2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer


From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to examine as many prospects as possible and showcase both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#14 DeShone Kizer / QB / Notre Dame: 6’4 ½” 230lbs

The Good:

– Great Size: 6’4 ½” 230lbs
– Deceptive Speed and Mobility: extends plays, makes defenders miss, and picks up first downs on the ground
– Naturally Talented Thrower: can throw from a variety arm angles with different body positions
– Throws a great deep ball
– Very good on intermediate in-breaking routes (digs, over-routes, seems)
– Excellent Pump-Faking
– Experience audibling at the line and changing protection schemes
– Good touch and ability to drop the ball in over linebackers
– Dangerous Red-Zone Runner

The Bad:


– General inconsistency: accuracy, footwork, ball placement, throwing motion, field vision
– Pro-Readiness: never took snaps from under-center or called plays from a huddle
– Lazy ball security in the pocket: tended to let his non-throwing hand lose contact with the ball has he surveyed the field
– Carried the ball very low on his chest during drop backs; increasing his release time and negatively affecting his accuracy
– Struggles on out-breaking routes: tends to throw low on speed-outs and curls, very sporadic on shallow crossers

Bio:

– Career Passing: 24 starts (13 wins, 10 losses), 60.7% completion rate, 5,805 yards (241.9 avg.), 47 TD 19 INT
– Career Rushing: 264 carries, 997 yards, 18 TD
– Won the Notre Dame Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2015 after going 9-2 as the starting quarterback
– Threw for a career-high 471 yards with 3 TD and 1 INT against Syracuse in 2016.

Film Breakdown:

There is a lot to like about DeShone Kizer’s game; he’s a dual-threat with great physical attributes, excellent instincts, and tons of raw potential. He makes some genuinely spectacular plays that hint at a great NFL future. However, for Kizer to develop into a true franchise quarterback, he must become more consistent in the fundamentals of the position. He often relies too much on his natural talent and not enough on proven techniques, leading to inaccurate passes and missed opportunities. Below are few examples of both the good and the bad:

Kizer’s arm strength and deep-ball ability are some of the first things that jump out on film.  Regardless of whether he is passing from the pocket or on the run, he can be deadly on verticals down the sideline or deep posts down the middle.  Here is a clip from Notre Dame’s game against Michigan State where Kizer hits his receiver perfectly in-stride from the opposite hash, on a throw that travels 50 yards in the air:

Kizer’s athleticism and deceptive quickness also immediately stand out. He repeatedly showed that he could beat defenders around the edge for first downs and, if necessary, bulldoze his way into the end zone. On this 29-yard run against Texas, he showcases both his speed and strength by breaking a tackle to start the play and then outrunning a defender for the score:

Despite playing in a spread offense, Kizer showed he could throw from small pockets into tight coverage windows.  He needs to become more consistent, but passes like this next clip against Texas illustrate his NFL potential.  With the rush closing, he stands tall and drops a pinpoint pass between three defenders.  This is a throw that will draw the attention of a lot of pro scouts:

On the negative side, Kizer’s mediocre fundamentals sometimes cause accuracy and ball placement problems. For example, rather than initiating his throwing motion from the same position on his body each play; the starting point of his delivery regularly fluctuates between waist and chin-level. Although this may seem like a trivial or nit-picky criticism, it is actually hugely important, given the countless other variables that can affect the accuracy of a pass.  Minimizing variance in one’s throwing mechanics is an essential element of precision passing. A comparison of his different starting positions is shown below:

Second, Kizer tends to “overpower” his throws when he gets deep into his progressions.  This problem, which is analogous to a golfer over-swinging on a drive, is likely created by uncertainty in his reads or a haste to get the ball out on time. Trying to throw too hard causes Kizer to over-stride and tense his body, leading to inaccuracy. This is a more difficult habit to break since it is likely a subconscious, split-second decision during the play.

Ultimately; however, the primary cause of Kizer’s accuracy problems is related to his footwork. Because his arm is so naturally talented, he sometimes tries to flick the ball out to his receivers without setting his feet.  While this issue isn’t as glaring when passing down the middle, it becomes painfully obvious when throwing to the sidelines. For example, in this play against Stanford, Kizer badly overthrows an open shallow crosser, even though he has the time and space to set his feet.  These are throws that must be completed at the next level:

Kizer’s footwork is again the cause of a bad incompletion in this next clip against Duke. Although he is on the opposite hash and is targeting a deep over-route that is moving away, he steps straight down the middle as if he’s throwing a dig or seem; leading to an off-balanced overthrow. Also, notice how his body is falling away from the direction of the pass:

Some of Kizer’s flaws (such as footwork) can be improved with practice and mental discipline. Even with diligent training; however, it will still be a major challenge not to revert to his natural playing style when faced with the speed and pressure of an NFL game. If he can permanently change some of these bad habits, or at least become more consistent in his mechanics, he has a much better chance at success. Although Kizer will certainly be a developmental project for whichever team drafts him (given his lack of experience in a pro-style system and general inconsistency), I think that his high-upside could outweigh the growing pains that he is likely to experience early in his career.

Projection: Day 1

Games Watched: at Texas, vs Nevada, vs Michigan State, vs Duke, vs Stanford, vs Miami, at Syracuse, vs USC (2015)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe Awuzie

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.
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  • The Tony

    Dang Evan thanks for the click bait spam!

  • MattHat121

    Physically gifted but not ready for speed or complexity of NFL offenses/defenses; should go to a team willing to develop him slowly, otherwise he’ll fail spectacularly.

  • King Black

    if they think ben is done for real either this or next year i think his physical ability and arm would make the Pittsburgh offence just as scary as to could be now. Flea flickers and End around passes galore.

  • Spencer Krick

    Great write up!

    I think I like Kizer better than Watson, but It’d be hard to talk me into taking either in the top 10.

  • Spencer Krick

    Both him and Watson are in that boat.

  • capehouse

    I’m enjoying your QB profiles so far, Sean. Great write up.

  • capehouse

    I like Kizer, Trubisky and Mahomes better than I do Watson.

  • T3xassteelers

    Think all QBs in this draft are tbh

  • T3xassteelers

    Wasn’t Kizer benched like 3 or 4 times this year?

  • PaeperCup

    Give me a QB who’s got a quick yet accurate release over a good deep ball. I think there’s something to the way Brady plays the game

  • Alex Kozora

    Because Brian Kelly is an idiot.

  • Michael Conrad

    LOL I agree it really is not a good year for QB’s

  • T3xassteelers

    Fair enough ha!

  • Spencer Krick

    Truth!

  • steelburg

    I really like this guy and I think he will be the best QB in this draft. All the things you listed under bad are all things that can be fixed sitting behind Ben for a few years.

  • woodsworld58

    He’s an interesting prospect, but I’d take Patrick Mahomes. It will take him some time, but he’s a good fit for the Steelers.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    All I have to say about Kizer is I hope the Browns get him….lol. No thank you at all….all game tape I watched he was awful.

  • Out of all the QBs broken down on this sight so far, this guy impresses me the most. He is definitely not an immediate starter, but with some development, I really could see this guy having a career in the NFL, not elite maybe, but with the right players around him I think he could win you some games. Of course he would have to bust his ass to have any success at all, so it would be all up to him. Most years I think he looks like a day two prospect, but with this years QBs I could see him going to a QB needy team in round one.

  • Rocksolid20

    I’ll take a winner any day , give me Watson .

  • Matt Manzo

    Good one Sean!!! You’re pointing out details that no one else talks about! I felt like I just read a war room notepad!
    Which is why we all love the Depot!

  • LucasY59

    I hope Kizer is still available at pick #30 …so he can be Trade bait and Steelers can ransom off the pick to the Bears

    he is definitely in need of some development so being picked at the end of rd one is much more appropriate than being picked at the beginning of it, but its the QB position so someone will probably take him early, he has potential, but think he shouldve stayed in school to make him more of a lock to be a top ten pick the following draft

  • Ra’Mon Jones

    Tedric Thompson from Colorado

  • Woodsworld

    Kinser and Mahomes look like solid future QBs….maybe future Steelers, and if one of them is available, we may have to pull the trigger. The days pre-Ben were difficult, because the Steelers didn’t take their QB situation seriously. Don’t make the same mistake twice…