Six more Boise State players are getting their NFL shot
Over the course of the weekend, from Thursday through Saturday, the NFL conducted the draft. Now that the event has concluded (and, more importantly, I’m back home from a trip and able to write about it!) let’s take a look at where our newest, favorite NFL players ended up.
Denver Broncos Select Safety, JL Skinner, Pick #183 in the 6th Round
Meeting the star of the Italian Job, Shooter, and Lone Survivor this week wasn’t enough for JL. In addition, he decided to join some little-known, fledgling organization known as the National Football League.
JK, JL! This gigantic opportunity happened because his talent was undeniable and the Denver Broncos recognized that. Here’s the moment he got the call, brought to us by his awesome, superfan mom (with highlights of Skinner flattening an Oklahoma State wide receiver playing in the background):
One of my favorite Broncos in recent years, in 38 career games, JL endeared himself to Bronco Nation with huge hits and timely turnovers. He’s leaving Boise State with 208 tackles (9.5 for a loss), 3 fumble recoveries, and 2 forced fumbles. His 4 interceptions in 2022 were the most he had in a single year, but he had 7 in his college career.
Precedent-wise, the last time an Idaho-native Boise State Bronco was taken in the sixth round by Denver, it ended up being a pretty great thing for that player! Matt Paradis was drafted in 2014 and not only worked up to a starting job but also a super bowl ring and eventually a $27 million second contract (in Carolina). With JL being the hard worker and playmaker that he is, the ingredients are in place for every bit as productive of a pro career.
Highlights from JL’s incredible Boise State career can be reviewed here.
Congratulations JL, and good luck!
Los Angeles Chargers Select Defensive Tackle, Scott Matlock, Pick #200 in the 6th Round
Boasting a relative athletic score (RAS) of 9.65–which means he was more athletic than 96.5% of NFL defensive tackle prospects since 1987–Scott Matlock got the call on Saturday that he would be joining Kellen Moore and David Moa in LA.
Specifically, THIS was the call he received
A native of Homedale, ID, Scott has been with Boise State since 2018. He played in some games in 2018 and 2019, but began starting games during his sophomore season in 2020. For his career, Scott has played in 46 games. In those, he has amassed 115 tackles, 19.5 for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 blocked kicks. He also got into the game to score a receiving touchdown against Utah State in both 2021 and 2022.
Perhaps the Chargers’ new offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, could find some way to spice things up and provide Matlock as an occasional target for Justin Herbert. He seems open to it!
Matlock will be remembered as a Bronco legend for being one of the growing number of local guys that go on to star at Boise State and follow that up with highly successful pro careers. He will also be personally remembered by me for his hilarious post-XP ritual with Boise State kicker, Jonah Dalmas.
Scott’s highlights can be revisited here.
Best of luck in the NFL, Mr. Matlock!
Undrafted Free Agents
With good reason, there is a lot of excitement that surrounds players that have been selected by NFL teams that chose to provide them with an opportunity for post-college playing careers via a draft pick. However, one should ABSOLUTELY not sleep on undrafted free agents. For one thing, they have something of an advantage in that they get to pick the best situation for them if they’re not selected in the 7th and final round of the draft. For another thing, undrafted free agents are rarely guaranteed much, so coming into the league with the mindset of “The rent fees for success are due every day” can be a powerful motivation. “Hungry” as an attribute for a competitor is basically never described as a negative. When players come from Boise State especially–a brand built on blue collar work ethic and overcoming odds–the possibility of success is elevated because it follows them to the pros.
Success as a UDFA is by no means a certainty, but Kurt Warner and James Harrison–Hall of Fame players in the NFL–both began their careers that way. More recently and closer to home, Kellen Moore spent five years as an NFL player before immediately parlaying that success into being a highly successful position coach and offensive coordinator. Jeron Johnson spent 7 years in the NFL and collected a ring before he was done. As previously mentioned, David Moa is already in Los Angeles. He came into the league in 2020 as a UDFA.
So, with all that groundwork laid down, let’s get to the newest group of Bronco UDFAs in the NFL!
Caleb Biggers, Cornerback, UDFA, Cleveland Browns
A late arrival to Boise State, Caleb Biggers transferred from Bowling Green and wound up starting 22 games for the Broncos. In those 22 games, he racked up 72 tackles (5.5 for a loss), 1 sack, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Known especially for his physicality at a position that’s not particularly known for that, Caleb was a valuable contributor to Boise State’s success in the last two seasons.
Congratulations and best of luck, Caleb!
Tyreque Jones, Safety, UDFA, Tennessee Titans
Tyreque Jones has been a playmaker at Boise State since he first started getting regular playing time in 2018. During the course of his Boise State career, he played in 48 games and made his mark on pretty much all of them. Statistically, Tyreque was responsible for 154 tackles (12 for loss), 1 sack, 4 interceptions, 14 PDs…*deep breath*… 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 special teams TD.
One of the smiliest guys to ever come through Boise, we wish Tyreque great success in the NFL!
John Ojukwu, Offensive Tackle, UDFA, Tennessee Titans
Mike Vrabel must have been watching a lot of Boise State football this year because he saw fit to add not one, but two former Broncos as undrafted free agents. The second was Boise native, John Ojukwu. A graduate of Boise High, John started getting playing time in 2018 and was an anchor all over the line at different times, but primarily at tackle. Wherever he was on the offensive line, that position was one of the bright spots. He was a very consistent and versatile big man in his time here and he has a great opportunity to find success at the next level.
Best of luck, John!
George Tarlas, DL, UDFA, Las Vegas Raiders
Yet another local talent, albeit one a little less “local” than others, George Tarlas came to America from Greece and played high school football at Borah High in Boise, ID. Incidentally, he did so alongside firstkickwasgood.com writer, Hunter Johnson. He began his college career at Weber State, but spent his 6th season as a Bronco.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short after just seven games with a hip injury. Prior to that, though, he had been a key part of a smothering Bronco defense. In those seven games, George had 31 tackles (6 for loss), 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.
Congratulations, George, and best of luck in Las Vegas!