Draft Talk: Analysts share thoughts on Brock Purdy

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy celebrates in the end-zone after Iowa State scores a touchdown against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23, 2021.

Matt Belinson

Editor’s note: The 2022 NFL Draft is on its way (April 28), and it’s shaping up to be an unprecedented stage for Cyclone football.

The Iowa State Daily spoke with five NFL Draft analysts to get their opinions on the Cyclones’ biggest draft prospects and examine their respective strengths, weaknesses and pro potential.

The analysts are: Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Chris Trapasso (CBSSports), Anthony Treash (Pro Football Focus), Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) and Keith Sanchez (The Draft Network).

Brock Purdy is considered by many to be the best quarterback in Iowa State history. But his NFL future is in question in the minds of draft evaluators.

He’s the winningest quarterback in school history with a 30-17 record, has the most passing yards (12,170), total offense (13,347), touchdown passes (81) in program history.

But can he make a career for himself in the NFL?

The highest quarterback selected from Iowa State was Sage Rosenfels in 2001 when Washington selected him 109th overall in the fourth round.

Will Brock be drafted?

It’s the biggest question surrounding Purdy and the NFL Draft. Can the Iowa State program leader take the next step?

Analysts have some doubts.

“As a starter, that’s hard to see,” Dane Brugler said. “If Brock Purdy’s your starter, you’re always looking to upgrade that position. His skills are capped at the next level.”

“I think he’s borderline draftable.”

When it comes to Purdy, analysts pointed out concerns related to his arm strength, issues with turnovers and a clear dip in production as his career in Ames went on.

The NFL is moving further into high-powered offenses that can score at will and make defenses sweat at every level. But with Purdy, his ceiling at the NFL level appears to be stunted in the minds of analysts.

“I don’t see Brock being drafted,” Zierlein said.

“I think he’s probably going to be undrafted,” Anthony Treash said. “He’s college football’s Benjamin Button. He showed out early on and never took that big step forward.”

While his skeptics are out there, Purdy’s chances of being drafted weren’t always completely zero in some observers’ view.

Teams may tend to value high-character and work ethic when it comes to player who projects as a backup, with analysts saying Purdy’s ability to lead a program for years and stay on the field as potential reasons a team would take him.

While Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert turn heads with their ability to throw downfield, analysts said Purdy could be drafted as a more cerebral, game-manager in a specific NFL role.

“He’s a Day Three quarterback. I would take him to sit behind somebody for a couple years and turn the corner and develop.” -Sanchez

“There’s a good chance he’s drafted, but in general, his overall skill set isn’t crazy impressive in terms of arm talent, athleticism. Had he been entering 10 years ago, he would have been viewed a lot more favorably.” -Trapasso

The chances for Purdy to crack a NFL roster appear up in the air to some, but all it takes is one general manager or coach to buy-in with the person first, rather than player.

“For some of these guys, if it’s close, say it’s Brock and another guy, and Brock’s got the clear edge in practice habits, film study, then all of the sudden Brock’s above someone else, and a team can go for it with him,” Brugler said.

What are Brock’s strengths?

Many consider Purdy’s NFL future a mystery. So, if a team were to take him, what they would be looking at as a positive attribute of his game?

Overall, Purdy’s best qualities relate to his accuracy and ability to make quick reads, along with a limited, but certainly present, amount of athleticism. His completion percentage went up every season in college and thrived in short to intermediate passing.

His pocket presence is solid and evaluators see he can make plays happen outside the pocket, but not enough to warrant high praise.

“He’s an athletic guy. He can buy time with his legs; he eliminates things quickly with his eyes, and he’s a tough, durable player.” -Brugler

“For not being a physical specimen, Brock does do a good job getting the most out of his athleticism. I view Brock as a rhythm player. You watch him get into a rhythm and he looks like a first round pick, but then you see his limits in athleticism when things aren’t clean in the pocket. He’s a smart guy who seems like he watches a lot of film. But it’s on and off for him.” -Trapasso

“You notice some athleticism. He was best when he was decisive with the football with one, two reads. I think he’ll be good to go into an offense and sit behind somebody. That’s honestly when he can grow.” -Sanchez

“He’s an excellent passer in rhythm. But when he gets off-rhythm, it’s a pretty stark difference. When he’s leading the receiver across the field, he looks good. NFL teams will love that potentially in a backup role. They just want backup quarterbacks to follow the script. Brock can do that, but when things go haywire, it’s not good.” -Treash

What parts of his game are a concern?

Purdy averaged only 11.3 yards per completion (outside the FBS top-50) in 2020 and managed 1.3 passes per game of 30+ yards in 2020 (71st in FBS).

Along with that, his yards per attempt decreased freshman through his junior season (10.2, Freshman), (8.4, Sophomore), (7.5, Junior), to slightly increase to 7.8 in 2021.

And that wasn’t all that took a dip. Purdy’s touchdowns decreased: 27 (2019), 19 (2020) and 19 (2021).

“You never want to see touchdown production decline like he has,” Brugler said. “That’s never a good sign. But on the flip side, his completion percentage did go up every year.”

Indeed it did. Purdy’s percentage went up from 66.4 as a freshman to 65.7 as a sophomore, 66.6 as a junior and 71.7 as a senior.

However, analysts say most of those passes were in short yardage and were not always asking for a big-time quarterback to make them.

And that’s where one of his biggest turn-offs comes in: the deep ball.

“When a quarterback doesn’t scare you deep, that plays into the hands of the defense.” -Brugler

“I have to be honest, I’m not sure how strong his arm is. There were a couple throws that he left short I thought. I question his arm strength past the 40-yard mark.” -Sanchez

“Purdy was really confident and productive when he came on the scene, but we didn’t see that as much over the last couple of years. His arm strength and lack of release quickness really hurts his chances.” -Zierlein