Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz loves intrigue of NFL draft

Iowa tackle Riley Reiff declines invitation to attend draft

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IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz digs the NFL draft.

The dean of Big Ten football coaches said Tuesday he enjoys watching the NFL draft from its intrigue and strategy to the wall-to-wall television coverage. Ferentz, who enters his 14th season as Iowa's head coach, plans to watch at least the first two nights of the draft, which begins April 26.

"I love it. I love to watch the draft," Ferentz said. "I don't often get to watch the whole thing, but if I get the chance, I love it. It's fantastic.

"I like all the maneuvering, I like all the strategies. It gets a little old, some of the commentary, but I do like to listen. As a coach you miss so much because we're always focused on our team. But I do enjoy it. It's a good football fix."

Ferentz also would consider providing television analysis for future draft coverage. Last year Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema — a former Iowa player and Ferentz assistant — spent nearly two hours on the NFL Network set breaking down selections and discussing his players.

"It's something down the road that if I get that opportunity, I wouldn't rule it out," Ferentz said.

Ferentz also has a personal investment in the draft. Iowa has had 12 players drafted in the last two drafts, the most in the Big Ten. This year Iowa sent seven players to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and 23 the last three seasons, six more than any other Big Ten school.

Iowa tackle Riley Reiff expects to become Iowa's sixth first-round draft choice under Ferentz. Reiff had an invitation to attend the draft in New York City but declined, Ferentz said.

"If he had chosen to go, I was planning on going with him for sure," Ferentz said. "He's got a grandfather that's elderly and not in the best of health, but I would have gone."

Ferentz has a history of working with the NFL draft as an evaluator as well. He spent six years as a NFL assistant, three of which were under Bill Belichick in Cleveland. Ferentz's final three NFL seasons were in Baltimore, including a stint as assistant head coach. In 1996, the Ravens drafted eventual Hall of Famers tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis in the first round. Baltimore won the Super Bowl two seasons after Ferentz left for Iowa.

When it comes to his players and the NFL draft, Ferentz dispenses two tracts of advice.

"Don't even try to predict or guess where you're going," Ferentz said. "You set yourself up for real anxiety. So they've done their work, they've done what they can do as far as presenting a resume that type of thing, having a good workout. Right now the draft is in the hands of the people that run it. So they need to try to take the stress out of things, they need to try to relax. That's easier said than done.

"Then, ultimately, the most important thing is be ready when they time to show up. Wherever they're going, really once you get there all that counts is what you do, not how you get there.

"That's the advice I give every player, whether he's a free agent or a first-round pick."

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