Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya is one of the top prospects in college football, and as a junior, he could be eligible for the NFL draft as early as 2017. He's drawing high praise from a former NFL executive.
"He has some Peyton Manning-like qualities as far as intelligence and leadership," the former executive told ESPN.
What's missing there, of course, is the suggestion that Kaaya's overall talent rivals that of the retired five-time NFL MVP. But intelligence and leadership were certainly two of Manning's most valuable qualities during his storybook NFL career that he capped with his second Super Bowl title.
At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Kaaya has been described as the "model NFL quarterback," by an ACC coach. New Hurricanes coach Mark Richt likes Kaaya's NFL potential, but isn't predicting his place in the draft just yet.
"I don't know if he's the-second-pick-in-the-draft good. Maybe he is," Richt said. "But people say these things, and it's not fair to a guy sometimes to have that kind of expectation. But I think he's really good, and he'll be a really good pro one day."
Whether that day comes in 2017 or 2018 could depend on how well Kaaya performs in the coming season, operating in his third offense in three years at the school. Kaaya said at the ACC Football Kickoff event last month that Richt's influence and offense -- which will expose him to more pro-style concepts -- have already advanced his development.
If his intelligence and leadership turn out to be anywhere near Manning's level, the NFL team that one day gives him a shot will probably be very happy with its decision.