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Browns hope Cody Kessler better than weak QB class

Cody Kessler returns to the starting lineup with a chance to keep the gig beyond the 2016 season.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Kessler will get an extended audition and a chance to prove he deserves to retain the starting job, according to sources informed of the team's thinking.

In the short term it makes sense for Cleveland to roll with Kessler. The Browns brass needs to find out what they have in the third-round pick and hopes the rookie proves he could be the long-term solution that has eluded Cleveland for decades.

Per Rapoport, with a weak incoming quarterback class, the Browns are not inclined to draft a QB early in this coming draft. Instead, Cleveland would like to use their considerable draft capital and financial resources to build around Kessler, rather than replace him.

Clemson's Deshaun Watson and North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky are among the top quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft.

Kessler has conducted the offense well in spurts this season, relying heavily on Terrelle Pryor's playmaking ability. The Browns average 384 yards of offense in games Kessler has started and finished thus far. The rookie possesses good accuracy on short and intermediate routes but does not own a particularly strong arm. The Browns offense is much more constricted with Kessler under center, lacking plays down the field.

Hue Jackson worked wonders with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati before taking over in Cleveland. Jackson hand-picked Kessler -- over the likes of Dak Prescott or Connor Cook -- saying "you've got to trust me."

Now Jackson will get an extended chance to prove that pick correct. If Kessler flames out, the Browns have months to change gears ahead of the 2017 draft.

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