Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn't any more sure about DeShone Kizer's readiness for the NFL than some of Kizer's critics.
The coach made it clear Monday that he sees his former quarterback as a developmental pro prospect, even though he's considered a possible first-round draft choice, telling Sirius XM Radio that Kizer still has quite a bit of needed growth ahead of him.
"Well, he still should be in college. The circumstances are such that you have to make business decisions and he felt like it was in his best interest," Kelly said. "I'm going to support him and his decision. But the reality of it is he needs more football, he needs more time to grow in so many areas. Not just on the field, but off the field."
Kizer (6-foot-4, 233 pounds) entered the draft as a third-year sophomore with just two seasons of starting experience at the college level. NFL.com draft expert Mike Mayock sees Kizer as the top quarterback prospect in the draft, citing his impressive physical tools, but also views him as a work in progress. Kizer struggled at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but showed some improvement at Notre Dame's pro-day workout, per Mayock.
Kelly became frustrated with Kizer's play last year and at one point said the Fighting Irish's quarterback job would be open for competition following a loss to Duke, so it's not surprising that Kelly sees Kizer's career arc needing some time to peak.
"He's got to be able to have that attention to detail and that focus. He's got to be smart. He's got to have the ability to grind and a great attitude. He's got those traits, but they've got to be continuously worked on," Kelly said. "Whoever takes DeShone, he's not a finished product in those areas. But when he does get more time to work on those traits, you're got to have a great young man and a great quarterback. The skills are out there. You can see them. You just go to his workout and you can see that he's got those skills. He's just not complete yet."
Apparently, none of the draft's quarterbacks are complete. The question is which of them will eventually find stardom, and which NFL clubs are willing to wait on it.