Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

NFL Draft: DeShone Kizer Et Al

Kizer may not have helped himself with his comments comparing himself to Brady/Newton. But the need for QBs in the NFL remains high, as is Kizer’s long-term potential.

From Brian Kelly’s taken-out-of-context comments about DeShone Kizer to Kizer’s boastful ambition of combining Tom Brady’s intelligence with Cam Newton’s body, it’s time for the NFL draft to definitively state just how the Irish signalcaller truly is viewed.

Tonight in Philadelphia, the NFL will conduct its annual draft. Four quarterbacks are considered potential first-round draft choices – Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Kizer.

Long-time NFL Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel weighs in on Kizer and Notre Dame’s other draft/free-agent prospects.

QB-DESHONE KIZER (6-4, 233)
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Gabriel’s Take: “I still think Kizer is the best long-term prospect among the quarterbacks. I just don’t think he’s going to be the first quarterback drafted.

“Footwork issues at the combine, perception of some immaturity…I didn’t know he was that heavy during the season, but he was. Then he said he got down to 230, 233 and that is the weight he should be. Then why were you 250? So work ethic comes into it.

“It all comes down to how much research (a team) has done and are you happy with the research. I feel I know the player, but I can’t speak for everybody else and they’re going to look at it their own way.

“I know when you get Kizer on the (meeting-room) board, he’s going to be lights out. He’s going to be excellent because of his understanding of offensive football, concepts, and his ability to memorize things and take it from the classroom to the field. He’s going to be as good or better than anybody in this class in that regard. Also being able to change plays at the line of scrimmage and change protections. That puts him a leg up on the other guys.

“Some of the intangible things may hurt him with some clubs, but no team is going to say what they think publicly. We don’t know exactly how everyone feels about him or the other quarterbacks. (Draft analysts) say, ‘So and so told me this, so and so told me that.’ They’re lying.”

Projection: “He’s shooting himself in the foot (by making Tom Brady/Cam Newton comparisons), but I think he goes in the first. I think he’s the third or fourth quarterback taken, and three years from now he might be the best quarterback of the group.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Seattle, 1st Round, No. 26 overall

DE-ISAAC ROCHELL (6-4, 280)
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Gabriel’s Take: “He had a good Senior Bowl, which helped him. I think he’s a 3-4 five-technique. That’s my feeling. I can’t speak for anybody else, but he’d be ideal in that situation. Could a 4-3 team take him? Yeah, he might be able to play left end in a 4-3, but he’s just not fast enough. He’s not a sub-5.0 guy.”

Projection: “The high side is (round) three, but more likely (round) four.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Chicago, 5th round, No. 147 overall

DT/OL-JARRON JONES (6-6, 316)
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Gabriel’s Take: “A few teams think offensive line could be a possibility, but the perception of him around the league is not very good. He’s considered a lazy player.

“When he’s good, he can be pretty good, but you don’t see that too often. He plays in spurts. He’s tall, he’s long and he’s got some strength. His workout numbers were very average for a defensive lineman. But you put that over on the other side of the ball and (his workout numbers) are okay.

“How important is the game to him? Does he really want to be a professional football player? Will he put forth the effort to be a professional football player? He’s got some physical skills to play in the league, but you’ve got to have more than the physical skills. You’ve got to have the desire.”

Projection: “The range is huge, and I’m not trying to be vague. I think the high side is (round) five and the low side is free agent.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: New York Jets, 7th round, No. 224 overall

LB-JAMES ONWUALU (6-1, 228)
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Gabriel’s Take: “He’s part of a good linebacker class and he didn’t run anywhere near what he needed to run at 6-foot-0¼, 228. He ran a 4.75 and a 4.8, so he’s a 4.77 if you average him out. He was a guy that was supposed to be a 4.55 coming out of high school.

“Now, he had a 36-inch vertical, which is excellent. A 9-foot-11 broad jump, which is real good. A 4.24 short shuttle…that’s pretty good. A 7.25 three-cone is pretty good. He did 24 reps on the bench, which is also good.

“Looking at the numbers, he’s too small for a 3-4. I thought he would run faster and could be maybe one of those hybrid guys (safety/outside linebacker), but he doesn’t run well enough for that. He’s a 4-3 Will linebacker.

“He’s a good kid and he needs a shot. Once he gets into camp, his attention to detail and competitive nature will make it tough to run him off a squad.”

Projection: “I think he’s a free agent. Maybe he gets drafted late.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Free agent

CB-COLE LUKE (5-11, 198)
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Gabriel’s Take: “Not only did he not run a sub-4.54, he didn’t run a sub-4.6. That’s a stopwatch-driven position.”

Projection: “His tape from 2016, combined with a slow time, equals free agent.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Free agent

RB-TAREAN FOLSTON (5-9, 199)
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Gabriel’s Take: “I think he’ll get a shot at one of the rookie mini-camps, which are a week or two after the draft. He could even get to a couple of them. Then you have to hope you play well enough that they want to sign you. But he had a pedestrian 40 time.”

Projection: “I think it’s going to be pretty tough for him to even get in a camp, let alone drafted.”

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Rookie mini-camp

LS-Scott Daly (6-2, 248)
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• Irish Illustrated’s Take: Three major-college long-snappers generally rank ahead of Daly – Alabama’s Cole Mazza, Louisville’s Colin Holba and Cal’s Bradley Northnagel. Lake Erie (Division II) long-snapper Anthony Kukwa is considered the best long-snapper in some evaluations.

Projection: Daly definitely will get a look in an NFL camp.

Irish Illustrated Prediction: Free agent


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