Mock Draft: DeShone Kizer shows No. 1 skills in dramatic loss

By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer throws a pass as he warms up for the Fiesta Bowl between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Ohio State Buckeyes at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, January 1.2016. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer throws a pass as he warms up for the Fiesta Bowl between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Ohio State Buckeyes at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, January 1.2016. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

Notre Dame couldn't leave Austin with a victory Sunday night, but redshirt sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer grew up on the big stage.

He impressed as a freshman last season and entered the 2016 campaign as one of the Irish's top NFL prospects. With his combination of size, athleticism and arm talent, scouts can't help but gush at the physical skillset he offers for the next level. Kizer also has the poise, intelligence and vision at the quarterback position that favorably compares to Jameis Winston, who left Florida State after his redshirt sophomore season and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.


Winston obviously had a much more extensive college resume, but if Kizer continues his growth in 2016 and decides to go pro, he will be one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in the 2017 class.


**The draft order for this exercise was determined based on the Vegas odds to win next year's Super Bowl.


1. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: The Browns' search for a quarterback of the future continues, and Kizer could be a name high on their list with his intelligence, poise and physical tools at the most important position.

2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-11): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: San Francisco has the worst quarterback depth chart in the NFL (yes, worse than the Browns). Watson is unpolished in areas, but he is an above average athlete with a terrific arm who would fit well in Chip Kelly's offense.

3. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-12): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Would the Chargers draft a pass rusher with the No. 3 pick overall in back-to-back years? Yes, if Garrett is available for them here. Forcing offenses to gameplan against both Joey Bosa and Garrett would be a tough task.

4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-11): Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan: Entering a contract year, Jonathan Cyprien has yet to cement himself as a starting-caliber safety. An above average athlete, Peppers can do just about everything on the football field.


5. TENNESSEE TITANS (3-13): Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: Off-field issues aside, Tabor is arguably the most talented cornerback prospect in the country and would provide the Titans with an instant upgrade at the position.

6. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-10): Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: Tampa Bay added Noah Spence in the 2016 class and can continue to upgrade the defensive line with McDowell, who is equally dominant whether lined up inside or outside.

7. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-9): Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: The Saints struggled to consistently pressure the opponent's backfield last year and didn't do much to upgrade the issue over the offseason. Williams would change that.

8. DETROIT LIONS (7-9): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are exciting ballcarriers, but Fournette has strengths as a runner that neither possess and adds another dimension to the offense.

9. CLEVELAND BROWNS (FROM PHILADELPHIA) (3-13): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Isaiah Crowell is in a contract year and the dynamic presence Cook brings to the offense might be too appealing for Hue Jackson and the Cleveland front office to pass up.


10. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Can Byron Maxwell be a No. 1 cornerback? Will Xavien Howard push for starting reps as a rookie? Will any other corner step up in 2016 for Miami? A lot of questions at cornerback for the Dolphins.

11. TENNESSEE TITANS (FROM LOS ANGELES) (3-13): JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Southern California: The Titans have plenty of bodies on the wide receiver depth chart, but no true difference-maker. A target like Smith-Schuster would help the development of Marcus Mariota.

12. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (9-7): Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: With the Redskins' multiple front, Allen is an ideal fit with his versatility and impact potential to positively affect both the run and the pass.

13. ATLANTA FALCONS (8-8): Desmond King, CB, Iowa: Robert Alford will be a free agent after the 2016 season and unless Jalen Collins or another cornerback steps up, the Falcons will be looking for more secondary help next spring.

14. CHICAGO BEARS (6-10): Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (Fla.): Unless Jay Cutler changes the narrative in 2016, the Bears would be wise to invest in a long-term option at quarterback if a prospect like Kaaya is available.


15. HOUSTON TEXANS (9-7): Jamal Adams, SS, LSU: The safety position is not a strength on the Houston roster and Adams has the skillset to play either free or strong and make an impact vs. both the run and the pass.

16. BUFFALO BILLS (8-8): Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: The Bills ranked 31st in sacks in 2015, which prompted the Shaq Lawson selection in 2016 first round, but Buffalo shouldn't stop there. Harris has a high ceiling rushing the passer.

17. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-9): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: It doesn't matter if he's lined up in the backfield or out wide, McCaffrey would add another dimension to the Oakland offense. The Raiders would be wise to keep him in the Bay Area if they get the opportunity.

18. NY GIANTS (6-10): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: New York has looked to the first round to upgrade the offensive line in the past, but it still remains a need. Robinson's play can be up-and-down, but when it's up, he eliminates defenders in the run game and secures the edge from pass rushers.

19. NY JETS (10-6): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Notre Dame has been a left tackle pipeline to the NFL with first-rounders Zack Martin (who moved to guard in Dallas) and Ronnie Stanley. McGlinchey, who moves to the left side from right tackle in 2016, has the talent to be next.


20. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-11): Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: Lawson isn't without his question marks due to lack of size and strong durability concerns, but his ability to infiltrate the pocket makes him an attractive NFL prospect.

21. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-5): Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State: Derrick Johnson is still playing well, but as he enters his age 34 season, his best years are behind him. McMillan gives the Chiefs a future anchor for the middle of their defense.

22. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-8): Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois: With Robert Mathis and Trent Cole nearing the end, Indianapolis needs to add young pass rushers to the roster. Smoot lived in the opponent's backfield last season and is due for a big senior year.

23. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (FROM MINNESOTA) (7-9): Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State: With questions about Jason Peters' long-term durability, offensive tackle might be high on the Eagles' shopping list next offseason. Johnson is growing into one of college football's top tackles.

24. DALLAS COWBOYS (4-12): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Terrance Williams, who is a free agent after the season, has been highly inconsistent as a No. 2 target. Mike Williams would be an upgrade and give the Cowboys' passing game a target almost on par with Dez Bryant.


25. ARIZONA CARDINALS (13-3): Adoree' Jackson, CB, Southern California: Arizona is hoping for big things from rookie Brandon Williams, but regardless of his progress, cornerback will still be an area for the Cardinals to improve next offseason.

26. CAROLINA PANTHERS (15-1): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Kony Ealy is the only starting-caliber defensive end the Panthers have under contract passed this season. Barnett might not be a twitchy edge rusher, but he is well-rounded and productive.

27. CINCINNATI BENGALS (12-4): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: Carlos Dunlap has developed into a highly productive edge rusher, but Michael Johnson has struggled to stay healthy. Charlton is due for a productive senior campaign.

28. DENVER BRONCOS (12-4): Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: Denver locked up Brandon Marshall long-term at linebacker, but more depth is needed. Foster flies around the field with a violent mentality.

29. GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-6): Jake Butt, TE, Michigan: If tight end Jared Cook proves to be just a one-year stopgap option, Butt would be a great fit in Green Bay's offense with his route-running and ballskills.


30. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6): Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: There is a strong chance that neither Jarvis Jones nor James Harrison will be on the Steelers roster after the 2016 season, making pass rush a need position in the draft.

31. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-6): Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana: The Seahawks have several question marks up and down the offensive line, and Seattle will likely still be looking for answers in next year's draft.

32. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4): Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech: A former quarterback, Hodges has intriguing athleticism at 6-7 and 245 pounds with first-round potential if he takes his game to the next level for the Hokies in 2016.

--Dane Brugler is a Senior Analyst for, a division of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with

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