Cody Kessler might not be in the conversation for the top QB of his class, but he has characteristics that NFL teams should gravitate towards.
The NFL combine has come to a close, so it’s time to start evaluating the whole body of work that each of the Trojan NFL hopefuls have displayed to the public. Keep in mind, with free agency on the horizon, some of these predictions for selections may change.
The individual workout component at NFL teams’ private facilities and interviews are also key for these players, but we do not have the privilege of knowing exactly what goes on during them and thus can not factor them in. With that being said, let’s continue with the Trojans’ former starting quarterback.
Cody Kessler has flown under the radar on most draft evaluations because of his physical attributes.
Kessler is 6-foot-1, which most NFL teams would label as less than ideal. Only two starting quarterbacks that have been signed to long term deals by their teams are shorter: Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. However, many established, long term, backups are able to have long careers at that size.
One thing that Cody does have in common with Wilson and Brees is hand size. All three have hand sizes measured above ten inches from the end of the pinky to the end of the thumb, with Brees and Kessler close to eleven inches. Anything above ten inches is considered ideal, so this will likely peak the interest of scouts. For an interesting look into why this matters, check out this article that Fox Sports recently released.
The other glaring problem would be arm strength. Kessler can not throw the deep ball as well as NFL teams would like and his lack of throwing power would likely limit the types of throws, like the deep out route, from being made at the professional level.
But, Kessler does bring a lot of upside.
His passing efficiency is a great plus for him, especially considering he has only thrown 12 interceptions in the past two years. Kessler also has experience with a pro-style system from when Lane Kiffin was the coach, which can be extremely valuable to an NFL coach that has to deal with so many spread offense players.
Kessler also is deceptively athletic, but this can come back bite him. Scouts will hone in on what caused his interceptions and there is one egregious turnover that he committed in USCs win against Arizona in 2014 representative of that.
You can see that once he has gotten himself out of trouble, he has a wide open receiver in Randall Telfer, but instead of setting his feet, he decides to throw on the run and underthrows the ball enough to cause it to be intercepted. For a more in depth analysis, you can check out this article.
Throws like these worry scouts about Kessler’s accuracy on the run, a key trait for so many starters in the NFL.
There are too many attributes on paper and on film that will prevent a team from drafting Kessler as an immediate starter, but there will be many that see him as a capable backup. He will likely be drafted by a team with an established younger starter that hasn’t drafted a QB in a few years.
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The Raiders and Redskins both have recently secured players who they believe to be their quarterbacks for the future (assuming Kirk Cousins can come to an agreement on a contract with the Redskins), so picking someone like Kessler in the fifth round makes sense.
A team like the Giants could also be in play if they do not like how their backup Ryan Nassib is developing.
However, teams like the Cowboys and the Saints, who are looking to groom a replacement for their current starter, will likely have no interest.
Preliminary prediction: Cody Kessler is drafted in the 5th round by the Washington Redskins