Iowa Football

Ballers James Daniels, Josh Jackson and Josey Jewell add to Iowa's NFL luster

It's easy to see all three being productive in pros


NFL Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer (left) greets the Packers' second-round pick, Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, at the NFL Draft at Arlington, Texas, Friday night. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
NFL Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer (left) greets the Packers' second-round pick, Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, at the NFL Draft at Arlington, Texas, Friday night. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

The wheel went round and round, and round again as far as Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson was concerned Thursday and Friday.

So many people who get paid to follow this stuff told us Jackson would be a first-rounder. The Gazette’s Marc Morehouse wrote a story last week noting how mock drafts from five national websites slotted all the Hawkeyes that seemed like possible draftees. It nicely illustrated the unpredictability of that predicting game.

Four of those sites had Jackson going in the first round, ranging from sixth to 28th. The fifth, the NFL Network, had Jackson 39th. That was the pick in which Iowa center James Daniels went, to the Chicago Bears. Daniels had been tabbed between 43rd and 82nd by four of those sites.

Jackson went 45th, to the Green Bay Packers.

What does the drop from draft expectations mean for Jackson? Other than he isn’t getting first-round money, not much. Of course, not getting first-round money isn’t a “not much” deal when it’s you who are the one drafted.

Desmond King was in the second round of a lot of mock drafts a year ago, around the 50th selection give or take a few spots. The Hawkeye cornerback waited until Saturday for his name to be called, by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fifth round with the 151st pick, and after three Iowa teammates.

We who had seen him play every week at Iowa were baffled. Was he really all that undersized for an NFL defensive back? Did he really not match up speed-wise with premier receivers? Did his “short arms” matter that much?

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Could his senior season really be termed a drop-off from his eight-interception junior year when he won the Jim Thorpe Award? It wasn’t like opponents were throwing his way much in 2016.

Well, if the 2017 draft were redrafted, King would be snapped up a lot sooner. He played 68.3 percent of the Chargers’ defensive plays as a rookie, was tied for the team lead in solo tackles with 66, had four quarterback sacks, and returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown. He also led his team in kickoff-return average.


Fifth-rounder? Steal.

“I’m not saying I called it,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said last December, “but early on in the offseason I was like ‘This guy can play.’ You just saw something about him, that you knew he could play and start to see it.”

Players are players. King is a player. Jackson is a player. It has to be an emotional wound when so many people were saying he was headed to the first round and he got an invitation to the “Green Room” at the draft, only to be stuck there for a second day.

But it will heal. Maybe it already has.

“They’re getting a baller,” Jackson said Friday on NFL Network. “A playmaker.”

Both are good things to be in that league. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s football-related series on HBO is called “Ballers,” not “Good Players Who Work Hard.”

As for Daniels, the Bears get to experience what the Packers (Bulaga), the Baltimore Ravens (Marshal Yanda), the Washington Redskins (Brandon Scherff) and the Minnesota Vikings (Riley Reiff) enjoy, which is an offensive lineman from Iowa who knows what he’s doing and does it well.

Somewhat amazingly, Chicago hadn’t drafted a Hawkeye since 1990. It will be nice for the many people who are both Hawkeyes and Bears fans to have an Iowa guy on the team. It’s been a long time since Mark Bortz and Jay Hilgenberg were the heart of the world-champion ’85 Bears’ offensive line.

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Oh, let’s not overlook inside linebacker Josey Jewell of Decorah. He went to the Denver Broncos in Saturday’s fourth round. “Steal” may very well also apply to this pick as time passes. Would you bet against someone with Jewell’s instincts and physicality?

It shouldn’t surprise you if Broncos linebacker-extraordinaire Von Miller says something about Jewell this year that’s very similar to what Rivers said about King.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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