The 2016 season is one that can’t end soon enough for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (2-5) had a bye this past weekend and have their eyes set on this Saturday’s home game against Miami.
Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer will have a decision to make soon, but that decision seems like a no-brainer to most observers – especially considering the regressed state of his team this fall.
Kizer still has two remaining seasons of college eligibility to use, but he is eligible to declare for next spring’s NFL Draft after redshirting in 2014. If he decides to return to Notre Dame next year he would lead a team that would lose just one or two starters on each side of the ball and could reasonably expect to be much better than this season’s disappointing squad.
The chances that Kizer would return though are about as long as the preseason odds that the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs would meet in the World Series this fall. That’s because, despite his team’s woes, Kizer continues to be projected as a high-first-round NFL pick if he decides to turn pro.
A sampling of seven of the most recent mock drafts have the Toledo, OH native being selected in the top-4 picks of next April’s draft. Three of those sites – CBSports.com, Walterfootball.com and Draftsite.com – all have Kizer tabbed to go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns.
“(The Browns) have said that they favor him over Deshaun Watson and Brad Kaaya,” Walterfootball.com says of Kizer. They cite his “arm strength, accuracy and mobility” as his greatest assets.
Two other sites – NFLspinzone.com and Draftwire/USAToday.com – have Kizer going No. 2 to the San Francisco 49ers.
NFLmocks.com predicts Kizer will go No. 3 to the Jets (after a trade for the pick with Chicago) and Bleacherreport.com has him going No. 4 to the Bears. The site predicts North Carolina signal-caller Mitch Trubisky to go No. 1 to Cleveland.
Obviously, the potential landing spots are projections as well, since the order the teams will pick will not be determined until the end of the NFL season.
Two other sites are not nearly as high on Kizer. Drafttek.com rates him as the No. 3 overall quarterback, behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Miami’s Brad Kaaya, and just the No. 30 overall draft prospect. However, their most recent mock draft does not have Kizer being selected within the first 32 picks of the first round (they ironically project his teammate, left tackle Mike McGlinchey, to go at No. 32 to Philadelphia).
Draftutopia.com has Kizer going at No. 20 overall to the Browns. They forecast Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes to be the first QB taken with the No. 2 overall pick to the 49ers, with Watson going No. 3 to the Bears. They call Mahomes “the closest thing to a complete quarterback” on the 2017 draft class.
Kizer has struggled, especially in recent weeks, with accuracy and decision-making and some of the sites point that out in his evaluations. His completion percentage for the season is at just 58.1 percent after going a mere 23 of 52 (44%) for 208 yards and three interceptions in his last two games against North Carolina State and Stanford.
Kizer has passed for 1,775 yards, 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions through seven games. He has also added 285 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns.