USC’s Cody Kessler is a mid to late-round quarterback prospect who offers little upside. He’s a great example of a game manager who can move the chains but struggles to produce big plays. Kessler will get drafted but appears headed to a career as a very serviceable backup.
The biggest concern surrounding Kessler’s game is his lack of elite arm strength which limits his potential. He struggles to generate zip to sideline throws and consistently under throws the deep ball. There’s little evidence that he can improve his arm strength as he already drives off this back foot to maximize his zip.
However, Kessler is a smart player who delivers an accurate football and makes strong decisions. The below clip shows Kessler going through his progressions and delivering a well-placed ball but it also shows his limited arm strength:
USC’s offense takes advantage of Kessler’s strengths and works to hide his weaknesses. They operate with a lot of underneath passing routes that allow Kessler to get rid of the ball quickly. His accuracy and ball placement allows the receiver gain yards after the catch.
However, the offense looks to attack deep down the field in specific situations—mainly off play-action. NFL defenses would quickly pick up on Kessler’s struggles with the deep ball and pack close to the line of scrimmage. The defensive backs will also feel more comfortable taking chances by jumping those underneath routes.
It’s possible for Kessler to improve his deep accuracy and he’ll need to in order to improve his draft stock. Otherwise, teams will see him as a quarterback with limited upside and peg him as a backup or spot starter.