Following this weekend’s annual Echoes Awards, Deshone Kizer said he had not made his NFL decision yet, but was close. Turns out he only need a couple more days. On Monday, Kizer announced that he will forgo his senior season at Notre Dame and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kizer announced his decision to enter the draft through his Twitter account.
— DeShone Kizer (@deshonekizer) December 12, 2016
Kizer’s decision does not come as much of a surprise although almost every NFL Draft analyst has said that Kizer should come back for his senior season. The 2017 NFL Draft, however, has a major shortage of elite quarterbacks which could allow Kizer to maximize his draft potential even though he has a lot of room for improvement.
While those same analysts have said Kizer would greatly benefit from another season in college, they almost all agree he will be a high pick based on tools and potential alone. There are plenty of quarterback needy teams who will be drafting high this year and not a lot of options for them outside of Kizer and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
Ever since his eye popping season opening performance over Texas, the hype around Kizer began to build. Unsteady performances and a 4-8 record from Notre Dame didn’t do too much to derail the hype either. Kizer finished the 2016 season with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He had just four games with more than two touchdown passes, however and he had zero passing scores in losses to NC State and Stanford resulting in a brief benching.
Kizer’s big arm and running ability – he added 8 rushing touchdowns this past season – still make him an attractive NFL prospect and almost certain 1st round selection.
On Friday night, Kizer was named one of seven captains for Notre Dame in 2017 in a surprising early announcement from Brian Kelly. Three days later Notre Dame is down to six captains.
Notre Dame’s Quarterback Depth Takes a Hit
With Kizer’s departure, the Brandon Wimbush Era at Notre Dame officially begins. Behind Wimbush though, Notre Dame will have very little depth in 2017. Ian Book red-shirted in 2016 and will get the first crack at backing up Wimbush. Incoming freshman Avery Davis will have every opportunity to assume that back up role in camp.
Notre Dame also lost Malik Zaire to graduate transfer following the season. The two quarterbacks who headlined last summer’s most high profile quarterback derby will both be playing else where in 2017.
Wimbush red-shirted this past season as well after being forced into early action in 2015 as Kizer’s backup. He has three years of eligibility remaining and will have the benefit of spending the entire off-season knowing his is the starter without the worry of any looming quarterback battle.
Other NFL Decisions Remain
Notre Dame is still awaiting the NFL decisions for Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. While McGlinchey said several times throughout the season he plans on returning, his name was one of four submitted for a NFL evaluation at the end of the season along with Nelson, Kizer, and Nyles Morgan.
Over the weekend Nyles Morgan said that he was definitely returning while Nelson was non-committal. Most observers around the program, however, feel as though Nelson and McGlinchey will both return. Should they return, Notre Dame will have all five starting offensive linemen back to protect their new starting quarterback.
Like Kizer, Nelson, McGlinchey, and Morgan were all named captains for the 2017 season as well. If things don’t go as planned here for Notre Dame, they could be looking for some more captains this off-season.