Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly doesn’t think DeShone Kizer is ready for the NFL game just yet. He believes the quarterback should have stayed in school another year.
Speaking with SiriusXM NFL Radio Monday, via Pro Football Talk, he elaborated on this.
“There’s a lot of growth that has to take place. But I go back to what are the common threads a great player needs to have. He’s got to have traits of excellence. He’s got to be able to have attention to detail and that focus, he’s got to be smart and he’s got to have the ability to grind and a great attitude. He’s got those traits but they’ve got to be continuously worked on. Whoever takes DeShone, he’s not a finished product in those areas. But when he does get more time to work on those traits, you’re going to have a great young man and a great quarterback. The skills are out there, you can see them. You can go to the workout and see that he’s got those skills, he’s just not complete yet.
“If you want to draft him and say come on, turn it over to him, you’re going to have to support him with great leaders around him and great leadership. But if you’re going to give him time and get a mentor for him, you’re going to have a great guy. That’s my honesty when I talk to G.M.s and head coaches.”
While Kelly tends to be more brusque than he should sometimes, he’s not wrong here.
In fact, it could be successfully argued that all the underclassmen quarterbacks from the 2017 NFL Draft class should have stayed in school another year.
Kizer didn’t have a particularly tremendous season last year with the Irish, completing just 58.7 percent of his passes while throwing 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. One more year at school would have helped him develop his skills without the pressure of being a highly drafted rookie on a bad team — the likely fate of most top quarterbacks.
That Kizer has the physical tools to succeed at the next level is not up for debate. He can make every throw (watch here), has the athleticism and size needed to avoid the rush and take some hits. But is he ready to face NFL defenses? Hardly. And he’s probably the most game-ready of the bunch.
For this reason, coming out of school early is probably the right move for Kizer on a purely business level, which Kelly addressed as well.
“He still should be in college,” the coach said. “But the circumstances are such that you have to make business decisions. And he felt like it was in his best interest, and I’m going to support him in his decisions. But the reality is he needs more football. He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field. He’s a great kid, he’s got great character. Character, you don’t change character much. And he’s got great character so you’re not going to have an issue there with that young man.”
The NFL needs big-time passers to come into the league ready to play. Right now, those are very hard to come by. This year, it’s particularly hard to come by. Whether that means Kizer will benefit or fall by the wayside as one more young quarterback who couldn’t cut it in the NFL remains to be seen.