Mitch Trubisky burst onto quarterback prospect radars with a superb junior season at North Carolina, cashing in his one season as a starter for a chance to play at the next level. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson’s excellence has been on display for a while now, but stormed to the top of the draft charts because of his performances against Alabama in each of the last two national championship games.
With Trubisky and Watson making significant gains in 2016, it’s easy for DeShone Kizer – whose results in 2016 were down – to get lost in the shuffle. But let’s be clear, he won’t be lost for much longer.
Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin writes that Kizer is the Bears’ best quarterback option in the draft. Listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Kizer looks the part of a prototypical quarterback. He also threw for 5,805 yards, 47 touchdowns, and rushed for 18 more in 25 games for the Fighting Irish. Translating his raw college numbers into NFL data, Kizer posted a 98.6 passer efficiency rating. Overall, these are good numbers that suggest Durkin’s top-15 projection is spot on.
But that tells only part of the story.
Kizer played his best as a redshirt sophomore in 2015, playing with four top-100 draft picks, with left tackle Ronnie Stanley (6th overall), wide receiver Will Fuller (21st), center Nick Martin (50th), and running back C.J. Prosise (90th). That is quality protection on the offensive line with two top-50 selections, while throwing to a first-round wide receiver, with a third-round running back who can make plays as a rusher and receiver lined up behind him.
The drop off to what Kizer had to work with as a junior at Notre Dame was steep, and the results showed it, but perhaps a change of scenery with an upgrade in talent and professional coaching will help him get back on the right track.
You’ll want to read Durkin’s breakdown in full to get a more complete grasp of Kizer’s skills and what he potentially brings to the table as a quarterback prospect.
Also on the analytical end, Greg Gabriel recently put his scouting eye to Kizer.
Gabriel, who worked in scouting for 30 years – including a stint as the Bears’ scouting director, says he has no doubt that Kizer is the most talented quarterback in his class, citing his size, throwing arm strength (60+ yards in the air), and ability to be what he describes to be a “punishing runner” because of his size and speed. This isn’t the first time Gabriel has shown to be high on Kizer. In October, Gabriel noted Kizer’s strong early season play came despite playing with inexperienced receivers and a re-worked offensive line. Back in December, he wrote that even though Kizer might not be the first or second quarterback chosen, he believes Kizer will prove to be the best of the group. And in August, Gabriel tweeted that Kizer has the talent to be a top-5.
There is no denying Kizer’s tangibles. Size, arm strength, and running ability are important tools for any quarterback’s arsenal. But the intangibles, such as decision making and leadership, are two areas that can’t be easily quantified and play an equal role in whether or not a quarterback is successful. If the intangibles don’t aid the raw skill, then the Bears – or any team that drafts Kizer – will likely go back to the drawing board in search of a quarterback fit.
For what it’s worth, NFL analyst Mike Mayock believes Kizer is the best quarterback prospect in this draft. Kizer was among the quarterbacks invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, so we’ll keep close tabs on how he progresses through the week’s activities.