The news was plentiful this week in ACC quarterbacks declaring their interest in the NFL, with both Miami’s Brad Kaaya and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans saying goodbye to the ACC.
Evans led an improbable second-half Belk Bowl comeback against Arkansas, topping off a junior season in which he scored 41 total TDs (8 INT). He’s another discussion for another day.
But Is Brad Kaaya really ready to be an NFL quarterback?
Honestly, I don’t buy it.
There’s no doubt Kaaya had a very good junior season. Moreover, he has all the tools to one day become a pro signal-caller. But his play was, frankly, way too sloppy at times over the past two seasons for him to honestly expect to win in the show next year.
Before Kaaya took over the Russell Athletic Bowl his showing was somewhat pathetic.The Miami offense started the game with a paltry five consecutive three-and-outs, generating 13 total yards. It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter when the pigskin-launcher tossed his first score, a 51-yard bomb to Ahmmon Richards.
Honestly speaking, tonight is Brad Kaaya's last chance to impress me. He's not even close to being ready for the NFL.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) October 20, 2016
After that he pretty much tore it up, throwing for 4 TDs and a slick 70 per cent completion percentage. But man oh man, when things aren’t going well, Kaaya just seems average.
ESPN commentator Greg McElroy was quick to comment on that several times before Kaaya’s first TD, saying in no uncertain terms that he needs another year at Miami before the NFL. According to McElroy he’s “as good as anyone in college football. Average and below average days happen way too often for a player of his talent.”
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: “When Kaaya is on time, in rhythm and clean in the pocket, he’s really good. When any of those factors change, he’s not the same guy.”
If we purely go by statistics we’d think Kaaya is a pure stud. His numbers over three years at Miami are genuinely good, throwing for over 3,000 yards and at least a 58 per cent completion percentage. All three years he notched at least a 142 QB rating. His worst season in INTs was understandably his freshman year when he tossed 26 TDs to 12 INTs.
Kaaya was also money after halftime this past year. He tossed 10 TDs and just two picks over all his third quarters, with a sterling 180 QBR. His first quarter stats have been his worst, throwing for just six scores and three picks. Against AP Top-25 teams in 2016 Kaaya performed well, completing 65 per cent of his throws for six TDs and one pick. In 2015 and 2014 his performance against AP Top-25 teams was worse in terms of completed passes and TD – INT ratio.
Brad Kaaya leaves #Miami as the Canes all-time career leader in passing yards (9,968), completions (720) and attempts (1,188).
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 3, 2017
Still, one NFL scout told the Palm Beach Post in October that Kaaya is “slow-footed” and “non-athletic.” The scout “questioned his pocket awareness by suggesting that he is an ‘average quarterback’ who ‘needs a clean pocket’” from which to throw.
The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson called the Russell Athletic Bowl “a microcosm of Brad Kaaya’s UM career – bouts of wildness and ineffectiveness when pressured, but lethal and often razor-sharp when given time to throw.”
Jackson was on the money. It’s not good enough to the NFL right now. Kaaya needs one more year to polish his skills in Miami.
Main Photo: (ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post)