Kizer’s draft stock on the rise after performance at Texas

After just one week of the college football season, Deshone Kizer has played his way to the top of NFL mock drafts. See what’s to like about Kizer here.

After his performance against Texas on Sunday night, DeShone Kizer has become a household name. Matt Miller, Bleacher Report’s NFL draft lead writer, released a mock draft based on the players’ performance in the first week of the college football season. Kizer is slated to go number one overall to the Cleveland Browns.

The Toledo, Ohio, native is in his third year at Notre Dame, making him eligible for the NFL draft at season’s end.

The nation learned a good deal about Kizer last season. In his first game action, he lead the Irish to a come-from behind drive to beat Virginia. From there, he compiled eight wins in eleven tries as a starter even as the roster crumbled around him as a result of injuries.

But Sunday night was different. The stage was perhaps the brightest it has been for Kizer to date. The Irish’s matchup with Texas was the only game featured. It was the night before a national holiday. The nation watched. Kizer delivered.

Will Fuller was on the sideline, but this time he was in street clothes as a spectator. Gone from the Irish roster included offensive weapons of Fuller, CJ Prosise, Chris Brown and Corey Robinson. Last year, Kizer benefited from having playmakers around him. On Sunday night, Kizer showed he was not just a distributor for playmakers, but a playmaker himself.

There is plenty to like about Kizer.

Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) runs for a touchdown as Texas Longhorns safety Kevin Vaccaro (18) defends in the third quarter at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas won 50-47 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) runs for a touchdown as Texas Longhorns safety Kevin Vaccaro (18) defends in the third quarter at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas won 50-47 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, he has what many would consider the perfect stature for a big-time quarterback. He is 6-foot-4 and weighs around 230 pounds. He stature makes it so passing lanes are more natural. Smaller quarterbacks often have to create passing lanes with their feet. Kizer does not have that problem.

On the flip side of that coin, he is nimble enough to make the defense pay when they fail to account for his running ability. He rushed for over 500 yards last year. That said, his rushing ability is perhaps best utilized in the red zone. He scored 10 touchdowns on the ground in 2015. His powerful throwing arm is a great complement to his size and speed.

Physical tools aside, Kizer also has the most important tool necessary to  succeed at the next level: football smarts.

Kizer was able to stand out from Malik Zaire on Sunday night because of his decisiveness. Those who watch him closest rave about his ability to see the game. The ability to see the open receiver before he is open is central to successful quarterbacks. Kizer definitely possesses that ability.

Perhaps his most impressive throw Sunday came on an incomplete pass. Late in the third quarter, the Irish faced a third down and 12 inside the Texas red zone. Kizer dropped a ball in between three Texas defenders that hit wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. right in the hands. Had it not been for a viscous (and arguably illegal) hit by a Texas defender, the play would have been one for the highlight reels.

There still is plenty of season to go, but there is no indication that Kizer’s play will taper off. If he and the Irish struggle, he could fall down draft boards. However, his physical tools and his ability to see the game make him a tantalizing draft prospect. Irish fans certainly hope he sticks around at season’s end, but with the way he is playing, it will be difficult for him to say no the NFL.

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