The Debrief  

 

DeShone Kizer among players to watch after OTAs/minicamp

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DeShone Kizer took the first snap of team drills at Browns minicamp Wednesday, the culmination of an offseason where the rookie quarterback from Notre Dame was treated like a veteran.

Browns coach Hue Jackson was careful to note that Kizer, Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler have rotated snaps throughout the offseason, but that's the point. Kizer is being given a genuine chance to start.

The second round pick has sounded mature when speaking with the media, analyzing his strengths and weaknesses like a pro. The positive practice reports are a nice bonus, but Jackson's handling of Kizer's snaps is more telling. Jackson is giving the kid a chance to get ready.

I'm instinctively skeptical of buzz emanating from football in shorts season, but Kizer is one of the players to watch closer in training camp because of news from May and June.

Below are some other players that put themselves on my watch list:

Doug Martin, Buccaneers running back: There was no telling where Martin's career was headed when the offseason started. Conventional wisdom suggested it would not be as a member of the Bucs. Instead, Martin has consolidated his status as Tampa's starting running back with a strong offseason following time in a drug and alcohol treatment facility.

The bouquets being sent Martin's way about his strength and quickness would feel like fluff if they didn't sound so familiar. There was a lot of similar talk about Martin before the 2015 season that turned out to be his career year.

Breshad Perriman, Ravens receiver: Yes, they signed Jeremy Maclin. Yes, everyone is assuming that Maclin is going to be the team's No. 1 receiver far too fast.

Perriman has flashed NFL-star ability at times in his first two seasons and the tropes have all been there this offseason. Joe Flacco says Perriman is confident, who claims his concentration level is higher. Teammates have talked up Perriman making more plays than anyone. His health, however, is the reason he's on this list. He's taken advantage of his first healthy offseason as a pro and I'd love to see it translate in August before grabbing him as a fantasy football sleeper.

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks running back: While Eddie Lacy has made headlines for making weight, the Seahawks' free agent pickup has been limited in practice because of an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the man who almost single-handedly won Seattle a playoff game way back in January has been "flying around the field" according to beat reporters. Thomas Rawls was never right last season coming off back-to-back serious injuries. If he can stay healthy and keep this momentum up, he could easily be starting over Lacy in Week 1.

Jared Goff, Rams quarterback: There's no way to tell yet how much Goff has changed or how much coach Sean McVay has helped him change. Goff is bigger and he certainly sounds more mature and ready for the responsibility inherent in being a franchise quarterback, although that won't mean much if he can't stay calm in the face of a pass rush. Goff would likely be on this watch list regardless of how May and June went, but at least he's kept his head above water this organized team activities season.

Corey Coleman, Browns receiver: Coleman is the only player on this list for negative reasons. He was unable to shake a hamstring pull throughout May and June, despite Hue Jackson's pleas for Coleman to become "The Guy" among Browns receivers. The injury was especially concerning because a similar hamstring problem short-circuited Coleman's rookie training camp, hampering his season. The Browns would feel a lot better about their offense if Coleman could survive an entire training camp without any issues.

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins wide receiver: The Dolphins offense leads the league in optimistic OTA chatter. Their coaching staff, players, beat reporters and even yours truly have all chimed in, with much of the praise going Parker's way. Coach Adam Gase has compared Parker to his old pupil Demaryius Thomas in Denver. With Parker's professionalism and maturity appearing to get in his way the last two years, his business-like offseason makes him someone on which to keep an eye.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jets tight end: Seferian-Jenkins' frank discussion of drinking too much and alcoholism helps to explain his rocky first few seasons in Tampa. His professed life changes also adds context to all the glowing reports about him being the Jets' best offensive player throughout the spring. He's put himself back on the radar. In football in shorts season, that's all you can ask for.

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