One of the bigger news in the college football world is DeShone Kizer forgoing the rest of his eligibility to enter the NFL draft. I can’t speak for each and every Irish fan, but I think I speak for many when I say that I’m not surprised to see this.
In 23 games as a starting quarterback, Kizer was 12-11, which includes a loss in last year’s Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State. He threw for over 5,800 yards, 47 touchdowns and 19 picks in his ND career. On the ground, he rushed for over 990 yards with 19 touchdowns. He had just been named MVP for the season (deservingly so), and a captain on next year’s team.
Standing at 6’4″ and 230 pounds, there’ no doubting Kizer’s size. For a big guy, he can move too, as his stats prove. Scouts love Kizer’s leadership, his arm strength, and his ability to evade the rush. Kizer was one of, if not the only college quarterback this year capable of calling audibles at the line of scrimmage without the aid of coaches on the sideline. In today’s NFL, that’s a huge plus for teams looking at him.
He was seen as a potential #1 overall pick at some points this season, but a shoddy finish likely tarnished those chances. Still, I see Kizer as a late-first round to early second round pick. I think that his size and speed is ideal for a quarterback in the modern NFL, and I don’t think there’s a throw on the field he can’t make. He’s a leader, and despite his record, he’s a winner (every Irish loss, except for the USC game, was by one score. Often times, the result of the game was out of Kizer’s hands).
Kizer doesn’t come without weaknesses. I do think his biggest detriment is that he becomes careless with the ball when he’s under pressure and there’s no running lane. He tends to chuck it up and hope for the best, which you absolutely cannot do. I find him to be rather streaky too – he can hit someone in stride 40 yards down the field, but then he misses a bubble screen, which is simply unacceptable.
In comparison to DeShaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky, the other two highly-touted quarterbacks likely to enter this year’s draft, I would take Kizer. I see Trubisky as a safe pick – I don’t think he’s a star, but I think he’s a quality player (think Kirk Cousins). Watson could really go either way, but his ceiling is sky-high if he cuts down his turnovers and can successfully adjust to the pro game (potentially Cam Newton? That’s an easy comparison, but still).
Drafting is such an imperfect science that it’s hard to pencil anyone in as a sure thing. However, there’s a few potential landing spots that Kizer could shine with. I think teams like the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, and Kansas City Chiefs are organizations that could (and probably should) start thinking about a quarterback for the future. Teams like the Browns, Jets and 49ers could use one right away, so obviously their opinion on Kizer depends largely on his Pro Day, Combine, and so on.
Ultimately I think that Kizer is a worthwhile prospect that could have a good career in the NFL. So much of an athlete’s success is dependent upon the situation they find themselves in, but he’s got the tools. It’s no secret that I’ve always been a fan of his. It shouldn’t be a secret that I was selfishly pulling for one more season in South Bend. But I wish nothing but the best to DeShone Kizer in the rest of his football journey.
Cover photo from Cleveland.com.