Quinn: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer should strongly consider NFL Draft
SOUTH BEND — Between the arrival of first child, daughter Sloan, in August and a heavy analyst schedule for FOX sports, Brady Quinn has to get creative in keeping tabs on his alma mater’s football team.
But the former Notre Dame standout quarterback has seen enough of the current one, DeShone Kizer, to form two strong conclusions:
• The second-year Irish starter is very much an unfinished product.
• Despite that, the junior should strongly consider Saturday’s 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Stadium his “Senior Day” and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft sometime before the Jan. 16 deadline for underclassmen to do so.
“I still think if he came out, he’d be the first pick in the draft, and at worst, a first-round pick,” said Quinn from Seattle, where he was prepping for Saturday night’s Arizona State-Washington game on FOX. “And I say that knowing he’s got a lot to work on.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for him to come back to Notre Dame. I do all these games and I talk to GMs and NFL personnel types and they’re saying he can make all the throws, he’s got the size, he’s got the skills that translate to the NFL game.”
The Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Bucs and Pittsburgh Steelers all had reps in attendance Saturday and saw Kizer start out 4-for-4 for 72 yards on his first drive on his way to 13-of-18 for 199 yards and two TDs in the first half against the nation’s No. 16 defense (total defense) and No. 12 pass-efficiency defense.
But in the second half, he was 3-of-15 for 36 yards and missed the game’s final play when he came off the field woozy.
Quinn was in a similar situation to Kizer after the 2005 season, when he was projected as a first-rounder as a junior but elected to return to ND for his senior season and would make the same decision all over again.
Cleveland selected Quinn 22nd overall in the 2007 draft, after he had been projected to go in the top 10.
“It’s harder now to stay in school,” Quinn said. “The draft is different. There’s a rookie salary cap that wasn’t there when I was playing. You’re trying to get to that second contract, where the money is.
“And you have to look at draft classes. You’re likely going to have Josh Rosen (UCLA) and Jake Browning (Washington) in the next class. You never know what’s going to happen, but there’s no guarantee if he stays in school he’s going to be better off, and he might be worse.”
Quinn said three driving forces pushed him to return: The desire to get his degree; the desire to win a national championship and the notion then-head coach Charlie Weis — a former NFL offensive coordinator — would make him better.
“There were players and even NFL executives, who went to other schools, who said I was stupid for coming back,” Quinn said, “but they don’t understand the mind-set. When you choose Notre Dame, your goals are likely a little different than the other players’.
“I’m sure the university would take out and pay for an insurance policy for him if he did come back. They can do that now. That couldn’t happen when I was playing. I had a policy each of my last two years that I paid for myself.”
Kizer actually has two years of eligibility remaining, and if he does return for one of them, Quinn said there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“Sometimes his accuracy on easy throws is just not where it needs to be,” Quinn said. “I was watching the Navy game (Nov. 5), and he was missing on hitch routes. I mean, he was completing them, but they were low. Holy cow, you can’t do that. NFL GMs are going to be asking the same questions.
“And when you’re playing Duke and Navy and driving your team down the field, you have to have the mind-set to get your team in the end zone. Those are inferior teams. You can’t let them beat you. You have to have the mentality that you’re going to outscore whatever the defense is giving up.”
• Grad senior Mark Harrell made the second career start — and second in as many weeks — Saturday against the Hokies. He replaced senior Colin McGovern at right guard in the lineup.
• Senior Torii Hunter Jr., ND’s second-leading receiver coming into the game, missed his second straight game with a knee injury.
• Junior nose guard Daniel Cage missed his third straight game because of concussion symptoms.
• Sophomore wide receivers Chris Finke and Miles Boykin each caught their first collegiate TD pass Saturday against the Hokies.
• Grad senior nose guard Jarron Jones rebounded from two relatively unproductive weeks against triple-option offenses, to garner 10 tackles, bat down a pass and recover a fumble on Saturday.