Daniel Jeremiah thought DeShone Kizer could be the top NFL draft pick after last season’s opener against Texas. Now the former NFL scout is internally debating whether the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish standout is even the second best quarterback.
“The 2015 version of Kizer is better than 2016 [Mitch] Trubisky is better than 2016 [Deshaun] Watson,” said Jermiah on The Audible podcast Monday. “Then you have to factor in this year. And I think that is a valid point. When I watch cut-ups of every 3rd-and-6-plus throw that he made this year, he got hit on an overwhelming majority of them. He had pressure in his face all the time. They missed their left tackle.”
Bruce Feldman, the podcast’s co-host, theorized that Kizer struggled because he lacked a receiver like Will Fuller who could stretch the defense.
Jeremiah agreed somewhat, responding: “He had places to go with the football. And that wasn’t quite the case this year. The problem that I did have is there were still a lot of opportunities when he did have a clean pocket where I thought he kind of locked on some things and I had some questions with his vision. And that was a little bit of a concern.”
The former scout compared Kizer to former USC Trojans quarterback Carson Palmer.
“Just big, strong guys that needed a little bit of time coming out of college but have a really, really high ceiling. I think he’s got that skill set,” Jeremiah told the hosts.
Jeremiah, who now writes for NFL.com, said Kizer has the highest ceiling among any quarterback in this year’s draft - even more so than Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes. He does not, however, have Kizer being selected in the first round in his most recent mock draft.
The transcript of the conversation about Kizer - which also includes discussion on Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson and North Carolina Tarheels quarterback Mitch Trubisky - is below.
BRUCE FELDMAN: “OK, Daniel. I want to start here. Stew and I had a conversation the other day. I’m not saying this would be my ‘jump on the table’ moment for anybody, but I am curious. So last year, quarterbacks went in the top 5. They went 1-2, right?”
DANIEL JEREMIAH: “Yup.”
BRUCE: “Now we’re in the place where we have a guy in Deshaun Watson - high character guy, no one is going to question that, I don’t believe. Good athlete - maybe not a great athlete, but a good one. Decent size and really shines on the biggest stage when he lit up the Alabama defense back-to-back years. I know the interceptions are a concern. That’s a big part of the reason why neither Stew nor I voted for him for the Heisman and why he didn’t win it. Am I crazy to think that he should be a top 10 pick?”
DANIEL: “I wouldn’t say that you’re crazy, because I think when you’re evaluating these guys, it’s almost like as a scout you’re a salesman, right? And so you have a product you can sell in the draft room of the things you just mentioned. I would say you’ve got enough size. I would say he has enough arm strength. He’s a good enough athlete. He meets those thresholds. And after that I think you look for some of the elite traits. And with him, it’s character. It’s work ethic. It’s intelligence. Those are where his elite traits are. So that’s what you can sell to try and convince your GM to take a guy in the top 10.
“Now, for me, I couldn’t do it for a couple of reasons. Number one: The decision making was a little bit inconsistent for me. And then the accuracy, especially down the field was troubling. A lot of people will point to completion percentage, but that’s not really what accuracy and ball placement is about when you’re scouting for the next level. You wanna see where it’s located and not can Mike Williams or Legget make some circus catch? I don’t think he’s pinpoint accurate.
“And you’ve got the 17 interceptions. When I went back and looked at those individually, 11 of the 17 were what I deemed poor reads or just really forcing the football and it was a decision-based mistake. And that, to me, is troubling, especially in that type of system. If you look at recent guys coming out of a similar-esque system, you can look at Marcus Mariota. He had, what? Four picks in his last year. You look at Dak Prescott. He had five picks. Deshaun Watson had 17. That was an issue for me.
STEWART MANDEL: “If he doesn’t end up being the highest quarterback - because we’re talking about a guy here who, regardless of an evaluation of his skill set, clearly has the most experience by far of the three guys who are being hyped up the most. Led his team to two national championship games, three-year starter whereas Trubisky started one season, DeShone Kizer started two and obviously, the second one did not go very well. What would have to happen between now and the draft — so why would one or both of those guys pass Deshaun Watson?”
DANIEL: “Well, I think you have to evaluate them - obviously, all of those things factor in. My issue - why I’m probably going to end up flipping Trubisky and Kizer on my list here, as the more work I’ve done, the more tape I’ve studied, the more I’ve looked into it...One of things that’s interesting - it’s not the reason, it’s just interesting - is that when you look at the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL right now, only two of them were under 60 percent passers and had a losing record their last year. Again, I don’t put everything into stats and I talked about completion percentage earlier, but only two. And that’s Jay Cutler, who is about to be gone and that’s Trevor Siemen, who I think Denver would like to be in position to upgrade over and that’s why you have Paxton Lynch there.
“So that’s a problem with Kizer. With Trubisky, I really think it’s just kind of the length - the lack of experience. Because when I watch them just off this year, I though he — clearly off this year’s tape — was the best guy. He was working deep through progressions, making great decisions, throwing the ball accurately. I thought based off this year was him.
“So the question is: How do these guys pass up Deshaun Watson? Well, you guys work with somebody and I’ll rattle off the same things you made the argument for Deshaun Watson and you tell me if it reminds you of anybody: He won a couple of national championships. He played his best on the biggest stage. He’s smart. He has no issues off the field. He maybe doesn’t have an elite skill set, but he’s a ‘winner.’ And so that is a little bit — you can’t just base your evaluation off that.”
BRUCE: “You’re not talking about Tim Tebow, are you?”
DANIEL: “No, I am not talking about Timothy Tebow.”
STEWART: “Are you talking about somebody else? From Orange County perhaps?”
DANIEL: “Somebody else — I was going to say somebody that might be roaming on the mean streets of Manhattan Beach.”
STEWART: “Oh, I see.”
DANIEL: “I love Matt. I love Matt. But I’m just saying, that was the case, right? That was the case in the draft room for Matt Leinart. I’m just saying — that’s just an example of you’ve got to evaluate how the skills translate to the next level, not just how they were in the wins and losses there.”
BRUCE: “Yeah, I want to ask you about DeShone Kizer in this regard. So — and I’m a little biased here on this just because I know Mike Sanford pretty well and we’ve talked a lot about him offline, but: In 2015, he has big time tackles around him and he has the stretch-the-field guy in Will Fuller. Did he regress this year or was it more of a factor of the talent around him regressed? And how do NFL people view that? Do they view that, ‘Hey he looked really good in 2015’ and then we’ve got to get him back to this point because we’ve can surround him with better than what he has. Where do you stand on that?”
DANIEL: “I came into this process with Kizer clearly as the top guy and that’s based off last year - 2015. So coming into this fall, I had him as the top quarterback. And then I go and see him live against Texas and I thought, ‘This dude might be the first pick in the draft with everything he can do.’ And so the 2015 version of Kizer is better than 2016 Trubisky is better than 2016 Watson. I think that’s the best.
“But then you have to factor in this year. And I think that is a valid point. When I watch cut-ups of every 3rd-and-6-plus throw that he made this year, he got hit on an overwhelming majority of them. He had pressure in his face all the time. They missed their left tackle.
“Now you had the point about Fuller. There’s a lot of separation. He had places to go with the football. And that wasn’t quite the case this year. The problem that I did have is there were still a lot of opportunities when he did have a clean pocket where I thought he kind of locked on some things and I had some questions with his vision. And that was a little bit of a concern.
“He’s an enigma to me. If you said, ‘Who has the greatest ceiling?’ I know a lot of people would point to Pat Mahomes. I still think that Kizer has the highest ceiling of any of these guys.”
BRUCE: “Is Kizer 2015 similar to the second pick of the draft last year coming out of North Dakota State at all?”
DANIEL: “Yeah, no, I think so. I definitely think you can see some similarities there. You know my comparison - they have us do all these comparisons and I always approach that as: What could they be at their best? From a skill set standpoint, I actually put Kizer with Carson Palmer. Now Palmer was the first pick in the draft. Kizer’s not going to be the first pick in the draft. But just big, strong guys that needed a little bit of time coming out of college but have a really, really high ceiling. I think he’s got that skill set.”
BRUCE: “I mean, he was a high interception guy at USC. Before his senior year, I think he was 38 and 38 TD and interception, being Carson.”
DANIEL: “There you go.”