Breaking Down PD QBs: Kessler Has Wow Factor

With the inaugural Passing Down Elite 7-on-7 Challenge in the books, it's time to break down the field of quarterbacks. With two Pac-10 commits competing, the field didn't lack pop…

Kessler is the 10th rated QB in
the nation.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Cody Kessler – Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial High School
Grade: A-
Offers: Committed to USC

Key Strengths: Kessler has the ability to make throws that leave you wondering how he was able to drop the ball in between a closing safety and an underneath corner. Kessler struggled in the opening 7-on-7 games due to the fact he was only playing a few of his receivers that play along side him at Centennial. Kessler has great footwork, which is a key to succeed as a dominant Pac-10 QB. Kessler release is not Dan Marino quick but is smooth, and he throws a great ball. The most impressive part of Kessler's game is his athleticism; he has the ability to make plays in more that just one way.

Key Weakness: The concern for Kessler is his struggle to read defenses. Kessler has supreme confidence that seems to get him in trouble with some of his decisions. Kessler is an ultimate competitor and plays with a lot of emotion. His emotion may have got the best of him at times in the camp and displayed a slight attitude. At the end of the day, Kessler's has the WOW factor down and with coaching and a level head, Kessler could be a great QB for USC.

Boehm is the 14th rated QB in
the nation.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Kyle Boehm – San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty High School
Grade: B+
Offers: Committed to Cal

Key Strength: Size, Size, Size! Boehm passes the eyeball test without question. He stands easily 6-foot-3, and he is built like a linebacker. Boehm is very polished when it comes to mechanics. He possesses great footwork followed with a quick release and limitless arm strength. Boehm is the ultimate take what the defense gives you QB. He showed a high completion percentage and was accurate. When it comes to attitude, Boehm is as cool as they come – never rattled and never excited – just business. He led his team to the tournament title earning MVP honors.

Key Weakness: First concern for Boehm is his delivery. He has a flaw in his delivery that takes a lot of the velocity out of his ball. He also lacks a killer instinct that Kessler seems to posses. He seems to be a Brad Johnson type QB that is fine settling for the check down. Boehm may not wow with his play but there is plenty of room for growth for him to be great a Cal.

Baker is one of the top QBs in
the 2012 class.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Mike Baker – Fresno (Calif.) Central High School (2012)
Grade: B
Offers: San Diego State

Key Strength: Baker is the most polished QB I have seen at this young of an age since Derek Carr was as a senior at Bakersfield Christian. Baker will only be a junior at Central next year, but he throws the ball like a sophomore in college. He has great footwork and a perfect delivery. There is a lot that he has done well and the best complement I can give Baker is that his ball is very catchable. Baker's passes are only going to be caught by his receiver or the ground. He makes throws to the right spots every time it seems. Next to Kessler, Baker had the ability to wow the crowd with some throws of his own. Putting balls into tight windows and dropping ball in the baskets that were his receivers.

Key Weakness: Baker was great in the opening 7-on-7 games, and he was making throws to rival as the best QB at the camp. But his youth is his biggest weakness. As the pressure mounted and the games became more important Baker started to struggle. His confidence started to waver, his footwork got sloppy, release started to slow, and interceptions followed. Baker has the ability to be one of the best the Valley has ever seen, but he needs to be confident when adversity starts to take its tool. Baker has the tools, now he needs the head.

Fishback is a rising prospect.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Nelson Fishback – Durham (Calif.) High School
Grade: B-
Offers: None, interest from Fresno State, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Tulsa among others

Key Strength: This kid from Northern California has only played QB for one year and it showed. He has a ton of ability, however, and he can make any throw on the field. The thing I love is that Fishback throws the ball with authority. His balls are not caught they catch the receiver. He has good footwork for a new QB, which is impressive and shows that he has a lot of natural ability and can learn fast. He throws a tight spiral and commands his offense. He is an athletic QB. He played running back as a sophomore so has the ability to run. Watching Fishback will not wow a fan, but a coach would be drooling about the ability that is untapped with this QB.

Key Weakness: Inexperience is Fishback's Achilles heal going in to next season. He made some throws that left me scratching my head and saying aloud "why did you throw that ball." The best thing out of that was that Fishback knew that it was the wrong read just as fast. He has a long way to go to understand how to read and react to a defense. In addition, Fishback needs to understand the situation that his team is facing and get his team into the right play or make the right decision to let his team fight for another down.

Burrell is getting some
Pac-10 interest.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Brian Burrell – Bakersfield (Calif.) High School
Grade: B
Offers: Idaho and Utah State

Key Strength: Burrell is leader! With the respect of his team, he is the ultimate gamer. Makes great decisions and gets the ball to the open receiver. Led his team all the way to the championship game and had an undefeated record on their way their. Another impressive thing was Burrell using the pump fake effectively. Burrell had defenders biting on the fake all night. Burrell works well with is his team and seemed to always have the right play on to beat the defense. Burrell is an obvious student of the game and has a passion for the position. In between games, you could find Burrell on the sideline, not talking or drinking water, but throwing constantly.

Key weakness: First, Burrell has sloppy footwork, which throw all his mechanics off and slow down his release. At times, Burrell seemed to struggle to get throws off quick enough because he was still setting his feet. The second concern for Burrell is that he does not throw a catchable ball. Most of Burrell balls come out of his hand and look almost end-over-end. Burrell has a strong arm and can make throws but with bad mechanics and a sloppy ball, his arm strength means nothing. Burrell has a slow release that can be corrected, but it will not hurt him at the high school level. A main concern for Burrell is that he may have maximized his potential at QB.

Montero has size and arm to play at
next level.
Photo by Mario Gomez
Marcus Montero – Kerman (Calif.) High School (2012)
Grade: D+
Offers: none

Key Strength: Montero has excellent height (6-4) and looks like he is athletic. He has a strong arm and can throw the ball 50 + yards. Coming of a torn ACL injury, Montero seems to be recovered and can plant and throw off his repaired knee.

Key weakness: Coaching is the biggest concern for Montero. His has bad footwork and does not understand at all how to read a defense. At times, it seemed like Montero was just looking to rely on arm strength to make throws. He could not look off defender and telegraphed every throw he made. Montero threw a multitude of interceptions and very rarely was able to make solid plays. Montero missed all of last season with the torn ACL, and he has yet to take a snap at the varsity level. The rising junior has a ways to go before he will be ready to be a QB that can contribute to a collegiate offense.

Kyle Thornton is a Fresno area on-air talent and former standout quarterback at Ft. Worth (Tex.) Fossil Ridge High School. He is a guest contributor for

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