Luke Falk became the 11th quarterback in WSU history to get drafted, and in an eerie coincidence, the Titans picked him at the same spot - 199th overall - where the Patriots picked his idol, Tom Brady, in 2000.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk’s long NFL draft wait finally ended Saturday afternoon when he was selected by Tennessee Titans in the sixth round, with the 199th overall pick.
It was an interminable wait for a quarterback who was widely projected as a fourth round prospect, right behind the “Big Five” of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.
But when the payoff finally came, it was all worth it.
“I expected to be off the board a little earlier,” Falk said Saturday on a conference call with reporters from his hometown of Logan, Utah. “I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty grueling process. …Now that I finally got the phone came and saw my name come up on the TV. I’m so grateful.”
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WSU Cougars in the NFL Draft since 1960Most players drafted in one year: Eight, 1978
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 7th round: 2017 - FS Shalom Luani (Oakland Raiders, 221st overall)
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 6th round: 2011 - C Zack Williams (Carolina Panthers, 203rd overall)
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 5th round: 2016 - OL Joe Dahl (Detroit Lions, 151st overall)
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 4th round: 2015 - WR Vince Mayle (Cleveland Browns, 123rd overall)
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 3rd round: 2015 - DL Xavier Cooper (Cleveland Browns, 96th overall)
- ... a WSU player was drafted in the 2nd round: 2002 - DB Lamont Thompson (Cincinnati Bengals, 41st overall)
That Falk was drafted 199thoverall – the same pick the New England Patriots used to draft Falk’s idol, Tom Brady, in 2000 – wasn’t lost on anyone.
“It’s a pretty crazy coincidence,” Falk said. “That’s somebody I look up to, but I’m so happy that I got picked up by a great organization and a great staff and have an opportunity to go out there and compete and do what I can to help the team. I’m just so grateful the Titans took a shot on me.”
The Titans new head coach, Mike Vrabel, also just so happens to be a former teammate of Brady’s. Vrabel and Brady played together in New England from 2000-08.
Falk said Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur flew to Logan to work him out in the lead up to the draft.
“I had a great work out with him,” Falk said.
Getting to work with LaFleur should help Falk make a smooth transition from Mike Leach’s Air Raid to the NFL.
LaFleur joined the Titans this year after spending one season as the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, where he helped to develop another former Air Raid quarterback – Jared Goff, formerly of Cal. Prior to his stint with the Rams, LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach with the Atlanta Falcons.
Falk was the ninth quarterback selected in the NFL draft.
After five quarterbacks flew off the board in the first round Thursday night, there was a lull in the quarterback market before the Steelers took Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph Friday night in the third round.
The fourth round on Saturday started with the New York Giants taking Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta 108th overall. The Dallas Cowboys then took Western Kentucky’s Mike White in the fifth round before the Titans finally picked Falk.
The wait was tough, but “I was pretty confident I was going to get drafted,” Falk said. “I knew one team would take as hot. It so happened to be Tennessee, and I couldn’t be happier.”
As an added bonus, Falk’s transition to his new city will be easier than most because his two older sisters, budding country musicians Alexa and Natalee, already live in Nashville.
Falk is the 11th quarterback to get drafted in WSU school history, and the first since the Houston Texans took Alex Brink in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL draft.
However, he’s not the first Cougar quarterback to join the Titans – his mentor Jason Gesser signed with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent immediately following the 2003 NFL draft.
Falk will join a team anchored by former Oregon and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Titans drafted Mariota No. 2 overall in 2015, and the fourth-year pro is coming off his best season. Mariota led the Titans to the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs, where they lose 35-14 to New England in January.
Falk’s main competition for the backup job behind Mariota is Blaine Gabbert, whom the Titans signed last month. The Titans also have backup quarterbacks Alex Tanney and Tyler Ferguson on the roster.
Falk and Mariota share an agent – Chase Callahan from Rep1 Sports – and Falk said he has worked out with Mariota on one occasion.
Mariota is entrenched as the starter in Tennessee, but it’s worth noting that Drew Bledsoe was also entrenched as the starter in New England when the Patriots drafted Brady in 2000.
Falk has often cited Brady’s underdog story as an inspiration because he, too, has always been an underdog. Falk walked on at WSU in 2013 and had to fight his way up the depth chart to win the starting job, so he’s used to having to fight for a roster spot.
“He’s somebody I’ve always looked up to and tried to model my game after,” Falk said. “I just think we kinda have similarities in terms of our style of play, we’re not the most mobile guys, but we can do things in the pocket in terms of creating throws in a small space, we’re accurate, and we have the same compact throwing motion.”
In five years at WSU, Falk rewrote the Pac-12 and school record books, finishing his career as the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer, with 14,486 passing yards and 119 touchdown passes.
Falk finished his WSU career as the winningest quarterback in school history, with a 27-13 career record that includes a school record seven fourth quarter comeback wins.