Brad Kaaya starred at the U for the past three seasons, but will accuracy issues send him tumbling on Draft Day?
Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. Today, we look at quarterback Brad Kaaya from the University of Miami.
Kaaya made a strong first impression in 2014, starting as a true freshman and tossing 26 TDs for almost 3,200 yards for the University of Miami Hurricanes. While his numbers steadily improved over his career, he did not make the jump to stardom that many analysts thought he could have. As a rare freshman starter for the U, Kaaya was aided by a phenomenal supporting cast including 2015 first rounders WR Phillip Dorsett and LT Ereck Flowers, and third rounders TE Clive Watford and RB Duke Johnson. Kaaya was asked to be more of a game manager in his first season, but his responsibilities quickly grew as he gained the trust of his coaching staff.
Kaaya has strong intangibles, with teammates citing his leadership even as an 18-year-old freshman and voting him team MVP as a sophomore. The Canes also improved their record each year with Kaaya at the helm. Kaaya finished his career with 69 TDs to just 24 INTs with just under 10,000 yards.
Standing 6’4 with a strong arm, Kaaya certainly looks the part of an NFL QB. His throwing motion is clean and concise, and scouts laud his footwork. He can make all the throws you need and has shown the ability to throw on the move. As seen in the GIF below, he puts the ball only where his receiver can get it. That’s an NFL throw.
Kaaya has shown the ability to throw with touch, something that strong armed QBs often struggle with in college. Knowing when to step off the gas is essential in the NFL, and throws like this show that he won’t have much work to do in this area.
Kaaya showed he can pick up a new offense quickly after spending his first two years mostly in shotgun and then switching to a pro-style offense under Mark Richt last year. He had a fantastic combine workout; he looked natural and smooth and delivered great balls all day.
Simply put, Kaaya will not be in the NFL for long unless he improves his accuracy. Look at the GIF below. He has a clean pocket with plenty of room to lead his receiver, but he underthrows a terrible ball that’s easily intercepted. Awful.
Kaaya is far from a running threat with -386 career rushing yards, and his lack of movement skills may cause more problems at the next level. An injured foot prevented him from performing any workouts at the combine, but it’s safe to say he wasn’t going to wow anyone with his 40. While long speed is not necessary to be a successful pocket passer, his inability to move within the pocket is concerning.
As I said earlier, Kaaya has great mechanics… until the pocket gets ugly and it all falls apart. Even the slightest disruption of the pocket causes him to panic. It reminds me of how Blaine Gabbert saw ghosts in Jacksonville, which essentially ruined his career. Staring down at the rush instead of keeping your eyes upfield is a cardinal sin of quarterbacking. Below we can see Kaaya get unsettled by a three man rush when he still had a somewhat clean pocket. He loses all his mechanics, short arms the ball with no drive, and bounces it to his receiver.
Kaaya needs at least a year on the bench behind an established vet to iron out his flaws. Pittsburgh and Arizona in Round 3 are ideal fits. With Roethlisberger and Palmer on the way out, these teams would allow Kaaya to learn under potential Hall of Famers for a year then take the reins of an offense with a superstar teammate (Antonio Brown or David Johnson) to ease the pressure.
Kaaya looks like a future NFL starter at times, but his accuracy and pocket awareness issues are very concerning. He reminds me a bit of Christian Hackenberg out of Penn State last year; the tools are there to be a star, but the accuracy just isn’t, at least not yet. A team will likely over-draft him because of the tools and intangibles and think they can coach away the flaws, but I see Kaaya as a third-rounder with high bust potential.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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