Not only is the junior quarterback currently being projected as a first-round pick by many talking heads, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper thinks he “could be this year’s Jared Goff,” and ascend to No. 1 overall. Per the Miami Herald:
“Kaaya could be this year’s Jared Goff; no reason he can’t be,” said Kiper, referring to the former California quarterback who was selected first overall by the Rams in April. “You look at where Kaaya is in August, I have him in the middle of the top 25. No reason he can’t jump to 1 or 2. The way he can throw it, there’s a lot of Goff there. I was conservative in my ranking. Some may have Kaaya higher.
“There’s nothing Kaaya is lacking. The kid can make every throw you want. Good head on his shoulders. He has that it factor. He’s a natural. If he can put together the year he’s capable,” then going in the top five becomes very realistic.”
There’s plenty to like with Kaaya — he has the poise, instincts, and accuracy possessed by most elite quarterback prospects.
However, he has a challenging road to the No. 1 pick, especially with DeShaun Watson in the fold because, unlike Kaaya, the Clemson product has dynamic feet. Pro Football Focus ranked the top quarterback prospects and Kaaya came in fifth, citing concerns over arm strength and consistency. He’s also running his third offense in three years and likely will have very weak support from his defense.
By all indications he’s a hard worker and a smart kid. Combine the mental with the physical — the height, the arm, and a great feel for the position — and he’ll certainly be a coveted quarterback at the next level. Still, I think most would agree Watson is the heavy favorite.
My guess is he takes a leap forward this season but it won’t be enough to become the top prospect in college football. Expect him to still be among the top 10 to 15 names called.