DeShone Kizer, QB
School: Notre Dame | Conference: Independents
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 233 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd or 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Blake Bortles
DeShone Kizer will enter the NFL with a lot of the same concerns as the rest of the QB class. Large questions center around his readiness, a lot of people including myself think he should have stayed in school longer and his not ready to start in the NFL. Kizer took over the starting role in a somewhat unconventional manner. Former starter Everett Golston decided to transfer to Florida State in 2015 leaving the competition for QB between Kizer and Malik Zaire. Kizer was thrust into the starting role after Zaire was hurt and took over as a RS sophomore. The stat comparison looks similar but there is no doubt that the 2015 season had much better performances from Kizer. In 2016 coach Brian Kelly had the QB position up for grabs again and Kizer won again. Kizer didn't have complete autonomy or continuity as a starting QB should though. Kelly rotated Zaire and Kizer out of series in the beginning of the season and Kizer was benched a few times in favor of Zaire. I think it was a very strange approach and start to Notre’s Dame’s season especially when Kizer was clearly the better option all year long despite his lows.
Kizer has a lot to improve upon he needs to get better at reading defenses, going through his progressions, at times his accuracy is lacking to a devastating extent, his hesitation to make a decision at times is what most maddening for me, he also has a bad habit of chucking one up off his back foot, he has yet to throw with anticipation consistently instead he prefers his receivers wide open. With all of those faults, Kizer also has some really impressive NFL level skills. Most notably, his arm strength. He can make every throw on the field. At times he displays impressive pocket awareness and is able to navigate within it. He has decent mobility and while I don’t want him running much of the read option in the NFL he can take off when he needs to and extend plays. Kizer has tools to work with but he is a long term project who probably won't pay dividends for a team for at least a couple years. Not to go off on a prejudiced tangent but I think playing under Brian Kelly was horrible for his development due to Kelly’s personality and arguably his coaching style. If Kizer gets paired with the right coach he can blossom.
- Great size for the position and has a well-built frame. Played as heavy as 250 during the season but slimmed down into the low 230s.
- NFL-level arm strength when he has time to set his feet he throws one of the best deep balls in the calls with impressive touch and velocity. Throwing mechanics look good, his windup and release are quick and his lower half is in sync on these throws.
- Good awareness and mobility in the pocket. Taking off is not his default action even when a play breaks down. Has decent speed and power on designed runs to gain chunk yardage and move the chains. Smart enough to know when no to take punishment and slide or get out of bounds.
- Familiar with and had experience with pre-snap checks and reads, also offensive line protections.
- Tough and will stand in the pocket before he gets blasted and deliver a strike. Is a dual threat in the red zone with his running ability.
- His hesitation and consistent double clutches lead to late reads, late deliveries which overwhelming lead to bad results. At times he holds the ball too long leading to unnecessarily lost yardage.
- Does not consistently go through his progressions and see the field. If the play features a go right he is usually honed in on that receiver and route despite the coverage.
- Mechanics go down the drain when he is on the move and facing heat has a terrible habit of throwing off his back foot leading to underthrown balls or balls that sail over their target both with poor accuracy.
- Confidence took a shot after coaching antics. Here is a brief history of Brian Kelly.
- Doesn’t consistently throw with anticipation wants there to be a clear window before he releases the ball.
Let’s see his work:
After his comments on DeShone Kizer's NFL readiness. It has to be said at this point. What college kid would want to play for Brian Kelly?— jordan cornette (@jordancornette) April 3, 2017
Alright, fine, let's talk about what Brian Kelly said about Deshone Kizer. https://t.co/bOdbPnQQrf— Richard Johnson (@RJ_Writes) April 3, 2017
I am firmly in corner of Deshone Kizer needed another year, very much same thing w/ Trubisky, Evans, Kaaya too. All needed more seasoning— Ryan Booher (@bootang25) April 6, 2017
Here's a clip of DeShone Kizer on Gruden's QB camp: https://t.co/dYnrPcEWQN— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 27, 2017
Though I'm not partial to DeShone Kizer's upside, he appears to be systematically distinguishing himself among many of his QB class peers.— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) March 24, 2017
DeShone Kizer has the 'biggest upside of all the QBs,' ESPN's Todd McShay says after Notre Dame's Pro Day https://t.co/95vgyrQRid— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 23, 2017
Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer: "(Draft position) means absolutely nothing. I just want to be put in the right position that allows me to win."— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) March 23, 2017
Consider this when you hear people crapping on DeShone Kizer: Where would Trubisky be next year if he started at UNC? Lose 2 OL, best 2 WR— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) March 22, 2017
Love when DeShone Kizer does stuff like this. Good pocket awareness, solid feet & delivers to the middle. pic.twitter.com/nANqoQQlMQ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 1, 2017
DeShone Kizer doesn't get enough credit for his athletic ability. pic.twitter.com/9JVxZuvc1V— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) March 1, 2017
DeShone Kizer showing good patience for the play to develop, senses the pressure and extends the play to find the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/OyorlvhXrV— 49ers Hub (@49ersHub) February 6, 2017
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Kizer has a good number of visits and workouts from NFL teams set up including the usual suspects: Jets, 49ers, Bears, Browns but also has drawn interest from teams like the Chargers, Steelers, Chiefs, and Texans. The worst thing that can happen to Kizer in the NFL is he goes to one of those bottom tier teams and is forced into starting early. He simply is not ready. The best thing possible for Kizer is him going to a team with an established starter where he has at least a few years to be molded by a cemented NFL head coach and has time to adjust to an NFL offense and hopefully fix a lot of his bad habits. Kizer only has two years of starting experience so I hope if he is asked to play he is given the latitude to bomb out a couple times because he surely will before he gets better (sound familiar?).
If the Redskins were going to surprise and take a QB early in this draft my money would be in Kizer. It's possible he could still be on the board in the second round when the Redskins pick. This, of course, would be a better course of action for the team if Cousins is signed to a long-term deal before the draft which does not seem likely. I like Kizer but I have no delusions that he will be NFL ready this year, next year, or even the year after. He needs a good head and position coach to help him with his reads and accuracy issues. Jay Gruden and Matt Cavanaugh could be that duo but things are so up in the air with the Cousins situation I’m not sure if the Redskins want to dedicate the resources to build another QB. Wherever he lands if it clicks for Kizer he’s an 8-10 year starter at QB.