Earlier this season, one of my esteemed colleagues at The Draft Network (Trevor Sikkema) profiled Boise State Quarterback Brett Rypien for his weekly column, 5-Play Prospect. The general takeaway surrounding Rypien's game from that September 12th article?
"Rypien throws one of the prettiest balls in college football...I just didn't see the consistency I...needed to see."
And based off my focus of Brett Rypien from this summer, I would say that's absolutely a fair assessment of his play. The games I watched from 2017 (Virginia, Fresno State and Oregon) produced that exact impression. Rypien felt like a prospect with a good, not great arm and made too many frustrating/ill-advised decisions.
At this point, you may have noticed I used the word "felt", as in the past tense. Fast forward to Rypien's first month of the season in his senior year? Rypien has been a completely different animal.
(DISCLAIMER: Brett Rypien played poorly in a home loss to San Diego State on October 6th, yes. With that said, the sustained level of play I've witnessed through Boise State's first four games is enough for me to get excited about his abilities and not dismiss the overall improvements shown.
Should Rypien slide back to Earth the rest of the season, well then go ahead and throw this article into the trash. But Boise's remaining slate includes Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force, BYU, Fresno State, New Mexico and Utah State...plus the postseason.)
In paying appropriate homage to my Twitter handle, @GrindingTheTape, I've been grinding my way through Rypien tosses from 2018 and found more NFL plus throws than you can shake a stick at.
Care to take this journey with me?
Troy - 20/28, 71% completion, 305 yards, 4 passing touchdowns
I can hear you already...Yawn. It's Troy. Stop it! Check the tape:
I'm sorry, what?! I don't care if this is thrown against the Troy defense, Troy Vincent or Helen of Troy...YOU'RE NOT DEFENDING THIS. This is a, as we like to say in the biz, a #Dime.
On the real, this is excellent touch. A little pump action prior to the release clearly freezes the feet of the defensive back at the top of the screen before Rypien drops this football over the outstretched arm of the corner.
A wonderful throw. There's about five more of these on film from Brett. But if you're wrapped up with the level of competition (Carson Wentz, Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo torched FCS schools and it didn't matter, but I digress), let's look at some of his other qualities illustrated in this game.
The footwork here? Sublime. A seven-step drop from under center, with a convincing play fake no less! Rypien shows great cadence getting depth from the center and setting up on his platform quickly out of the fake to identify the middle of the field safety, who has sucked down hard on the play fake.
From there, it's pitch and catch. Rypien doesn't drive this ball firmly, but he doesn't need to. The touch down the field is enough to drop this ball approximately 35 yards down the field over the top.
That doesn't do it for you? How about handling pressure?
To stand in with a free rusher in your face like this is impressive. To do so with a perfect strike and an anticipation (spot) throw? This is how you beat defenses in the NFL. This ball has a fair amount of pace on it as well. It's an important line to draw in the sand: Rypien's arm isn't a world beater. But if he can throw this ball early with that level of push, he can squeeze some throws into tight spaces as needed.
Y'all thought I was kidding about more throws than you can shake a stick at, huh? No worries, this is our last one (from the Troy game).
This right here: this is the good stuff. Third and twelve, Rypien has a clean pocket initially but the rush eventually uncovers. The most important thing on this throw? Rypien doesn't bail out of the pocket. I've seen too many quarterbacks flush early at the sight of a defender without a body in front of them.
Not Brett Rypien. Instead, he stands in and delivers a ball that travels 52 yards down field from the release point to the point of the catch. There's some juice in this arm, even if he doesn't hammer throws with a lot of velocity.
Oklahoma State - 39/56, 69.6% completion, 380 yards, 3 passing touchdowns
Kyle, please man. I really need to see how he plays against better competition.
If you insist on being stubborn, fine. Two weeks after lighting Troy aflame like a Greek from within the Trojan Horse, Rypien took the road for a showdown against the Cowboys. The decision was a disappointment but Rypien was not.
Rypien was sacked 7 times in a 44-21 loss, but he still showed plenty of NFL traits on the road. Check out Brett Rypien's eyes on this play:
He's straight up lying to defenders on this play. Excellent quickness to work through the full field of play on a 3-step drop. Add in an accurate pass of the the middle of the field, placed just out of the reach of a squatting linebacker in zone coverage? This is a great illustration of confidence in his arm and his progressions. But what if I told you Rypien showed great pre-snap processing not too long afterwards?
Let's break it down: Oklahoma State has rolled eight defenders into the box and is playing off coverage with inside leverage to the open side of the field. You sure you want to do this, Pokes?
Count the rushers. Oklahoma State brings damn near everyone. And Rypien is cool as a cucumber because he knows he has a free release and one-on-one coverage to the top of the screen. Candy from a baby, baby. Add in some style points for putting this just far enough out in front to prompt a sweet diving catch...(I'm kidding. Or am I?)
And this wasn't even the best deep ball Rypien put out there, with pressure in his face, against the Cowboys.
No further questions, Your Honor. This is just a delightful pass, under the heat of another delayed blitz. Only this time, the pressure does actually get home, landing squarely in Rypien's lap just after he releases the ball.
Oh yeah, did we talk about how Rypien looks off the free safety at the snap? He flips his eyes right and forces the safety off of the hash before flipping back to his left to deliver the throw.
How many different layers of NFL processing can we stick into one play? Between Rypien's eyes, his quickness in the decision, his understanding of the defense, and his touch/placement, there's a whole lot of good from Rypien here.
So yeah, you thought I was kidding about that whole "more throws than you can shake a stick at" thing, didn't you? This game features just one more toss from Rypien, showing a premium trait for QB play.
You work that pocket, young man! Important to remember here: Oklahoma State pressured the hell out of Rypien this game. Therefore, seeing him adjust and slide upward to dodge edge pressure on fourth and goal in a big situation is a good adjustment from Rypien in game action.
Above all, this was an added element of pocket passing that Rypien can really accentuate with his athleticism.
Wyoming - 28/42, 66.7% completion, 342 yards, 2 passing touchdowns
First of all, I understand we're back to a lower profile school in Wyoming (no disrespect to the *OTHER* Cowboys). But...this...is...too...good.
Ahem...FIRE IN THE HOLE!
I freaking love this throw. Firstly, the route combination from Boise features a great combo of vertical releases to create a wedge between the two deep safeties squatting on the hashes at the snap. Because 3 strong (the third receiver from the boundary) flashes across the face of SAF4 as Rypien releases the ball, the hole in the zone is big enough to lace the ball into.
Grip 'em and Rypien. Above all else, this is an anticipatory throw, proving he understands what defenders are keying on and how much space he has to operate. This ball may not explode off Rypien's hand, but it gets there well enough, a theme of his September campaign.
My friends, I will leave you with one additional throw from this contest, illustrating another desirable quality: throwing on the move.
Most noteworthy here is the trajectory of this ball and where it arrives relative to his receiver. On third and ten, Boise moves the pocket in an effort to negate pressure from Wyoming.
And as Rypien cuts this ball loose, note how he's able to generate a little bit of momentum downhill. Even just a bit of forward push with his body allows him to snap this throw off. What a beauty it is. Over the receiver's upfield shoulder, with pace. The throw leads the receiver up the field and away from his defender.
All in all, it's still early. Boise State has the vast majority of their schedule ahead of them in the regular season, plus postseason play. But in a down year for the quarterback position, QB-hungry teams need to start paying attention to what's happening when the Broncos are on the field.
Rypien isn't a universal prospect but he checks a whole lot of NFL boxes, and in the right style of system (predominantly West Coast) could become a starting caliber QB with continued development.