IOWA CITY, Iowa - Four Iowa Football players heard their names called last month during the NFL Draft. That pushed the total number of Hawkeyes selected during the process over the last three years to 13.
Putting that number into context, it represented the most picks among Big Ten West programs. Wisconsin came in second with 11 and Minnesota was third with eight. Northwestern (4), Nebraska (4), Purdue (4) and Illinois (3) rounded out the division.
Ohio State led the conference with an absurd total of 29. Michigan was next with 23, followed by Penn State (16). Maryland (7), Michigan State (4 none in 2021), Indiana (3) and Rutgers (2) rounded out the East Division.
The Buckeyes are 33-3 during that span. Michigan is 21-11, Penn State is 24-11 and the Hawkeyes are 24-9. The Badgers checks in at 22-12, and Minnesota is 21-12. Despite ranking seventh among league squads with seven picks, Maryland owns a 10-19 mark, while Northwestern, with only four selections, is 19-16 with two West titles.
Northwestern and Maryland illustrate that on-field success or failure can't be directly determined by NFL Draft picks. The teams with the most selections are winning at a high rate, however. No question there's a correlation.
Iowa has had at least three players chosen in each of the last five drafts. It posted a 41-19 mark during that time, including 27-17 record in Big Ten play.
Early betting odds show the Hawkeyes as the No. 2 choice behind Wisconsin to win the West in '21. That likely means they'll be boasting multiple '22 NFL Draft picks.
Who might they be?
Let's pick five:
1. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Jr. - Iowa's offensive line anchor probably would have been its highest pick in '21 had he elected to come out early. He was projected to be around a Top 50 pick. The Solon product indicated that it was an easy decision to return and has hinted that he might have a tough choice after the upcoming campaign.
Maybe Linderbaum surprises and comes back for his senior season. The NFL money in a sport where athletes have a short shelf life would make that a very interesting decision.
2. Tyler Goodson, RB, Jr. - While Linderbaum used a redshirt, Goodson played as a true freshman, albeit not full-time until the final month of the season. He's been one of the Big Ten's best since then, earning first-team all-league honors in '20 when he rushed for 762 yards (5.3 YPC) in a COVID-shortened campaign.
Running back is a punishing position where there are only so many miles on the tires. The NFL cycles through ball carriers regularly and prospects must maximize their prime. It feels like Goodson is on the brink of that.
3. Sam LaPorta, TE, Jr. - Like Goodson, LaPorta is a true junior who emerged late in his true freshman campaign. Also like Goodson, he's seemingly improved with each game.
Iowa is known as Tight End U with guys like George Kittle, Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson already NFL standouts. LaPorta sticks out as a favorite target for Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras and could put up gaudy numbers with the program losing its top two receivers - Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith - from last season to the NFL.
4. Matt Hankins, CB, SR. - The Texan is entering his fourth season as a full-time starter after getting his feet wet as a true freshman. He's basically been on the field for four years already and can solidify himself as one of the league's top DBs if he can improve consistency.
Unlike the first three guys on this list, Hankins will, for sure, be in the '22 draft. It's normally a deep position with talent across the country and all levels, but he will have a lot of plays on tape and a maturity that many other prospects lack.
5. Jack Campbell, LB, Jr. - I'm guessing Campbell's inclusion on this list will be the most surprising to readers. He's aiming for his first full season of starts after health issues limited him in '20.
Campbell is a freakish athlete coveted by the NFL with a high aptitude for football. He's probably the closest thing to Chad Greenway Iowa has had since the former linebacker began a long career with the Minnesota Vikings after being selected in the first round.
I don't know if Campbell will advance enough this season to make the jump, but the starter kit is there. And it's high-end.
Others to Watch: Zach VanValkenburg, DL, Sr.; Caleb Shudak, K, Sr.; Charlie Jones, WR/PR, Sr.; Ivory Kelly-Martin, RB, Sr.; Xavior Williams, DB, Sr.; Jack Koerner, DB, Sr.; Riley Moss, DB, Sr.; Kyler Schott, OL, Sr.; Tyrone Tracy Jr., WR, Jr.; Dane Belton, DB, Jr. ; Tory Taylor, P, So.