Boise State's Kellen Moore deserved better than NFL's cold shoulder during draft weekend

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  • Kellen Moore
    Kellen Moore
    American football player and coach

Nothing like one final insult for the most dissed college football player in the BCS era.

Kind of appropriate that on the week the college football world finally got wind of the strong possibility of a four-team playoff, former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore went undrafted. After four years of doing everything right and being largely ignored by the inequitable BCS, it's fitting that Moore was ignored by the NFL for seven full rounds.

Whether amateur or professional, Moore can't win for winning.

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It's too bad that a quarterback with 50 wins in college (against three losses) didn't get drafted, even though the New England Patriots used a pick on a former rugby player (Nate Ebner). Moore must continue his perfect existentialist football life, meant to roll the football-shaped boulder up the blue hill for eternity. (He even signed with the appropriate pro franchise: Detroit. Camus was surely a Lions fan.)

We all know the reasons for this latest indignity. At a diminutive 6 feet and 197 pounds, all Moore's passes will surely get swatted into the fourth row. And when he gets hit by an NFL rusher, he'll never get up again. Oh, and he can't run.

(Never mind that Drew Brees is 6 feet tall, weighs 205, and is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. Never mind that Russell Wilson is listed at 5-11, 204 and was drafted in the third round. Those guys played in the Big Ten, which is evidence enough, even though no Big Ten team had more draft picks – six – than Boise State this year.)

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In all seriousness, it's understandable why Moore didn't go high in the draft. He's not tall, not mobile and not all that strong-armed. It's the Emeka Okafor v. Dwight Howard comparison: Go with the supposedly untapped potential (Howard) over the four-year college guy who might not improve at the next level (Okafor). In this case, Moore is Okafor and Ryan Tannehill is Howard. But it's hard not to wonder if this is reason enough to leave Moore undrafted altogether. Is Moore really that much less valuable than Tannehill, who finished third in the quarterback battle at Texas A&M in 2008, second in 2009, and began the 2010 season as a receiver? Tannehill, picked eighth overall by the Dolphins, had 100 less passing touchdowns and only seven fewer interceptions than Moore. (Moore's only double-digit interception season was as a freshman, with 10.)

Sure, plenty of Heisman Trophy winners and finalists failed to excel in the pros: Eric Crouch, Brad Banks, Troy Smith, etc. In many cases, those guys are either undersized or known more for their legs in college – like Mr. Irrelevant, Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois, who by definition is more relevant than Kellen Moore. The Boise State graduate, however, is a traditional drop-back passer. It's hard to imagine him unable to fit into a pro-style offense and make accurate throws under pressure.

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The hard truth is, the NFL doesn't give much credit for being a "winner" until you win in the pros. Draft experts don't care what you've done before as much as what they think you're capable of doing next. In a sense, the BCS was the same way toward Boise State: Winning at one level doesn't mean you get a shot at the very top level.

Moore is not the first outstanding college quarterback to be left by the side of the NFL road. Perhaps the best comparison is Ken Dorsey, the former Miami signal-caller who led arguably the greatest college football team of all time – the 2001 Hurricanes. Dorsey didn't have a huge arm, either – he was the cerebral-yet-immobile type – and he was picked in the seventh round in 2003 by the San Francisco 49ers and started as a third-stringer behind Tim Rattay and Alex Smith. He eventually started for the Niners before being moved off to Cleveland, where he practiced well enough to start but never really got a shot because the Browns drafted Brady Quinn. Was Dorsey better than a seventh-round pick and a third-string NFL player? It's fair to say so.

It's also fair to say the same about Moore. But when you win more college football games than anyone in history and every single NFL team turns you down seven times, "fair" is not a word that applies to your situation. The NFL, like the BCS, is just business. Nothing fair about it.

Moore called the draft process "very frustrating" in an interview with the Idaho Statesman, but now, as a Lions free-agent signee, at least he'll have a shot to make it in the pros. When he was asked about all the naysayers, Moore said, "You smile at them, say thank you and remember their name."

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That's rich. Moore's smart, but not even IBM supercomputer Watson can remember that many names.

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