2011 NFL Draft: Why Nathan Enderle Will Prove Everyone Wrong
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Cam Newton has the mobility. Ryan Mallett has the arm. Blaine Gabbert has the size. Jake Locker has the grit. Jerrod Johnson makes a Pop Warner quarterback think he could succeed as a college quarterback.
What if I told you there's a quarterback who could wind up being better than all of them?
From the great state of Idaho that brings you potatoes and, uh, potatoes, comes University of Idaho Vandal quarterback Nathan Enderle. Those who choose to just look at statistics may write him off, but upon further inspection, there is a lot to like.
No one can deny he has the build to play in the NFL. At the East/West Shrine Game, he checked in at a 6'4" 243 lbs. His arms are short too, just 31 inches, to ensure a quick windup. This size also makes him a handful to be taken down to the ground. He isn't the next Ben Roethlisberger, but there have been times when Enderle has been able to shake off the defender and keep the play alive.
Enderle has the ability to make every throw. He has the arm, able to flick the ball 50 yards while on the move. He offers good velocity on his passes as well. It's not all about arm strength for Enderle. He also shows the ability to put touch on his passes, throwing on-target fade routes against Louisiana Tech and Bosie State. Enderle shows good touch down the seam and can hit receivers outside of the hashmarks.
Don't let his low completion percentage fool you. Overall, he's an accurate passer. The Vandal is also a tough competitor. He will stand tall in the pocket and is willing to make a throw at the expense of his body, which is a good thing considering the sorry state of an offensive line he played behind in 2010.
Idaho was not able to recover from losing one of its best offensive lineman in recent history, Mike Iupati. Enderle was under constant duress. The underrated quarterback has played in the East/West Shrine game and will be participating in the NFLPA game, formerly known as Texas vs. The Nation. He's letting scouts have an opportunity to watch him.
Mentally, Enderle shows encouraging signs. He is a bit of a gunslinger, as the interception numbers suggest, and will get tunnel vision. However, he was given permission to audible and frequently did so, showing his ability to read a defense. He's willing to check down when nothing downfield is available and goes through his progressions. He feels the rush well and can step up or sidestep to buy time. There are times when he breaks down and starts to pat the ball, but it isn't a major concern.
Idaho runs a pro style offense, meaning Enderle was often under center and has experience reading defenses while dropping back. His offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach was Steve Axman, who has over 30 years of coaching experience. Idaho offered little in the run game, averaging just 88 yards per game, putting the bulk of the offense on the shoulders of Enderle. Receivers dropped countless passes and because of their large size, most being 6'3" or taller, they struggled to get consistent separation.
Perhaps just as important, Enderle helped lead Idaho out of the college football basement. They were a laughingstock of a football program struggling to even defeat FCS schools. Starting as a freshman, Enderle had to deal with a lot of hardship and a lot of losing. They won just three games in the first two years. He and head coach Robb Akey did not give up. In 2009, the Vandals won eight games with the last coming in a wild bowl victory over Bowling Green. Enderle threw the game-winning TD pass and two point conversion to lead Idaho past Bowling Green, 43-42.
The team took a step back in 2010, failing to earn a bowl berth but still winning six games. Enderle and the rest of the senior class finished their career with an overtime victory over San Jose State, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Enderle to wide receiver Eric Greenwood to win the game.
There are more popular and flashier names than the relatively unknown quarterback from Idaho, but he has all the tools needed to succeed as a quarterback. Idaho won't be known for just potatoes much longer. They'll be known for a great quarterback.
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