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DeShone Kizer Rising to the Top of Quarterback Rankings
For most of the past year, NFL Draft experts have been working with the theory that Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was the inevitable top quarterback in the 2017 class. His skills as both a passer and a runner make him an attractive player to any NFL team. However, a few weeks into the college football season, Watson’s spotlight has been stolen, and there’s a new contender for the title of best quarterback in college football.
One of the better games of the vaunted opening weekend of college action was Notre Dame versus Texas. It was a close contest that wound up in overtime where the Longhorns pulled out a win. There were several NFL talents on the field, but Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer served notice that he was a contender for Watson’s spot at the top of the quarterback rankings.
The first thing to be noticed is the most obvious. At 6’4” and 230 lbs, Kizer looks the part of an NFL quarterback. He’s thickly built, and clearly has the body to stand up to the hits he’ll have to take at the next level. He also has the requisite arm strength to make all of the throws. He has a smooth throwing motion and does a good job with his feet, which allows him to get the ball to where it needs to be. Just prior to the 7:00 minute mark in the above video, he sets his feet and makes as good a throw as a college passer could be expected to make, threading it between three defenders and into the receiver’s arms for a would-be touchdown, if it hadn’t been dislodged by what was a devastating, and arguably illegal, hit.
Kizer also showed good accuracy overall. Very early in the game (around the :20 mark in the video) he throws a near-perfect back shoulder fade for a touchdown. He consistently put the ball in the right spot for the receiver to make a play. Whether it was hitting his man in stride on a slant, or dropping it in farther down the field, more often than not, he put it in the right spot.
The NFL has, more and more, moved toward quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet when plays break down. Kizer isn’t a blazing runner like Watson is, but he can make things happen if needed. On designed run, he can get yards by sticking his head in and pushing forward, but he can also make a big play. Just after the 4:00 mark in the video, he sees a hole to his right, makes one man miss, and goes the distance. He can also make things happen when things break down. At 4:45 he works his way out of the pocket, rolls left while keeping his eyes downfield, and finds the open receiver for a touchdown.
The college football season has barely begun, and lots can happen, but Kizer has built off of a pretty impressive 2015 season, and started 2016 off with a bang, placing himself at or near the top of everyone’s quarterback rankings. The NFL Draft is a long ways off, but he certainly has the look of a player whose name could be the first announced once it gets here.
(Thank you to DraftBreakdown.com for the video.)