Former NFL head coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden is impressed with Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, but would not use a first round pick on the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder.
Kizer was among the seven quarterbacks to meet with Gruden for his ESPN special. Deshaun Watson, Nathan Peterman, Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb and Joshua Dobbs were the others.
Gruden held a media conference call Wednesday morning and expanded on his thoughts on Kizer, who is one of several quarterbacks hoping to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, which begins April 27 in Philadelphia.
“I liked him when I met with him. He’s obviously very sharp, well spoken,” Gruden said of Kizer. “Charismatic in a lot of ways. I also know he’s emotional. He’s not real proud I don’t think of their 4-8 record. I did like him. I thought he had a genuine, sincere, honest nature about him.”
Most projections slot Trubisky, Watson and Mahomes as first round picks. Gruden agrees with that order, and believes a “sleeper” like Kizer or Peterman could also be taken in the first 32 picks.
Like the other top quarterbacks, Kizer has obvious strengths and weaknesses.
“I did like his obvious size and the strength of his arm is impressive,” Gruden said of Kizer. “Would I use a first round pick on him? Probably not. I don’t think the body of work is complete. There are some things that he’s got to resolve in terms of end-of-game situations, winning, there’s some things he’s still a little rough around the edges.
“From a talent standpoint he’s got a lot of ability. He’s athletic, he’s tough and he’s got a cannon for an arm. I do think I would probably have a hard time taking him in the first round this year.”
Gruden also discussed the other top quarterbacks in the draft.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson
“His body of work impressed me the most. He went to back-to-back national championship games. He beat the best teams in college football. I love the poise that he plays with. He played his best football when Clemson was behind and all the chips were on the table. He’s got thick skin, and he’s mentally tough. I saw him overcome three interceptions to come back and beat Louisville. I like his overall game. He’s athletic. He’s a dual-threat. He’s got the intangibles that everyone craves.”
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
“Do the 13 starts concern me? Yes, they do. I don’t remember many quarterbacks with just 13 career starts. They didn’t finish strong, either. They lost in the bowl game to Stanford. The Virginia Tech game was not good. They lost to Duke in a big game. I would have liked to see him stay (in school). But, he is talented, and he did get results. He had some really good moments – in Tallahassee against Florida State and bringing them back to beat Pitt. He’s a dual-threat. I don’t think people realize how athletic Trubisky is. He’s still a big mystery to a lot of people. It will be very interesting to see how high he goes.”
Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
“I like the kid at Pitt, honestly. if you said I had to go out there today as a head coach, I’d go out there with Nathan Peterman. He’d allow us to do just about anything in the game plan. I think he throws the ball pretty darn well, and he’s very sharp. He’s a lot like Andy Dalton to me. I’d go with Peterman if I had to put him out there in a few months.
“His passing mechanics and his whole demeanor – he’s buttoned up all the way. He is sharp. I think he’s going to be a real good pro quarterback. I just have a real confidence in that. He can memorize. He can execute any play you dream up. I’m smitten with him a little bit as a player.”
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
“Mahomes is the most intriguing player in this draft. His arm talent is special. He can really rifle the ball, not only with velocity and accuracy, but he can do it from awkward positions. He can throw the ball side arm, off balance and under duress. He can really rip it. I just think he’s got a big time arm. He’s athletic. He’s got a huge upside. It’s going to take a little time to make the transition as he was a true junior. You can’t forget that.”
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
“I would love to get my hands on Dobbs. He, to me, is a great sleeper in this draft. He played in an offense where there weren’t a lot of pure drop backs. He was a running quarterback. He ran for more than 2,000 yards in the SEC. But if you watch the second half of the Florida game, and if you watch the Nebraska game, you see passing ability. He, much like Davis Webb, stood out in the Senior Bowl as a guy who could make a quick transition. This kid is smart, he loves it, he’ll be a quick study and his athleticism is going to be hard to keep off the field. This guy has the heart of a champion. I really like Dobbs a lot. Hopefully someone with a real creative mind gets him.”
Davis Webb, Cal
“Davis Webb is interesting. He transferred from Texas Tech to Cal. He played in a no-huddle offense similar to the one that Jared Goff played in. He displays some touch, accuracy and arm talent. He’s not a mobile quarterback. He’s not the athlete that Mahomes is. But, he is accurate, and he had a very good week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He proved he could adapt quickly and learn. I think he’s going to be in the conversation for a lot of these teams in the first three rounds of the draft.”