BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS
The angst and anxiety started 18 years ago with Bart Hendricks. Not him personally, but the spring of 2001 produced the first sign of trouble that blasted us between the eyes once again Saturday.
Why aren’t Boise State quarterbacks worthy of the NFL Draft?
Hendricks — the first casualty of what is now officially a curse — was a two-time conference MVP and the first Broncos’ quarterback in the modern era who had a shot at the NFL Draft. But the expected call never came, and when the tough, athletic free agent ended up in the Chargers’ camp with Doug Flutie and Drew Brees, we still followed every move.
Will he make the roster?
Angst and anxiety.
Why isn’t he playing in preseason games?
Angst and anxiety.
Released before the regular season even started.
Angst and anxiety.
“The GM kept telling me, ‘We like you. We need to get you on the field.’ It never happened,’’ Hendricks said.
Boise State — with one of the most successful offensive reputations in all of college football — is still waiting for a QB to be drafted.
Hendricks, Dinwiddie, Zabransky, Tharp, Coughlin, Moore, Southwick, Hedrick and now Brett Rypien, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound all-time leading passer in Mountain West history.
All those QBs showed flashes of NFL potential. All had NFL chances. None were drafted.
The glaring omission remains the biggest wart on an otherwise stellar college football resume. Boise State consistently wins 10-plus games every season. Scores a ton of points. Produces NFL talent every year. Puts quarterbacks in a position to be drafted.
Frankly, it’s baffling.
And a little embarrassing, considering how other quarterbacks across the nation are being drafted into the NFL.
Eleven quarterbacks were taken in this year’s draft, including former Boise State player Ryan Finley (NC State), nine others from Power Five programs and one from the FCS.
Ten Mountain West players were drafted this year — including a long snapper from Air Force.
Since 1975, when Boise State last put a quarterback in the NFL Draft (Jim McMillan, 14th round, Lions), the current lineup of Mountain West programs has had 40 quarterbacks drafted into the NFL.
Only Boise State and Air Force have been skunked.
League bottom-feeder San Jose State has had four QBs drafted during Boise State’s drought. Laramie, Wyoming, has cranked out two.
Idaho has had four quarterbacks drafted since McMillan.
Idaho State has had one.
Overall, the NFL has drafted approximately 600 quarterbacks since 1975.
None of them from Boise State.
“It’s a very hard deal,’’ said Hendricks, now a fundraiser for the university. “You feel you’re good enough and you want to prove that. It’s very frustrating.’’
Rypien said the same thing Saturday: “Obviously it’s frustrating. … Tough.’’
The real question is, why is this happening? Especially considering Boise State’s track record of success and high-powered offenses?
Rypien mentioned “bad luck.’’
Hendricks has a theory: “If you’re undersized, you have to bring something else special to the table. Drew Brees is deadly accurate and Russell Wilson has amazing feet.’’
Boise State’s quarterbacks, typically, are undersized and lack massive arm strength. And, if we’re honest with each other, only a few have had that “something-else-special’’ gene.
Dinwiddie was incredibly efficient.
Zabransky was incredibly athletic.
Moore was incredibly brilliant.
Maybe every other Boise State quarterback was just good … and not great?
Boise State has relied on Pac-12 leftovers for years, competes in a small market, and has a strength of schedule stigma, like every Group of Five program. Bundle it up and it’s a bad combination for a good football program that has cranked out NFL Draft picks at other positions for 10 consecutive years (and 35 overall since 2000).
Hendricks watched the draft Saturday, expecting to see Rypien go somewhere in the final rounds. He loves Rypien’s ability to make tough throws, including the deep out, his attitude to get better, and the way he understands football concepts.
What Hendricks doesn’t understand, is why Rypien and other Boise State quarterbacks aren’t getting drafted.
“I don’t have a great answer for that,’’ he said. “It’s a good question, but I don’t have an answer at all.’’
Bottom line: Boise State cranks out rock-solid college quarterbacks who produce mostly strong and impressive results every season. They entertain us like crazy during Saturdays in the fall, and they tease us about a possible future on Sundays.
And, as it proved once again, the NFL is not impressed.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prater’s opinions are his own.