By Alex Kurpeski
I’d like to begin this evaluation by offering my sincere condolences to Texas A&M fans. Y’all were screwed over by the playoff committee and I cannot wait to see Notre Dame get clocked by Alabama. While this season ended in disgust for you guys, there were a ton of bright spots from this year. One of those bright spots was the development of Kellen Mond, who in his final year as an Aggie played the best football of his life. Mond’s performance this season was overlooked due to the statistical outputs of Kyle Trask and Mac Jones, but I believe that he’s the best suited of that trio to be a successful NFL player.
One of my favorite things about Mond is how vast of a sample size we have on him. A four-year starter, Mond has grown a lot as a player and as a leader since the 2017 season. While he was painfully inconsistent during his first three years as the starter in College Station, Mond stepped up to the plate in a huge way this season, looking like a legitimate first-round prospect at times. I graded Mond higher than most would in my Discovering Devys series from this summer. To this day I stand by my evaluation of him, too.
Though he wasn’t asked to throw a ton this season, Mond did set a career-high by completing 63.5% of his passes while throwing 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He was very poised as a pocket passer while picking up 258 yards with his legs. Mond won’t get the same attention from the internet scouting community that guys like Trask, Jones, and Zach Wilson will. However, if I were running an NFL team, I’d take a long look at Mond in rounds two or three, as his game reminds me a lot of Dak Prescott’s coming out of college.
Listed at 6’2, 220 lbs, Mond is a bit smaller than Prescott and far less physical as a runner. That’s not to say that Mond is not the same type of athlete as Prescott is, as he’s shown some tremendous ball-carrier ability in the open field, with speed on par with Justin Fields and Trey Lance. Mond has had issues delivering the ball accurately in his college career, however, his completion rate has improved steadily each season.
While he may never be a super accurate passer, Mond is definitely capable of completing roughly 63% of his passes at the NFL level if he’s surrounded with enough talent. His arm strength is what I would call above average, and this combined with Mond’s mobility could allow him to blossom into a special playmaker under-center for the right team. When he squares up properly, Mond can generate some excellent heat on his passes. As we’ve seen with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, faster throw speed has a decent correlation with an uptick in accuracy when transitioning from college to the pros. Mond has demonstrated excellent poise under pressure and he rarely gets flustered. Though the Aggies offense operates a ton out of the shotgun, I do like Mond’s chances of transitioning successfully to NFL systems, based on how he’s been able to make adjustments and improve his game each season.
What I really love about Mond is his ability to step up when it matters. You may remember this play from his 2018 campaign. Mond delivers one of the best “big boy throws” I’ve seen from a sophomore quarterback on this game-tying touchdown to Quartney Davis. While his offensive line gives him a good amount of time to throw, Mond zips a perfect two-seamer up the gut in between two LSU defenders. It’s throws like this one that have drawn me to Mond for the last few years.
Kellen Mond to Quartney Davis on the last play of regulation. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/O2oaFDn4YV
— Santa Baby (@Ben_Baby) November 25, 2018
Before I get too far ahead of myself there are some glaring elements of Mond’s game that we need to address. He’s been known to have some blind spots in the pocket, best evidenced by this clip below from his most recent game against Tennessee. Here Mond throws the ball directly into the arms of a Vols’ defender, with almost no touch on the pass to speak of. Now maybe his receiver ran the wrong route, but plays like this one are inexcusable for a four-year starter.
This is the tough thing about the Kellen Mond evaluation
Like the tools
But the accuracy comes and goes and he wears blinders in the pocket sometimes
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) December 19, 2020
I’ve already raved about Mond’s mobility, but his toughness as a runner is admirable as well. Nothing was stopping him on this rushing touchdown from the Tennessee game. He sacrifices his body and absorbs a tough hit before crossing the plane. This is simply football at its finest and it speaks to why the Aggies love Mond so much.
Kellen Mond wouldn't let anything stop him from this rushing TD 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/myGp1Rfdso
— Stadium (@Stadium) December 19, 2020
Here’s a play that first alerted me to Kellen Mond. From his 2017 tape, Mond becomes possessed by the ghost of Johnny Football, eluding a trio of rushers before delivering an excellent strike to Christian Kirk on the move for six. This backyard football style of play has become a requisite for stardom as we’ve seen with guys like DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert. Mind you this was against Alabama’s championship-winning defense, too.
Kellen Mond. Christian Kirk.
THAT. WAS. RIDICULOUS.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 8, 2017
While he’s tightened up his release in the last few years, something irks me about Mond’s elbows-out windup. It’s a bit wonky but it does get the job done. Considering the arm angles we’ve seen from guys like Philip Rivers, this is a minor concern for me. If you can get the ball 50+ yards downfield it must work pretty well.
THIS GAME 😮
Kellen Mond drops a 51-yard dime and Florida-Texas A&M is going down to the wire on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/GW0Sj2TSz8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 10, 2020
Let’s revisit some more 2018 Mond tape. You may recall his performance against No. 2 Clemson, where the Aggies came within two points of defeating the eventual national champs. In this game, Mond threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns, in what can only be described as a performance where he “let his nuts hang”. Pardon the crass language there, but this was an all-time big swagger performance. Mond’s fastball was on fire in this one, as evidenced by this excellent throw he makes into tight coverage.
Kellen Mond throws a LASER to Kendrick Rogers for the @AggieFootball TD!
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 9, 2018
People forget how great of a runner Mond is. He’s a guy who could be used in a Jalen Hurts/Lamar Jackson capacity if a team gave him the chance. Mond has no fear of getting hit and possesses the type of straight-line speed that will generate him some buzz at the NFL combine.
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) September 22, 2018
On a non-football related note, Mond’s leadership during the civil unrest that’s been occurring this season has been commendable. He’s taken a stance and been unafraid to represent his community. While that may not earn him any favors among NFL front offices, it’s a quality that I really appreciate about him. He’s a high character guy who really understands how to use his platform as a high-profile athlete. Mond’s bravery and leadership are the exact qualities that teams should seek in a potential franchise player.
QB Kellen Mond: ‘I’m an Aggie until the day I die … but at the same time we can be so much better as people’: pic.twitter.com/1IyywzmxZW
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) June 27, 2020
Back to the gridiron, Mond is a dynamic runner. While he’s not going to gas the defense with his speed, he sees the field well and picks his lanes even better. That type of awareness is an underappreciated quality in a player nowadays.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 28, 2019
In some ways, I think Mond has suffered from prospect fatigue. Watching him for four years, it’s easy to overcriticize and grow tired of hearing his name in the NFL Draft conversation. After all, we in the draft community have been in on him since his freshman year, as throws like this one made me believe that he would be the next star to come out of the SEC. This is an excellent example of Mond’s ability to throw on the run, while also demonstrating his pure playmaking ability.
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) October 8, 2017
Okay, but watch this throw. You can’t tell me that this isn’t one of the best throws you’ve ever seen from a college passer. This is Mahomesian stuff right here.
What a 3rd down toss by QB Kellen Mond last night.
Yes, it came against Texas State, but there’s isn’t a CFB defense that can defend that placement. pic.twitter.com/ZBSOe5BR67
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 30, 2019
Mond’s career has been disappointing to some. He’s made quite a few questionable throws in bad spots that have killed his team’s chances of victory. This one is a great example, as he hangs in the pocket too long to throw the ball away properly, letting it go as he’s been dragged to the ground. The result is a pop-up that is easily picked by the defense.
Kellen Mond 17/31 with 1 really bad interception pic.twitter.com/xAbYpowAcn
— Talkin' Football (@TalkinFootball_) September 7, 2019
You may also remember his brutal performance against LSU last season. Mond finished the day with less than 100 passing yards, completing 33% of his passes for zero touchdowns and three interceptions. This was a bad game. Actually, this was an awful game. But let’s not forget that only a year earlier Mond was doing things like this against that same defense:
#PlayOfTheDay (2018): Kellen Mond tosses it up for Kendrick Rogers who makes an incredible catch to secure the TD. Texas A&M ultimately outlasted LSU 74-72 in 7OT. Both teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense in an absolute thriller. pic.twitter.com/goeG1t7fRD
— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) August 13, 2020
I’d like to conclude this by saying that Mond was written off following Texas A&M’s season-opening loss to Alabama. While many have set out to flog him in the media for this loss, Mond’s advanced numbers for this game were actually quite good. Unfortunately, his defense gave up 52 points. Since this game, the Aggies have not lost a single contest and Mond has played the most efficient football of his career.
Some advanced Kellen Mond stats vs #Bama:
-On passes of 10+ yards downfield: 9/22-164 YDs-2 TDs-1 INT
-Average Depth of Attempt: 7.8 yards (shorter than Vandy)
-56.2% "good throw" rate/18.2% "bad throw" rate
-1/8 "bad throws" came from clean pocket
-51% of passing yards were YAC
— Mike Lucas (@KAGS_Lucas) October 6, 2020
In short, it’s time to put some respect on Kellen Mond’s name. This is a legitimate NFL quarterback who could easily develop into a solid starter for the right organization. Following a very solid college career, I see few players who are better suited to make the leap to the NFL, aside from Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, of course. Don’t be surprised if an NFL team “overdrafts” Mond in the 2021 class.