If the Bears can fix whatever it is that causes DeShone Kizer to be so damn inconsistent with his ball placement, they just might have a franchise quarterback.
When I watched Kizer, I never knew what I was going to get from throw-to-throw, a scary thought for a guy the Bears may be considering with the third pick in the draft. But I can’t tell if it’s an issue that can easily be fixed or one that will dog him throughout what would then be a short NFL career.
A lot of people love Kizer. I respect the opinions of some of those who do. But his inaccuracy is undeniable and when you factor in occasionally-puzzling decision making, it makes him a scary prospect.
Some like to say Kizer’s struggles were only a problem this year and there’s something to that. In 2015 he had just 2 games in which he completed less than 55 percent of his passes, compared to 5 last year.
What happened?The talent around him dropped significantly and his coach was a jackass.
But the issues were still there. Maybe not as extreme, but they existed. Watch him against Ohio State in 2015 and you see a quarterback who was sporadic and made some really dumb decisions. That’s a game he should have learned from. A game that should have made him better and launched an outstanding red shirt sophomore campaign. It just didn’t happen.
The “why” part of the Kizer equation is what makes him such a fascinating prospect. It wasn’t as if he was always inaccurate. He’s fully capable of consistently making good throws. He just doesn’t.
I kept track of a few of Kizer’s games and in almost all of them his accuracy went from really good to really bad or vice versa. There was one game where he was accurate on nearly all of his passes in the first half, then missed on more than half of his passes in the second half. And they were bad misses. He went from threading a needle to not being able to hit the ocean from a boat.
It just doesn’t make sense. And then I thought about it. Are we sure he got any coaching at Notre Dame?
Brian Kelly has won a lot of games, but is there any evidence that he knows how to handle and develop a good quarterback? More than a few people insist that Kelly never wanted Kizer as his quarterback. He loved Malik Zaire and fully intended on him being starting him until Zaire was injured. Kizer took over, rallying the team to the win in his relief appearance. That started the hype machine and Kelly was never able to pull the plug.
What if Kizer’s problem was something really minor that his college coaches either weren’t aware of, didn’t know or to fix or didn’t care to fix? What if an NFL coach can fix his accuracy issues in training camp? If that’s the case, he’s absolutely worth the third pick of the draft because he has all the tools you look for.
I don’t think Kizer will ever be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league, but he can throw the ball down the field and make plays with his feet. As long as his accuracy is adequate, that should be enough for him to be a good NFL quarterback.
If there’s one thing we learned about Kizer last year, though, it’s that he isn’t going to put the team on his back. The talent around him wasn’t great last year, but a really great quarterback should get more than four wins at Notre Dame. They hadn’t been that bad since Jimmy Clausen was a freshman. If he couldn’t do it in college, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to be able to in the NFL.
While Kizer’s ceiling really has no limit, my reasonable NFL comparison for him is Joe Flacco. That isn’t sexy, I know, but the Ravens have won a lot of games with Flacco, including a Super Bowl. They just can’t rely on him to win by himself. When he’s had adequate coaching and a decent supporting cast, Flacco has been a good quarterback. When those things aren’t in place, he struggles. To me, that’s Kizer in a nutshell.
That may not sound like somebody worth the third overall pick, but good quarterbacks are hard to find. If the Bears think Kizer can start for them for the next decade, he’d be worth the third pick.