DeShone Kizer had an answer for it.
By the time the former Notre Dame quarterback departs the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, he should know if general managers and head coaches across the league bought it. So far, at least according to feedback from the San Francisco 49ers, Kizer has been making sense of last season’s 4-8 disappointment that included a quarterback job share on opening weekend.
The raw numbers are good. Kizer completed 212-of-361 passes for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions.
The context is less complimentary, even within an offense that replaced all three starting receivers. Kizer had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie or win in seven of Notre Dame’s eight losses.
“I’m pretty comfortable with opening up and expressing who I am as a guy and how I plan on going about this process,” Kizer said. “(Teams) had a lot of questions on last season and how a guy who has the arm strength goes and becomes 4-8.
“I responded the way I thought was the honest truth. I just didn’t make enough plays.”
Kizer measured 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds at the combine with an arm length of 33 ? inches and a hand size of 9 ? inches. He goes through workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. Notre Dame’s Pro Day is scheduled for March 23.
Kizer has already met with San Francisco and said he had formal meetings scheduled with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. The Cleveland Browns have also been active in researching Kizer’s potential fit as the No. 1 overall pick.
He left no doubt who he thinks is the best quarterback in the draft, with North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson the competition.
Kizer would vote for Kizer.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in my abilities. My ability to read defenses both pre and post snap, my ability to understand the game. My leadership traits that I was able to develop at Notre Dame has put me in a position to achieve my goal and play in the NFL.”
Kizer said his slips last season, both in terms of failing to make plays and struggling to lead, could be a boost at the NFL level. He referenced Notre Dame’s wild array of weather conditions, from the hurricane at N.C. State to the snow in late November home games. He also noted that most teams drafting early are coming off seasons similar to Notre Dame’s.
“I think I’ve learned from it all and I think all those experiences will prepare me to hopefully play in that first game next season,” Kizer said. “Playing at Notre Dame I think is the biggest stage in college football, especially being the quarterback there. Not only are you representing 80,000 people in that stadium every day, but you’re also representing the biggest catholic institution in the world.
“This past season I was asked to be a little more verbal and to try to lead those guys. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that well enough and that’s what led to a 4-8 season instead of a season that could have gone the same way that it did in 2015.”
And does Kizer believe NFL teams agree with his take?
“I guess we’ll see if they come see me at the Pro Day,” he said.