2020 NFL Draft Player Preview: K.J. Costello

  • K.J. Costello, 6-5/215

  • Quarterback

  • Stanford

  • K.J. Costello 2019 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: Ever since Andrew Luck ended his great collegiate career at Stanford, the Cardinal have been in search of a difference-maker at quarterback. Kevin Hogan flashed at times, but he never became the player who many thought he was going to be after an initial hot start. Perhaps Costello will change that, as he is coming off an impressive 2018 season and has a skill set that could translate to being a pro prospect.

    In the Cardinal’s pro-style offense, Costello really improved in 2018, his second year of extensive playing time, completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 3,540 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He completed 59 percent of his passes in 2017 for 1,573 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.

    2019 Season Outlook: Costello is going to see some good opponents during his senior year, and he needs to start the season hot or his draft stock could suffer some early devastating blows. In Week 1, Costello will take on Northwestern, which has a couple of good NFL prospects in its defensive front seven. The next three games are good competition – USC, Central Florida and Oregon – and will be tough. All three of those teams have pro defensive talents who will challenge Stanford and Costello.

    After taking on the always tough Washington Huskies defense, Costello has an easier portion of the schedule with some of the weaker Pac-12 defenses before ending the season against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have some good NFL talent, so playing well against them could help Costello to make up for a bad tape or two from the tough opponents he takes on early in the year.

    Skill-Set Summary: There are definitely some strengths for Costello as it relates to translating to the NFL. Costello has good size, a decent arm and pocket presence. He stands tall in the face of a rush and hangs tough while defenders are closing around him. Costello flashes some accuracy in throwing into coverage, making some well-placing passes that allow his receivers to make catches even when they are closely covered. Costello also displays a pretty good understanding of where his receivers are and executing the offense.

    There definitely are areas for improvement that he needs to work on for the NFL. Costello definitely has to quicken his passing process. He needs to get faster at reading the defense, working through his progressions, and getting the ball out. Sometimes, he is too slow to pull the trigger, and that allows the defense to close on the back end. Costello also needs to improve his field vision to work through his reads.

    From a mechanics perspective, Costello can be a bit mechanical and could stand to improve his release. He can get long at times and could stand to become more compact and quicker. His feet also can get out of whack, and improving his feet would allow him to be more accurate with his ball location. While he can use his feet to buy some time or pick up yards on the ground, he is not a running threat for the NFL. He will have to succeed as a pure pocket passer to make it at the next level. He will never be a quarterback who is a real threat to buy a lot of time with his feet, dodge pass rushers, or pick up yards on the ground.

    If Costello can show significant improvement in 2019, he could end up being in contention for NFL teams to consider as their future starting quarterback.

    2020 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the season, Costello has created some early-round buzz, but he will need to improve in 2019 to be a high first-round candidate.


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