Iowa Football

The Broncos know exactly what they're getting in Iowa's Josey Jewell

One of the best tacklers in Hawkeye history is now headed to Denver

Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Josey Jewell (43) tackles Purdue Boilermakers running back Richie Worship (34) in the first quarter  at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Purdue Boilermakers at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.  (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Josey Jewell (43) tackles Purdue Boilermakers running back Richie Worship (34) in the first quarter at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Purdue Boilermakers at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Face it, it’s just going to be a little weird with Josey Jewell not playing linebacker for the Hawkeyes this fall.

Jewell started at middle linebacker for the last three years at Iowa. He finished his redshirt freshman season in 2014 with starts in the final four games.

This is a rough estimate, but Jewell logged something in the neighborhood of 3,330 snaps during his Iowa career. Maybe add another 100 for special teams.

That’s what Denver is going to get.

Jewell was picked No. 106 on Saturday afternoon by the Denver Broncos. According to spotrac.com, this should net Jewell an entry deal of a three-year contract worth $3.1 million with a signing bonus of just more than $700,000.

Tackling isn’t a simple art. A lot of football fans take that for granted. Think about it. Your job is wrestling one of the fastest and strongest humans on the planet and putting them on the ground. While some giant O-lineman is holding you. Probably holding you, depending on your perspective.

That’s what Jewell does best. The Decorah native was one of the best pure tacklers in Iowa history. Jewell finished his career ranked fourth in tackles at Iowa with 437.

He led the Big Ten in tackles (136) and ranked fourth nationally in tackles per game (11.3). The 136 tackles last season tied for 12th-best single season total at Iowa. Jewell was one of three Hawkeyes ever to record over 115 tackles in three different seasons. Jewell put up 22 career games with 10 or more tackles, including nine games in 2017. He ranked second in the Big Ten in tackles in 2016 with 124 after leading the Big Ten in 2015.

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Guess what? During this whole draft evaluation process tackling is the one thing NFL scouts haven’t been able to see Jewell do live.

So yeah, the underwear Olympics have been weird for him. Did he recover from running a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the combine in February?

“Yes, I recovered,” Jewell said with a laugh. “I’m all right. I’ll live through it, so it’s good.”

The combine for Jewell was a little like a trip to the doctor. There’s always going to be something, no matter how much you skipped pizza.

“A lot of people put stress on the 40, which, really is running in a straight line,” Jewell said. “I’m not sure how much you actually do that on a football field. I just tried to do my best.”

Jewell came back with a 4.68 during his pro day at Iowa. Still, Jewell and the 40 is like using a 2018 loaded Tundra for a golf cart. That vehicle was made for the physical part of the game.

Conversely, Jewell ran a 6.8-second three-cone drill at the combine. That’s a drill aimed to measure short-area quickness. That 6.8 seconds puts Jewell among the elite at the linebacker position.

Why does this measure make more sense for a linebacker?

“That’s change of direction, that’s what you’re going to do as a linebacker,” Jewell said. “You’re going to be in the box. You’re going to have to make quick changes of direction, move around linemen and catch running backs.”

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In 2017, Jewell was named the Associated Press Big Ten defensive player of the year, first-team all-Big Ten and won the 2017 Lott Impact Trophy.

With Jewell, one simple question at the combine kind of unlocked everything you need to know about the Decorah native. Jewell was asked how he gets to the ball.

“I definitely think it’s a lot of instinct and I also think it’s a lot of film preparation, watching a lot of film with coach, a lot of film with other players,” Jewell said. “Just understanding each scenario or each formation, what they can run and from there just understanding from there what their job is and how you can effectively do it.”

After something in the neighborhood of 3,300 snaps as a college football player, Jewell is a freshman again. This time, yes, he is getting paid.

Still, probably no Hawkeye is better equipped to go through the NFL proving ground and come out of it with his eyes where they need to be.

At one point, Jewell was asked if he would feel comfortable living in a big city.

“There’s one guy from New York who asked me about it quite a bit, how I would adjust, if I can adjust,” Jewell said. “And the answer to that is yeah. I mean I adjusted from a small town to a little bigger — Iowa City’s still small — so I mean just maturing that way. And I think I’ll be able to take that next step. I know I’ll be able to take that next step and be able to go to a big city and just focus on football. That’s what it’s going to be.”

Another answer that says everything you need to know.

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

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