*Our QB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available. 

In early January, I ran the first set of computer scouting model data for us on DeShone Kizer. I also watched 15–20 minutes of tape and it kind of fell in line with what our computer model grades were saying. He looked like an average-to-below-average NFL prospect with some glaring red flags, but seeing that he played at almighty 'Notre Dame'…I figured he'd be projected somewhere in the middle of the draft. I had not looked at an expert's mock draft at that point.

And then I go to spend a day of study and write this report mid-January and see him popping for some among the top 10 overall prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, and I couldn't believe it. Are we all talking about the same guy…the quarterback from Notre Dame…name is Kizer? What? He's in a few experts' top 10 overall for the draft? One mock draft had him #2 overall – the #1 quarterback in the draft. Are you people high something? Is this a prank?

I mean, I see he has some NFL ability. I'm not thinking he's a total joke for the NFL, but when I watched him against the toughest opponents on his 2016 schedule – I didn't see what everybody else sees. He barely completed 50% of his passes and barely threw for over 200 yards a game against Stanford, Virginia Tech, and USC. Does everyone think he's the guy who threw five TDs against Texas opening week? I guess so. Same issue in 2015…he's a 55% passer against Clemson, Ohio State, Temple, and Stanford.

I watched his 2016 Texas game first when doing the study because that's his big outlier for top performance in 2016 (on paper). It was kind of a slow ride downhill in 2016 after his initial splash to start the year.

And that Texas game…I turn on the tape and the very first pass I see is him lofting a pass into double coverage right into a defender's hands, but the defender dropped the pick. I was already rolling my eyes. I went into the tape study negative, and nothing I saw would really change that. He was OK in the Texas game. I wasn't blown away by what I saw…and Texas wasn't that good anyway. My first impression of Kizer was – a guy who has a big arm, who can definitely throw passes with velocity, but not a quarterback who throws with precision – not a quarterback who sits back in the pocket looking over multiple scenarios and placing passes in the perfect spot for his receivers. He's a good college quarterback with decent wide receivers to throw to – so there are a few times when I saw Kizer make a nice throw and/or a nice second read that you would expect to see in a serious NFL QB prospect. However, too many times I saw him throw the ball erratically or just make a poor choice of who to throw to…and/or do one quick read, and take off running when it's not there.

At the college level, Kizer is a pretty effective runner. He has above average size-speed and a barrel-like body. When he gets going he's like a big fullback in the open field. In the NFL, he's going to get wiped out before even get started with his 4.7–4.8+ foot speed. In college, he's pretty fast and he can make plays with his feet, and he did. The college mobility might be teasing football analysts into thinking Kizer is a better pro prospect than he really is (997 yards rushing and 18 rushing TDs in two college seasons). He's not a big-time dual-threat quarterback at the NFL level. He was in college, but not projecting that in the pros. He's like Jameis Winston fast/mobile.

When you move on from his nice Texas performance, and then go straight into watching him against the toughest opponents he faced – you see Kizer's NFL prospects start to wither away. He's not a disaster, but you can see you're not talking about a next-level quarterback here. At best, you're seeing a guy with a little mobility and a rocket arm…but an erratic arm. His QB instincts as a passer are suspect. In the end, a team has to hope they can develop him in the NFL. I'm sure NFL teams are going to think that and draft him higher than he should go. It's likely not going to end well at the next level.

In this era of so many young quarterbacks throwing the ball in radical offenses, I don't see how Kizer is attractive to any NFL scout or football analyst. He's not a pocket assassin at the college level. He's college good. Let him have time in the pocket with quality players surrounding him and a respected coach (like he had at Notre Dame), and he's going to perform well against average and lesser teams on the schedule. What he will not do is hoist the team on his back and pass his way past the top teams on his schedule. It just wasn't going to happen. He's not that kind of quarterback. He's a very nice college dual-threat quarterback…the kind of guy that gets drafted third round, and then is gone 3–4 years later because he never made an impression, and then goes back to be a sideline reporter for his alma mater because he's a recent college hero.

In the NFL, Kizer's skill set just doesn't stand out. The only thing people can point to his 'live arm' – the downfall trait for most scouts. That's not enough in today's NFL. Especially when there are so many young quarterbacks coming from advanced passing programs like Patrick Mahomes or Davis Webb. If you want developmental quarterbacks with mobility, Joshua Dobbs or Antonio Pipkin from Tiffin show more promise than Kizer does – and they are faster with their feet…and they can throw rockets just like Kizer can. I can immediately think of 5-6-7 QB prospects for 2017 better than Kizer without giving it a ton of thought or analysis.

There's nothing to me on tape for his college output that screams to me that there's an NFL start sitting here with Kizer. To make matters worse, there are a lot of question marks and murmurs that Kizer really isn't into football all that much. After throwing back-to-back picks in their 2016 Stanford game…Kizer was benched for a bit. That doesn't happen if the quarterback is the heart and soul of his team and coaches. That situation is not going to help his draft status when that gets further debated. Kizer is going to be competing for draft position with guys who have thrown more passes and been more successful on the field and live in the film room. Kizer does not look like he lives in the film room or in the weight room. I think he left Notre Dame early for fear of getting benched again and killing his draft stock irreparably.

Why is Kizer ranked so highly for some? I think some NFL teams would like to sucker teams like Cleveland or Buffalo into making him a first round pick, so they can sit back and have a laugh and keep their desired players on the draft board. Some NFL teams are likely to stoke this 'fake news' prospect. The media will go along with it because 'Notre Dame'. There should be immediate suspicion of Kizer at the top mock drafts, but as of mid/late-January I haven't heard anyone on a large scale start to espouse them. I don't know if anyone is going to because I suspect during the NFL Combine coverage Mike Mayock is going to promote Kizer because of the Notre Dame connection, just like he got Will Fuller pushed way too high to the Houston Texans last year.

My advice to NFL teams on Kizer would be to pass on him completely just from the quarterback talent standpoint, much less what they're bound to dig up about his work ethic. If an NFL team wants a developmental quarterback so bad, there are half a dozen of them that went to lesser-name schools that they could take chances on.


DeShone Kizer, Through the Lens of Our QB Scouting Algorithm:

With a top surrounding cast and highly ranked team, Kizer went 4–8 as a starter in 2016. He posted a 4–10 record in his final 14 college games.

Kizer has two big stat games in his career – 2015 vs. Pitt (5 TDs/0 INT) and 2016 vs. Texas (5 TDs/0 INT). Ignore those two games, and in games with 15 or more pass attempts Kizer posted a 11–10 record with 35 TDs/19 INTs and less than a 60% completion percentage over two years. How is anyone pushing him as the top QB prospect in this class?

In his final 15 college games, Kizer threw for less than 60% completions in nine of them.

The Historical QB Prospects to Whom DeShone Kizer Most Compares Within Our System:

Jerrod Johnson was a sought-after QB prospect with some mobility, a big arm, a thicker body, and inaccuracies…he is a slightly better version of DeShone Kizer. Johnson has bounced around the league on practice squads and in tryouts for years. Only I don’t think Kizer will grind for very long before he disappears. The moment his rookie contract ends and he's paid off…like Keyser Soze…'poof'…and then he was gone.

QB Grade






Adj. Comp. Pct.

Adj. Yds per Comp

Adj. Pass per TD

Adj. Pass per INT


Kizer, DeShone


Notre Dame








Johnson, Jerrod


Texas A&M








Lovelocke, Jerry


Prairie Vw A&M








Locker, Jake










Jones, Cardale


Ohio State








Washington, Kyle


Angelo State








Brissett, Jacoby


NC State







*“Adj” = A view of adjusted college output in our system…adjusted for strength of opponent.

**A score of 8.5+ is where we see a stronger correlation of QBs going onto become NFL good-to-great. A scouting score of 9.5+ is rarefied air—higher potential for becoming great-to-elite.

QBs scoring 6.0–8.0 are finding more success in the new passing era of the NFL (2014–on). Depending upon system and surrounding weapons, a 6.0–8.0 rated QB can do fine in today’s NFL—with the right circumstances…but they are not ‘the next Tom Brady’ guys, just NFL-useful guys.

2017 NFL Draft Outlook:

My first thought on trying to guess where Kizer will be drafted – is that I can't believe teams will fall for this and take him in the top 25–50, but he's exactly the type of prospect that poorly run NFL teams get suckered in by. I'm going to guess he goes second or third round more than first round because I think there will be enough questions that pop up at the NFL Combine and beyond.

NFL Outlook:   

My prediction would be that Kizer hangs around the NFL as a backup for 2–3 years before his team moves on. His lofty draft status will get him guaranteed a roster spot for a few years, but eventually administrations will change and/or Kizer will be exposed in general. One way the other – I don't think it's going to be much of a career for Kizer in the NFL.