The opinions on DeShone Kizer are wide ranging.
In the eyes of ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., the former Notre Dame quarterback isn’t worthy of a first-round pick.
“He’s got physical and athletic talent, big, strong-armed kid, athletic,” Kiper said on a media teleconference Thursday. “He looks the part, but he didn’t play like you expected.”
In his Mock Draft 1.0, Kiper does not have the 6-4½, 230-pound Kizer going in the first round. Kiper said he has a second-round grade on the Toledo, Ohio, native.
The 2017 draft is considered weak in terms of quarterbacks. North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky is projected by Kiper to go No. 2 overall to San Francisco, while Clemson’s DeShaun Watson is projected to go No. 10 to Buffalo.
In his writeup, Kiper noted that in his post-national title game conversations, Watson has received a draft bump due to his standout performance.
In previous draft articles, both Kiper and fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay both recommended that Kizer return for his senior season at Notre Dame.
“I watch Notre Dame, I’m a big Notre Dame fan, and to watch him and see the struggles in terms of decision-making, late getting rid of the football at times, just didn’t have the year you would’ve expected,” Kiper said of Kizer. “With the year being very average, [you would’ve thought] he’d go back for another year.
“But that system didn’t fit him, I understand that, but if you don’t play at a high level at Notre Dame, how are you going to be expected to play at a high level in the NFL?”
Kizer, who elected to forego his final two seasons college eligibility, was Notre Dame’s team MVP in 2016, leading the Irish to a 4-8 record. He was 212-of-361 passing for 2,925 yards with 26 touchdowns. He also ran for 472 yards and eight scores.
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Kizer going No. 6 to the New York Jets, Trubisky No. 2 to the 49ers and Watson No. 25 to Houston. CBS Sports has Kizer going No. 3 to Chicago. Sports Illustrated has Kizer going No. 13 to Arizona.