It happens every year. No matter how big a college football fan you are, the NFL Draft buzz surrounding at least one quarterback each year will surprise you. This year's cup of tea is North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky. Last year, it was second overall selection Carson Wentz.
With the NFL lacking depth behind center, no position is more scrutinized, debated, and talked about than quarterback. No decision is more important for a head coach either. So it should come as no surprise when a college football quarterback comes out of nowhere to land in the top of the NFL Draft. Let's talk about some of those nobodies.
Disclaimer: This list is created because the mentions, buzz, and attention these quarterbacks received during their college careers was nothing compared to the attention they received between their last college outing and the draft. Google Trends search data supports these assertions. I included screenshots of the Google Trends data for each name for the five years prior to the draft they were selected.
Mitch Trubisky (2017) – North Carolina
No Heisman votes, no Peyton-Manning-like four-year career, 2016 stats that are neither pedestrian nor spectacular: 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 68.2%, and little to no interest until his final college game, Mitch (or Mitchell) Trubisky is likely to be the first quarterback off the board. Check out the Google trend results for his name:
It will be interesting to see if Trubisky does indeed go first overall to the Cleveland Browns or if all the buzz around him is nothing more than white noise.
Carson Wentz (2016) – North Dakota State
Unless you follow our own Mr. FCS himself, Brian McLaughlin (who predicted Wentz would be a high pick before the 2016 FCS season), you probably weren't very familiar with "that guy from Dakota or something." Google Trends research from the five years before he was drafted confirms this suspicion:
But for those who followed Wentz throughout his time at the dynasty that is North Dakota State, his procession into the NFL has been anything but a surprise. Can you just imagine the attention he would have received if he had played his college ball at Notre Dame or Alabama? But because he was up in Fargo, however, no one really knew about him until the weeks leading up to the draft.
Blake Bortles (2014) – Central Florida
Before Blake Bortles declared for the NFL Draft, the biggest Google search traffic spike of his life happened was thanks to his girlfriend. On September 4, 2012, the internet found out Bortles' longtime girlfriend Lindsey Duke was extremely attractive, and several "articles" were written about her. Then the Blake Bortles fandom went back to zero until the very end of his senior season nearly two years later, when he declared for the NFL Draft.[divider]
Ryan Nassib (2013) – Syracuse
Ryan Nassib is an interesting case study — one that almost proves that the less fans and scouts have really seen a guy play or know about him, the more that can benefit the athlete. Here's the Google Trends line for the five years before he was drafted in 2013.
Case in point: The New York Giants selected Nassib in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft despite a career with the Orange that was ho-hum compared to other gunslingers around the country. And at the time of this writing, he is currently a free agent in an NFL. Hopefully he'll get his chance.
Colin Kaepernick (2011) Nevada
Taken 36th overall by the San Francisco 49ers, it's easy to forget how quickly the Nevada signal-caller burst upon the NFL scene.
Before he was known for blistering pass NFL defenders or taking a knee during the National Anthem, Kaepernick was torching WAC foes for nearly 11,0000 career passing yards and 82 TDs. He was just as deadly on the ground in rushing for over 4,000 yards and another 59 scores. As you can see below, the biggest spikes around his name before the Senior Bowl had to do with HUGE games. That's relatively uncommon compared to the other players on this list.
But the Baltimore Ravens defense isn't exactly the same as an FCS foe at home. So when Kaepernick flew up the 49ers draft board in 2011, many were taken by surprise.