With Everett Golson transferring to Florida State, Malik Zaire was tabbed as the Irish starter in 2015, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the second game against Virginia and Kizer took over, leading Notre Dame to a comeback victory and starting the remainder of the season. He finished his redshirt freshman year with 63 percent completions, 2,844 passing yards and 31 total touchdowns (21 passing, 10 rushing). Kizer and Zaire entered the 2016 season in a dead-heat competition, but Kizer received the starting nod in all 12 games. Although his completion percentage dropped to 58.7-percent, the sophomore set career-bests in passing yards (2,925) and passing touchdowns (26). Three years removed from high school, Kizer elected to skip his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
A two-year starter at Notre Dame, Kizer was a great fit in Notre Dame's zone-read scheme and consistently held off competition from Zaire despite questionable support from head coach Brian Kelly. He benefited from a strong supporting cast in 2015, but lost many of those weapons in 2016, including four of his top five receivers (including first round pick Will Fuller), a left tackle who was drafted top-10 (Ronnie Stanley) and the Irish's leading rusher (C.J. Prosise).
Kizer has taken a whirlwind tour of the NFL during the spring and interest appears to be increasing as the calendar turns to April.
From a physical standpoint, Kizer checks all the boxes with his developed physique, impressive arm talent, natural athleticism and the flawless football character desired at the NFL level. However, he is still young in his development with most of his mistakes due to late decisions and careless throws outside of structure. While his film shows inconsistency in his decision-making and execution, Kizer also shows impressive throws and movements amidst the chaos that most college prospects struggle with and it isn't tough to see why several NFL teams will consider him early in the first round.
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with the desired height and developed build. Above average arm strength with easy velocity to make every NFL throw. Comfortable downfield passer, delivering with proper touch and trajectory. Efficient set-up with an elevated, natural release. Loose athlete with functional movements within the pocket to shuffle, slide and easily shift his weight. Veteran pocket movements and poise, keeping his vision downfield. Not a twitchy mover, but nimble for his size with the mobility to beat defenders with his open-field quickness. Understands ball placement and not intimidated by tight windows, throwing passes through the keyhole. Highly intelligent both on and off the field with the horizontal and vertical vision to make whole field reads. Asked to digest a complex playbook at Notre Dame, including pre-snap checks, protections and reads. Feels the blitz well and often has an escape plan, whether running or throwing it away. Stands tall in the pocket with the durability to take punishment, whether in the pocket or when scrambling. Wired right for the NFL with the mature work habits and unselfish attitude that NFL coaches are seeking.
WEAKNESSES: Internal clock lacks sophistication, holding the ball too long and appearing gun shy at times from the pocket. Too many late throws on his resume tape and would greatly benefit from speeding up his process a half second. Wide throwing base, stemming from his background as a baseball pitcher throwing off the mound. Bad habit of relying on pre-snap reads and staring down intended target, leading to poor decisions. Ball placement tends to waver, especially on the move when unable to rely on set-up mechanics. Consistency declined throughout the 2016 season and received questionable support from the head coach, causing his confidence to waver. Durable body type, but willingness to finish runs through contact leads to potential injuries. Ball security needs addressed with 13 career fumbles.
COMPARES TO: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals: Though he has a long way to go to justify the comparison to a former No. 1 overall pick and three-time Pro Bowler, Kizer possesses the physical attributes and mental toughness scouts look for in a franchise quarterback, reminding of a young Palmer. Some forget that prior to a breakout Heisman-winning redshirt senior season in 2002, Palmer struggled with consistency, himself, tossing an identical 39 touchdowns and 39 interceptions before the light came on.
Career Passing Stats
Career Rushing/Receiving Stats
Career Punting Stats