McCarthy: Kizer would've been first-round pick in 2018

Mike McCarthy's quarterback situation is as solid as possible at the top, but he's welcoming a fresh face to the depth chart.

That fresh face, former second-round pick DeShone Kizer, has earned quite a compliment from the coach, who thinks Kizer has been undervalued in his first year in the NFL.

"In my opinion, if he was in that class this year, he would've been part of that group of first four guys, or first five," McCarthy said, per USA Today. "I always felt there were five, the five quarterbacks, first-round guys."

That group is comprised of the most recent draft's first five quarterbacks selected: Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns), USC's Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Wyoming's Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), UCLA's Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals) and Louisville's Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens). Kizer, who turned 22 years old in January, very well could have been one of the first selected from that group had he stayed in college another year.

Instead, the Toledo, Ohio, native left Notre Dame early and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2017 draft. What ensued was largely a crash course on how to botch a rookie's introduction to the professional game, with head coach Hue Jackson starting Kizer in 15 of 16 possible games but often keeping him on a short leash. Jackson twice gave Kizer the hook in games in which he was struggling (though he explained one was to avoid Kizer getting hit repeatedly in a lost game), and benched him entirely for Cleveland's 33-17 Week 6 loss to Houston.

More of the same came as a result: Cleveland again found itself in the market for a franchise quarterback and jettisoned Kizer to a land of new opportunity (and dairy products), dealing the youngster to Green Bay in a swap that included defensive back Damarious Randall. A fresh start was best for a green quarterback whose confidence didn't need further damaging.

Kizer will battle with Brett Hundley for the backup job behind entrenched all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Based on last season's unfortunate series of events -- Hundley replaced an injured Rodgers and Green Bay's offense slowed to a crawl that included a limp -- Kizer should have a realistic chance to win the backup job. Going from chaos-ridden Cleveland to mostly stable Green Bay and learning behind Rodgers would be an ideal setup for Kizer.

Oh, and we forgot to mention: He has a big arm.

"I think he has exceptional arm talent," McCarthy said. "What we're asking him to do is, particularly the footwork and just how he fits the scheme, and how he operates is brand new to him. That always excites me, because when you see that guy has no experience or background but has the ability, to me that's an opportunity for a lot of growth. So I think he has a bright future."

Rodgers won't play forever, and Kizer doesn't need to be rushed onto the field. Nuturing an inexperienced arm talent with long-term potential for a fairly cheap price (the trade with Cleveland) makes this a sneaky high-ceiling setup.

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