2. DeShone Kizer (RS-So.) – Notre Dame
Height: 6-4 Weight: 235
40-Yard Dash: 4.83
5,805 passing yards, 47 TDs, 19 INTs, 60.7 comp. %
Player Comparison: Matt Ryan
Projected Draft Round: 1-2
When it comes to Kizer, I do admit I have a bit of a bias, being a Notre Dame fan. However, I re-watched all but two of Kizer’s games from 2016 in an attempt to make an objective assessment of him. I watched every game live during the 2016 season, and all of his 2015 starts, as well. His biggest critics will point to a drop off in play in 2016 compared to 2015 when he took over for an injured Malik Zaire. The issue with comparing the two seasons is that there was a significant drop off in talent around him. He has terrific size and was asked to carry the load offensively for Notre Dame. Defensively, the Fighting Irish were one of the worst units [statistically] in the country and put Kizer, still a relatively young quarterback, in difficult positions, often playing from behind. Even though the stats would suggest a step back from 2015 to 2016, maturity-wise I think the adversity helped Kizer grow as a leader.
What They’re Saying:
“Kizer is proficient in processing coverages and making the correct decision on the fly, and he does a good job of keeping his feet active in order to remain ready to throw with proper mechanics as soon as he makes a decision. In many respects, Kizer is the total packages. The concerns with Kizer are that he clearly fell off during the back half of the 2016 season and that he constantly battled head coach Brian Kelly, though the latter issue is not necessarily reflective of Kizer’s inability to receive coaching. Kizer’s draft stock will end up being more dependent on whiteboard sessions and interviews than anything else, but it’s clear that he is a talented player on film.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“After an impressive Week 1 in which he littered the field with NFL throws, Kizer received No. 1 overall hype though the rest of the season was filled with ups and downs. While he certainly didn’t get much help from a young receiving core and a musical-chairs quarterback controversy, there were many times you expected Kizer to pull his team through to get a win and he failed to do so. Kizer’s traits are as good as any quarterback in the 2017 class, but the inconsistencies with accuracy and decision-making leave a lot of question marks of how he will translate to the next level. The natural instincts for the position and pure arm talent are there, with a coach likely to see those uncoachable traits that and try make him into the player he has the potential to be.”
– Pro Football Focus
“As Notre Dame’s QB, he really challenged defenses in the window between the second and third levels—some of his best throws, consistently, were up the seam into that gap. He can get it deep and outside the numbers, too, with enough touch to drop those passes into a bucket.”
– Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated)
If you follow me, you know how I feel about Kizer. I think he has the size, talent, and intangibles you want in a franchise quarterback. I also think there’s enough debate over just how good Kizer can be that he might be available for the Bills in the second round. I think he’d be a great fit in Rick Dennison’s offense, and in my mind is a proven over the middle and intermediate thrower already. One of the biggest issues Tyrod Taylor has had over his two seasons as a starter is his ability to beat a defense over the middle of the field. I’ve seen player comparisons to Big Ben, and from a size and arm strength perspective, I can see it. I don’t think he should be an option for the Bills at 10, but if they get lucky, they might get an opportunity day two.
Kizer does a great job moving the defender to clear room over the top to hit the wheel route to his running back out of the backfield. He recognizes the blitz, stands tall, and delivers a basket throw over the shoulder where only his receiver can make a play. I think his deep ball accuracy is a strength of Kizer’s, and you see it on this play.
This is a simple option route to his tight end breaking to the sideline. What you want to see is Kizer quickly identify the coverage (which he does), get the ball out as his receiver makes his break (he does), and deliver an accurate ball leading him to the sideline and away from trouble. It’s a simple play he’ll have to continue to make at the next level, but these in-rhythm plays are what you want to see.
The defense confused Kizer almost immediately off the snap of the ball. He gets happy feet, panics, and throws a poor ball to an open receiver. What you do like, however, is that he makes it to his last read on the play. This means he was able to go through his progressions, diagnose the defense, and check it down to the crossing route. He could have completed this pass had he remained balanced in the pocket, but his footwork failed him.