Iowa defenders look for homes in NFL draft

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INDIANAPOLIS — Barrel-chested and deep voiced, Mike Daniels was out to prove he was a worthy NFL draft selection during his time at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He stood 6 foot and weighed 291 pounds, about 10 more than during the season. He had shoulder surgery during the off-season and battled ankle injuries during the season. He still powered through with 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks last year.

Daniels met with all but five or six clubs in Indianapolis and tried to win them over with more than just his measurables.

“I want to prove there’s more to me than what I do than just running, jumping, bench press and what I can do on the field,” Daniels said. “I want my personality and my character to flourish within the NFL coaches and the Iowa coaches.”

Daniels said he’s had conversations with both 4-3 and 3-4 base defense teams. Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager for Ourlads Scouting Services, said Daniels should compete at tackle in a 4-3 defense where he can penetrate through offensive linemen rather face double teams on a consistent basis.

“That’s the position he should play,” Shonka said. “He’ll have to play that under-tackle where he’s on a shade and can shoot a gap. That’s what he’s going to have to play. Good football player.”

Daniels is projected as a mid-to-late round pick. Longtime Iowa starting defensive end Broderick Binns (6-0, 262) likely is a late-round or priority free agent pickup. Binns started 31 games at Iowa, including every game as a sophomore and senior. He ended his career with 13 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss. Last year he tied for the team lead with eight pass breakups and was second in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (five).

Shonka said Binns might work best as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

“Two years ago, he really looked like he was special as a pass rusher,” Shonka said. “This year, those guys didn’t have a lot of rotation. Those guys were in there the whole time, whereas before they had a little bit of a rotation going. I think that’s part of it. There’s a lot that can be said for those long arms, batting down a passes, get in that throwing lane. He did a nice job of that.”

Iowa safety Jordan Bernstine, who like Binns, wasn’t invited to the combine. He shot into draft consideration after running a 4.43 40-yard dash at Iowa’s pro day and bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times.

Bernstine (5-10, 210) was injury-prone at Iowa, losing the 2009 season to a broken ankle in training camp. He limped through 2010 with various leg and hamstring injuries. He rebounded in 2011 to start 11 games and recorded 89 tackles. He finished seventh among Big Ten kickoff returners in yards-per-game (23.8) and was 10th in tackles per game (7.4).

Shonka said Bernstine likely won’t get drafted but might land with someone based on his athletic ability.

“I don’t know how gritty he is when it comes down to it,” Shonka said. “He looks the part, but I don’t know if he can take that head slamming out there, especially at the NFL level. But I would say he’s going to be a free agent.

“I’ve been wrong before. I thought (Brandon) Myers, the tight end, was a free agent, and I didn’t know if he’d stick around and he started the last few games for Oakland last year.”

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