Football: Thorson drafted by Eagles, four other Wildcats sign with NFL teams


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Clayton Thorson celebrates with his teammates after a score in a 2018 game. The quarterback was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in this weekend’s NFL Draft.

Ella Brockway, Sports Editor


Northwestern’s all-time winningest quarterback is taking his talents to Philly.

Clayton Thorson was drafted No. 167 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of this weekend’s NFL Draft. Thorson was the ninth quarterback chosen in the Draft.

The Wheaton, Illinois native finished his career with the Wildcats as the program leader in passing yards (10,731), completions (991) and passing touchdowns (61). He started 53 straight games in four seasons, setting a record for the most games started by a Big Ten quarterback, and led NU to three straight bowl victories and the program’s first-ever Big Ten divisional title.

Before Saturday, many projections saw Thorson going to a team in the fourth or fifth round, and he was linked to the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. Thorson’s wait grew longer when both of those teams chose quarterbacks in the third and fourth rounds — Will Grier of West Virginia to the Panthers with the 100th pick and Jarrett Stidham of Aubum to the Patriots at No. 133 overall — until Philadelphia made its selection.

The Eagles’ projected 2019 starter under center is Carson Wentz, who led the team to a Super Bowl in 2017 and threw for 3,074 yards in 11 games in 2018. Luis Perez and former Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld are the other signal-callers currently on Philadelphia’s roster. The Eagles finished 9-7 and second in the NFC East last season, losing in the divisional round of the playoffs to the New Orleans Saints.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that a former NU player has been chosen in the draft, the program’s longest stretch since a seven-year streak from 1997 to 2003.

Thorson was the only one selected in the seven-round draft, but a handful of other NU players signed free-agent deals with other teams after the draft ended Saturday.

Cornerback Montre Hartage was projected by many as a day-three pick, but went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins. The Georgia native — whose only Power Five offer out of high school was NU — finished with 10 career interceptions for the Cats.  

Linebacker Nate Hall signed a free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Hall underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and missed both the Holiday Bowl in December and the NFL Combine in February. He’ll join former teammate Kyle Queiro as part of the linebacking corps in Dallas.

Offensive tackle Blake Hance signed with the Buffalo Bills. The Jacksonville, Illinois native played 51 games in four seasons for the Cats, playing mostly at left tackle and protecting Thorson’s blind side.

Defensive tackle Jordan Thompson rounded out the list of NU players with free agent deals, signing with the Indianapolis Colts. Thompson also missed the Holiday Bowl due to injury, but totaled 91 tackles and 13 tackles for loss in his four-year career.

Former team captain and right tackle Tommy Doles did not sign a deal, but did receive an invitation to the Chicago Bears’ rookie minicamp.

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