jets. Maybe Week 11 vs. Jacksonville. The Browns are +5000 to finish 0-16 on NFL futures and -15500 to win or tie any regular-season game. Cleveland is the biggest Week 1 underdog on the board at +9 vs. Pittsburgh.

At least the Browns can see if Kizer is the future; if not, the 2018 draft class looks loaded at quarterback with USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. The Browns have 12 draft picks in 2018, including two first-rounders and three second-rounders.

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