NFL draft: Hawkeye talent pool runs dry

Iowa could land only Micah Hyde in 2013 NFL draft after sending six in each of the last three seasons

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IOWA CITY — Iowa’s unprecedented success at landing players in the NFL likely won’t transfer to this weekend’s draft.

In each of the last three years, Iowa had six draft picks, including first-rounders in all three. All but one of those players over were selected before the seventh round.

But after a 4-8 campaign, Iowa is projected with only one definite draft pick — defensive back Micah Hyde — with a few others potentially landing in the seventh round.

“It’s not going to happen this year, certainly,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said of the recent draft success. “It’s a little bit of a different year that way, but I think we have probably four to six guys that will get an opportunity to be in camp.”

Hyde (5-foot-11 1/2, 196 pounds) was tabbed the Big Ten’s defensive back of the year in 2012. He finished with four tackles for loss, grabbed one interception and recovered three fumbles. He started the final 38 games over his career — primarily at cornerback — and played in 51 games.

Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager of Ourlads Scouting Services, graded Hyde as a sixth- or seventh-round prospect. But Shonka said Hyde could outperform his draft position because of his versatility. Hyde started two games at safety and could line up anywhere in the secondary.

“He’s got very good ball skills,” Shonka said. “There’s a guy who can analyze pass routes, pattern read, very good instincts. Then he breaks on the ball and can grab it with his hands. The ball skills are a big thing.”

Hyde returned an interception for a touchdown to beat Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl. He also scored on a lateral return in 2010 and added a touchdown this season on a fumble return.

“I think that’s a huge thing,” Hyde said. “(The scouts are) watching plays; they know my playmaking ability. I might not be the fastest guy or the strongest guy but the film overrides the workouts.

“I’m smart. I know the game, I think I was taught well here at Iowa and teams understand that. I tell them I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

Hyde ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, slightly below average among cornerbacks. But he also chased down Northwestern back Venric Mark after a 72-yard run, prompting Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald to remark, “I think he made some money today.”

“When I get on the field I feel I can run down anybody,” Hyde said. “At the combine all the scouts had their own clocks and some teams had me at 4.47. I’m capable of running in the 4.4s. I’m confident.”

Shonka said Iowa could sneak in another player or two late in the draft. He’s discussed guard Matt Tobin (6-5 1/2, 302) with NFL offensive line coaches and said wide receiver Keenan Davis could earn a spot because of his size (6-2, 215) and speed (4.41 in the 40-yard dash).

"Keenan Davis is a good size guy that can run and be a vertical receiver," Shonka said. "His hands are inconsistent but he's athletic, he's got long arms and has a lot of positive traits for wide receivers."

Shonka said Tobin had a good week of practice at the Raycom All-Star Classic and some scouts "gave him a lot of positive attention and liked him." But it "would be an outside shot" to get drafted.  Iowa players likely headed for free agency include center James Ferentz (6-2, 286)  and quarterback James Vandenberg (6-2 1/5, 225).

"(Ferentz) will go to camp because of his savvy," Shonka said. "It wouldn’t surprise me if a team like Green Bay put (Vandenberg) on their practice squad." 

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