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  • DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
    Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer has declared for the NFL Draft.
    Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

  • #2
    The Book on DeShone Kizer: Scouting polarizing Notre Dame QB

    Editor's note: NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Bucky Brooks reveals "the book on" some of the 2017 NFL Draft's most polarizing prospects. This is the fourth in a series of scouting reports that will run leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine (March 3-6 on NFL Network).

    It's amazing how quickly some prospects can go from the top of the mountain to the pits of the valley. That's certainly the case with DeShone Kizer after watching him earn glowing recommendations from scouts following a magnificent performance against Texas in the season opener. He dazzled evaluators with a spectacular six-touchdown effort that showcased his skills as a dual-threat playmaker with great size. Scouts raved about his athleticism and running skills. They were blown away by his exceptional arm talent, too.

    The fanfare quickly subsided, however, after Kizer struggled over the last half of the season like a battered fighter at the end of a 15-round fight. He looked nothing like the ultra-confident quarterback that teased scouts with his talents in the season opener and appeared on the fast track to the No. 1 pick early in the season. With rumors swirling over his loss of confidence and questionable resiliency, scouts have seemingly backed away from the Notre Dame star as a potential franchise quarterback. With Kizer attempting to re-write the narrative surrounding his game and potential with a strong series of workouts over the next few weeks, I thought I would take a little time to break down his game and potential as a field general. Here is the book on Kizer.

    What I'm hearing

    "I like the kid. I think you have to go back and look at the 2015 tape to fully appreciate him. He can make all of the throws and he's athletic. Plus, he has won some big games during his time there. I know it got a little sideways for him (in 2016), but he can play. I believe he is one of the top three in this class." -- AFC college scouting director

    "Kizer scares me to death. I see the athleticism and arm talent, but I wonder if he can take hard coaching. Things went downhill in a hurry at Notre Dame. I need to find out why." -- AFC vice president of player personnel

    "He has everything that you want, but you worry about the Notre Dame situation. Why did it fall off the rails for him down the stretch?" -- AFC scout

    What I'm seeing

    Kizer has a chance to be the new prototype at the position as a big, athletic passer with A-plus arm talent. Measuring 6-foot-4, 230 pounds with nimble feet and deceptive speed, the Notre Dame standout can execute all of the flashy QB runs (zone-read, quarterback draws and powers) that are creeping into the pro game. He's also a polished pocket passer who's capable of making every throw in the book. Kizer's ability to thrive in both worlds could make him an intriguing prospect for an imaginative offensive coordinator intent on using the quarterback to challenge the defense in a variety of ways.

    Kizer is a refined dropback passer with outstanding footwork and mechanics. He consistently sets up and delivers from a balanced platform at the top of his drops. When he's playing at a high level, his eyes and feet are working in unison and the ball comes out of his hand like a rocket. While the zip and velocity on Kizer's throws are definitely "wow" worthy, it's the ball placement and accuracy that stands out on tape.

    He routinely hits his intended receivers in the face mask, which is the ideal location for most throws, particularly on target routes (receiver is stationary or working back to the quarterback) or crossers between the hashes. On deep passes, Kizer drops the ball down the chimney with good touch and placement. He repeatedly drops dimes on post-routes but also shows excellent touch on go-routes and back-shoulder fades along the boundary.

    Kizer also throws with excellent timing and anticipation. From delivering the deep comeback well before the receiver is coming out of the break to firing seam routes between multiple defenders at intermediate depth, Kizer has already mastered the skill of throwing receivers open, and astute quarterback coaches will appreciate the subtleties in his game as a pocket passer.

    It's hard to teach young quarterbacks to let the ball go early before the receiver reaches his designated spot, but Kizer repeatedly shows this skill on tape and it could help him grow from being a good college quarterback to a great NFL passer.

    From a footwork standpoint, Kizer shows great agility, balance and body control as a passer inside and outside of the pocket. Within the tackle-to-tackle box, he makes subtle movements to escape the rush while keeping his eyes down the field. He climbs the pocket to avoid pressure and uses the natural hitches to refocus his eyes on the next receiver in the progression. This is graduate-level quarterback play that extends beyond the "pick-and-stick" throwing mehanics displayed by most spread quarterbacks.

    On the move, Kizer delivers lasers while working to his right or left on rollouts, sprints and bootlegs. He delivers the ball on time and typically places the ball on target to his intended receiver. With a number of teams incorporating more movement-based throws into their game plans, Kizer's athleticism and movement skills will make him an intriguing option.

    Against the blitz, Kizer shows courage and determination, standing tall with rushers in close proximity. He doesn't flinch or wilt under the pressure, which speaks volumes about his grit within the pocket. Considering the beating he took behind a weakened offensive line, it's hard to question his toughness or effectiveness against the blitz.

    From a critical standpoint, Kizer's disappointing play down the stretch last season will raise concerns about his confidence and competitive toughness. He appeared to have issues with Brian Kelly's coaching style and scouts will question whether he can cut the mustard as an NFL starter given the pressures associated with playing the position.

    On the field, Kizer needs to show better leadership in adverse situations. Sure, he delivered some notable wins on late-game drives during his first season as a starter (2015) but he was surrounded by several NFL players and they made life easier on him as a young field general. In 2016, Kizer failed to guide his squad to the winner's circle consistently and that will lead to some raised eyebrows from scouts. Granted, they will take his supporting cast into account, but quarterbacks are judged on their ability to win games, and Notre Dame's 4-8 mark will leave a stain on Kizer's resume.

    Overall, Kizer is a "wow" talent with the physical tools to be a high-level NFL starter for a franchise. He can make all of the throws and adds a dimension to an offense with his athleticism/running skills. Considering how the league is gradually accommodating dual-threat quarterbacks, particularly those with polished passing skills, Kizer could be the new prototype at the position. That statement might sound crazy based on his dramatic decline at the end of the season, but it's hard to find a 6-foot-4, 230-pound passer with his talent and potential.

    NFL comp: Cam Newton

    I know the comparison will raise eyebrows based on the former NFL MVP's remarkable talents, but Kizer is a big, athletic passer with comparable arm talent and movement skills. When he is playing his game with supreme confidence, he can mirror some of the production that Newton displayed during his MVP campaign. Whether it's the red zone rushes (18 career rushing touchdowns at Notre Dame) or the splashy throws to every part of the field, Kizer has the tools to change the game like the Panthers' star. With the right coach whispering a positive message in his ear, Kizer could blossom into the crown jewel of the 2017 class.

    Where he should be picked

    The 2017 QB class is viewed as one of the most polarizing groups in recent history. Teams are having a tough time sorting out the talent at the top, particularly Kizer and his unique game. I believe he's an elite talent worthy of consideration among the first 20 picks, but he will probably come off the board between the bottom of the first round and the middle of the second round on draft weekend.

    Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Chicago Bears would be a nice destination for him based on his game and their respective schemes. If I had to choose a dream matchup for him, I would pick the Cardinals and Bruce Arians. Although the Cardinals' head coach is a hard-nosed teacher, he's also a terrific quarterback developer and he understands how to maximize their skills. Based on his work with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, I believe he could turn Kizer into an offensive weapon as a flamethrower from the pocket.
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    • #3
      Eric Branch @Eric_Branch
      #49ers GM John Lynch said team met with QB DeShone Kizer on Wednesday night; said Kizer "blew doors off" interview.
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      • #4
        ...I see the athleticism and arm talent, but I wonder if he can take hard coaching. Things went downhill in a hurry at Notre Dame. I need to find out why." -- AFC vice president of player personnel

        "He has everything that you want, but you worry about the Notre Dame situation. Why did it fall off the rails for him down the stretch?" -- AFC scout
        Probably not a fit, although you expect he'll be gone by #25 anyway.
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        • #5
          Gabriel: Scouting Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer


          (CBS) When you partake in the process of evaluating quarterbacks, you can’t just look at a few games and say that you know the player. You have to look closely at the whole body of work at such a critical position.

          As it pertains to Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, that means looking at both 2015 and 2016 tape.

          The 21-year-old Kizer has ideal NFL size for the quarterback position. At the NFL Combine, he will measure close to6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and I would estimate he will run in the 4.70 range. He’s big, strong and athletic. While he doesn’t have the quick athleticism of, say, a Russell Wilson, he will most likely test better than Jameis Winston, who has similar size.

          Kizer has a really strong arm and can easily throw the ball 60 yards down field. He shows outstanding velocity on short- to mid-range throws. Put simply, he can make all the throws a a top NFL quarterback is asked to do.

          He also has the athleticism to extend plays with his feet or just be a runner. He had a number of long runs in his Notre Dame career and, when he wants, can be a punishing runner with his size and power.

          When you look at Kizer’s mechanics, he holds the ball high and has a quick overhand delivery. When he makes a decision, the ball is out of his hand quickly.

          The spread offense that Kizer played in at Notre Dame is more sophisticated than many of the spread offenses we see elsewhere at the collegiate level. The Notre Dame offense is a whole-field read scheme in which the quarterback has to go through a progression that encompasses both sides of the field. He also can change the play and/or protections at the line of scrimmage. Given all that, Kizer was asked to do more than many spread quarterbacks are asked to do.

          When you look at 2015 tape, Kizer made some really impressive throws, both short and deep, and was productive. He threw for for 2,884 yards and 21 scores with 10 interceptions in 2015. He also rushed 520 yards.

          One key was that Kizer was playing behind a veteran offensive line, two members of which were high draft picks a year ago. He also had a veteran receiving corps.

          For instance, we saw many quick slant throws in 2015 that we seldom saw in 2016. He also was much more accurate on his deep throws in 2015. In fact, one general manager told me after the 2015 season that Kizer was a Super Bowl-type quarterback and could start for his team right away.

          Much of that changed in 2016. There was the unnecessary quarterback controversy at Notre Dame, and the offensive line wasn’t as experienced or as talented and the receivers were mostly first-year starters.

          The controversy was brought about because going into the 2015 season, Malik Zaire was the starter. He broke his ankle in the second game, and Kizer took over from there. The issue stemmed from Irish coach Brian Kelly not knowing what he had in Kizer initially, so he told Zaire after the injury that he would be the starter in 2016, when he’d be back to full health.

          Kelly found out in quick order that he had someone special in Kizer, but he couldn’t go back on his word. And thus the ensuing dilemma, one in which the two quarterbacks would split series in the season opener. Kizer ended up outperforming Zaire and was given the starting job, but the damage was done. I believe he felt he was always looking over his shoulder and that the early approach hurt his confidence and thus overall play in 2016.

          Kizer was also playing with a far less experienced group of players, and his play fell off. Throws that he had made easily in 2015, he wasn’t making in 2016. With a horrible defense, Notre Dame either had to play catch-up or always score in order to stay in a game, which led to similar final stat line despite his play dropping off.

          I have no doubt that Kizer is the most talented quarterback in this draft class. Circumstances beyond his control led to him not having the 2016 season that many envisioned. Are there areas he needs to improve in? Certainly, but that’s the case with every quarterback. Kizer too often tries to make the big play instead of taking what’s there, and that can lead to costly turnovers.

          Still, when you look at the big picture and his physical traits, he compares quite favorably to the other top quarterbacks.

          The final quarterback rankings will be determined over the next eight weeks as teams put the top prospects through private workouts and meetings, which will tell decision-makers a lot. I expect Kizer to perform well.

          Will Kizer be the first or second quarterback drafted? That remains to be seen at this time, but I have no doubt that the team that selects him will be hitting a home run.


          Greg Gabriel
          Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who was the director of college scouting for the Chicago Bears. He also previously served on the NFL College Advisory Committee.


          Originally posted by H2O4me View Post
          Probably not a fit, although you expect he'll be gone by #25 anyway.
          Might be wrong here, depending on which narrative you buy into.
          Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

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          • #6
            NFL draft profile: No. 28 — Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, lots to work with but still unpolished

            Shutdown Corner is counting down the top 50 prospects in the 2017 NFL draft with a scouting report, quotes from NFL evaluators and a projection where they might be drafted.

            Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
            6-foot-4, 235 pounds


            Key stat: In 25 college games, Kizer completed 60.7 percent of his passes, averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and accounted for 65 TDs (47 passing, 18 rushing) and 29 turnovers (19 interceptions, 10 fumbles lost).

            The skinny: Former four-star dual-threat recruit turned down offers from other big-time programs (Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, et al) to join the Irish but found himself stuck behind Everett Golson and Malik Zaire his first season and lost starting battle to Zaire to start his second season. But Kizer stepped in for an injured Zaire late in the third quarter of the second game of the 2015 season to rally the Irish to victory (one of three fourth-quarter comebacks that season) with a final-minute TD pass. Led Notre Dame to No. 11 ranking and 10-3 season in 2015 but struggled in 2016 as the Irish fell to 4-8 following the graduation of a lot of talent.

            Kizer declared for the 2017 NFL draft following his junior season. He will turn 22 next January.

            Best-suited destination: In our view Kizer would be best-suited to go to a team where he’s not expected to start immediately and can adapt to more of a pro system. He’s young enough where sitting a year (or more) would be beneficial to let his game develop and not be exposed too soon. Teams that need a quarterback — now or in the near future — that could be intrigued by Kizer’s skill set include the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.

            Upside: Big, strong framed quarterback with nice athletic traits. Has a plus arm and can stripe it. Can throw a really pretty ball when his mechanics are sound and he sets himself. Nearly entire field is in play with the ball in Kizer’s hands. Smart and wants to learn. Has quiet, thoughtful demeanor and was thrust into leadership position at high-pressure program. Drop in productivity can be attributed to major loss of talent in 2016 (six of seven leading receivers from 2015 season, plus two top-50 picks on the O-line). Showed poise when the rush bore down on him and deliver strikes from awkward angles and without benefit of clean pocket. Watch as Kizer senses pressure (bad protection on four-man rush) quickly and deliver an off-balance strike where only his single-covered receiver could catch it (but dropped it):
            .

            .
            Good, instinctive runner who can pick up first downs either by design or on scrambles. Seems to go through progressions fairly well before tucking and running. Handled less-than-ideal circumstances at his pro day well and rebounded after so-so NFL scouting combine performance.

            Downside: Got too heavy by end of last season. Was at 250 pounds by USC game. Has taken a lot of hits in two years as runner and passer. Athletic testing numbers at combine were just OK. On-field throwing session in Indy was not great as he looked a bit robotic with some of his throws to the left. Far more efficient throwing to his right. Some of his passing production was schemed up off play action. Mechanics seem to break down often, especially late in games. Tries to make off-balance or “hero” throws that lead to problems. Can hold onto ball too long, waiting for receivers to uncover. Shaky ballhandling at times. Too turnover-prone, averaging more than one per game and throwing picks in 15 of his 23 college starts. Will lock onto and stare down his primary receiver, make poor reads and force balls into traffic:
            .

            .
            Comes from program and head coach in Brian Kelly not known in recent years for producing top QB talent (Kelly’s only draft pick of the 20-plus starting QBs he’s coached, was Cincinnati’s Tony Pike, a sixth-rounder who attempted 12 NFL passes). Kizer
            occasionally butted heads with Notre Dame coaching staff and wanted to incorporate his own ideas into the offense. Might need strong-minded NFL staff to keep him engaged and focused.

            Scouting hot take: “I think he suffered from the smartest-guy-in-the-room syndrome there a little bit. He’s a smart guy and a tough kid, a tough-minded kid, and you want that. But you have to make sure he can take [hard coaching] and respond to it. I think he can in a different environment.” — Midwest scout

            Player comp: Kizer has elements of Steve McNair and Ben Roethlisberger in his game but might not be on the level of either in terms of their rare, elite competitiveness

            Expected draft range: Top 40 picks
            Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

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            • #7
              Brian Kelly touts DeShone Kizer after questioning NFL readiness

              Four days after saying his former quarterback, DeShone Kizer, should have stayed in college rather than entering the 2017 NFL Draft as an underclassman, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly tried to dull the edge on those remarks Friday.

              "Whatever was interpreted, I have a great deal of positive feelings for DeShone," Kelly said Friday, per the Indianapolis Star. "I think he's the best quarterback coming out. I think that everybody that comes to Notre Dame would benefit from another year when they don't have their degree and can use college football to season themselves. So DeShone is not in that category by himself."

              Kelly came across more critically in a Sirius XM Radio interview Monday, and in turn, drew some criticism himself. Along with suggesting Kizer should have stayed in college, he noted that the Fighting Irish's two-year starter "needs more time to grow in so many areas," both on and off the field. Kizer is considered among the NFL draft's most talented quarterbacks, but like the other top passers available, there are scouting concerns about whether he could perform well as a rookie. In other words, Kelly sees what the scouts see -- a quarterback who will need some time to develop. But he also sees high potential in Kizer, as well.

              "I think he's got great character. I named him a captain," Kelly added Friday. "So for that to be seen any other way but positive, I think the headline could have been, 'Coach Kelly sees Kizer as the best quarterback in the draft,' or 'Kelly sees Kizer as having great character.' But, it wasn't seen that way and there's nothing I can do about it. I think the world of DeShone. I think he's gonna be a great quarterback in the NFL."

              How long that might take is a question NFL clubs are seeking an answer to, and they have only about three weeks to make up their minds. The draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
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              • #8
                I've been coming around on Kizer. I wonder if Kelly making that comment was an effort to help push Kizer to his boy Billy O?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Childress79 View Post
                  ...I wonder if Kelly making that comment was an effort to help push Kizer to his boy Billy O?
                  No, he was very non-enthusiastic about Kizer on SiriusXM recently and he caught some backlash for it...

                  Kelly was trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube on that bad look.
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                  • #10
                    I will say the kid probably has more talent in his pinky then almost every qb we've had. just worry about that talent manifesting
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      DeShone Kizer: I can be greatest quarterback ever to play in NFL

                      USA TODAY Sports
                      SOUTH BEND, Ind. – DeShone Kizer paused the video and rattled off everything that would have to be perfect for him to run the play as called in Notre Dame’s opener last season against Texas.

                      The defensive tackle is in the correct spot, but not the Longhorns’ best defender, a linebacker who’s in blitz position off the edge of the formation, right where the run is supposed to go.

                      “So now I’m up there checking the play,” Kizer told USA TODAY Sports, letting the tape roll again and watching himself make the change from his seat at the back of the Fighting Irish quarterbacks meeting room. “Instead of running at Malik Jefferson, let’s run it inside where I’m away from him. That’s exactly what we get to. So now we’re inside zone, I read that end, we cut back off of him and we’re off to the races.”

                      No quarterback prospect in next week’s NFL draft has been picked apart quite like Kizer since he declared in the wake of Notre Dame’s 4-8 finish and his own uneven play. Depending whom you ask inside the league, he could be just the fourth or fifth QB taken after North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Cal’s Davis Webb. But if you want to buy Kizer as a worthy first-round pick, this is a good place to start.

                      In the spread offense era of college football, where most coaches keep things simple for players and try to win with pure speed and precision, Kizer had what former Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford calls a “really rare” level of control – the ability to not only choose and manipulate protections, but manipulate the calls themselves. Run to run. Run to pass. Pass to run. And not just a “kill” call to a predetermined alternative. The playbook was at Kizer’s disposal.

                      Of course, that can cause problems when you’re running with a bunch of freshman receivers trying to remember hand signals and route depths with the game on the line. (Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly simplified things late in the season for a reason.) But Kizer has left little doubt he has the mental bandwidth required of NFL quarterbacks. And for a stretch during his nearly two seasons as the starter, Kizer’s size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), skills and production in that complicated system suggested he should be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.

                      “Name a college quarterback who goes into the game-plan meetings on Monday and throws his notes at the coaches,” Kizer said. “No one else game plans the way I do. No one else prepares the way I do. No one else knows football the way I do. No one else is as big as I am. No one else is as powerful a runner as I am. Pat Mahomes might throw the ball 80 yards and I can only throw the ball 72, but I guarantee he can’t throw an out route the way I can.

                      “No one else can do what I can do. And I’ve truly figured out in this (draft) process, if I can maximize all my potential in every aspect of the game – this is bold – I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play. Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”



                      The concerns about Kizer

                      There are two primary threads of concern among NFL scouts and coaches about Kizer – one he mostly agrees with, and another he strongly rejects.

                      The first is accuracy, which hasn’t been good enough. Kizer completed 62.9% of his passes as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and just 58.7% in 2016, when he and coaches kept trying to adjust his mechanics. He can pull up three examples of the exact same play from the same game on tape and his footwork looks a little different in each of them. Operating mostly from the shotgun, Kizer wasn’t even consistent on which foot was back at the snap, and didn’t know it until he saw the tape. He admits he had other worries as things unraveled – competing with junior Malik Zaire, getting booed going into the tunnel, getting benched.

                      Since December, Kizer has worked with a QB coach, Zac Robinson, on honing his identity as a passer. It was ugly when he tried to show off the adjustments at the scouting combine in early March. (“I started over-exaggerating,” he said.) His pro day was better, though his ball placement still wasn’t perfect. He has continued to concentrate on not over-striding. In private workouts with a half-dozen NFL teams, Kizer said, he’s throwing the best of his life.

                      “I figured out I’m at my best when my left hand’s locked in, my body’s balanced, I’ve got a little knee bend in my front leg as I throw the ball, I take a short step and I rip it,” he said.

                      The second concern is less quantifiable. Going back to the fall, when Kelly didn’t give Kizer all the practice reps or really commit to him until after an October benching against Stanford, the word getting back to NFL scouts is there may be a problem with desire. Is Kizer committed to doing what it takes to be great? Or is he more concerned with living the life and getting the spoils of being good?

                      It’s no accident Kizer avoided marketing deals, stayed off social media and did few interviews like this one over the past four months. He and his agents wanted to make clear he was focused solely on football. But the questions have persisted.

                      Part of the perception, Kizer thinks, stems from one of his regrets last season: he wasn’t visible enough as a leader. He’s naturally introverted in his preparation. Yes, he was often the first one out of the locker room. But he says that was to get away from the high emotions of practice. He’d see his tutor, do his homework and then come back late at night, when he could dim the lights in this QB room, put on country music and let himself become the player he was watching on the screen, alone. He also understands that if young teammates never saw him watching film, it’d be tough to convince them to.

                      “For (anyone) to say I don’t love the game or I don’t have the passion to be great – go spend one day in the Kizer household, I dare you,” Kizer said. “My dad told me when I was 12, quote: ‘I’m not paying for your college. Either you’re going to the military or you’re getting an athletic scholarship.’ And Lord knows I was never killing anyone and I wasn’t getting killed. So sports have always been my life. Winning has always been my life. I’ve never been a loser until this last year.”

                      So how would life be if he’s not great in the NFL?

                      “I’d be miserable,” Kizer said. “I’d be out there grinding my *** off until I was. I don’t know anything other than that.”


                      The answers will keep coming

                      While Kelly raised eyebrows a couple weeks ago by telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that Kizer needs more time to grow on and off field and “should still be in college” – an assertion Kizer doesn’t necessarily disagree with, though he thinks he’ll be ready to play as an NFL rookie – Sanford has been a staunch and vocal supporter of his former QB.

                      “He’s an absolute joy to coach, because he can conceptualize things way faster than most of the quarterbacks I’ve been around, without having to draw it up or put it on film,” said Sanford, now head coach at Western Kentucky. “How many of these other quarterbacks have completely managed protections with live bullets coming at the largest stadiums in college football? How many of these other quarterbacks have manipulated the run game to make sure you’re not running bad runs into bad looks?

                      “The risk side of it is going to be he hasn’t played more than two years of college football. He is a larger athlete, so there’s always going to be that fine-tuning of the mechanics. But the reward for me is you have a 6-4, 225-plus quarterback that’s going to be able to stand up to the daunting physical aspect at the NFL level.”

                      You can see the smarts on that run check in the Texas game that led to a long gain, and the protection adjustment Kizer made on a touchdown pass to Josh Adams in the fourth quarter of the same game (a 50-47 loss in double overtime).

                      He can also pull up examples of the checks and decisions that didn’t go right – poor pocket movement on a critical interception against Duke, sliding the protection the wrong way against a USC pressure and taking a sack.

                      Kizer doesn’t have all the answers. He just doesn’t see why he can’t have them eventually.

                      “The experiences that I’ve gone through these past couple years are also what separates me in this class,” Kizer said. “I think I know what it takes to win, and I know what it takes to endure adversity. I’ve hit my low. It’s only up from here.”
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