Nathan Enderle will be an NFL quarterback. If there is one thing I took from Pro Day at the University of Idaho, it’s that the record setting signal-caller can no longer question if he will hear his name called at the NFL Draft next month.
While scouts from Cincinnati, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle were all in attendance, it was the face of another franchise that should allow him to breathe easy.
With temperatures dipping down towards freezing, Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz braved the frigid Moscow, Idaho air to spend some time one-on-one with Enderle.
Widely considered as one of the greatest offensive minds in the game, Martz’s appearance assures one thing. The question is not if, but when Enderle will be drafted. “He didn’t come here by accident,” quipped Idaho head coach Robb Akey.
Martz stood back and watched like many of the other innocent bystanders in attendance as Enderle repeated many of the drills he was put through at the NFL combine last month. However, when it was time for Enderle to start chucking the rock, the offensive mastermind was the first to emerge to the front of the pack.
Martz’s play-calling involves tempo and timing. Both were a topic of discussion as he stood close by, noticeably guiding Enderle through each throw. Early on, it appeared Martz specifically wanted to see the quarterback work a three-step drop checking his tempo and timing on “quick throws” — an area he struggled with as a senior. But with receivers running 6-yard hitches and 5-yard slants, Enderle was on point with all but one attempt.
In the end, he not only upped his stock with Chicago, but possibility another organization as well. With Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer rumored to be on his way out of Cincinnati, Enderle has perked the interest of Bengals quarterback coach Ken Zampese. With Cincinnati rumored to have a private workout scheduled with Enderle, Zampese watch intently from the sidelines on Friday.
While Martz declined an interview, coach Akey was quick to elaborate on the noticeable names in attendance. “They want to see Nate throw the ball and they’re excited about him,” said Akey.
Physically, Enderle no doubt fits the mold of a professional quarterback. At 6-foot-4, 234-pounds, the Nebraska-native packs a powerful lower-half he uses to drive the ball down-field. While he doesn’t have elite arm strength, he can make every throw required of a pro-style system.
Mechanically, he is also sound. Although he tends to pat the ball before releasing it, he bends his knees in the pocket and posses the flat shoulders that promotes the accuracy coaches love to see.
In terms of experience, no one can match it. Of the top 20 rated quarterbacks in the draft, Enderle’s 1,427 career attempts are the most, and he is one of only three signal-callers to throw for more than 10,000-yards in a career. Additionally, his 74 career touchdown tosses rank second, as only he and Nevada‘s Colin Kaepernick have passes for 20-plus touchdowns in a season three times in their careers.
On top of all that, Enderle played in a pro-style offense in college, and was given free-range of calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. Mentally, he proved he can handle whatever is thrown his way.
Does all this mean Enderle is a fit for the Windy City? We’ll find out sometime between April 28-30.
Jay’s Jargon: Does Enderle fit with the Bears?
Considering the more mobile Jay Culter struggled to stay upright last season, it’s hard to imagine Enderle doing any better. While I’m a firm believer in Enderle’s ability to stretch the field and am confident his arm is better than he’s given credit for, he isn’t fleet of foot and often holds on to the ball too long.
I think Martz can relate to Enderle. Playing behind a much-maligned Vandal offensive line in 2010,
Enderle (sacked 39 times, 4th most in the NCAA) struggled to adapt after being protected by one of the best units in school history in 2009 (sacked just 20 times). In much of the same way, a sub-par Bears offensive line and Martz’s play selection of five and seven-step drops often put Cutler in harms way, the reason he was sacked a league-high 52 times last season.
With that in mind, if the Chicago Bears can stabilize their offensive line, Enderle’s junior year proves he could be a great fit for Martz’s system.
Until then, let’s face it, he wouldn’t push Cutler for playing time in the immediate future. But current Bears backup Todd Collins is almost old enough to remember the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, and they need to find a better option.
Enderle is certainly worthy of a 4th round selection, the same round the Bears stole Kyle Orton in back in 2005.