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Analysis: Hue Jackson should pick DeShone Kizer to start preseason opener, see if he’s got what it takes

The quarterback competition began with three contenders.

After more than a week of camp, coach Hue Jackson has two options: Hand the keys to the rookie, or turn to the veteran.

Jackson is expected to announce Monday the starter for the preseason opener Thursday at home against the New Orleans Saints. I could understand going with Brock Osweiler but think the better choice is DeShone Kizer, the second-round pick out of Notre Dame.

The only wrong pick would be keeping Cody Kessler No. 1 on the depth chart. It was his job to lose, and he lost it by being indecisive and timid in the pocket. With each sack taken and every checkdown thrown, Kessler looks less like a viable option.

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Jackson made it clear the man who starts against the Saints won’t necessarily open the regular season Sept. 10 against the Steelers. So I don’t see a downside to picking Kizer.

If he looks in over his head in the first preseason game or two, Jackson can make the switch to Osweiler, who has a 13-8 record as a starter with Denver and Houston.

If the situation isn’t too big for Kizer and he continues to progress as he’s done through the offseason, it would be a no-brainer for Jackson to stick with him for the regular season.

Kizer has the most potential of the quarterbacks on the roster. He was the No. 52 pick, so the Browns are invested. And they need to find out if he can succeed in the NFL before entering next year’s draft with five picks in the first two rounds.

Kizer seems to have all the required tools. He’s 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds with a strong right arm and the ability to run. He’s also smart and a hard worker.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be a great quarterback. Or even a good one.

It does mean the Browns should take a long look at him.

And if Kizer’s issues persist, Jackson has a sensible alternative in Osweiler.

Kizer has been inconsistent as he continues to try to master Jackson’s system. He makes a great throw then follows with two that are way off the mark, often with too much velocity and not enough touch. And his footwork in the pocket has been erratic when forced to try to get to his second or third read.

The best way to find out if he can make the necessary adjustments is to give him all the repetitions with the first-team offense and put him under the pressure of starting in the preseason.

Jackson said Friday the rest of the team is watching to see how he handles the competition. He’s tried to be fair by dividing the snaps, but the time has come to focus his attention on preparing for the season.
Kizer is the option that makes the most sense. With Osweiler in reserve if Jackson deems Kizer not ready to take on the Steelers.

Osweiler probably gives the Browns the best chance to win out of the gate. He’s starting to look more comfortable with the offense and carries himself with the confidence of a guy who’s won in the league.

But he’s coming off a bad season in Houston — 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions — and was never supposed to be part of the Browns’ long-term plans. So from an organizational standpoint, it’s logical for Kizer to be given the chance to secure the job.

We will find out soon enough if Jackson agrees.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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