A popular narrative about the 2017 NFL Draft is that this quarterback class is one of the weaker spots in this draft. I could not disagree more. Scouts are trying to find the diamond in the rough and forcing themselves to like QBs that have zero chance of producing in the league when Kizer is clearly the best of the bunch. Kizer was able to put together quality film for a Notre Dame team that looked lost for the majority of the season.
My favorite quality about Kizer is the way he moves in the pocket. He has impressive pocket presence while keeping his footwork. Kizer can sense blitzes, maneuver around his offensive linemen and deliver good passes all over the field. This play above showcases what can happen when everything clicks for DeShone Kizer. His right tackle gets beat inside but Kizer is able to sense the pressure, shift to the right, keep his eyes downfield and deliver an absolute beauty of a pass. He has a Jameis Winston like presence in the pocket and when it all clicks for him, he can deliver plays like that.
Another play that showcases his pocket mobility is this play against Michigan State. The play does not go anywhere, Kizer ends up getting sacked after rolling out. I’m not worried about the result on this play. The middle linebacker runs right through the Notre Dame offensive line unblocked. Kizer jukes the rusher during his drop back and climbs the pocket like nothing happened. He does all of this with clean footwork and does not showcase any wasted motion during his drop back. You can also see that Kizer keeps his eyes downfield and never focused on the rusher for more than a split second. He has an uncanny ability to maneuver around pressure in the pocket.
Again, Kizer senses a rusher coming at him. He simply shifts in the pocket with no wasted motion in his footwork and his eyes continue to look downfield. Even with the rush, Kizer is able to keep all his necessary footwork and deliver a dart right by the outstretched linebackers arm. He finishes off his front foot to maximize velocity and follows through. This play is textbook and Kizer makes it like it is nothing.
Another thing I like about his game is his toughness in the pocket. Nearly every game you will see Kizer take shots in the pocket without flinching or losing velocity on his throws. On the play above, the pocket collapses on Kizer, instead of rolling out he stands strong and delivers a dime between three defenders. When the pocket collapses the absolute worst thing you could do is throw off your back foot and deliver a duck into coverage. Kizer executes a clean drop back and finishes off his front foot. If Kizer were to fade away and throw off his back foot that ball is picked off 99 out of 100 times. This throw is made because he is tough in the pocket and does not worry about getting hit.
Once again, we see Kizer moving around in the pocket with a rusher in his face. He dodges one defender, climbs the pocket and delivers a strike with another rusher coming in hard. It tells you a lot about a quarterback when they are not afraid to climb the pocket even when they know a rusher is coming in fast. One thing I did not like about this play is that his shoulders are squared to the TE running a drag route across the field. If Kizer turns his shoulders to the TE running a dig route this pass could have gone for more yards. Kizer is one of the tougher quarterbacks in this class and it is extremely impressive that he is not afraid of contact.
With a clean pocket Kizer has the ability to make some tremendous throws. He has impressive arm strength that allows him to make throws outside the numbers with ease. Everything with Kizer’s footwork, and drop back is perfect here. Sometimes I noticed that Kizer can get lazy with his footwork and that allows throws to flutter but on this play he does everything well.
Below is another throw Kizer delivered with a clean pocket.
Like every other prospect that has ever entered the draft, Kizer does have some flaws. I truly wonder how much Kizer trusted his offensive line because with enough punishment any QB will feel the pain. I can’t tell if Kizer was playing hurt at times or is Brian Kelly that inept. Kizer made a lot of coachable mistakes and I wonder if Kelly could be to blame for that. He has a lot of WTF moments and the ball just completely sails when he throws it at times. He has spotty accuracy at times which will cause unnecessary interceptions.
In my opinion DeShone Kizer is the top quarterback in this draft along with Patrick Mahomes. I have them at QB1 a and b. I think Kizer could flourish with Kyle Shanahan if the 49ers decided to go in that direction.