The days of DeShone Kizer being the No. 1 quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft are over.
Though the former Notre Dame standout maintains that he is still the best of the bunch, analysts and insiders continue to slide the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder down the board.
Kizer is now behind North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s DeShaun Watson in the first round pecking order, and currently in a battle with Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes to be the third quarterback taken.
But without a surefire No. 1 selection at QB — most analysts project Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett will go first overall — there’s still room for debate with each leading up to the draft, which beings April 27 in Philadelphia.
“It’ll be interesting to see where these quarterbacks come off the board,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said. “There’s such a wide array of positives and issues with each guy.”
During a media teleconference Tuesday, McShay spoke about each of the various quarterbacks. But McShay focused a lot on the competition between Mahomes and Kizer to be the third quarterback selected, which could be the difference between a first or a second-round pick.
The 6-3, 230-pound Mahomes completed 65.7 percent of his 591 attempts for 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2016. His physical skills and strong arm are intriguing, but his name has only recently surged up mock drafts.
“There are some teams I talk to that think Mahomes is a media creation, that’s the last quote I got last night from talking to someone from the league,” McShay said. “His tape lines up with a player you would draft on day two.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Mahomes going No. 13 to Arizona, while McShay has him going No. 32 to New Orleans. Kiper has Kizer going No. 27 to Kansas City, while McShay has him at No. 33 to Cleveland.
Mahomes’ game film, like Kizer’s, does not necessarily warrant a first-round selection, McShay said. Mahomes played in the Air Raid offense in the Big 12, while Kizer was in much more traditional offense that required a lot of pre-snap audibles.
Both, though, have the physical tools.
“Both big, both have huge arms,” McShay said. “Kizer is obviously bigger than Mahomes. Big arm, ability to make throws that most human beings cannot make.”
The criticisms of Kizer are well documented. His completion percentage of 58.7 has reportedly worried some teams. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said Kizer could have benefitted from another year in college.
Mahomes, meanwhile, is far from a finished product as well. McShay said going from the Air Raid in college to complex NFL schemes is “almost like learning a different language.”
“Mahomes is everyone’s favorite story and he has unbelievable talent, but when I actually talk to decision makers in the league, they’re very few that are saying that they want to invest the time and commitment into developing him,” McShay said. “You’re just so limited in the hours you get already and it’s going to be a long project. There’s other that think he’s worth it and think he’s going to wind up being a star.”
On March 21, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had Kizer as his No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Mahomes was No. 4. But in his updated rankings released April 12, Mahomes rose to No. 3 and Kizer fell all the way to No. 4.
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