Weaver

Boise State STUD Curtis Weaver celebrates after an getting a rare interception against Colorado State on Nov. 29, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo. 

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How far did Curtis Weaver fall in the NFL Draft? A kicker was drafted before him.

Weaver’s painful, puzzling wait finally ended in the fifth round Saturday afternoon when the Miami Dolphins selected him with the 164th overall pick.

Once thought to be a first round pick, Weaver unexpectedly fell until the third and final day of the draft. A kicker from Marshall, a defensive back from a school named Lenoir-Rhyne University and an offensive lineman from Division III St. John’s were among those who heard their name called before Weaver.

“It was stressful just waiting for your name to be called,” Weaver said. “But I’m glad that Miami called me and I’m just happy in the moment right now.”

Four picks later Boise State’s John Hightower heard his name called, going No. 168 overall in the fifth round to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s the first time since 2016 that Boise State had at least three players selected in the same draft after Ezra Cleveland went to the Vikings in the second round Friday night.

Philadelphia went into the draft in desperate need of wide receivers, so Hightower should have a chance at making the roster and getting playing time as a rookie.

"I had a long journey to get here and I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Hightower told reporters in Philadelphia. "Everybody is excited. I'm excited and just ready to get to Philly."

But the bigger story was Weaver’s fall.

The 2019 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s all-time sacks leader with 34, had the production and stats that seemed to warrant an earlier draft selection. He was the only player in the country with at least 9.5 sacks in each of the past three seasons.

Weaver was seen as a possible first round pick when he declared for the draft in late December. A mock draft from CBS Sports on Dec. 6 had Weaver projected as the 31st overall pick in the first round.

He slipped a bit leading into the draft, but was still a solid second or third round pick in nearly all mock drafts. The Athletic had him going No. 50 overall to the Bears, USA TODAY had him No. 56 to the Dolphins and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had him No. 96 to the Chiefs in the third round.

Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 26th-best prospect entering the draft, and the third-best pass rusher. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked him 65th overall.

But the second and third rounds ended Friday night with Weaver still on the board, and nobody took him in the fourth round Saturday morning either.

Finally, near the end of the fifth round, the Dolphins – a team rumored to be interested in him much earlier in the draft – pulled the trigger.

“I’m just blessed,” Weaver said. “It’s another opportunity for me to grab. God gives us opportunities in life and it’s what are you going to do with it to take it? That’s the big thing for me. I’m just ready to come in and work hard.”

Weaver’s mom Carla was shown on ESPN crying as he received the phone call from the Dolphins. His former position coach at Boise State Spencer Danielson also posted a video on Twitter in which Weaver and his mom shared a long embrace after the selection was official.

“I’m so fired up for you man taking another step in your journey and seeing all your hard work pay off,” Danielson said in a video posted on social media by Boise State. “The best is yet to come for you. The fact of the matter is the grind is just beginning. It’s time to go. I can’t wait for the NFL, the fans, the world to see the skills you bring to the table. Quarterbacks, watch out.”

Hightower went about where most projected he would in the draft. The 6-foot-1, 189-pound speedster had 51 catches for 943 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior to land on the all-Mountain West second team. He also was a second-team kick returner after averaging 24.6 yards per return and scoring on a 98-yard kick return touchdown.

The former junior college track star turned heads with a 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds and a vertical leap of 38.5 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was mostly predicted as a fifth or sixth round pick entering the draft.

"When I got to Boise my future pretty much brightened then," Hightower said. "I learned that I was able to be an NFL receiver and I just had to work at it. I just got better every day. My receiving coach helped me to get better every day, and now I'm here today.

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I just need to get my foot in the door and prove what I can do. From there I've always been successful."

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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