Iowa Football

Let's survey where NFL draft folks believe Iowa Hawkeyes will be drafted

As many as eight Iowa players could be drafted and the first round is definitely in play

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Josh Jackson speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center in March. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Josh Jackson speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center in March. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, the idea of a seven-round NFL mock draft is ludicrous. Dart meet dartboard.

There are people out there crazy enough to try it. There are people out there who possess the knowledge and background to lend credibility to their mock drafts. If nothing else, tracking a few of the seven rounders should give you at least a range on where the Hawkeyes might go on Thursday night and into the NFL draft weekend.

Iowa could have two first-round picks for the first time since 1997, when cornerback Tom Knight and offensive lineman Ross Verba were picked.

Cornerback Josh Jackson and offensive lineman James Daniels are the two who could go in round 1. Linebacker Josey Jewell will get drafted. Most mock drafts have offensive lineman Sean Welsh and running back Akrum Wadley as late-round picks. One has linebacker Ben Niemann going. Another has offensive lineman Ike Boettger going in the sixth round.

Here are the five seven-round mock drafts surveyed: Pro Football Focus all-analyst draft, Walterfootball.com, NFL Network’s Chad ReuterBleacher Report’s Matt Miller and CBSsports.com.

Cornerback Josh Jackson

Teams have either come to grips with the 4.56-second 40-yard dash Jackson ran at the NFL combine in February or they haven’t.

Jackson was a one-year starter at Iowa, and maybe that raises a red flag or two. He also led the nation in interceptions (eight) and passes defended (27).

Jackson will have to answer those questions, but he’ll likely have those conversations with “first rounder” in front of his name.

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Quotable — “I’m a leader, I’m a playmaker. I know when I step on the field, I’ll be able to make plays,” — Josh Jackson

PFF — Round 1, pick No. 6, Indianapolis Colts

Walterfootball — Round 1, pick No. 28, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Network — Round 2, No. 39, Chicago Bears

Bleacher Report — Round 1, No. 10, Oakland Raiders

CBSsports.com — Round 1, No. 21, Cincinnati Bengals

Offensive lineman James Daniels

Iowa’s yards per carry went from 4.45 in 2016 to 3.76 last season. That wasn’t James Daniels’ fault.

Theory on Daniels’ spectacular rise from 20-year-old coming back for his senior season at Iowa to potential NFL first rounder: The local media missed it. It was easy to label Iowa’s running game not great last year and leave the thinking at that. Meanwhile, Daniels did his thing and built himself an NFL highlight tape (three years worth, by the way). The NFL draft advisory committee gave Daniels a second-round draft grade and he was off to the races.

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Quotable — “I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a more talented center prospect. That includes my time in the NFL. He’s got some skills that are just really unusual. And he’s a really intelligent guy,” — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

PFF — Round 3, pick No. 82, Detroit Lions

Walterfootball — Round 2, pick No. 52, Buffalo Bills

NFL Network — Round 2, No. 44, Washington Redskins

Bleacher Report — Round 1, No. 22, Buffalo Bills

CBSsports.com — Round 2, No. 43, Dallas Cowboys

Linebacker Josey Jewell

Iowa fans took it pretty personally when former Hawkeye cornerback Desmond King went in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft. He was, after all, the Thorpe Award winner with eight picks as a junior in 2016.

You expected a higher round, more respect. The NFL doesn’t have to deal with that sort of subtlety. So, King performed exactly as you all thought, collecting 76 tackles as a rookie with 4.0 sacks and an interception for the Los Angeles Chargers. He’s on his way to a second contract.

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Jewell’s speed was going to be under question no matter what he ran at the combine (4.82 seconds). A team won’t draft Jewell to run the 40. They’ll draft him to tackle people and cover passes between the hashes. Jewell’s brain is a football computer.

The football is second round. The athleticism is who knows. So, if Jewell goes in the fifth round, he’s still Josey Jewell and will play the game the way you’ve seen him play it for four years.

Quotable — “When you get on the field you’ve got to put your brain toward that, you’ve got to focus on that. It’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. It’s all football. It’s all technical stuff. It’s all trying to get everybody else out there better, communicating and trying to be a team leader,” — Jewell

PFF — Round 2, pick No. 63, New England Patriots

Walterfootball — Round 4, pick No. 111, Los Angeles Rams

NFL Network — Round 2, No. 61, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bleacher Report — Round 3, No. 100, Cincinnati Bengals

CBSsports.com — Round 3, No. 87, Detroit Lions

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Offensive lineman Sean Welsh

Sean Welsh is 6-3, 306 and just about everything you read about him and the NFL says that he’s too small. Sometimes, it simply comes down to mass and pure power. Welsh will have to show whichever team drafts him the size knock is just that, a knock and not a flaw.

Could Welsh play center in the NFL? It’s a possibility. That versatility probably gets him on an active roster next season.

With character now totally counting in the NFL, Welsh would bring a wealth of that to any locker room.

Quotable — “That’s what I bring to the table, that versatility. I’ve played every position but left tackle at Iowa. If I’m able to answer those questions, I want to be that kind of guy.” — Welsh

PFF — Round 6, pick No. 203, Jacksonville Jaguars

Walterfootball — Round 5, pick No. 140, Indianapolis Colts

NFL Network — Not on the board

Bleacher Report — Round 7, No. 225, Denver Broncos

CBSsports.com — Round 7, No. 229, Miami Dolphins

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Running back Akrum Wadley

As football becomes more and more analyzed, you have to wonder if Akrum Wadley didn’t set an all-time Iowa record for unblocked yardage during his career. You know that was fun to watch.

The juking won’t hurt Wadley in the NFL. Being undersized will take a bite. Wadley weighed 194 at the combine.

So, Kirk Ferentz was probably right all along. There’s the “heart” factor. How do scouts deal with that? They probably don’t put a lot on it because, really, everyone in the league has to have a full measure of heart. You also can’t conveniently time it.

Wadley has that. He also has that elusiveness. He also can catch passes. He also can return kicks. If Wadley can win a third-down job, that would give him a chance to showcase and grow his expectations.

Quotable — “Yes, of course. I weighed in at 194, I’m not the biggest back, but I’ve got things that make up for it big-time. Like I said, I can catch out of the backfield. I can make defenders miss in the open field. I can do it all. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid,” — Wadley

PFF — Round 6, pick No. 215, Miami Dolphins

Walterfootball — Round 6, pick No. 176, Los Angeles Rams

NFL Network — Round 7, pick No. 235, New York Jets

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Bleacher Report — Round 5, No. 142, Denver Broncos

CBSsports.com — Round 6, No. 175, New England Patriots

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

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