DeShone Kizer is a quarterback prospect who has been considered a first rounder for most of the year. However, I’m not completely sure that I’m sold on the Notre Dame star. Let’s investigate…
What His Numbers Say
Here are Kizer’s complete passing and rushing numbers courtesy of Sports Reference.
I also put together Kizer’s final season game log and included the rank of the opposing pass defense based on Football Outsiders S&P+.
|North Carolina State||15||9||26||34.6||54||0||1||44.4||15||15|
Much like Deshaun Watson, Kizer failed to improve upon his 2015 season this year. However, there are a couple of additional red flags on Kizer than there are on Watson. For starters, Kizer was far worse against elite competition. Take a look at the stats of each against defenses ranked inside the top 15 in S&P+ pass defense.
Watson saw a lot more overall volume than Kizer, but was still remarkably efficient in comparison. Kizer completely bottomed out against top defenses, completing just 52 percent of his passes and averaging less than 200 yards passing. The Notre Dame signal caller was bested by Watson in completion percentage (by 15%), AYA (1.4), and quarterback rating (33.6).
Kizer’s completion percentage is incredibly worrisome on its own. Here is the complete list of signal callers since 2000 to complete less than 60 percent of their passes in their final season (1-A prospects only) and go on to have a QB1 season in the NFL in fantasy points per game. The number of such seasons are in parenthesis.
Matt Ryan (4)
Jay Cutler (3)
Tyrod Taylor (2)
David Garrard (2)
Derek Anderson (1)
Only five different quarterbacks have accomplished this feat for 12 total seasons. This accounts for about six percent of all QB1 seasons since 2001. This group has managed to be a QB1 in just 26 percent of their NFL seasons, with only Ryan and Taylor doing it in at least 30 percent of their seasons. These players generally struggle to sustain success, and are never elite dynasty assets.
Player Comparison: Josh Freeman
Kizer is smaller and probably slightly more athletic than Freeman, who weighed in at 248 pound and ran a 4.9 forty yard dash back at the 2009 NFL Combine, but the statistical similarities between the two are uncanny.
Kizer was more efficient than Freeman in his final season, but overall these resumes are almost identical. There should be even more similarity after the draft, with Kizer expected to go in the first round and Freeman having gone 17th overall to the Bucs. The former Tampa Bay starter’s lack of consistency became his undoing, though he did break 4,000 yards passing and 25 touchdowns in one season. This does not paint a promising picture for Kizer.
Ideal Landing Spot: Chargers
Kizer is someone who I think would crumble if he was forced to play right away in an unstable situation. The Chargers will be looking for the heir apparent to Philip Rivers fairly soon, and it could come in the first round this spring. This would give Kizer some time to learn behind a Hall of Fame-level talent and land in a situation with a terrific group of weapons for whenever he finally becomes the starter. Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Melvin Gordon are a strong young nucleus that could help make Kizer a success.
Current 2QB Fantasy Rookie Draft Projection: Late First Round (Third Round in 1QB Leagues)
While Kizer has the potential to be the first quarterback drafted, I do not think the demand for him will be as high as for Watson, and potentially at least one other signal caller. Especially since this 2017 class has some star power at the top, a fall to the bottom of the first round seems likely. In single-quarterback leagues, Kizer is an afterthought, though someone who likes him could pull the trigger in round three.
At first glance, Kizer should be yet another dual-threat quarterback for us to be excited about in 2017. However, when we dive deeper into the numbers, it becomes apparent that there are quite a few holes in his game. I severely question his ability to become an above average starter if he cannot become more accurate with the football. If he can test on the high-end of the scale athletically, there will be more reason for optimism, but from what I’ve read, he seems likely to be closer to Andrew Luck than Taylor in that department.