USA Today Sports/James Snook

WSU QB Luke Falk's silence speaks volumes about his thinking on NFL draft

MIKE LEACH SAID the Holiday Bowl wouldn't be Luke Falk's last game at Washington State, that he believed the Cougar QB would return for his senior season at WSU. But the fourth-year junior hasn’t said a word about it one way or the other — beyond stating “I’m not focused on that at all” immediately after the Holiday Bowl. So the question begs:

Is the radio silence due to the fact the record-shattering Pride of Logan, Utah, is seriously considering whether to put his name into the early entry pool before the Jan. 16 deadline or is he such a low-key dude he’s just going to let the issue go by and get on with his preparations for spring ball?

I'd put my money on the former.

While another year of seasoning at the college level strikes me as far and away the best course, the threat of injury, coupled with what doesn't appear to an overwhelmingly strong QB draft class, could be powerful draws for going pro now.

John Clayton, “The Professor” of ESPN fame, recently said on KIRO Radio in Seattle that he thought it made sense for Luke to play one more season at WSU and pointed to two current NFL rookie QBs — Dak Prescott and Jared Goff — as Exhibit A as to why.

Prescott completed his full eligibility at Mississippi State and is now starring for the Cowboys, while Goff came out early to much fanfare as the No. 1 draft choice and has been miserable with the Rams.

Those disparate paths don’t foretell the future for all QBs, of course. Indeed, WSU’s own history with QBs going early yields a mixed bag:

  • Timm Rosenbach, the No. 2 pick in the 1989 supplemental draft, saw spot duty as a rookie with the Cardinals, turned in solid work as a full-time starter in Year Two and then had his career undone by injury.
  • Drew Bledsoe, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft, retired after 14 NFL seasons and reached No. 7 on the all-time passing yards list. He was named to four Pro Bowls and led the Patriots to the 1997 Super Bowl.
  • Ryan Leaf, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 draft, stumbled badly in San Diego and then walked away from the game with a bum wrist after just four seasons. He said in his book, 596 Switch, that leaving WSU early was a horrible mistake due to his immaturity.

A perusal of forecasters suggest Falk would go somewhere between rounds 3-5 if he enters the 2017 draft and perhaps the fifth-to-ninth quarterback taken. Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) and Deshaun Watson (Clemson) -- none of them seniors -- are widely considered the top three QBs, with Brad Kaaya (Miami) and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) -- both juniors -- lurking at the next tier.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com is one of the most bullish on Falk. In this November column, he likened Falk to former Seahawks standout Matt Hasselbeck, writing in part:

"Washington State's Luke Falk isn't just another stat-padding system quarterback who doesn't have the ability to transition into the NFL. I see attributes in him that are similar to what we look for from good NFL quarterbacks, and I believe he will transcend any 'system' concerns whenever he enters the league ... Of all his positive attributes, the most important might be his poise. Falk doesn't rattle easily when the pocket gets noisy -- he plays with an unusual amount of patience."

The early entry deadline is nine days away and the silence from Falk, to me, speaks volumes about what he's thinking. In a draft class that isn't brimming with star QBs, I have to think the lure of going as high as the third round is tempting to Falk. So let's call it a 50/50 chance at this point that he returns to Washington State.

The one thing I'd add to that: Falk has earned Cougar Nation's respect and admiration, that's been cemented regardless of what he decides. The only thing Falk needs to do for Cougar Nation, when he knows definitively whether he's returning to Wazzu or going pro early, is to get it out there. If his mind is made up, from this chair, both Falk and WSU are best served by letting people know.

RELATED STORY: How Falk can benefit from another year at WSU

 


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