The suspense finally ended for former Miami QB Brad Kaaya on Saturday afternoon, when the Detroit Lions selected him with the 215th overall pick. It’s hard not to make this story out to be a disappointment, but the reality is, being a QB and being drafted in the 6th round is better than not being drafted, but it’s still somewhat of a let down.
This opens up more questions than answers when it comes to Kaaya. Who was advising the young man to make the decision to skip his senior season. Did he think he hit his ceiling at Miami? Despite ending the season on a five game winning streak and snapping their bowl game win drought of a decade, this was certainly an up and down season, which likely played a large role in the slide. When pressure was applied, especially during that four game win streak, Kaaya did look pedestrian. Of course it didn’t help that his line played the role of turn styles for those few weeks, but it was clear he struggled with pressure in the pocket. This aspect didn’t improve until after Mark Richt and the coaching staff made some slight adjustment to the blocking schemes and offense to mitigate some of the deficiencies Kaaya displayed.
The pro game is worlds faster than the college game, so you can see why scouts could feel that his foot work and inability to make plays under pressure could be a major sticking point. At his workouts though he looked great. He clearly has the arm strength to make some tough throws and when given time, he proves he make some big plays. Should Kaaya have stayed for his senior season. Leaving has certainly created a hole at who will play QB this season. With that said, perhaps Kaaya and his people felt that his downsides weren’t going to drastically improve for staying in school. Perhaps not, but it’s hard to imagine he having a strong year at Miami, let’s say they win the ACC Coastal division and make a high level bowl game which they win and he still goes in the late 6th round.
Now for a little bit of the positive. Getting selected by Detroit is one of the more ideal situations for Kaaya. At this point he has no pressure to potentially start. The team doesn’t have to commit a lot of money to him early on. He will, if he makes the team, play back up to Matthew Stafford. Stafford isn’t going anywhere for a while, so Kaaya can just hold the clip board for a few years. He gets to learn an NFL offense and perhaps over time, work on some of those short comings that had him drop in the first place. Having one of the most productive, veteran QBs as a mentor is huge for a rookie QB. It’s much better he landed in a place with an actual franchise QB. Kaaya was never considered the caliber to be able to start on day 1, so this is a great scenario. What also helps his cause is that he’s very bright, so he should pick up the play book really fast. He’s also very humble, a good leader and the type of person that will be a great influence in the locker room.
It is disappointing that he fell so deeply in this draft. That said at least he got drafted. The rest will be up to him as to whether he actually gets a chance to start in the NFL several years from now.