C.J. Beathard answers the numbers question for the NFL

The QB's stats dropped from 2015 to 2016, knowledge, toughness are his selling points

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — C.J. Beathard volunteered twice during his 12 minutes on the podium Friday at the NFL Combine that he has never tested positive for drugs, has never been to jail and has no outstanding tickets.

“I give genuine answers,” the former Iowa quarterback said. “I’m clean. I’ve never been in jail, I’ve never failed a drug test. That stuff is easy for me. The football questions are even easier. I love talking about football and getting on the board with these coaches. That’s a big thing they want to see, your knowledge of the game. That’s easy for me.”

Beathard has three distinctive strong suits to play in his quest for an NFL roster spot. He made his point on citizenship a couple of times. No jail, no drugs, no tickets.

Beathard also spoke about his knowledge of the game and toughness, a trait that played out for him during almost the entirety of his two seasons as Iowa’s starting quarterback.

You’ve probably erased the Hawkeyes’ 30-3 defeat against Florida in January’s Outback Bowl. You do, however, remember Beathard suffering a pulled hamstring late in the second half and then gutted through it. His injury certainly didn’t help the Hawkeyes, but not much helped the Hawkeyes after halftime.

“It was very important to me, my last game as a Hawkeye,” he said. “It was tough, I couldn’t move, really. It was such a tight game, I wanted to go out there. I didn’t want to come out of a game in the first half and let the second half go, especially in my last game like that. I told the coaches that I was good to go, let me play.

“The outcome wasn’t great.”

The hamstring injury still lingers. Beathard played just one series in the Senior Bowl. He said he felt a “hard pull” and didn’t continue. He won’t run the 40-yard dash or agility drills here at the Combine. He will participate in throwing drills.

That wasn’t the only Hawkeye hamstring news at the Combine on Friday. The NFL Network reported defensive back Desmond King also won’t run the 40 because of an abdominal strain. Defensive backs perform their drills and meet with the media on Sunday.

Beathard’s toughness energized the Hawkeyes at times during his career. He played the majority of 2015 with a sports hernia and a torn groin that required postseason surgery. Last spring, he took a shot to his shoulder and missed the spring game. He suffered a sprained knee in camp. Throughout the season, however, Beathard and head coach Kirk Ferentz maintained that the quarterback was healthy.

“I think that is one of my attributes, that I’m a tough player,” Beathard said. “I’ve taken a lot of hits (30 sacks last season), I’ve been banged up, but I haven’t missed a game since I’ve been a starter. I think that’s saying something when you start talking to these coaches. I’m tough and I think anybody you’d talk to at Iowa would say the same.”

Beathard’s numbers dipped from 2015 to 2016. As a junior, he completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,809 yards and 17 TDs with five interceptions. Last season, it was 55.6 percent, 1,929 yards and 17 TDs with 10 interceptions. Beathard’s pass efficiency fell from 139.52 to 122.32. The numbers are no secret and it’s certainly been a topic with NFL executives, Beathard said.

League people have seen the Iowa 2016 film. They know how Iowa’s receiving personnel changed from 2015 and throughout last season. They saw how Beathard managed the offense away from bad plays and into a safe zone. Throughout his meetings here, Beathard said execs knew Iowa’s shortcomings on offense in 2016, but they still wanted to know what he thought.

“I came from a prostyle system that put a lot on the quarterback,” Beathard said. “These guys (NFL people) really do their research. They look into plays and watch every one and understand why things end up the way they do.”

But ...

“They want to see what I have to say about it,” said Beathard, who signed with the sports agent firm Rep1 and has done his combine training in Irvine, Calif. “They had their answer, but they wanted to know my view of it, too.”

Beathard believes his answers are as important as what he’ll be able to show in the passing drills.

“They’ve seen tape on all of the quarterbacks,” Beathard said. “They really want to get to know your smarts, what you had to do at the line of scrimmage. I think one of the biggest parts of the combine is getting with coaches during the interviews and letting them know who you are.”

Overall, Beathard said coming out of Iowa’s prostyle offense has been a huge advantage for him during this process.

“I can’t thank coach Ferentz and (former Iowa offensive coordinator Greg) Davis enough for the things they taught me and for the things they asked out of me at Iowa,” Beathard said. “Talking with these coaches and offensive coordinators, they know I know what I’m talking about. I’ve had to make Mike points and change protections all of the time. That’s all we did at Iowa. It’s really prepared me.”

Of course, Iowa will have a new offensive coordinator in 2017. Brian Ferentz moved from offensive line coach to coordinator when Davis retired in January. Beathard likes the move.

“I think it’s going to go great,” he said. “He’s a great coach. He’s awesome. I know coach (Ken) O’Keefe is coming in as quarterbacks coach. I think they’ll do a great job.”

Asked what he might change with Iowa’s offense, Beathard showed some of the caginess that got him to a podium at the NFL combine.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s hard to say right now.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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Iowa QB C.J. Beathard

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