A three-year starter for the Hurricanes, Kaaya was almost primarily in shotgun his first two seasons before going under center and shotgun in Mark Richts pro-style offensive scheme in 2016. He is at his best as a passer when he makes quick decisions and delivers in rhythm, keeping his mechanics compact and smooth. However, Kaaya shows too much indecision from the pocket, especially when feeling pressure, falling away from throws and struggling to reset his base. While his arm and mental process are good enough for the next level, there is plenty of doubt that he has the traits to overcome his deficiencies to become a consistent winner in the NFL who can elevate the talent around him.
A four-star quarterback recruit out of high school, Kaaya committed to Miami (Fla.) after his junior season and stuck with his pledge despite a late push from USC, UCLA and Boise State led Chaminade to California Division-II State Championship in 2013. He won the starting quarterback job as a true freshman and started all 13 games, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors with 3,198 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. Kaaya saw his passing touchdown total decline as a sophomore, but he improved his completion percentage to 61.2% and cut down on the turnovers. He posted his best production over his 13 starts in 2016, finishing with 62.0% completions, 3,532 yards and a 27-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but didnt earn All-ACC honors.
STRENGTHS: Adequate height for the position with room to add bulk. Strong understanding of touch and trajectory downfield, fitting the ball between levels of the defense. Unforced throwing motion with the arm strength to make all the necessary NFL throws. Displays crisp zip on outs, slants and dig routes. Efficient pocket movements with his upper and lower body, using pumps and motions to hold defenders. Uses both sides of the field, finding his second and third receivers. Anticipates pressures pre-snap, keeping a cool demeanor in the pocket. Enough mobility to occasionally extend plays, sliding and moving away from heat. Toughness was often tested at Miami, taking hits but only missing one game the past three seasons. Became the schools all-time leading passer in only three years (9,968), which is even more impressive considering the talent at quarterback Miami has produced over the years also finished fourth all-time in ACC history in passing yards.
WEAKNESSES: Slow-twitch trigger and shows too much hesitation from within the pocket, holding the ball too long and taking hits. Leaner-than-ideal body type and needs to continue and fill out. Late, inconsistent decision-maker and needs to improve his anticipation of passing windows. Enough arm talent for the next level, but wont wow with his arm strength. Deep ball lacks life. Goes through erratic stretches with his accuracy. Sluggish feet and gets the deer-in-the-headlights look on some pressures internal clock needs re-wired. Mechanics lack polish and needs to clean up his balance and footwork. Missed playing time as a sophomore due to a concussion (Oct. 2015) and played through an injured right shoulder as a junior (Oct. 2016).
COMPARES TO: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams Sporting a similar body type and arm, Kaaya has a lot of the same traits that made Goff the No. 1 overall pick last season. Kaaya isnt as poised under pressure or consistent with his decision-making, which is why he wont be drafted nearly as high, but their strengths as passers match up similar.