In the days and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, CardinalsSource will profile 30 draft prospects who could end up making their way to Arizona this offseason.
Player: DeShone Kizer
Weight: 233 pounds
Hand size: 9 7/8 inches
Arm length: 33 1/8 inches
College stats: 2015: 210-for-334, 62.9 completion percentage, 2,880 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 2016: 212-for-361, 58.7 completion percentage, 2,925 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Strengths: When you think of what a prototypical quarterback should look like in modern football, you probably think of someone who has the build of DeShone Kizer. A two-year starter at Notre Dame, Kizer has the a thick, durable and massive frame with a strong arm that has NFL scouts salivating when they see him in a workout setting. In terms of arm talent, Kizer and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes probably own the two biggest guns in this year's draft-class, as Kizer whips the ball around the field with ease and can hit deep targets on the move better than many of the highly-coveted quarterbacks who have entered the NFL as top draft picks in recent seasons. What we like most about Kizer is the way he keeps his eyes down the field when he's in the pocket. While some quarterbacks with Kizer's speed tend to make one read and tuck the ball while looking to run, Kizer is able to shake off defenders, re-set his launch point, and take home run shots or hit receivers coming back to the ball. Though Kizer didn't have outstanding production at the college level, he's a projectable player who will entice an offensive-minded coach to pull the trigger early in the draft because of all the potential he boasts.
Weaknesses: Much like Mahomes, despite his arm talent, Kizer needs to refine his skill set and work to make his throwing motion faster and more repeatable. While there's no doubt Kizer has a cannon, he often needs to wind up, reach back and uncork the ball as if he's attempting to throw a baseball as far as he can. What we noticed on some of Kizer's throws is that he's not as engaged with his lower body as he is with his upper body, and that's partially because he doesn't always have to be. When you have an arm as strong as Kizer's, it's hard to rely as much on proper footwork. Nevertheless, mastering the footwork necessary to perform three, five and seven step drops in the NFL is going to be a challenge for Kizer, and it's something he'll have to work hard to improve at early in his career. Additionally, one of the greatest concerns about Kizer's game is his accuracy, which dipped during his second season at Notre Dame and wasn't a highlight of his game near the end of his career. Kizer completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes in 2016, and he didn't exactly demonstrate the skills of a polished decision-maker. While that may improve over time as Kizer reads more defenses and grows more comfortable with new footwork, he doesn't appear to be ready to step in and start right away.
Kizer's fit: The Cardinals have been linked to DeShone Kizer perhaps more than any other player in first round mock drafts, but we're not convinced he's the best fit of all the signal-callers for the organization. Kizer is more of a project than some of the other passers available, and even though he may have a higher ceiling than a player like Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky, there's also a low floor with Kizer and there's inherent risks he brings to the table. The possibility that Kizer washes out and never makes it in the NFL is legitimate, but at the same time, a coach like Bruce Arians wouldn't draft Kizer in the first round if he thought it would take more than a full year or two to turn him into a full-time NFL starter. The growth in Kizer's game may take time and may be a rough process, and we think Arians would be better suited working with Mahomes or even Cal's Davis Webb if the Cardinals wait until the second round to draft a quarterback.