Enderle's talent too good to hide, even at Idaho Aug. 11, 2010 By Chris Steuber NFLDraftScout.com Tell Chris your opinion! http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/story/13741778/enderles-talents-too-good-to-hide-even-at-idaho It had been 41 years since the NFL claimed one of Idaho's own in the first round of the NFL Draft. Known for its potatoes and mountainous terrain, The Gem State revealed a precious gem that was shaped in the form of a mountain in offensive guard Mike Iupati, who ended that four-decade drought when the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 17th overall pick this year. The adulation that Iupati received from scouts during his senior year will likely carry over, as many of the same evaluators will again convene in Moscow, Idaho to observe quarterback Nathan Enderle. For one, Iupati believes Enderle should receive the same first-round attention given Iupati last year. Nathan Enderle enters the season ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the 4th best senior QB. (Getty Images) "Nate is totally underrated and should be considered a first-round talent," Iupati said. "He doesn't get the respect he should, because he's in the WAC. But, he's very accurate with the ball, has a good arm and is consistent. He works hard and is a great leader. He had a great season last year, and I think he will do a lot better this season." Enderle had been hampered by injuries and struggled with his consistency before the 2009 season. In his first two years as a starter, he completed a dreadful 49.3 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards, 30 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. But as he got healthy and matured, Enderle overcame the adversity that comes with growing pains and had a breakout junior season in 2009, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,906 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The numbers that Enderle produced in '09 didn't go unnoticed. Entering his fourth year as a starter, he's currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated senior quarterback and is projected to be a third-round selection. Ahead of Enderle in the rankings are three of the most prominent signal-callers in the country: Washington's Jake Locker, Florida State's Christian Ponder and Delaware's Pat Devlin. Being mentioned in the same breath as Locker and Ponder -- widely considered locks as first-round selections -- is a distinction that Enderle should be proud of, especially since Idaho has only had two quarterbacks -- Doug Nussmeier and John Friesz -- drafted in the school's history. "It's a great honor for me," Enderle said. "I like the fact that my name is getting out there, but it just shows how far the program has come. The quarterback doesn't play by himself; he plays with a bunch of other guys. Last year, the team really put me in a good situation to have some success. Our offensive line played great, and the skill position players really helped my production. Even though most of the attention this offseason has been about me, if it weren't for my teammates working as hard as they did, I probably wouldn't be in this position." The 6-4, 234-pound Enderle first caught the eye of scouts early last season against the Washington Huskies. Numerous scouts from multiple teams attended the game to watch Locker perform, and Locker didn't disappoint, completing 68 percent of his passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns in the Huskies' 42-23 victory. Locker clearly grabbed most of the attention. But one veteran NFL scout who attended the game and ended up watching Enderle at least three times during the '09 season as he scouted Iupati, was impressed with the poise and toughness that Enderle displayed and even went as far as drawing an intriguing parallel between Enderle and one prominent NFL quarterback. "If I recall correctly, he was sacked three times in that game, but nothing fazed him," the scout said. "He has a strong arm, brings a physical presence to the field and has a great understanding of the game. When I watch him play and what he has to work with, it's similar to what Jay Cutler dealt with at Vanderbilt." It's interesting that the scout compared Enderle's situation to Cutler's -- there are obvious similarities. Cutler was a four-year starter on a team that didn't have many offensive weapons and struggled to produce numbers that coincided with his talents. The lack of a supporting cast resulted in a miserable 10-35 record in Cutler's 45 career starts, but scouts realized the skills he possessed, and he was selected in the first round. The road to the first round for Enderle is rather long and dimly lit, but if you look deeper into the comparison, Cutler's breakout senior season in 2005, during which he completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,073 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions, was comparable to Enderle's junior year. Where the difference resides is the level of competition they faced. Cutler played in a tough Southeastern Conference while Enderle has had the luxury of playing against lesser competition in the WAC. But, don't tell Enderle that. "I understand the concerns scouts may have, but the truth is that this conference is based on high-powered offenses," he said. "There's so much offense in the conference that it makes it tough to defend." And, if the opposition has trouble defending Enderle in 2010, and he exceeds the numbers he generated last season, that will be fine by him. "I'm going to use last year as a stepping stone ... nobody wants to be a one-year wonder."