DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame [QB] – Tom Like

Name: DeShone Kizer

Position: Quarterback

School: Notre Dame

Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 233lb

Games Watched:

2015 – Clemson, USC, Stanford, Temple, Ohio State

2016 – Texas, Nevada, Michigan State, Duke, Stanford, Miami

Overview:

As a redshirt freshman (2015) he played in all 13 games and started the final 11. Went 210 for 224 (62.9%) for 2,880 yards (8.6 yards/att) with 21 TDs and 10 INTs, QB Rating of 150.06. He also added 10 TDs and 520 rushing yards off 134 attempts (3.88 avg). Finished the season with a 10-3 record before losing the Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State.

In 2016, Kizer started all 12 games and went 212 for 361 (58.7%) for 2,925 yards (8.1 yards/att) with 26 TDs and 9 INTs, QB Rating of 145.47. He added 8 TDs and 472 rushing yards off 129 attempts (3.66 avg). Finished the season with a 4-8 record (school’s lowest since 2007).

(Photo source: Charles LeClaire/ USA TODAY Sports)

 

Strengths

DeShone Kizer could be the new prototype QB, a big, athletic passer with exceptional arm talent. To fully appreciate Kizer’s talents you have to go back to the 2015 tape. He has great chemistry with Will Fuller,  plays behind an O-Line that holds up in pass protection and has receivers who are able to create separation.

 

He’s a polished pocket passer who can make every throw. He routinely throws open receivers and has excellent timing and anticipation. Kizer is very comfortable playing inside the pocket and shows excellent footwork and feel, regularly climbing the pocket to avoid pressure and making subtle movements to escape the rush – all the time with his eyes down field. He has a cannon of an arm and can push the ball to each level with relative easy. His smooth throwing motion combined with arm strength allows him to make every throw with minimum effort. Kizer has the willingness and arm talent to challenge safeties on intermediate and deep throws.

DeShone Kizer is impressive throwing on the run. He can deliver lasers while rolling out of the pocket, something that is important with NFL teams increasing incorporating more movement-based throws into their game plan. He also displays great patience in the pocket. Against the blitz he shows courage and determination, standing tall with defenders baring down on him. Nobody can question his toughness as he routinely takes a beat in the pocket, holding the ball for half a second longer to allow routes to develop – knowing he’s going to get lit up. He keeps his eyes down field and shows good field vision, working through his progressions. Mechanically, when Kizer is confident and in-rhythm he looks NFL ready. He delivers strikes from a balanced platform and his feet and eyes work in unison. He holds the ball high and has  quick overhand delivery facilitating a quick release.

Kizer can execute every QB run (zone-read, draws and powers) and has sneaky speed which causes Linebackers to over pursue and miss the tackle. Kizer’s quickness, agility and size allow him to break tackles in the open field and makes him difficult to sack in the pocket. Kizer is a two-way threat in the red zone. His thick frame should allow him to withstand NFL punishment and his powerful grips allows aggressive pump fakes to move the defense around.

A+ arm talent, big frame, rugged runner, ability to beat the defense at every level and able to sustain drives through his arm and legs.

 

Weaknesses

The 4-8 record will worry some teams. Franchises want proven winners and while Kizer was successful as a redshirt freshman, his record as a sophomore could be a stain on many report cards. A notable statistics is that Kizer had the ball late with a chance to win in 7 of these losses. His up and down combine performance also means the ‘Kizer hype-train’ never took off in scouting circles.

In 2016, he looked nothing like the fire-breathing ultra confident QB we saw in 2015. Granted, Kizer was exceptional in the season-opener against Texas, throwing for 5 TDs, 0 INTs and adding another score with his legs. But it soon went down hill the rest of the year and Kizer was very inconsistent – a word you see associated with him a lot! Kizer most likely suffered a loss of confidence which stemmed from an off-season where Head Coach Brian Kelly was non-committal and refused to rule out Malik Zaire from the running (Kizer replaced Zaire in week 3 of 2015, when Zaire suffered a fractured ankle). Looking over his shoulder the whole time was not ideal for Kizer’s development and the pair actually split snaps in the Texas game, despite Kizer’s impressive numbers.

All of Kizer’s weaknesses can be tweaked and polished by a good QB coach (‘whisperer’) in the NFL. He doesn’t always trust what he sees and takes too many sacks as a result of this. He’s also an inconsistent decision maker, especially late in games and struggles with short area accuracy at times. Like nearly all college QBs, Kizer will need to develop working and operating from under center. At times, he gets stuck on a primary read and can become too reliant upon arm strength over mechanics late in games. His inconsistency also leads to overthrows. However, in every game I watched from 2016, I saw at least two costly drops and receivers who were struggling to get open. His poor supporting cast is a big factor in the drop off between 2015 and 2016.

 

Bottom Line

DeShone Kizer is Mike Mayock’s No.1 ranked QB – one of the few analysts who have him there. I also have Kizer at Number 1 as he has the greatest upside of any of the QBs in this years draft. He has ideal height, weight, size and speed and has A+ arm talent to compliment. Kizer is a QB who can challenge Defenses in a variety of ways with QB runs having to be accounted for on every play. He never appears rattled no matter the down-or-distance and is a perfect example of why you should judge prospects on their film, rather than their box score.

He could be a Carson Palmer/ Ben Roethlisberger-type big play weapon from the pocket who can challenge Defenses at every level and part of the field. Yet he has the athletic ability, size and running style of Cam Newton who can fight for extra yards and are able to go blow-for-blow with linebackers.

His mobility and accuracy on the move will allow offensive coordinators to be more creative and buy him more time when facing elite pass rushes. He has solid mechanics and need a Head Coach and OC who will put their arm round his shoulder and coach him up during a redshirt rookie seaosn. Kizer could develop into a Pro-Bowl caliber QB who is able to drive Offenses down the field and force teams to play two-high safeties on every play. He has the potential to be the new prototype that NFL teams look for in the quarterback position.

 

Grade

Middle of 1st Round

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