Cody Kessler may have to wait until Day Three of the 2016 NFL Draft to hear his name called as scouts love his accuracy but question his ceiling.
Three years of high-level production at USC should give Cody Kessler a spot in the 2016 NFL Draft, but there are a wide range of landing spots for the quarterback.
Here’s a look at where Kessler stands heading into Thursday:
What Cody Kessler did at USC:
Kessler finished out his career as one of the most prolific passers to ever play at USC. He set Trojan records with a 67.5% completion rating and 1.51 interception rate, surpassing Matt Leinart’s marks. His 88 touchdowns are third at USC all time along with his 851 completions while his 10,339 passing yards and 9,914 total offense are fourth among Trojan QBs.
After splitting duties with Max Wittek in 2013, Kessler took on the job full time and guided USC through three seasons with a record of 27-14.
In 2014, he set single-season records for completions, completion percentage, passing efficiency and interception rate. He also tied USC’s mark with 39 touchdowns in a season.
In 2015, despite the firing of Steve Sarkisian midseason, Kessler helped lead the Trojans to their first Pac-12 South title.
What Cody Kessler could do in the NFL:
When the 2014 season had finished, Kessler was gaining steam as a potential Heisman candidate, but his NFL prospects were muted even then. After an often frustrating 2015 season, his stock fell considerably.
Excellent accuracy will put Kessler on draft boards, but limited arm strength and measurables are set to hold him back.
In the end, that may work in Kessler’s favor. As a third round pick, the Trojan QB will be allowed to learn in the background. Few expect him to become a regular NFL starter but his usefulness as a back up should suffice. From there he may get the chance to take the reins down the line.
Kessler will never be among the elite passers in the NFL, but he could forge a reasonably successful pro career.
What the scouts say about Cody Kessler:
“Kessler’s best trait is his accuracy, able to consistently place the ball in the most effective location in order to maximize his receivers’ abilities after the catch. For a quarterback who won’t rip off big chunks of yardage with throws down the field, this trait is huge…He’s been labeled as the checkdown king, and the nickname has some truth to it, but there is something to be said for a quarterback who rarely takes unnecessary risks and protects the football. That said, obviously Kessler’s deficiencies are glaring and will handcuff an offense considerably as a featured passer.” — Jon Ledyard of USA Today Sports
“Kessler is pretty effective at creating space in the pocket, exhibiting light feet and spatial awareness while keeping his eyes downfield…Simply lacks ideal size and arm strength to fit in most NFL offenses…Despite significant starting experience, appeared rattled at times when his protection broke down… Like Matt Barkley before him, Kessler is a draftable – but not exciting – NFL prospect.” — Rob Rang of CBS Sports
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“Kessler lacks ideal height, has below-average arm strength, and his deep accuracy is too inconsistent at this point. But he is very accurate on short-to-intermediate throws, has outstanding football intelligence, and extends a lot of plays with his awareness and sneaky quickness. In a precision-based system, Kessler can be a good backup in the NFL, which is why we give him a Day 3 grade.” — ESPN
“Can orchestrate an offense with confidence and accuracy when operating from a clean pocket, but doesn’t appear to have the mentality of a player willing to take the risks necessary to strike with big plays often enough on the pro level. Kessler has moments where it is easy to like him on tape, but the traits and tape look more like those of a good, career backup than playoff starter.” — Lance Zierlein of NFL.com