For such a prestigious program such as Notre Dame, it’s surprising to see the program has had only 2 signal callers get drafted into the NFL in the past decade. At this point in the draft process, it’s no surprise that DeShone Kizer will be the next Notre Dame Fighting Irish to be selected in the Draft and very well could be the first since Brady Quinn back in 2007.
It’s been an interesting journey en route to the starting gig with the Irish. During the 2015 season as a redshirt freshman, he started the year as the backup to Malik Zaire. Zaire would go on to get hurt early in the season, which opened the door for Kizer. As a redshirt freshman, Kizer dazzled as the replacement and led the Irish to an 8-3 finish and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. This would draw a QB controversy heading into 2016 with a healthy Zaire returning.
As this past season began, Brian Kelly stated he would implement a 2-QB system to equally provide playing time to both Zaire and Kizer. That didn’t last long. Kizer went on to secure the starting job to himself in the first game of the year – you’re sure to remember that 2OT thriller against Texas.
Kizer elected to declare for the 2017 draft after just two years of playing experience at the college level. He’s made some big plays which has drawn interest from numerous scouts, but he is far from a finished product. Nonetheless, he currently stands as one of the top QBs in this year’s class and should end up in the 1st round.
Name: DeShone Kizer
School: Notre Dame
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Comparison: Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Draft Grade: 2nd Round
Positives: Possesses tremendous arm strength and has arguably the strongest arm in the class. Fine touch on deep passes and places the ball well for the most part. Provides a lot of zip and velocity on passes over the middle of the field. Evades pressure well and knows when to step up in the pocket. Constructs the pocket well when he has enough time. Displays good patience in a clean pocket. Great athleticism at the QB position and was a tri-sport athlete in high school. Hard to bring down when on the run. Sees the field with great vision when running up field. Breakaway speed when he breaks out into space. Performs well in the redzone. Processes the play quickly in that vicinity of the field and will run it in if he doesn’t see any options through the air. Tough player who will get right up after taking a big shot. Just turned 21 at the beginning of 2017 and possesses a high ceiling with a lot of time and room to grow. Mature and dealt with a rather “toxic” situation well this past season at Notre Dame.
Negatives: Wildly inaccurate. Frequently underthrows short passes and will occasionally bounce it off the ground, particularly on curl routes and screens. Struggles throwing to both sidelines. Overthrows his receiver by a step or two on the deep ball too often. Lofts too many throws and sees the ball sail away. Needs to know how much force to put behind his throws. In many instances fires the ball too high and out of the receiver’s reach. Too many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Poor decision making and often forces throws into tight coverage resulting in a turnover. Plays a bit too confident. Inconsistent went going through progressions and will lock his eyes downfield. Takes too many sacks and needs to know when to throw the ball away. Mechanics demand tweaking. Needs to set feet better in the pocket and throws off back foot too much. Played well in crunch time during tight games this past season but failed to lead the team to victory.
Outlook: DeShone Kizer has as much potential as any QB in the class, but he is far from a finished product and shouldn’t be a year one starter. His accuracy is a concern, especially in the short game. He does possess the arm strength that scouts love, along with his size and athleticism. Makes the highlight deep throws, but far too inconsistent. Decision making needs a lot of improvement when passing the football as well as when to throw the ball away and avoid the sack. The upside is evident, and a coach is bound to gamble on Kizer in the 1st round. At only 21 years old, he has plenty of time to work out the kinks and solidify his game. An experienced group of offensive coaches is vital.