Dallas Cowboys Draft: Cody Kessler Film Review

The golden rule of evaluating NFL quarterbacks is to never trust USC quarterbacks. The recent track record of Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, and Mark Sanchez isn’t exactly enticing when it comes to the success they’ve had in their NFL tenures. So of course I find myself sitting here and evaluating a USC quarterback.

However, one thing has to be said when evaluating USC quarterbacks. They get experience in a pro-style offense from the get-go. Kessler has been the Trojans’ starter for three seasons now and his polish shows through his tape. Let’s dive into some tape and see just how Kessler projects to the NFL.

I think the first thing that’s visible on tape is his footwork. Kessler looks professional at moving laterally in the pocket. He also does a good job at evading the pass rush, as is the case by this play right here.

Here’s another example of Kessler evading pressure to find his man for a first down. I don’t like out of Kessler is his inflated statistics. In USC’s offense, there’s a lot of taking advantage of getting your playmakers the football. That said, Kessler throws a lot of screens and a lot of short-yardage plays. Here’s an example of that.

Here’s another example of a short-yardage play that really doesn’t help how scouts will look at Kessler. Kessler excels with is throwing the football on the run. We see how Kessler can throw an accurate on the run with a play like this.

Here’s another example of Kessler being able to complete a pass despite being under a massive amount of pressure. I think this goes to show Kessler’s competitive edge and it also goes back to the game-manager role he plays in USC’s offense.

When I evaluate quarterbacks, I look at how well they can make the “touch-pass”. Unfortunately, Kessler struggles with these passes. This is an example of Kessler and how he fails to put the football in a spot where his open receiver can corral the football.

I’m going to keep hitting on Kessler and how his stats are and should be irrelevant. It doesn’t take a Division I football player to make this type of throw or this type of read for that matter.

Here’s another example of how Kessler fails to capitalize on a throw that really is an easy touchdown. His receiver (Nelson Agholor) gets wide open off a a pick play, but Kessler fails to get the football to him.

I didn’t realize how much work Kessler needed until I dove into the tape. When I watch Kessler, I see a quarterback that has some nice attributes. However, I also see a quarterback that really didn’t benefit by the coaching staff that was put into place.

I see Kessler as nothing more than a game-manager in the NFL. In the right system, he can make all of the throws 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, but his deep ball needs a ton of work, his touch needs to be improved, and unless his receivers are wide open, it seems Kessler has a tough time getting the football out to his receivers.

Kessler stares down his first read and when the play breaks down, he’s exceptional at making a play with the ball, but he also struggles to go through his progressions. All in all, Kessler isn’t ready to be an NFL quarterback. For him to ever turn into a starting quarterback, he will need to show that he isn’t just a beneficiary of USC’s quarterback-friendly system.

How does Kessler fit in Dallas? Like any other quarterback that I’ve scouted, the Dallas Cowboys are in the market for a quarterback, and if they want to go the stud quarterback route, Kessler won’t be the pick. However, if they want to draft a guy that can sit and develop behind Tony Romo, I can’t rule out Kessler. However, I don’t see a player that can become a consistent every-down quarterback at the next level.

Games watched: Stanford, Washington, Arkansas State, Arizona State

Next up on the docket: Christian Hackenberg

What do you think?


Written by Ryan Ratty

An online sports writer for about three years now, Ryan is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. He writes about his favorite team on Inside The Star. Ryan also writes for other publications like Roster Watch, Rant Sports, and Cuse Nation. Ryan is a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in Information Management and Technology. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanRattyNFL.


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