The 2021 NFL Draft is just one day away, and the major storyline that surrounds the first round has to do with quarterbacks. The first three picks -- and maybe four -- are all expected to be signal-callers, and it looks likely we will see a total of five quarterbacks go inside the top 10. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance aren't the only quarterbacks with potential, however, as several teams reportedly have an eye on Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said that between 10 and 15 NFL teams have already made serious inquiries about Mond. Our CBS NFL Draft writers do not believe that Mond will fall out of the third round, and Ryan Wilson even has Mond going as the seventh quarterback taken at No. 51 overall to the Washington Football Team in his most recent mock draft. Mond has put together what really has been a successful "pre-draft season" for himself. He's been impressive in interviews and also won the Reese's Senior Bowl MVP after he completed 13 of 25 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the showcase.
With the NFL Draft here, Mond spoke with CBS Sports about how he developed with the Aggies, and what he's focused on as he prepares to enter the NFL.
An intriguing passer with an unknown ceiling
Mond was a four-year starter for the Aggies who got better with experience. He became just the third quarterback in SEC history to pass for over 9,000 yards to go along with over 1,500 yards rushing. There was more excitement for Johnny Manziel and Ryan Tannehill entering their respective NFL drafts, but Mond leaves A&M as the most prolific quarterback in Aggies history, as his 9,961 passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns rank first in program history. He's also tied with Manziel for the most total touchdowns in program history with 93.
When it comes to Mond as an NFL prospect, analysts are intrigued by his arm strength, which could be the best in this class. His experience as a starter is also deemed as valuable, and his improvement in each season has coaches wondering where exactly his ceiling could be. Mond believes his greatest strength has to do with his study habits, and he told us that his football IQ has become something that can set him apart.
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"I would definitely say my knowledge is my greatest strength," Mond said. "I think as I became a lot older and in the back half of my career I started to realize that you may have the physical traits, but if you don't have the mental traits you can't succeed. So as I started to build on my mental traits and started to understand how to prepare a lot better and just really started to understand defenses and offenses, that's when I was able to take my game to a whole new level. I started to study college tape and NFL tape and NFL quarterbacks -- I was able to realize that most of the great quarterbacks are not necessarily in the position they are in for their physical traits, it's more their mental preparation."
Mond has been criticized for inconsistent play in the past, but he has worked hard to eliminate mistakes. In his senior season, he threw just three interceptions in 10 games and recorded a career-high passer rating of 146.9 to go along with a career-high completion percentage of 63.3. This was due to Mond's work ethic, which is something that his family has taught him is important no matter what he's doing. Mond has 12 family members who have served in the military, including his father, with over 100 years of combined military service. He partnered with USAA, Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, to offer fans an inside look at how his military-inspired upbringing helped him prepare for success ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The way you do small things is the way you do all things! As I prepare for the #NFLDraft, thank you @USAA for helping me honor 12 family members, including my Dad, who served in the military & taught me values that will help me succeed in the @NFL. #SaluteToService #USAApartner pic.twitter.com/VcAsKSgVSS— K M o n d (@TheKellenMond) April 27, 2021
"Being able to partner with them and really highlight what the military has done one, for our country, but also be able to highlight what the military has done for my family, for my sisters and myself, has truly been amazing," said Mond. "Some of these values that -- not only that my dad has taught me, but that have been passed down to my dad on a long line and lineage from service. These are certain things and characteristics that uphold me on my day to day whether I'm off the field or on the field and definitely has made me the man that I am today."
A&M highlights worth revisiting
Mond was part of a contest that went down in college football lore, as he defeated future Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers, 74-72, in seven overtimes during his sophomore campaign. It set the record for the most combined points scored in FBS history, and tied the NCAA record for longest game. Mond tossed six touchdowns and ran for another in the game that just didn't want to end, and kept his focus for nearly five hours to pull out a win for the Aggies.
"I think at that point in seven overtimes I was pretty much doing whatever it took to win," Mond said. "And you know I think that you are kinda able to relate that and that type of perseverance to what I learned from my dad and our military-style background and service. Pretty much do whatever it takes to win.
"It definitely showed one, my commitment to myself, but also my commitment to my team and we were able to win."
That unforgettable win over LSU wasn't Mond's college "high," however. It was actually his final collegiate game against UNC in the Capital One Orange Bowl this past January. Mond didn't play incredibly well, as he completed 16 of 26 passes for 232 yards and rushed for 36 yards and one score. Still, he did lead a 21-0 run with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter en route to a 41-27 win. Mond said it was special because he was able to hang up his college cleats with a win, and it gave him a moment to reflect on all he had been through.
"I would probably say my last game at the Orange Bowl," said Mond when asked for his favorite moment at A&M. "Not necessarily because of how the game went or me playing well, but I think it was just me being able to capitalize one, off of a phenomenal Texas A&M career, but also off of a phenomenal season. And just looking back at my career, and kinda a weight feeling like it was off my shoulders and just understanding all the adversity that I had been through and what that adversity exactly did for me in the long run and how I was able to capitalize and move on from that adversity and make myself an even better player. So that Orange Bowl was definitely a phenomenal win for my team and a phenomenal win for me and some of the older guys, the veterans on the team."
Who Mond could be at the next level
Mond has the potential to be special if he continues to improve like he has over the past four years. It's difficult to figure out the perfect NFL comparison for Mond since he has potential as a dual-threat quarterback but also looks comfortable in the pocket. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has thrown out Colin Kaepernick as a comparison, but even Mond did not pick a single quarterback to compare himself to when asked. Instead, he watches some of the best signal-callers in the NFL and tries to add different parts of their game to his arsenal.
"I necessarily wouldn't compare myself to anybody, I know a lot of people make comparisons to either Deshaun Watson or Dak Prescott," said Mond. "The way that I'm able to elevate my game is I watch a bunch of NFL film and I want to watch somebody for certain reasons. If I'm trying to improve on my footwork, then I'm probably going to watch Tom Brady or Drew Brees. If I need to work on playing a little bit looser and a little bit more free, I may watch Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson. Just kind of the way that I piece my game and am able to learn from the best people in the league and the best players in the country, I just go to different people and kind of pick their strengths so that I can implement it into my game and make it my own mode and be my own player."
Mond's draft position is truly up in the air, as he plays the most important position in football, but could also fall a bit since he's not considered to be in that top five list of quarterbacks. He told us that he doesn't care where he falls in the 2021 NFL Draft, because he's ready to reward the first team that takes a shot on him.
"I truly don't," said Mond. "I think just me, being the type of person that I am, I know that whatever team drafts me I'm going to be 100 percent blessed to be given that opportunity and just me on my end, I know I'm going to make the most of that opportunity and make sure that team drafting me is going to get everything out of me. Truly, it could be any of the 32 teams and I'm going to be excited on draft night."