Where former Notre Dame quarterback Deshone Kizer goes in the NFL Draft later this month is still anyone’s guess. Some have him ranked as the top QB in the draft while others suggest he could fall to the 3rd round. In looking around the NFL though, one team stands out to be as the perfect landing spot for one of the 2017 Draft’s most polarizing prospects – the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well let’s review what is generally widely agreed upon on Kizer by the majority of pundits right now even if they widely disagree on where he will get picked.
- Kizer is the most physically gifted quarterback prospects with the highest upside.
- Many consider him to having the biggest arm in the entire draft.
- He is not a day one ready quarterback who is going to step in and lead a team out of the cellar.
- He will need some time to develop and is not best suited for a situation where he will be asked to start from day one.
So let’s forget about teams like the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers for now. If either of them select Kizer, it won’t be in the first round.
The Steelers fit that description almost perfectly. Ben Roethlisberger will be back in 2017 for the Steelers for his 14th season as their starter and at 35 years old, there is a chance that Pittsburgh could squeeze another year out of Big Ben before he retires. That would give Pittsburgh, potentially two years to groom Kizer to be their starting quarterback of the future. Considering Kizer is just 21 years old now, that would make him 23 years old when he took over.
Kizer’s skillset also mirrors Roethlisberger’s almost identically. Kizer is a big passer at 6’5′, 230 lbs but is still able to make defenders miss and make plays with his legs. We found out at the combine that Kizer is definitely quicker than he is fast with a less than ideal 40 time, but throughout the last two seasons it was apparent that Kizer was a threat to extend plays and run when presented the opportunity. Hello Temple 2015.
The Steelers have developed a core group of offensive skill position players that would allow Kizer to showcase his arm such as Antonio Brown – arguably the NFL’s most dangerous wide receiver. Steelers #2 wide receiver for 2017 – Martavis Bryant fits the mold of a deep threat as well. Of all the quarterbacks in the Draft this year, Kizer arguably has the biggest arm of them all.
Throw in Le’Veon Bell into the mix and a good offensive line and you have an offense built for a quarterback like Deshone Kizer. With a year or two of seasoning and grooming behind Roethlisberger, Kizer would be in an ideal situation and the Steelers would have their quarterback of the future in place. Who knows, maybe Big Ben would even be more willing to server as a mentor to a fellow Ohio boy than Brett Favre was to Aaron Rodgers more than a decade ago in Green Bay.
The last part of the equation here that makes Pittsburgh a great fit is their position in the draft. The Steelers do not draft until #30 overall which could allow them to get some great value in taking Kizer. Should another team not want to invest a mid or high draft pick on their QB of the future, Pittsburgh would be standing to get great value at #30. Remember, a year ago the Denver Broncos spent the 26th overall pick on a QB they didn’t plan to start in 2016 – Paxton Lynch.
Other Ideal Landing Spots
If Deshone Kizer doesn’t end up with the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are a number of other teams in the NFL with aging star quarterbacks who will need to be replaced in the next few seasons. One of them could see taking Kizer akin to the Packers taking Rodgers when they still had Favre. Here are a few of those other possibilities.
Arizona Cardinals – Much like the Steelers with Roethlisberger, the Cardinals will be in need of their next quarterback sooner rather than later. Carson Palmer is still in the league and will be back in 2017 but there’s no guarantee he will be back in 2018. Would the Cardinals be willing to use the #13 pick in the draft on Kizer? They held a private meeting with Kizer last week so there is either legit interest or some smoke screens being used here.
Los Angeles Chargers – Phillip Rivers is 35 years old so the Chargers will be in search of a new quarterback soon. As the Chargers prepare for their move to LA they will likely want Rivers’s heir apparent in place sooner rather than later. It’s unlikely they would use the #7 overall selection on Kizer, but if he is around when they select again in the 2nd round at #38, it would be hard for them to justify passing.
New Orleans Saints – Another team with an aging quarterback. Drew Brees is 38 years old and while he is still playing at a very high level there aren’t many quarterbacks who have been able to sustain the level of play Brees has shown into their late 30’s. Given Brees’s smaller size, it’s likely that when he loses it, he’ll lose it fast. The Saints have a lot of offensive weapons to utilize Kizer’s arm even after their trade of Brandin Cooks. With two first round picks courtesy of that Cooks trade, the Saints would make a lot of sense at #32.
Houston Texans – The Texans need a quarterback but they need one NOW. The Texans are a team built to win now if they have the right QB and none of the rookie signal callers would seem like the best of fits for a team that could contend in the AFC in 2017 with the right quarterback. Still at #25, they could be an option.
Kansas City Chiefs – If the Steelers are a perfect fit for Kizer, the Chiefs might just be a near perfect fit. Andy Reid has a history of working with mobile quarterbacks who aren’t necessarily runners and while the Chiefs recently resigned Alex Smith, it’s pretty clear he isn’t the QB that will get them over the top. In a lot of ways, Kizer resembles a young Donovan McNabb – huge arm, raw, extremely talented. Reid drafted McNabb #2 overall when he was with the Eagles and didn’t start him day one. With the #27 overall pick, Reid could take his next McNabb with Kizer.
Chicago Bears – The Bears made one of the biggest surprise moves in free agency by giving journeyman Mike Glennon a very generous contract. Some like myself hypothesized that the Bears, realizing there wasn’t a polished QB in the his draft, bought themselves a tackling dummy for a season or two as they groom their QB of the future. If that is the case, the Bears could use their early 2nd rounder (#36) on Kizer, start Glennon in 2017 and then reassess things next year.
There are some other QB needy teams not covered here too such as the Jets who haven been almost as big a QB graveyard as Cleveland over the last 20 years. The Jaguars could decide to draft a young QB in case they decide to move on from Blake Bortles after this year. The Giants will need a new quarterback soon but I just don’t want to think about a Notre Dame quarterback playing for the Giants as a diehard Eagles fan unless I absolutely have to. If Kizer slides, another team to watch for would be Buffalo at #44 overall in the 2nd round.
With the importance of the quarterback position in the NFL and the tantalizing raw, physical tools Kizer has though, I have a hard time seeing him falling out of the 1st round. Paxton Lynch was a 1st round pick. Tim Tebow was a 1st round pick. Christian Ponder was a 1st round pick. If all of those quarterbacks were 1st rounders in recent years how can Kizer not be?