A lot of NFL analysts believe that Mitch Trubisky is the top quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft class. Others say it’s Deshaun Watson.
Mike Mayock says it’s neither. He says it’s DeShone Kizer.
“I’m not bullish on this quarterback class, and what (Kizer’s ranking) represents to me is a group of guys that, while they are talented, none of them are ready to play in the league,” the NFL Network analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Because we continue to push their grades up artificially – because it’s a quarterback-deficient league – these guys will go earlier than they should. And when I look at that group of players at that position, I think Kizer has the highest ceiling. He’s not ready to play, but I believe he’s got size, arm strength, athletic ability, intelligence – he just doesn’t have any experience. He needs a lot more work. It’s a group I’m not wild about, but solely because I think he’s got the highest ceiling, I’ve got Kizer No. 1.”
Mayock, to be sure, likes many of Watson’s attributes, though many analysts don’t think he’s a first-round talent.
“I don’t think he has the same talent that Kizer does, but I think Deshaun Watson embraces the moment and plays his best football when the stage is the brightest,” Mayock said. “He was 28-2 in his last two years as a starter, and he played unbelievable football against Alabama two years in a row. My biggest issue with him is similar to a lot of guys coming out of spread football in college, and that is when you get to the NFL – no matter how talented you are, no matter how good your legs are, no matter how athletic you are – sooner or later, you got to win in the pocket. When I watch this kid, what I see is when his pre-snap read matches up with his post-snap look, he’s really good. He can make every throw at all three levels.
“But when he’s got to get to the second, third progression, move the pocket, slide, it’s a whole different conversation – and it’s not a knock against him. Often when that first look isn’t there, he just tucks it and goes. I don’t care whether it’s RG3, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota – I don’t care what the name is. The biggest challenge for all those spread quarterbacks is ultimately can you win in the pocket in the NFL? It’s a whole different conversation.”
If Mayock needed a quarterback, he wouldn’t be eyeing the NFL Draft. He’d be eyeing Jimmy Garoppolo.
“If I was an NFL team with a quarterback need, I would rank Garoppolo ahead of any of this year’s quarterbacks,” Mayock said. “Pick a team. If I was the Cleveland Browns with (picks) 1 and 12, I don’t think any quarterback in this draft is worth one, and I don’t think any of them are worth 12, to be honest.”