By Brian Murphy
The NFL Draft begins Thursday evening and it could be a big year for Boise State prospects. While the Broncos are unlikely to have a first-round selection, wide receiver Titus Young could go in the second round. Several other former Broncos expect to hear their names called before the draft wraps up Saturday.
We will have plenty of content about the former Broncos headed to the NFL.
This post however, is about Boise State’s opponents, specifically the few foes that have managed to beat the Broncos in recent years.
Washington quarterback Jake Locker, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick are all expected to be drafted in the first two rounds of this week’s NFL Draft.
They have another thing in common: Each led a team to victory against Boise State in the Chris Petersen era.
Considering the Broncos are 61-5 under Petersen, I found this nugget interesting. So I did a little digging — and a little analysis about what it could mean for the Broncos in 2011.
Here is the big picture review:
In Boise State’s last six losses — dating back to the 2005 bowl loss against Boston College in Dan Hawkins' final game as coach — the opposing team had at least one first- or second-round NFL Draft pick or a Heisman Trophy finalist on offense. In five of the losses that player was a quarterback. In the other instance, a running back.
(Note: This assumes that Kaepernick, Locker and Dalton will be selected in the first or second round, which seems pretty safe at this point.)
The teams that defeated Boise State since 2005 also had at least one other high NFL pick (defined for this exercise as a first-, second- or third-rounder) on the team, usually on defense.
Some of the teams, notably Boston College in 2005 and TCU in 2009, were stocked with NFL picks.
A closer look
Dec. 28, 2005: Boston College 27, Boise State 21 (MPC Computers Bowl in Boise)
In Hawkins’ final game — Petersen was the offensive coordinator and had been named head coach, but Hawkins coached the game before leaving for Colorado — Boise State faced a team of loaded with future NFL Draft prospects.
Offensive star: Quarterback Matt Ryan — who went 19-of-36 for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl game — was the No. 3 pick overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 and has blossomed into an above average NFL quarterback. Atlanta was the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs in 2010.
Other high picks: Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was selected with the last pick of the first round (No. 32 overall) by the New York Giants in 2006. Offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood went in the second round (59th overall) and cornerback Will Blackmon was picked in the fourth round (No. 115 overall) that year.
In 2007, Boston College produced two more mid-round NFL draftees. In 2008, offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus was selected in the first round (No. 17 overall). In 2009, defensive tackle B.J. Raji was a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) to the Green Bay Packers.
All told, the Eagles had four first-round picks and a second-round selection on the team.
Sept. 8, 2007: Washington 24, Boise State 10 (in Seattle)
Offensive star: Redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker completed 13 of 25 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Locker also had a rushing touchdown in the game. Now Locker — who had an uneven career at Washington — is a potential first-round draft pick.
Other high picks: In 2009, Linebacker Donald Butler (third round, 79th overall) and defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (third round, 86th overall) were selected.
Nov. 23, 2007: Hawaii 39, Boise State 27 (in Honolulu)
Offensive star: Senior quarterback Colt Brennan, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2007, completed 40-of-53 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns. He was picked in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
Other high pick: Defensive end David Veikune was picked in the second round (No. 52) overall in the 2008 draft.
Of note: Wide receiver Davone Bess had 14 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Bess went undrafted in 2008, but has become a key contributor for the Miami Dolphins.
Dec. 23, 2007: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38 (Hawaii Bowl)
Offensive star: Running back Chris Johnson had 408 all-purpose yards, including 223 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the win. In 2008, he was selected in the first round (No. 24 overall) by the Tennessee Titans and became just the sixth NFL rusher to amass more than 2,000 yards in a single-season in 2009. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year that season, when he broke the league’s record for all-purpose yards.
Other high picks: Defensive tackle Linval Joseph (second round, 46th overall) and tight end Davon Drew (fifth round) also were drafted.
Dec. 23, 2008: TCU 17, Boise State 16 (Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego)
Offensive star: Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 22-of-35 passes for 197 yards and one interception. He could be a first- or second-round selection this year.
Other high picks: The true star of that TCU game was the defense. Defensive end Jerry Hughes, who had one sack, was selected in the first round (31st overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. In 2010, linebacker Daryl Washington (second round, 47th overall).
Of note: In addition, the Horned Frogs had five other players — three defensive — selected in final three rounds of the 2009 draft and one more in 2010.
Nov. 26, 2010: Nevada 34, Boise State 31 OT (in Reno)
Offensive star: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 19-of-35 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 45 yards and a key touchdown in the Wolf Pack’s comeback victory.
Other high pick: Defensive end Dontay Moch is projected as a mid-second round selection.
Of note: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who had a monster game against Boise State, could eventually be a NFL Draft prospect.
It usually takes superior offensive talent to beat the Broncos. Ryan, Brennan, Johnson and Kaepernick had stellar performances in their victories.
I have been asked several times lately what Boise State’s record will be in 2011. Like most observers, I point to the Georgia and TCU games as the biggest stumbling blocks to an undefeated season. The upper- and mid-tier Mountain West Conference teams should also provide tougher challenges week in and week out than the Broncos have faced in recent years, perhaps increasing the chances of an “unexpected” loss.
Perhaps we should also be consulting the NFL Draft prospects of opponents’ key offensive player, especially their quarterbacks.
Among 2011 opponents, Georgia’s Aaron Murray stands out as a potential NFL prospect. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, a redshirt sophomore without a career start, certainly has the size and bloodlines to be considered a potential NFL Draft pick.
But sometimes it’s hard to know. Before this season, few would have considered Dalton and Kaepernick likely high NFL picks.
The 2005 Georgia team, which defeated Boise State in the season opener, had 11 players drafted in the next two years. Cornerback Tim Jennings was the highest pick — second round, No. 62 overall in 2006.
The 2006 Oklahoma team, which Boise State beat in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 12 players drafted in the next three years and kicker Garrett Hartley, who was undrafted, has become a solid NFL player. The highest pick was running back Adrian Peterson (first round, No. 7 overall in 2007). The Sooners also had two second-round selections in the 2008 draft.
The 2008 Oregon team, which Boise State defeated in Eugene, had nine players drafted the next two years, a figure that does not include running back LeGarrette Blount, who made it to an NFL roster as undrafted free agent. The highest selection was safety Patrick Chung (second round, No. 34 overall in 2009). The Ducks had three second-round selections in 2009 and another in 2010.
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