Greg Cosell of NFL Films examines top combine prospects at quarterback

Greg Cosell, a senior producer for NFL Films, spends much of his life breaking down game footage and evaluating college football players. The nephew of legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell, he’s widely respected in NFL circles for his knowledge of the game. Here, he weighs in on the four top quarterback prospects at the NFL combine:

DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame:  “He looks the part. He’s got the size you want, a really good arm. When you watch Kizer there’s a lot of things that you really like. But then there’s an issue when you watch him on tape that he has what we call ‘slow eyes.’ He tends to be a beat late on a lot of throws. If you’re a beat late in college, that just gets exacerbated at the NFL level. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to draft him, but it’s something you need to be aware of and work on. As you build your offense with DeShone Kizer, you have to be aware of certain route concepts and play calls that might make that problem worse.”

Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech:  “He’s got a very good arm. He’s a loose thrower. But he played in the Air Raid offense for Kliff Kingsbury. It’s an offense built on timing and structure and rhythm, and he played with almost no timing and structure and rhythm. He’s really gifted in a lot of areas. But buried under a lot of NFL-type talent is an alarming lack of any refinement for the position at this moment. He’s someone who’s going to need to be coached hard, harnessed. He’s going to have to be receptive to the principles of being a nuanced, disciplined NFL quarterback. The playmaking mentality that he thrived on in college is going to have to be channeled and almost re-trained. He needs to be receptive to that.”

Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina:  “There’s a toughness and competitiveness to the way he plays that’s very appealing. For the most part he was safe with the football. But he has a flaw that you have to be careful about. When he throws the ball, he locks his front leg. When you do that, you can’t really drive the ball. So there’s a lot of throws with Trubisky that at the intermediate and deep-intermediate level where the ball loses energy. A lot of those throws in college were successful, they were touchdowns, but they were not throws that will work in the NFL. Normally, guys that are locked-front-leg throwers, that doesn’t change through coaching. It’s just something you have to be aware of.”

Deshaun Watson, Clemson: “He’ll be an intriguing guy because he’s played in a lot of big games and for the most part has had success. Different teams will quantify that differently, but it does mean something. He’s a little smaller than you’d ideally desire. He’ll gain weight to be as rocked-up as he can, so the number on the scale will look good. My guess is he’ll get to 218, 220, but he’s not really a 220-pound guy. He’s a little bit of a placer of the football in the way he throws. He doesn’t really drive the football. So he’s got a good arm, but not the ideal arm you’d like to see. He’s what you’d call an orchestrator and distributor of the football. He’s a point guard. He’ll need weapons around him and a run game. He has enhanced value because he can run. But as far as a thrower from the pocket, you’re going to need to work with him. He’s in some ways like an Alex Smith-type player.”

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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