Iowa Football Reloading, Not Rebuilding
I have said this a few times over the past year; the 2008 Iowa football roster has a chance to see more players drafted by NFL teams than any other in the Ferentz era and possibly more than any one Iowa team in school history. That would mean the program is in the midst of another very, very impressive run with a full cupboard of historic proportions.
The 2001 Iowa football team would see 20 players drafted. That includes players like Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge that were redshirting that year, did not play but were a part of the program. The 1985 Iowa football team would see 21 players get drafted.
The 2002 NFL draft saw three Hawkeyes selected, where the 2009 NFL draft took four Hawks, so the 2008 roster is at +1.
A new crop of Hawks is preparing for the NFL draft and a Big Ten best seven Hawkeyes will take part in this month’s NFL combine.
Here are the players I believe will be taken in this year’s draft: Bryan Bulaga, Kyle Calloway, Tony Moeaki, Pat Angerer, A.J. Edds and Amari Spievey. Dace Richardson may have a chance but given his injury history, I think he may have to go the free agent route. But the first six names I listed, I think the chances are extremely high that each of those players will get selected.
That would make the 2010 NFL draft historic from an Iowa football program perspective with the most players drafted in the first seven rounds in school history. The current NFL draft consists of just seven rounds, but that hasn’t always been the case. More than six Hawkeyes have been selected in previous NFL drafts, but never more than five in the first seven rounds.
It would also put the 2008 Iowa football roster halfway to the 2001 mark of 20 players getting drafted, with three years left to go.
Here is a list of players that are still in the program and will have a shot to get drafted before their Iowa playing days are finished, that were also a part of the 2008 Iowa football roster:
SENIORS TO BE
Rick Stanzi: If Rick can cut down on his mistakes by half next year, there is no doubt in my mind that he will get drafted. He has the size, he has the arm and he plays in a pro-style offense, which will put his skill set at a premium for the NFL which is seeing fewer and fewer quarterbacks that play their college careers under center. A late round pick right now.
Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: DJK needs exactly 31 catches and 401 yards to become Iowa’s career leader in both of those categories (receptions and yards). He is 6-1, 200 pounds and has great football speed. I think he could see his professional stock rise this year if he plays a role in kickoff returns the way he showed towards the end of the 2009 season. He is a great playmaker and I think he could turn a few heads at next year’s combine. A late round pick right now.
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Ryan Donahue: Mel Kiper ranks him as the #1 senior to be punter in the nation. He has great hang time, a solid net average and is very consistent. A late round pick as of right now.
Adrian Clayborn: Depending on which scout you read, Clayborn is one of the three top defensive end prospects for next year’s draft. Some have him at #1 based off of his solid junior season and dominant performance in the Orange Bowl. A first round pick as of now.
Christian Ballard: Ballard will have another spring and summer to refine his interior defensive line skills. He has quickness at 285 pounds and has played defensive end in the past. He will only get better for the 2010 season and I think he plays his way into the NFL draft. A mid to late round pick as of now.
Jeremiha Hunter: He will have a chance to be the seasoned veteran next year. He will need an excellent senior season to make his way onto the NFL radar screen. Right now, I would say he would be a free agent signee.
Julian Vandervelde: Will be a three year starter at the University of Iowa under Kirk Ferentz. When you have that on your resume, the chances of getting drafted are pretty strong. It probably won’t help Rafael Eubanks this year, and Vandervelde really needs to be consistent next season. As of right now, I would say free agent but he has a chance to get drafted with a solid senior season.
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Allen Reisner: Every tight end to start for Iowa under Kirk Ferentz has made it to the NFL. That’s a pretty good stat. Right now, Reisner would likely have to go the free agent route, but it only takes one season to make your way onto the NFL radar screen; just as one year starter Brandon Myers.
Karl Klug: He has a motor and great heart and I would have cut up my Orange Bowl MVP vote and split it between he and Clayborn. But he doesn’t have a lot of lead in the trunk to be an interior lineman at the next level. Mitch King didn’t get drafted, so it’s hard to imagine Klug getting picked.
So of that list, I think you have four players that will get drafted, barring injury or a horrible senior campaign, with a possible fifth playing his way into the mix. If we go with four, the Hawks need seven over the next two classes to surpass the 2001 roster tally. Here is a list of underclassmen that might have a chance.
Tyler Sash: At this point, it would almost be an upset if he didn’t leave Iowa as the schools all time interceptions leader. He has 11 with two seasons to play, and the record is 18 by Nile Kinnick and Devon Mitchell. Safeties are in vogue right now at the next level and Sash will be a preseason All American next year. Barring injury, he will get drafted.
Marvin McNutt: He has two more years to build upon a breakout sophomore campaign where he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception and caught eight touchdown passes. He is 6-4, 215 so his size will be tantalizing for NFL executives. Two more years of working on his football quickness will help.
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James Vandenberg: I know, he has played in three meaningful football games. But after having reviewed the Ohio State game recently for the 5th or 6th time, I stand by the thoughts I had immediately after watching that game; James has skills that we haven’t seen from an Iowa quarterback since the 1980’s. Now, how he grows with regards to the throws over the middle third of the field above the linebackers and in front of the safeties will be something to watch, but that is always the hardest throw for any quarterback to learn how to make. But he has the arm and the talent; he just needs the reps and two seasons for a resume tape.
Jewel Hampton: We are all eager to see how Hampton returns from his knee injury. He has just one season’s worth of action for us to go on, and that was serving as Shonn Greene’s backup behind Ferentz’s second best offensive line. He has an impressive yards per carry average that year and showed some home run ability. He will have to prove it on the field the next three years, but he has a solid skill set to build on.
Shaun Prater: Iowa has seen cornerback Bradley Fletcher go as the 2nd pick of the third round in last years draft, and Amari Spievey will go in that neighborhood this year, if not sooner. Prater might be better than both of them before all is said and done; he has two more years at Iowa.
Brett Greenwood: Derek Pagel and Sean Considine were drafted. Greenwood has a chance to be a four year starter at free safety for Iowa.
Riley Reiff: He was a redshirt freshman this year and if his growth curve continues at the rate its on, he will not play three more years at Iowa; he’ll have the same shot Bryan Bulaga did this year, which is to come out after his junior season. He is a possible future first round selection with all the markings of being perhaps the second best offensive lineman of the Ferentz era.
There will be other names that make their way onto this speculative list after the next two or three years and some that might fade away. But I will stick with what I said at the end of the 2008 season; that roster will have more players drafted than any other in the Ferentz era, and we will look back on that season as not only the turnaround for another great Ferentz era run, but the time when there was more overall talent in the program than perhaps at any other in its history.
Did we miss anyone that you feel deserves mention on any of these lists? If so, provide your thoughts below.