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Ravens defense shouldn’t sleep on DeShone Kizer

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The Cleveland Browns have made strides to become a better team this offseason and it starts with their young quarterback.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Browns have been an organization that has seen its fair share of inconsistency at many different positions. The most inconsistent position by far for the Browns has been the quarterback position.

Since re-entering the league as an expansion franchise, the Browns have started the following players at quarterback (in order):

Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowski, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler.

Obviously, Cleveland’s ability to find a quarterback has been futile since 1999, but they may have found their starting quarterback of the present and especially the future.

Enter DeShone Kizer.

As a two-year starter at the University of Notre Dame, Kizer went 422-for-695 (60.7% completion percentage) passing for 5,805 yards, 47 TDs and just 19 INTs. His ability to push the ball downfield with his arm strength made him a coveted option in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Browns ended up selecting Kizer in the second round, with the 52nd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. After competing against Kessler and Kevin Hogan for the starting position, eventually winning out before Week 1.

In his first career regular season start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kizer, 21, went 20-of-30 (60%) passing for 222 yards, one TD and one INT. Kizer also rushed for 17 yards and a touchdown.

The Baltimore Ravens have stopped rookie quarterbacks in the past. Since 2011, Baltimore is 5-0 at home against rookie starting quarterbacks. This list includes the likes of Andy Dalton (2011), Weeden (2012), Geno Smith (2013), Kessler (2016) and Carson Wentz (2016).

"He's only going to get better. I mean, he's in there for a reason," Ravens head coach Harbaugh said via ESPN. "Hue Jackson knows what he's doing when it comes to quarterbacks. He believes in his rookie quarterback -- talent, head, poise, all those things. He believes he has a great quarterback there, so that's the quarterback we're going to prepare for."

Jackson is a familiar face in Baltimore, as he was Joe Flacco’s quarterbacks coach during his rookie season. He helped guide Flacco to an 11-5 record by working constantly with him and holding him to a high standard. For Kizer, he is doing the same exact thing.

Despite the fact that the Ravens shutout the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, they cannot expect the same thing from the Browns. The Browns are a young and talented football team, looking to prove a point. Kizer can make plays down the field and with his feet and it seems like he’s much more composed than the average rookie quarterback.

On paper, it looks like Baltimore’s defense will prevail against the young starter. They have to contain him with their veterans along the front seven of the defense. The back end of Baltimore’s defense must stay composed and read the eyes of the young rookie quarterback.

The Ravens have the watchful eyes of Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith in the defensive backfield. They cannot let Kizer make plays deep, especially with Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman and Sammie Coates. Kizer can and most likely will utilize his targets to make big plays. Baltimore’s defense should attempt to rattle Kizer as much as possible.