by Stone Harper
The last six NFL Drafts have featured a Nevada player, from guys like Joel Bitonio to Duke Williams to Colin Kaepernick. This year, the Wolf Pack’s best chance at making it seven straight rests on the shoulders of quarterback Cody Fajardo.
Prior to his senior season, Fajardo was projected by many to be an NFL draft pick. However, after a lackluster senior season that saw him throw 11 interceptions and his completion percentage dip under 60 percent, doubts started to creep in.
ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. had Fajardo as his ninth-best quarterback prospect and that was only after USC quarterback Cody Kessler and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook decided to return to school to play for their senior seasons. Kiper also mentioned that this year was a poor class in terms of signal callers.
To quote former Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Tobin ,“Who the hell is Mel Kiper anyways?”
Despite what the doubters say, I believe Fajardo has done enough to show that he should be drafted in this year’s NFL draft. A glance at his record more than proves he has what it takes to succeed at the next level.
Fajardo has the production. I know that this is a recycled stat that everyone and their mother has thrown around, but it has merit. Fajardo is one of two quarterbacks in NCAA history to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a season. Although his stats dropped in his final year, he was dealing with a brand new receiving corps which included Kendall Brock, the leading rusher from the year before (no I didn’t say that wrong, I did say rusher.).
Fajardo also has impressed in off-season workouts. Besides the East-West shrine game where every quarterback laid an egg, at the NFL scouting combine he was able to finish top five positionally in the 40-yard dash, the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill. Fajardo also impressed at pro day, throwing from under center (another knock on Fajardo was that he didn’t play under center in college.).
Fajardo also has that “it” factor that is a must at the quarterback position. He is a nice guy who is willing to have a conversation with almost anybody he meets, but also carries a certain confidence and swagger on the field that helps him as a player and a leader.
But don’t just take it from me; analysts from places besides the newspaper of where Fajardo went to school have high praise for him. In an NFL.com draft profile on Fajardo, author Lance Zierlein had this to say about him:
“Productive run-pass quarterback who was forced to carry a substantial percentage of the offensive success on his shoulders.”
Zierlein also went on to say that Fajardo was a willing learner, and while Zierlein only thinks of Fajardo as a quarterback with potential to be a scheme quarterback, There’s a chance he could do much more. If a team with a spread offense is able to get Fajardo with a sixth or seventh round draft and then have him develop for a couple years, there’s even a possibility that eventually Fajardo could even be a starter in this league. Crazier things have happened; Tim Tebow won a playoff game for God’s sake.
Stone Harper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.