San Francisco 49ers scout picks Brock Purdy

Ever since what happened 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 in the NFL Draft?

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

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

He hasn’t let up, holding or sharing 32 records during his Cyclones career. He won big games, including against Oklahoma, Texas and Oregon. October has always been Brocktober, for the way Purdy has always played during that month.

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,” veteran Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “It was really the first time anyone saw him.”

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“The expectations after that game and the way the defenses were setting up my game – those were all things I had to learn to deal with,” Purdy said.

The positive points

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

He absorbed the contact. He was adept at hitting short-to-medium-range receivers in stride. As far as accuracy goes, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder was solid. Purdy completed 71.7% of his passes last season and 67.7% for his career. Mostly these were of the mid-range variety, and why not, when you throw to a safe tight end like Charlie Kolar.

The preoccupations

Nobody called Purdy this brawny quarterback from Arizona. Can he complete the deep pass? He only showed that occasionally during his wonderful four seasons at Iowa State.

He got away with it by hustling in college, but how that translates into bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic professionals is a concern. The same goes for the fact that he is barely 6-1.

Peterson’s final thoughts

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

That doesn’t mean he can’t have a great career in the NFL. There is always room for a willing substitute, someone who knows the game and is good enough to replace him when needed.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson entered his 50th year of sportswriting for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Contact him at, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.

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