DeShone Kizer: I can be greatest quarterback ever to play in
by ironcityirish (2017-04-20 17:11:26)
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DeShone Kizer: I can be greatest quarterback ever to play in NFL
Tom Pelissero , USA TODAY Sports 4:18 p.m. ET April 20, 2017
NFL Draft 2017: Which quarterbacks will go...
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USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero examines the 5 quarterback prospects that have the best chance of being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. USA TODAY Sports


SOUTH BEND, Ind. – DeShone Kizer paused the video and rattled off everything that would have to be perfect for him to run the play as called in Notre Dame’s opener last season against Texas.

The defensive tackle is in the correct spot, but not the Longhorns’ best defender, a linebacker who’s in blitz position off the edge of the formation, right where the run is supposed to go.

“So now I’m up there checking the play,” Kizer told USA TODAY Sports, letting the tape roll again and watching himself make the change from his seat at the back of the Fighting Irish quarterbacks meeting room. “Instead of running at Malik Jefferson, let’s run it inside where I’m away from him. That’s exactly what we get to. So now we’re inside zone, I read that end, we cut back off of him and we’re off to the races.”

No quarterback prospect in next week’s NFL draft has been picked apart quite like Kizer since he declared in the wake of Notre Dame’s 4-8 finish and his own uneven play. Depending whom you ask inside the league, he could be just the fourth or fifth QB taken after North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Cal’s Davis Webb. But if you want to buy Kizer as a worthy first-round pick, this is a good place to start.

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In the spread offense era of college football, where most coaches keep things simple for players and try to win with pure speed and precision, Kizer had what former Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford calls a “really rare” level of control – the ability to not only choose and manipulate protections, but manipulate the calls themselves. Run to run. Run to pass. Pass to run. And not just a “kill” call to a predetermined alternative. The playbook was at Kizer’s disposal.

Of course, that can cause problems when you’re running with a bunch of freshman receivers trying to remember hand signals and route depths with the game on the line. (Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly simplified things late in the season for a reason.) But Kizer has left little doubt he has the mental bandwidth required of NFL quarterbacks. And for a stretch during his nearly two seasons as the starter, Kizer’s size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), skills and production in that complicated system suggested he should be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.

“Name a college quarterback who goes into the game-plan meetings on Monday and throws his notes at the coaches,” Kizer said. “No one else game plans the way I do. No one else prepares the way I do. No one else knows football the way I do. No one else is as big as I am. No one else is as powerful a runner as I am. Pat Mahomes might throw the ball 80 yards and I can only throw the ball 72, but I guarantee he can’t throw an out route the way I can.

“No one else can do what I can do. And I’ve truly figured out in this (draft) process, if I can maximize all my potential in every aspect of the game – this is bold – I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play. Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”

The concerns about Kizer

There are two primary threads of concern among NFL scouts and coaches about Kizer – one he mostly agrees with, and another he strongly rejects.

The first is accuracy, which hasn’t been good enough. Kizer completed 62.9% of his passes as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and just 58.7% in 2016, when he and coaches kept trying to adjust his mechanics. He can pull up three examples of the exact same play from the same game on tape and his footwork looks a little different in each of them. Operating mostly from the shotgun, Kizer wasn’t even consistent on which foot was back at the snap, and didn’t know it until he saw the tape. He admits he had other worries as things unraveled – competing with junior Malik Zaire, getting booed going into the tunnel, getting benched.

Since December, Kizer has worked with a QB coach, Zac Robinson, on honing his identity as a passer. It was ugly when he tried to show off the adjustments at the scouting combine in early March. (“I started over-exaggerating,” he said.) His pro day was better, though his ball placement still wasn’t perfect. He has continued to concentrate on not over-striding. In private workouts with a half-dozen NFL teams, Kizer said, he’s throwing the best of his life.

“I figured out I’m at my best when my left hand’s locked in, my body’s balanced, I’ve got a little knee bend in my front leg as I throw the ball, I take a short step and I rip it,” he said.

DeShone Kizer has rejected any notions that he isn't
DeShone Kizer has rejected any notions that he isn't committed to football and improving as a QB. (Photo: Tom Pelissero, USA TODAY Sports)
The second concern is less quantifiable. Going back to the fall, when Kelly didn’t give Kizer all the practice reps or really commit to him until after an October benching against Stanford, the word getting back to NFL scouts is there may be a problem with desire. Is Kizer committed to doing what it takes to be great? Or is he more concerned with living the life and getting the spoils of being good?

It’s no accident Kizer avoided marketing deals, stayed off social media and did few interviews like this one over the past four months. He and his agents wanted to make clear he was focused solely on football. But the questions have persisted.

Part of the perception, Kizer thinks, stems from one of his regrets last season: he wasn’t visible enough as a leader. He’s naturally introverted in his preparation. Yes, he was often the first one out of the locker room. But he says that was to get away from the high emotions of practice. He’d see his tutor, do his homework and then come back late at night, when he could dim the lights in this QB room, put on country music and let himself become the player he was watching on the screen, alone. He also understands that if young teammates never saw him watching film, it’d be tough to convince them to.

“For (anyone) to say I don’t love the game or I don’t have the passion to be great – go spend one day in the Kizer household, I dare you,” Kizer said. “My dad told me when I was 12, quote: ‘I’m not paying for your college. Either you’re going to the military or you’re getting an athletic scholarship.’ And Lord knows I was never killing anyone and I wasn’t getting killed. So sports have always been my life. Winning has always been my life. I’ve never been a loser until this last year.”

So how would life be if he’s not great in the NFL?

“I’d be miserable,” Kizer said. “I’d be out there grinding my ass off until I was. I don’t know anything other than that.”

The answers will keep coming

While Kelly raised eyebrows a couple weeks ago by telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that Kizer needs more time to grow on and off field and “should still be in college” – an assertion Kizer doesn’t necessarily disagree with, though he thinks he’ll be ready to play as an NFL rookie – Sanford has been a staunch and vocal supporter of his former QB.

“He’s an absolute joy to coach, because he can conceptualize things way faster than most of the quarterbacks I’ve been around, without having to draw it up or put it on film,” said Sanford, now head coach at Western Kentucky. “How many of these other quarterbacks have completely managed protections with live bullets coming at the largest stadiums in college football? How many of these other quarterbacks have manipulated the run game to make sure you’re not running bad runs into bad looks?

“The risk side of it is going to be he hasn’t played more than two years of college football. He is a larger athlete, so there’s always going to be that fine-tuning of the mechanics. But the reward for me is you have a 6-4, 225-plus quarterback that’s going to be able to stand up to the daunting physical aspect at the NFL level.”


Love it. Here is the best draft outcome for him
by BIGGS  (2017-04-22 18:57:22)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

He slips to the end of the second round and New England drafts him. He sits for Brady's last three years and then he takes over. He would be ruined if he was drafted by a terrible team at the top of the first round and then thrown in as a starter. I am routing for him to be drafted by NE.


he left out - "...and the humility of Kanye..." *
by cujaysfan  (2017-04-21 13:23:30)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Because humility is what really counts in sports. *
by dentonfreeman  (2017-04-21 13:34:59)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


batteries, m'man *
by cujaysfan  (2017-04-21 19:00:33)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


This tells you a lot about last season and his Kelly
by SEE  (2017-04-21 10:46:24)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Relationship

“Name a college quarterback who goes into the game-plan meetings on Monday and throws his notes at the coaches,” Kizer said.


He keeps slipping down the draft board, Kiper now has him
by TWO  (2017-04-21 08:20:23)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

in the 3rd round, Nathan Peterman has passed him.


This is reminding me a bit of Jaylon Smith's slip last year.
by bleedsgreen04  (2017-04-21 18:28:50)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I felt like quite a bit of that was fueled by rumors and hearsay as well, and I'd say the Cowboys were the primary beneficiaries of him slipping down the charts.

This year I'd wager some team will snag Kizer up at a great discount and I wouldn't put it past them to be a bit of the instigators in this whole thing as well. The Chiefs sudden enthusiasm for the Texas Tech guy who is shorter and more spastic than Kizer reeks of BS to me, for example, and now some team will move up to snag him "while they still can" and leave Kizer sitting around for a more patient team.


Good. If he makes it to the 3rd round, maybe Steelers will
by btd  (2017-04-21 18:01:59)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

take him.


He's slipping down Kiper's draft board
by YinzKeenanVisor  (2017-04-21 12:38:18)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

He may very well be the #1 QB on a half dozen teams' boards.


Kiper just had him going in the 1st RD like a week ago *
by celtic745  (2017-04-21 12:21:26)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


wow, BK did the kid no favors *
by ColoNDFan  (2017-04-21 11:22:56)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Not sure it really hurt him either
by Vairish84  (2017-04-21 17:55:27)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Kelly generally praised him, but said he should have stayed. That is consistent with what pretty much every respected analyst has said. I also don't think if Kelly had said Kizer was perfect that anyone would have believed him.


I surmise that NFL coaches aren't thrilled about having
by ACross  (2017-04-21 12:29:34)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

to erase everything a QB knows about offense and start over from scratch.


That's basically what they have to do w/ every QB now
by YinzKeenanVisor  (2017-04-21 12:36:24)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Each of Kizer's main competitors (Watson, Trubisky, Mahomes, and Webb) this year played in a spread, and rarely called plays in a huddle, audibled or changed protections on his own, made whole-field reads, or took a snap from under center.

They all face steep learning curves and have little tape that's relatable to most NFL offenses.

But I'm sure the NFL wonders about Kizer's physical habits and psyche, and whether Kelly's irreparably harmed him in either respect.


Coaches and scouts have ways of asking QBs about things like
by miamioh_irishfan  (2017-04-21 12:54:30)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

protections and reads, coupling it with what they see on tape and in person about how they throw the ball to all levels of the field, from various release points, with touch and on a rope and coming up with a pretty good profile.

That they don't like how Deshone did some of those things last year - compared to some of the other prospects, including the late surge of Mahomes - shouldn't be terribly surprising. He might be in that top 5 group, but somebody has to be 4/5 and it might be Kizer.


I think Kelly's spread system is particularly putrid
by ACross  (2017-04-21 12:45:49)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.


It is indeed
by YinzKeenanVisor  (2017-04-21 12:58:21)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

But its wretchedness stems partly from the un-spread-like, pseudo-professional burden it places on the QB.

Kizer and his predecessors have all had a lot more on their plate, pre- and post-snap, than many of their collegiate counterparts, and certainly more than the guys running the Air Raid stuff at Cal and Texas Tech, or the run-based spreads at Oregon, OSU and Clemson.

So, in some ways, Kizer will actually be more prepared, in that he will at least recognize what NFL teams are doing and teaching. But the why and the how and the when may be all mixed up in his head.

Some of these guys are blank slates.

Kizer is not. There's a foundation there, but it's wobbly, and may require a complete tear down.


I tend to disagree
by ACross  (2017-04-21 13:20:19)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

One of many inherent flaws in Kelly's system (and it isn't necessarily unique to his system, but but just particularly true of his system), is that the "checks" are dependent on defensive "looks" at the line of scrimmage (as read by the coaching staff. The problem is, the defensive coaches know exactly what plays Kelly tends to switch into if presented with certain looks, so they set him and the QB up for failure.

In other words, the advantage of many spread offenses is that they keep the defenses on their heels and dictate to the defense with the speed of play and frequency of play. Kelly's system is reactive and herky jerky and palsied.


Most spread teams do a variation of that
by YinzKeenanVisor  (2017-04-21 13:40:40)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Yes, Clemson and Oregon and others can and do go super up-tempo a few series each game, and run a handful of plays at warp speed, and try not to change the play before the snap. And - to me - they're most fun to watch when they're doing that (and the offensive players, and o-linemen in particular, seem to enjoy that the most).

But, on most series, and in most spreads, they are (rapidly) signaling in the plays from the sideline; doing a quick dummy count; turning to the sideline for a possible check, based on the defense's reaction to the dummy count; and then proceeding with or changing the play, based on signals from the sideline.

We - of course: rarely if ever go up-tempo; almost exclusively try to ensure we're in the "best" play, given the defensive alignment; and put at least some of the onus for making that determination and change on the QB. We also do all of that slowly, predictably, and then frantically and ineffectively.

We agree on the overarching point: Kelly's spread system is the suckiest of the spreads.

It is somehow both too complex (for the QB), and too predictable; too slow and too chaotic; too soft and too risky.

It wastes and breaks players and - with the exception of 2015 - has never been anything approaching a Top 25 offense, in any meaningful category.


So be dismissive of Gruden too, who rated him < 1st Rnd. *
by Indy77  (2017-04-21 11:32:24)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Not an accurate characterization of what he said.
by btd  (2017-04-21 20:06:46)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Gruden actually rated Kizer as being similar to Aaron Rodgers. Gruden actually said he is a #1 draft pick that needs to be a backup for a few years the same way Aaron Rodgers and some others were.

He said if you are into metrics, this is your guy. What that means is draft this guy #1 so you get him before someone else does, because he can be a franchise QB if you are willing to wait two years with him backing up another QB.

Gruden was speaking to teams like the Steelers -- who can wait 2 years, but when Big Ben retires they need a rock star QB to step in. That is by definition what Kizer is.

Some falsely translate what Gruden said into he's not a first round QB. No. He said he isn't a QB you draft and start year one. Don't confuse that with meaning he is not a first round QB. Heck, Big Ben was drafted first round and the Steelers expected to sit him for at least one year. He only played his rookie year because the starter got injured in the 2nd game of the season.


Whatever you read is disputed by these quotes from JG....
by Indy77  (2017-04-22 15:45:47)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

“I did like his obvious size and the strength of his arm is impressive,” Gruden said of Kizer. “Would I use a first round pick on him? Probably not. I don’t think the body of work is complete. There are some things that he’s got to resolve in terms of end-of-game situations, winning, there’s some things he’s still a little rough around the edges.

“From a talent standpoint he’s got a lot of ability. He’s athletic, he’s tough and he’s got a cannon for an arm. I do think I would probably have a hard time taking him in the first round this year.”


So one is Kizer's head coach, & the other is ESPN's qb guru. *
by art fern  (2017-04-21 12:00:05)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Why, did Gruden coach him?
by Hanratty5ND  (2017-04-21 11:51:38)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Kelly not only screwed up Kizer with his bullshit coaching--he threw him under the bus for all the NFL ears that are willing to listen.


The NFL knew everything about Kizer prior to Kelly's comment *
by Indy77  (2017-04-22 15:40:58)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Good for him. He should be confident. He is very gifted.
by Santos L Halper  (2017-04-20 19:33:50)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

If he had a decent coach, he would be using those gifts for ND again next year. Instead, he was coached by a purple headed dick.


ND needs more players like Kizer.
by MobileIrish  (2017-04-21 11:25:21)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Talented, smart, confident.

Kelly, on the other hand...


ESPN is on in the waiting room.
by The Holtz Room  (2017-04-20 18:32:23)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Michael Smith and Jemele Hill backed him saying something along the lines of "changing the narrative after the comments Kelly made".

McShay focused on Kizer's immaturity.

Todd is still a penis is a bad suit.


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