Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn’t going to lie to his friends in the NFL. And even though it would have benefitted him for quarterback DeShone Kizer to stay in school, he still thinks his Kizer’s going to be a good pro.
Kelly appeared with Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier today, and was asked about Kizer’s prospects. When those thoughts were reduced to a tweet, it sounded rather abrupt.
But when allowed to go beyond 140 characters, he painted a more nuanced picture of his quarterback’s decision to leave early.
“I’ve got a lot of relationships built on trust with G.M.s and head coaches in the NFL,” Kelly said. “I’m going to be honest with them and honest with DeShone. There’s a lot of growth that has to take place. But I go back to what are the common threads a great player needs to have. He’s got to have traits of excellence. He’s got to be able to have attention to detail and that focus, he’s got to be smart and he’s got to have the ability to grind and a great attitude. He’s got those traits but they’ve got to be continuously worked on. Whoever takes DeShone, he’s not a finished product in those areas. But when he does get more time to work on those traits, you’re going to have a great young man and a great quarterback. The skills are out there, you can see them. You can go to the workout and see that he’s got those skills, he’s just not complete yet.
“If you want to draft him and say come on, turn it over to him, you’re going to have to support him with great leaders around him and great leadership. But if you’re going to give him time and get a mentor for him, you’re going to have a great guy. That’s my honesty when I talk to G.M.s and head coaches.”
Kelly raved about Kizer’s “tools” and said that of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft “I think he’s got the best skill set of quarterbacks coming out.”
But it was also clear Kelly thinks he’s an unfinished product.
“He still should be in college,” the coach whose livelihood depends on unpaid interns said. “But the circumstances are such that you have to make business decisions. And he felt like it was in his best interest, and I’m going to support him in his decisions.
“But the reality is he needs more football. He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field. He’s a great kid, he’s got great character. Character, you don’t change character much. And he’s got great character so you’re not going to have an issue there with that young man.
“But he’s going to continue to learn, and he’ll learn with great coaches around him and a great mentor around him. There’s a huge amount of growth that will happen every single day with DeShone Kizer.”
So that’s a little less harsh, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kelly’s making it clear to people that Kizer’s not ready to be handed a starting job.