Get to know Mr. Irrelevant: Scouting San Francisco 49ers QB pick Brock Purdy


Ever since what transpired on that October, 2018 afternoon in Stillwater, Oklahoma — everyone knew Brock Purdy was destined for Iowa State greatness.

But headed to the San Francisco 49ers as the final pick of the NFL draft ?

"It’s everyone’s dream to hear your name called on draft day," Purdy.

For Purdy, that dream picked up momentum quickly. After replacing Zeb Noland following a three-and-out first possession, the true freshman completed 18 of 23 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-42 shocker against 25th-ranked Oklahoma State. He rushed 19 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.

He didn’t let up, going on to own or share 32 records during his Cyclones career. He won big games, including against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and Oregon. October was always Brocktober, for the way Purdy always played during that month.

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And it all started at a place where Iowa State quarterbacks rarely led teams to victory .

"When he came in, we didn’t know anything about him," Cowboys veteran coach Mike Gundy said. "That was really the first time anybody had seen him."
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) passes the ball downfield as Kansas State defensive back Tee Denson (8) defends during the second quarter of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. Colin E. Braley/AP

A star was born.

"The expectations after that game, and how defenses were scheming up how I played — those were all things I had to learn to handle," Purdy said.

As for being the NFL's 2022 Mr. Irrelevant?

"I think it’s a funny thing," Purdy said during an interview on the 49ers web site. "I laugh about it. I joke around a bit. For me, I’m looking at it as an opportunity that I have my foot in the door. A team believed in me. Now, I get my opportunity to play football.

"From the outside looking in, I guess it’s a funny thing. I'll embrace the role and have some fun with it, sure. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to help the team win the super bowl."

Purdy is more comfortable playing in a system that allows quarterbacks freedom, rather than being chained to the pocket. His best plays in college were while on the move, either in the passing game or as a rusher.

He absorbed contact. He was adept at hitting short- to mid-range receivers in stride. When it came to accuracy, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder was solid. Purdy completed 71.7% of his passes last season, and 67.7% for his career. Mostly, those were of the mid-range variety, and why not, when you’re throwing to a sure-handed tight end like Charlie Kolar.

No one called Purdy that strong-armed quarterback from Arizona. Can he complete the deep pass? He showed that only occasionally during his four wonderful Iowa State seasons.

He got away with scrambling in college, but how that translates against bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic professionals is a concern. So is the fact that he’s barely 6-1.

Purdy played to his strengths at Iowa State, which meant comfort-zone throws to above-average tight ends. He made the best of less than dynamic speed, but in the NFL, he’ll unlikely have similar running success.

That doesn’t mean he can’t have a nice NFL career. There’s always room for a good-guy willing backup, someone with knowledge of the game who’s good enough to fill in when needed.

"Brock is one of the greatest players ever to wear the Cardinal and Gold, but his excellence went beyond what he accomplished on the field," Campbell said. “Brock is a leader and his impact on building the culture we have here is immeasurable. He’s made the Iowa State football program, the university and our community a better place by his daily actions. I am so excited for Brock and his family."

Irrelevant in the cynical eyes of the NFL maybe, but to Iowa State?

As relevant as any football player in the school's history — regardless of position.

Follow Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson on Twitter at @RandyPete .

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Get to know Mr. Irrelevant: Scouting San Francisco 49ers QB pick Brock Purdy

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