Broncos in the NFL: living their dreams after college

As the NFL kicked off their season on Sept. 10, former Broncos can be found on your television screen this season. With 21 total Boise State alumni on NFL teams, 12 of those have received playing time this season. 

One of those 12 is former Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien. Rypien was signed as a free agent to the Denver Broncos after the 2019 NFL draft. With the Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock injured, Rypien received his first career start on Thursday, Oct. 1 against the New York Jets. 

The Denver Broncos beat the New York Jets 37-28 in week four of the NFL season. Despite his three interceptions, Rypien threw two touchdown passes and had 242 passing yards. This helped the struggling Broncos win their first game of the season. 

“I would’ve rather it been without any turnovers tonight, but for us to get the win was really special,” Rypien said in a press conference. “It was a battle absolutely all night.”

Photo of Brett Rypien on the Boise State football field
[Photo of former Boise State quarterback, Brett Rypien]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

During the NFL draft back in April 2020, several Boise State football players were selected by teams across the country. 

Ezra Cleveland, offensive tackle, was selected as a second-round draft pick to the Minnesota Vikings. He was the first Bronco to be picked in the draft and was reunited with former Boise State running back Alexander Mattison.

NFL analyst and draft insider Tony Pauline was excited about the Cleveland pick on draft night.

“[Cleveland] is a day one starter who will have a long career in the NFL and turn into one of the steals of this draft,” Pauline said. 

On July 22, Cleveland posted on Instagram a picture of him signing his official contract with the Vikings.

Another former Bronco that was drafted this year is wide receiver John Hightower. Hightower was the 168th pick in the draft and went to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

This past weekend the Eagles played the Cincinnati Bengals which resulted in a tie of 23-23. Hightower led the team with 50 passing routes run. The Eagles recently lost both Dallas Goedert and DeSean Jackson to injuries. According to football analyst Derek Mountain, Hightower will be stepping into the number two receiver spot for their next game against the 49ers. 

In the fifth round of the draft, just four picks in front of Hightower, defensive end Curtis Weaver signed with the Miami Dolphins. Weaver decided back in December 2019 to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft. 

“I am going to chase my dream. And that is playing in the National Football League,” Weaver said on an Instagram post. “Thank you Bronco Nation this is the best experience I could have ever asked for!” 

After suffering an injury before the season started, Weaver was cut by the Miami Dolphins and signed with the Cleveland Browns.

Former Boise State quarterback, Kellen Moore 2008-2011 played for the Cowboys and is now their current offensive coordinator. While at Boise State he went 50 and 3 in wins. Moore also holds the all-time record for a starting quarterback in D1 football. 

Other former Broncos in the NFL include: 

Bears – Charles Leno Jr.

Buccaneers – John Molchon

Cardinals – AJ Richardson and Tanner Vallejo

Cowboys – Tyrone Crawford, Marcus Henry, Demarcus Lawrence, Darian Thompson, Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson

Packers – Billy Winn 

Panthers – Matt Paradis

Rams – Donte Deayon

Titans – Kamalei Correa and Jeremy McNichols

Vikings – George Iloka

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