Schwartz: On NFL Draft Day, 10 Memorable Hawkeyes

April 25, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

The NFL Draft, after what feels like decades of hype, starts tonight. Two Hawkeyes – both tight ends – are expected to go in the first round.

Once Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson hear their names called, they’ll join 66 other Hawkeyes who have been drafted by NFL teams since Kirk Ferentz became Iowa’s head coach before the start of the 1999 season.

So that got me thinking:

Of those Hawkeyes drafted during the Ferentz era (a small handful of whom were recruited by Hayden Fry’s staff), who are the top 10, the ones who shined both as Hawkeyes and in the pros? 

Clearly this list is subjective, but that’s what makes it interesting. If you want, please share your own list with me on Twitter @daveschwartz. Here’s mine: 

10. Ladell Betts, RB, second-round pick by Washington, 2002.

Betts was recruited by Fry but played just one season under him before the icon retired. By the time Betts graduated, he was Iowa’s second-leading all-time rusher. He played eight NFL seasons, including his best in 2006 in which he ran for 1,154 yards and four touchdowns.

9. Bryan Bulaga, OL, first-round pick by Green Bay, 2010.

The thing about Bulaga is that he didn’t take long to show his value. He showed up in Iowa City in 2007, and by midseason of his freshman season had become a starter on the line. By the end of the 2010 NFL season, he became a Super Bowl champion and the youngest starter in a Super Bowl in NFL history.

8. C.J. Beathard, QB, third-round pick by San Francisco, 2017.

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Every team needs a quarterback, right? The list of Hawkeye QBs drafted to the NFL under Ferentz is short. It’s pretty much Beathard, briefly a starter whose rising star faded when the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, or Ricky Stanzi.

7. (Tie) Desmond King, DB, San Diego; and George Kittle, TE, San Francisco, both fifth-round picks in 2017.

Speaking of rising stars, these two, who went in the same round of the same draft, have shown superstar potential. Both could be much higher on this list if we re-do it 10 years from now.

6. Mike Daniels, DL, fourth-round pick by Green Bay, 2012.

In addition to narrating the greatest Hawkeye hype video maybe ever, Daniels has steadily improved during each of his seasons in the pros.

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5. Chad Greenway, LB, first-round pick by Minnesota in 2006.

Other than winning that elusive Super Bowl, Greenway accomplished everything over the course of a college and NFL career that one could ever wish to accomplish: longevity, respect from teammates, two Pro Bowls, financial success, and lots and lots of tackles made.

4. Adrian Clayborn, DL, first-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2011.

This past season Clayborn, who might now officially be labeled a journeyman and seasoned veteran, won his first Super Bowl, as a member of the New England Patriots. That, plus this play, make him a bona fide Hawkeye legend.

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3. Dallas Clark, TE, first-round pick by Indianapolis in 2003.

He’s the gold standard of Hawkeye tight ends, a Super Bowl winner, and a borderline Hall of Fame candidate.

2. Marshal Yanda, OL, third-round pick by Baltimore in 2007.

There are so many excellent offensive linemen to pick from, but Yanda, who started 16 games for the Ravens in 2018 and whose career seems eternal, deserves the top spot. He also won a Super Bowl during the 2012 season.

1. Bob Sanders, S, second-round pick by Indianapolis, 2004.

C’mon, like there’s anybody else I was going to put in this spot?

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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