There was major disappointment in Broncoland over Brett Rypien going undrafted over the weekend, but at the other end of the spectrum was Alexander Mattison. The Boise State running back produced a different kind of surprise when he was taken at the very end of the third round by the Minnesota Vikings. And in the process, Mattison became the second-highest Bronco back ever to be drafted behind first-round pick Doug Martin in 2012. It sounds like a calculated move by the Vikings, as incumbent Dalvin Cook has missed half of the Vikings’ games the last two seasons due to injury. Minnesota likes Mattison’s combination of short-yardage bulldozer, pass-catcher and third-down pass protector. And the Vikings love his durability—witness the 77 carries he had the last two games of his Bronco career.
HISTORY WILL HAVE TO WAIT…AGAIN
When the NFL Draft gets into the seventh round, especially with quarterbacks who haven’t been chosen, it’s better to go undrafted at that point so you can choose a path that gives you the best chance. That’s the situation for Boise State’s Brett Rypien, who’s now a Denver Bronco with the unwelcome UDFA tag—undrafted free agent. Denver liked Rypien all the way along, just not enough to draft him. The Broncos took Missouri’s Drew Lock in the second round, an ideal insurance policy should Joe Flacco not work out after coming over from Baltimore. So Rypien’s assignment will be to compete for the No. 3 job and what could be a practice squad spot. As it stands now, that will be against former Stanford standout Kevin Hogan and one-time Mountain West foe Garrett Grayson, the Colorado State product.
It’ll be several years at least before Boise State will be able to break this quarterback drought in the NFL Draft. There’s never been one chosen in the top seven rounds. Will it be Chase Cord? Hank Bachmeier? Some unknown recruit currently in middle school? Marquee Bronco players (and their fans) have been through this type of draft day disappointment before. Seven years ago the most popular player in program history was on the board all the way through the Mr. Irrelevant pick. Kellen Moore stuck it out for six seasons in the league (and things have worked out for him in another facet of football). And 10 years ago Ian Johnson, who scored the most important two points Boise State has ever known, went undrafted and never played a regular season NFL down. Root for Ryp like you rooted for those guys.
A FEW MORE NFL DREAMS STILL ALIVE
Boise State’s other undrafted free agent pickups included Jabril Frazier to the New York Jets, Durrant Miles to the Atlanta Falcons, Tyler Horton to the Miami Dolphins, A.J. Richardson to the Arizona Cardinals and Sean Modster to the Baltimore Ravens. We don’t know yet which of these are rookie camp tryouts and which are actual contracts (there’s a difference). Frazier, in my opinion, would have the best chance of sticking—if he’s healthy. Outside linebackers with edge-rush ability are a constant need in the NFL. Injuries have kept scouts from seeing Frazier at his level-best. Miles is the one with the biggest upside after his impressive showing at Boise State’s Pro Day.
VANDALS’ DRAFT DROUGHT ENDS
Kaden Elliss became the first Idaho player to be drafted in seven years when he was taken in the seventh round Saturday by the New Orleans Saints. One Saints fan site has already suggested the versatile linebacker might be “Taysom Hill 2.0.” Elliss played some tight end at Idaho, and his hard-nosed nature makes him a perfect special teams candidate. WhoDatDish.com points out that Hill, the former BYU quarterback who has done a little bit of everything for New Orleans, is “a native of Idaho who played collegiately in Utah, and Elliss is a native of Utah who played in Idaho.”
STEELIES IN AN 0-2 HOLE
The Idaho Steelheads’ first round Kelly Cup Playoff series didn’t start so well against Utah. You can multiply that by two in the ECHL Mountain Division finals versus Tulsa. The Steelheads recovered to put away the Grizzlies, of course. This will be a much taller task after a pair of 3-1 losses to open the series at Tulsa. Both games were tight, with Idaho netminder Tomas Sholl making saves on 57 of the 61 shots he faced. The two-goal margins were provided by empty-net tallies at the end of each contest. But it is a two games-to-none deficit, and the Steelies are left to hope home ice gets them back into it. Game 6 is tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena.
TROY’S SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO THE TOUR
Troy Merritt made some more money on the golf course over the weekend. That’s his job, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Merritt and playing partner Robert Streb tied for 22nd in team play Sunday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, earning both of them $19,610. Could have been thousands more were it not for a bogey on the 18th hole. The combined 72 in the final round was the duo’s highest score of the tournament. Still, when you combine this with his tie for 10th a week ago at the RBC Heritage, it has to be satisfying for the former Boise State star after missing most of the past 3½ months due to rib surgery.
AROUND THE HORN
Speaking of Merritt, on Sunday Boise State freshman Cameron Barzekoff matched the school single-round record of 66 Merritt shot in the 2007 WAC Championships. The en-fuego round propelled Barzekoff into a third-place finish individually at the Mountain West Championships in Tucson. The Broncos finished sixth as a team. The Boise State men’s women’s softball team took two of three from Nevada over the weekend at Dona Larsen Park. The Broncos almost rallied for a sweep in Sunday’s series finale before falling 12-11. And College of Idaho won the Pacific Northwest Division II lacrosse championship with a 17-8 win over Montana in Missoula Saturday. The Coyotes advance to the MCLA Division II nationals In Salt Lake City.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BACON…breakfast and brunch all day!
April 29, 2014, five years ago today: With stunning swiftness, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver bans Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life and fines him $2.5 million. The action came just four days after TMZ revealed audio of a conversation in which Sterling can be heard scolding his girlfriend for bringing blacks to Clippers games and for posting photos of herself with African-Americans, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, to her Instagram account. The racist rant stunned the Clippers, who were in the middle of a hotly-contested playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, and all of the NBA.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)