For a quarterback whose starting job at Notre Dame was in question this season, DeShone Kizer remains one of college football's most highly regarded prospects in scouting circles. In fact, an NFC executive views the redshirt sophomore as a top-10 draft choice.
"Pocket passer with a very good arm, has the athletic ability to get out and make plays with his feet," the executive told MMQB. "All the tools are there. He's struggled a little bit over the last month but was excellent on film last year and the beginning of this year."
Kizer will be eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft if he applies for and is granted early eligibility after the season. As a redshirt sophomore, however, his draft year could also be 2018 or even 2019. After a season and a half as a starting quarterback, however, the executive who spoke with MMQB has clearly seen enough. Further evidence that scouting opinions of Kizer have remained strong despite his recent struggles came from an AFC executive last week, who told NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks that Kizer has every trait scouts look for at the position.
Some blame for Notre Dame's 2-5 start to the season, naturally, has fallen on Kizer. Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said Kizer's play wasn't "acceptable" after a loss to Duke in which Kizer committed a pair of turnovers. Kelly also benched Kizer briefly in a game vs. Stanford earlier this month. Although Kizer has struggled in his last two games -- albeit one played in Hurricane conditions at N.C. State -- Kelly has reaffirmed Kizer as the team's signal-caller.
Another NFL scout told MMQB that while Kizer's arm strength is a plus, his decision making needs improvement. For a player with more than two years of NCAA eligibility remaining, there is plenty of time, potentially, for strides to be made in that area. Kizer has completed 118 of 203 passes for 1,775 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. However, he's thrown at least one interception in six consecutive games.
Notre Dame plays host to Miami on Saturday. Scouts from 11 NFL clubs are expected to be on hand, so if Kizer is indeed a top-10 talent, Saturday would be a fine day to show it.