Just when some thought the Cleveland Browns had decided to delay their seemingly endless quarterback search, they selected Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer on Friday in the second round of the NFL Draft with the No. 52 overall pick.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Toledo native battled through coaching issues last season to complete 212 of his 361 attempts for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions despite being sacked 25 times behind the Fighting Irish’s struggling offensive line.
In his two years as a starter, Kizer completed 423 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.
Kizer watched three other quarterbacks come off the board before him on Thursday before finding his landing spot.
The Browns can only hope Kizer works out better than Brady Quinn, the last Notre Dame quarterback they drafted. They chose Quinn, also an Ohio native, with the No. 22 pick in the first round in 2007 and he was out of football in a few years.
The Browns drafted Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, and then moved back in a trade with the Houston Texans.
Quarterbacks drafted ahead of Kizer included North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 to Chicago Bears), Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (No. 10 to Kansas City Chiefs) and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (No. 12 to the Houston Texans). All went in the top half of the first round.
At 6-4 and 230 pounds, Kizer’s physical tools drew raves from scouts. But he struggled last season and completed 59 percent of his passes as Notre Dame went a disappointing 4-8.
Coach Brian Kelly said earlier in April that Kizer “should still be in college” and needs time to develop.
“No one else can do what I can do,” Kizer told USA TODAY Sports before the draft. “And I’ve truly figured out in this (draft) process, if I can maximize all my potential in every aspect of the game – this is bold – I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play.
“Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”
Kizer, 21, went 8-3 in 2015, his first season as the Notre Dame starter. He completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,880 yards and 21 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He ran 135 times for 525 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He left Notre Dame after his redshirt sophomore season.
NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler ranked him second among the quarterbacks in this class behind Trubisky. ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Kizer “has the biggest upside” of all the quarterbacks.
Kizer has impressive arm strength, but his mechanical issues in the pocket led to accuracy issues at Notre Dame and need work.
Investing in Kizer in the second round is likely to quiet the speculation about the Browns trading for a veteran quarterback like New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo or Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron.
In the third round, the Browns selected Larry Ogunjobi, a 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle from North Carolina Charlotte with the 65th overall pick.