Brock Purdy is looked on as the savior of late-round quarterbacks, which brings us to Houston’s Clayton Tune.
Purdy’s surprising play for the San Francisco 49ers after being the 262nd and final pick of the 2022 NFL draft may give veteran college quarterbacks like Tune the benefit of the doubt.
This season, emerging from third-string quarterback to leading the 49ers to the NFC championship game, Purdy outlived the moniker of Mr. Irrelevant that goes to the final pick of each NFL draft.
Like Purdy, Tune is considered a potential third-day choice (if not a free-agent signing) in this year’s NFL draft.
Dane Brugler, the outstanding NFL draft evaluator for The Athletic, has Tune listed as the No. 9 quarterback in this year’s draft class.
Let’s see, who was the ninth quarterback selected last year?
That would be Purdy.
The other common trait of the two is that both played a boatload of college football games and put up some video game career statistics.
Purdy (6-1, 220) appeared in 48 games during his four-year career at Iowa State, throwing for 12,170 yards, 81 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions. He rushed for 1,177 career yards (3.2 avg.) and 19 touchdowns.
Tune, who Brugler lists at 6-2, 213 pounds, appeared in 44 games during his five-year career at Houston. He threw for 11,127 yards, 95 touchdowns, and 41 interceptions. Tune rushed for 1,298 career yards (3.3 avg.) and 15 touchdowns.
Nobody will mistake Tune’s running ability with Lamar Jackson, but he moves well enough in the pocket to buy himself time and can scramble for a first down or even a touchdown if needed.
Just like Purdy.
Now again, just because they had similar profiles, doesn’t mean that Tune will be this year’s NFL’s most surprising rookie. Yet, Tune appears to have what it takes to make an NFL roster.
His senior season was his best. He completed 334 of 496 passes (.673) for 4,074 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions and had his best year running the ball with 546 yards (4.3 avg.) and five touchdowns.
Houston, in its final season competing in the American Athletic Conference before heading to the Big 12 next season, had a disappointing year, but that can’t be put on the offense and especially Tune.
The Cougars, who were picked by many to win the AAC title, didn’t make it to the championship game. They finished 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the AAC.
Scoring wasn’t the problem as the Cougars were second in the AAC (36.1 ppg.). The challenge was stopping the opponent. Houston was just eighth in scoring defense, allowing 32.2 ppg.
The Cougars scored 30 or more points in four of their five losses, including more than twice that total during a 77-63 loss to SMU in a game where defense wasn’t even optional.
In that game, Tune completed 36 of 53 for 527 yards, seven touchdowns, but three interceptions.
Imagine throwing for 527 yards and seven scores and losing by two TDs. Or imagine throwing seven touchdown passes and that being the second most in the game. (SMU’s Tanner Mordecai threw nine).
Tune was in a lot of shootouts his senior season and if there is a positive, it is that he got a gazillion passing reps.
One reason experts reasoned Purdy had such success in the NFL (despite playing on a loaded 49ers offense) is that he had so much experience in college. So many of the young quarterbacks who come into the NFL and have success were ones who received plenty of college reps.
As an example, let’s take the two Super Bowl quarterbacks. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes attempted 1,349 passes in three seasons at Texas Tech. Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts attempted 1,047 passes in three seasons at Alabama and one at Oklahoma.
During his career, Tune attempted 1,396 passes. Purdy attempted 1,467.
None of this means that Tune is slated for similar success as Purdy. So much of it has to do with what team a quarterback is drafted by.
Tune just participated in the Senior Bowl and his performance didn’t bowl anybody over. He was 9 for 12 for 70 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Many of his completions were check-downs. The performance didn’t stand out, but one can’t read too much into a game where a quarterback has a week to work with his offense and then has to perform.
Tune seems to do a lot well, but doesn’t excel in many areas. He doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but it isn’t weak either.
Yet, thanks to Purdy, Tune may get a longer look than normal, especially since he shares many of the same characteristics, many of which aren’t irrelevant.