USC QB Cody Kessler ‘good, not great’ NFL prospect?

One name that is going to generate a lot of draft buzz over the course of the 2015 season is that of USC Trojans senior quarterback Cody Kessler, who is coming off of a great junior campaign in which he threw for 3,826 yards, 39 touchdowns and just five interceptions while completing 69.7 percent of his pass attempts.

But though he may look like a top draft pick on numbers alone, just how good a draft prospect he is is debatable.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports offered the following assessment.

“Like [Matt] Barkley before him, Kessler is a good – not great – NFL prospect because of some physical limitations and the fact that the talent around him and scheme in which he’s enjoyed such great success have inflated his production,” he wrote.

“Kessler is very effective in Sarkisian’s offense. His comfort with the system and patience are clear as he often checks second and third reads before passing. Kessler throws the ball with a snappy release and has the accuracy and velocity to pepper defenses on in-breaking routes like slants and posts. Kessler appears to possess just fair overall arm strength, however, with passes to the outside lacking the same zip unless he can fully step into them. Fortunately, Kessler is pretty effective at creating space in the pocket, exhibiting light feet and spatial awareness while keeping his eyes downfield. Kessler also shows impressive accuracy on the move, making him dangerous even as the pocket breaks down and on the designed roll-outs in Sarkisian’s pro-style scheme. When he is forced to run, Kessler shows his competitiveness, surprising defenders with sneaky athleticism and leg drive.”

It’s hard to argue with that, as Kessler only averaged 8.5 yards per attempt and doesn’t have what one would exactly call top-of-the-line arm strength. Moreover, coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense is fast-paced and calls for a quarterback who can make short and quick throws with ease. Sadly, on the NFL level, very few offenses call for that type of approach.

But also hurting Kessler is his relatively small stature for the position at just 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. Without the same speed or athleticism as someone like Russell Wilson, or the arm strength of a Drew Brees-type player, the odds of him being a top draft pick or making an NFL roster as little more than a backup are slim.

Don’t get me wrong. Kessler is a quarterback whose talent and skill set have a place in the league but if he is going to up his draft stock, he has to show that his success last season was more than just the product of his coach’s system.

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