Nick Foles performed the Haka dance and talked football with ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on national television Thursday night, a light-hearted start to the most important week of the Arizona Wildcats quarterback’s life.
Foles is trying to become the first UA quarterback in the modern era drafted by an NFL team. Starters John Conner (1985) and Alfred Jenkins (1987) were drafted to play other positions. The last UA quarterback to take a snap in a regular-season NFL game was Bill Demory, an undrafted free agent who played for the Jets in 1973.
The three-day draft starts Thursday.
Foles was one of 10 college quarterbacks featured in ESPN's “Gruden’s QB Camp,” the former coach and analyst’s annual special. Gruden and Foles talked mostly about rhythm, something the UA’s all-time leading passer lacked at times in his three years under center. Gruden showed Foles tape of former NFL legend John Elway from his Stanford days.
Ironically, Elway's Broncos are one of the NFL teams that have been linked to Foles in recent months. Elway and general manager Brian Xanders watched live as Colorado defeated the UA 48-29 in November. Elway, a Broncos executive, attended a Wildcats practice in Tucson a few days later.
Foles told Gruden what he'd tell prospective employers: “I’ll make your team better.”
Said Gruden of Foles: “Somebody’s going to get a hard-working, experienced, big, prototypical quarterback that has a huge upside."
Gruden’s televised comments mirror what he told reporters last week. Speaking on a conference call, Gruden said the UA's quarterback performed well under difficult circumstances.
“You know, Nick Foles is another quarterback, much like (Arizona State's Brock) Osweiler, who had a difficult season. Coach Stoops was replaced in the middle of the season," Gruden said. "So as a captain of the Arizona Wildcats, obviously Nick Foles went through a lot this year. He did not have the supporting cast that some of these other quarterbacks had, no disrespect to anybody. He got hit a lot. One of the few Pac 10 or Pac 12 quarterbacks to ever throw for 10,000 yards, tough pocket passer. He’s going to be reliant on a system. He’s going to have to know his protections better than everybody because he’s not the scrambling, get-out-of-trouble-and-create type of quarterback.”
The Gruden special will air again Saturday at 11 am.