2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.

If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below.

This is a showcase of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Brad Kaaya / QB Miami 6’4 210 lbs

The Good:

– Accuracy: When Kaaya had a clean pocket and time to throw, he demonstrated consistent accuracy and great ball placement. Regardless of whether he was throwing bubble screens, deep outs, skinny posts, or verticals, he almost always put his receiver in the optimal situation to make a play and rarely required them to break stride or make significant adjustments when the ball was in the air.

– Play-Action: At times Kaaya was a magician with his play-action fakes and regularly fooled defenders (and the cameras) with who had the football. He exhibited a mastery of the fundamentals: good patience when entering and exiting the mesh-point with the running backs, extension of the ball to the running back with both hands, displaying an open/empty hand to the defense as he left the mesh, lingering his eyes/head on the run-action before beginning his rollout, and snapping his head back toward the field after completing the fake. Although he won’t have quite as much time in the NFL to use such prolonged fakes, the ball skills and deceptive ability will still transfer well.

– Velocity: From a practical standpoint, Kaaya has the arm strength required to make all the throws on an NFL route tree. He throws with a good amount of zip (with relatively little effort) and has no problem completing deep comebacks to the wide side of the field. He doesn’t have elite power in terms of his max throwing distance (his passes tended to float on deep verticals down the sidelines); however, he displayed an NFL-worthy arm by throwing the ball with strong velocity to nearly every part of the field.

– Footwork: On the whole, Kaaya has polished footwork, both from under center and from shotgun. He has a fluid drop back, can quickly separate from the line of scrimmage when starting from under center and almost always throws from a balanced position. When scanning the field, his feet move and reset synchronously with his eyes, keeping him constantly ready to throw.

– Size: Kaaya is built like a prototypical NFL pocket passer and he takes full advantage of his 6’4” frame. He’s still on the lighter side in terms of his weight; however, a professional training program should help him add some good lbs.

The Bad:

– Mobility: The huge, glaring problem in Kaaya’s game is his lack of mobility. Although he was a very capable passer when he had time and space, he struggled if forced to scramble or move laterally within the pocket. He had difficulty feeling incoming pressure and had poor agility when attempting to evade the rush. He was the definition of a statute in the pocket at times.

– Pocket Mechanics: Kaaya had a few undesirable (but correctable) habits when working in the pocket. First, his ball security was lax as he waited for receivers to finish their routes. He would often let the ball get away from his body as he maneuvered in the pocket or let his non-throwing hand lose contact with the ball. Second, when working from shotgun and after reaching the top of his drop-back, Kaaya sometimes had a mild case of “happy feet” by unnecessarily inching forward towards the LOS. Although harmless most of the time, this wasted movement could become more detrimental within smaller NFL pockets.

– Poor Competition: It was obvious that a lot of Kaaya’s success was a product of playing inferior teams with simplistic defenses. He frequently faced soft zone coverages with wide-open passing lanes and benefited from his receivers’ superior athleticism. To his credit, he took advantage of the situations he faced; however, it is still a factor to consider when projecting his readiness for the next level. Kaaya went 1-1 in Miami’s two games against ranked teams in 2016 (beating No.16 West Virginia and losing to No.23 Florida State).

Other:

– Throwing Motion: Kaaya’s throwing motion is good, but not great. He has a small looping movement within his delivery but still manages to finish with an over-the-top release. He occasionally pats the ball before starting his motion, which can both tip off defenses and prolong his release time. Additionally, his motion is not always the most consistent, as his follow-through was sometimes sporadic (without reason) during games. None of these glitches caused major accuracy or timing issues at Miami; however, it’s possible that their effects become more pronounced in the NFL.

– Pro-Readiness: Kaaya played in a pro-style/spread hybrid offense. He regularly took snaps from under center and has experience with pro-style plays (Miami ran a lot of bootlegs and quick 5-step drops without a reset). As previously mentioned; however, a big caveat to his pro-readiness is his minimal experience against quality opponents and his limited exposure to sophisticated defenses.

Bio:

– Career Passing: 39 Starts (23 wins, 16 losses), 60.6% completion rate, 9,968 yards (255.5 avg.), 69 TD 24 INT
– Finished his career as Miami’s all-time leader in in yards, completions, and attempts. Also, Kaaya finished with the third-most touchdown passes in school history.
– In 2016, Kaaya led Miami to its first bowl victory in 10 years by beating No.16 West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP.

Film Breakdown:

– A few examples of Kaaya’s excellent play-action technique. First, against Appalachian State, he slow plays the mesh-point with the running back, hides the ball against his chest, fakes with an open hand and draws the defense into the run-action. Moreover, before Kaaya transitions into his rollout, he locates the edge rusher by looking over his opposite shoulder. This allows him to both sell the fake more convincingly and determine whether there is going to be pressure in his face when he flips his head back towards the field.  Textbook fake:

– Against Pitt, Kaaya again demonstrates great play-action fundamentals and totally fools the edge rusher:


– A few things to notice on this next play against Georgia Tech. First, Kaaya showcases his arm strength and accuracy with a pinpoint throw on a deep out (from the opposite hash) against GT’s Cover 3. He holds the safety with his eyes on the first step of his drop back and then places the ball along the sideline where only his receiver can get it. Great trajectory on the pass as well. Second, as mentioned above, Kaaya has the small, bad habit of patting the ball before his release. This is not a fatal flaw by any means, but it nevertheless is an area that can be improved:

– Lastly, a few examples of Kaaya’s lack of mobility in the pocket. Here against North Carolina, he feels the pressure but lacks urgency as he steps up. Additionally, he allows the ball to get away from his body as he shuffles forward, making it easier for the defender to force the fumble. This is obviously a tough play, given that the rush is coming from his blindside; however, it is still representative of how he generally responded to pressure:

– Against Georgia Tech, Kaaya again fails to sense the pressure, this time coming from his front side. Plays like these were not uncommon:

– Overall, I think that while Kaaya had a successful career with the Hurricanes, his ceiling in the NFL will probably be as an above-average game-manager. He has a strong arm, generally takes care of the football, and takes what the defense gives him. However, unless he lands on a team with an exceptional offensive line or improves his mobility, his current lack of evasiveness and pocket awareness will continue to be a major weakness that limit his potential.

Projection: Early Day 3

Games Watched: (all from 2016) – vs Appalachian State, at Georgia Tech, at Notre Dame, vs Pitt, vs North Carolina, vs. West Virginia

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinley

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • Spencer Krick

    Man, I like this kid. I’d be very happy if we took him in the 4th. I want my backup QB to be an accurate game manager that doesn’t turn the ball over.

    Side note: Nojku really pops on tape.

  • falconsaftey43

    I pretty much agree with you across the board on this one. If he could be had in round 4, I’d really like him. He can be a very very good backup IMO, and an ok starter that could get it done with a good team around him. Would seem to be a perfect fit for where the Steelers are in their QB situation. Too soon to gamble in the 1st round with a guy you don’t 100% love. But also don’t want to draft a pure developmental tools guy that has little chance of ever working out. Low ceiling, high floor guy like Kayaa would avoid a massive decline after Ben leaves, and provide great backup until that point. Also wouldn’t prevent team from drafting a higher end prospect after Ben does hang them up.

  • PaeperCup

    Sounds like a capable backup.

  • McBringleberry

    I would be very happy with Kaaya in the 4th. Overall, I agree with this scouting report. I would also add Kaaya’s intangibles into the Good section. He was a poised starter week 1 as a true freshman. And from all accounts, he was a leader on the team and a really good kid that loves football. I think he can be a successful starter in the league

  • McBringleberry

    Njoku is a beast. his combine numbers are going to be insane and I think he’ll go before #30. I also really like WR Coley and RB Yeaby if they fell to day 3. I would take an all Canes day 3 to fill out our offensive depth

  • falconsaftey43

    I really like Coley and Yearby as well. Yearby seems to have really low stock since he was passed on the depth chart this year, but I really like him.

  • Spencer Krick

    Two names I’ll look into, thanks 🙂

    I did see a bit of Coley, but not enough to have an opinion.

  • John Westbrook

    Can anyone tell me if he can throw a deep ball? haven’t seen it.

  • falconsaftey43

    Depends on where you draw the line for deep ball. Seen him throw some nice go balls about 35 yards down field to sideline from far hash. Not rocket arm, but can make those throws. Go watch some Stacy Coley or Njoku highlights. Probably easier to find some deep balls in those clips than looking through Kaaya’s film.

  • NinjaMountie

    One of my interesting prospects at QB is Brady Gustafson from Montana. Tall kid with a really good arm. I don’t think anyone even has him going in the draft but I think there is something to him. Interesting prospect to say the least.
    Terrell from W Michigan is interesting as well

  • Bobby hains

    This guy could turn out possibly to be really good more than just a capable back up…the reason i say that is..because look at Russell Wilson as a example or MCcarron from the Bengals an i think everyone would agree if you have seen MCcarron play before he should be a starting QB from the Bengals on alot of teams B. kaaya looks alot like him! Same type build an throwing… These days teams sometimes find a gem in later rounds in the draft look at T.Brady 6th round so i would totally take a shot on Kaaya

  • SoCal Steeler

    Great work, Sean! I’m at work so I’ll have to check Kaaya out more later.He does sound like a possible good backup/ fringe starter. The guy that really intrigues me though is Chad Kelly, a possibe franchise type that you may be able to get in the same draft range or later than Kaaya due to his Injury and checkered past. You’d just have to make sure you jump before Buffalo. Ben would be a perfect mentor for him with the way he turned around his troubled past. Can you guys do an evaluation on him? Thanks!

  • deh2002

    Solid pass, I’d rather wait for the kid from USC to come out.
    Steelers really need to think about trading up in the draft in the next couple of seasons in order to draft a replacement for Ben.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I watched a couple of games he played in and wasn’t at all impressed by him but that was earlier in the year. Maybe he improved as the year went on but what I have seen he is a no but will watch more tape.

  • steelburg

    If we are talking about pure drop back pocket passers Kizer and Kaaya are 1 and 2 on my list in this draft class. Kaaya reminds me a lot of Matt Ryan. He isn’t being talked about a lot but I think he is a guy that can easily rise and land in the late 2nd round.

  • Rocksolid20

    If we want him , better jump on him in Rd 3 , he may even be gone before that .

  • If Steelers are undefeated when Mr. McKaveny attends the game, we should all throw in and make sure he’s at the playoff games next year. Anyway, this guy seems like he could be a decent backup. I like QBs who are more mobile in the pocket and can avoid sacks. But I guess as long as the line can keep him clean, that wouldn’t be as much of a worry. Not crazy about his arm strength either. I like QBs who can launch the football downfield and stretch the defense, making use of guys like Bryant and Coates. This guy here would probably love having a receiver like Brown to work with. Then again, what QB wouldn’t

  • Don’t you guys normally have links at the bottom of these pages to other players that you’ve broken down. Like the guys name in hyperlink so that we can go through them all, or something like that. Makes it easier when i get the time i can keep up with who you’ve looked at. Thanks anyway though, good breakdown

  • Terrible Towlie

    another laundry jones