Brock Osweiler finished his day six of 14 for 42 yards. Cody Kessler was up next, and went five of 10 for 47 yards. Then it was time for rookie DeShone Kizer, who outshone them both.
Kizer gave the Browns a late-game lead on a 45-yard bomb to Jordan Payton, and he looked poised doing it. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 184 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.
The Browns’ second-round pick in this year’s draft, Kizer was praised for his raw skills coming out of Notre Dame, but had many wondering how long it would take him to adapt to the NFL level. Thursday’s performance is a good sign that he’s well on his way.
It should be noted that he was playing with the third team and against third teamers from the Saints. Questions about whether or not Kizer would start Cleveland’s next preseason game. Head coach Hue Jackson wasn’t ready to go that far.
"I go back to work tomorrow, look at the tape and then make a decision where we are. It was one week. I never told you guys this was the way it was going to be from here on in. [...] We'll see where we are for next week,” Jackson said after the game, via Cleveland.com.
Kizer wasn’t the only rookie quarterback to show out this week. Deshaun Watson outplayed Tom Savage in the Texans’ loss to the Panthers on Wednesday, and Mitchell Trubisky ran circles around Mike Glennon in the Bears’ loss to the Broncos Thursday.
But Trubisky was drafted second overall, and the Texans traded up with the Browns to snag Watson with the 12th overall pick. Kizer was drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2017 draft, and his play tonight suggests that the Browns made a good choice.