It may have gone to hell in a hand basket for him in Charlotte, but Matt Rhule's name does carry clout in college football circles. He won big at Temple and Baylor prior to failing with the Carolina Panthers. Now entering his second year as the head coach at Nebraska, Rhule tried to sneak a fastball by us, but none of us were born last night. His comments about Brock Purdy epitomize revisionist history.
Rhule said during his latest press conference in Lincoln that the Panthers were this close to drafting Purdy out of Iowa State, but he was overruled in that department by the rest of the Carolina front office. Purdy's rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers coincided with Rhule's third and final season in Charlotte. Thus, his time with Rhule in the Big 12 only overlapped for two years in 2018-19.
Rhule went on and on about not having his Baylor defense bite on the Purdy pump fake, but his praise of the 49ers quarterback falls on deaf ears. He was awful identifying quarterback talent in Charlotte.
"When I was in the draft room at Carolina, I brought his name up. I said he should be on the draft board. I got vetoed on that one."
Here is the entire clip of Rhule praising Purdy, whose younger brother Chubba just played for him...
I believe that Brock Purdy was too good to be Mr. Irrelevant, but NFL talent evaluators saw differently.
Matt Rhule wanted Brock Purdy to be drafted by the Carolina Panthers
Not going to lie. Prior to Purdy's final season at Iowa State in 2021, I legitimately thought there was a chance he would be a day-two pick, possibly even a first-rounder if the Cyclones were to build off their breakthrough season in COVID and make a miraculous run into the College Football Playoff. Of course, that breakthrough season during COVID was exactly that, a strange time for everyone alive.
I mean, Iowa State was fine during Purdy's senior season in Ames, but his play regressed, and so did the Cyclones. They went to something like the Cheez-It Bowl after falling well below expectations. While I had him as something like a day-three pick after his college career came to an end, he was closer to going undrafted than he was to being even a sixth-rounder. Revisionist history is a doozy...
What bothers me the most about Rhule's claim to be in the know about Purdy is ... why didn't you draft him? He was ripe for the picking for everyone to have, yet he was about to die on the vine until John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan decided he needed to be a 49er. Keep in mind that San Francisco still had Jimmy Garoppolo at the time, as well as having used a No. 3 overall pick on Trey Lance a year earlier.
Although I would say Rhule's failures in Charlotte had a lot to do with not getting the quarterback position or offensive coordinator hire right, he did have to work for David Tepper, which has proven to be incredibly problematic with each passing year since he bought the Panthers from Jerry Richardson. Rhule opted to sign and trade for former first-round picks who failed prior to Carolina.
Overall, I can understand why NFL talent evaluators were lukewarm at best on Purdy. He is undersized and his best season happened as a junior during COVID. However, it wasn't just Matt Campbell's brilliance as a head coach that had Iowa State winning a New Year's Six bowl. Those Cyclones teams had great talent, none more so than Purdy, although Breece Hall was an outstanding player as well.
To be frank, even if Rhule drafted Purdy, he would have been out of his Carolina job anyway in 2022.