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IOWA CITY — Desmond King needed a good, solid 40-yard dash Monday at Iowa’s pro day. This is a number that might mean late first round in the NFL draft or maybe middle of the second or, if it didn’t go well, maybe even the third.
Who was the happiest after their 40?
“Probably Desmond,” running back LeShun Daniels said with a laugh. “For good reasons.”
Reports vary on King, an all-American and all-Big Ten cornerback for Iowa in the last two seasons, and his 40 sprint, but that range is in the 4.5s, which is what King wanted. Remember, an abdominal strain kept him from running the 40 at the NFL Combine earlier this month.
That put a little pressure on him to come through Monday.
“I was aiming for a high 4.4 or low 4.5s,” King said. “I know for sure I could’ve gotten it. When I came out of my 10 (-yard mark), I slipped up a little bit. I still ran a decent time where I wanted to be, so it was good.”
The pro day stakes were high for King, who’s being looked at by NFL teams as a cornerback, nickel corner and safety. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was in attendance along with all 32 NFL teams and three Canadian Football League teams.
Was King the happiest after his 40?
“Yeah, probably so,” King said. “I’m really satisfied with my time. Getting back healthy is the goal.”
King said he still is bothered by the abdominal and has a hip issue. He plans to return to Indianapolis on April 14 for a medical recheck. King said it’s not serious.
One thing to keep in mind with King, he didn’t miss a practice during his four years at Iowa. He set school records for starts (51) and games played (53). NFL teams have asked about the perfect attendance, along with return skills that had him among the Big Ten leaders in punt and kick return the last two seasons.
“I’m always a guy who’s going to give 100 percent no matter what condition I’m in,” King said. “I’m going to give everything I’ve got and put everything on the line.”
King’s 40 probably was the most anticipated at Iowa’s pro day. (By the way, Iowa strength and conditioning doesn’t use the 40 in its testing.) But there were other 40s and other stories.
Wide receiver Riley McCarron might’ve put up the fastest 40, clocking a 4.36 according to HawkeyeReport.com. It was a good thing he could get the day off. McCarron is now working as an accountant at RSM in Kansas City, Mo.
So, you know, it’s good to be Riley McCarron right now. He can follow his dream of playing in the NFL. If it doesn’t work, it’s back to work as a young professional in beautiful Kansas City.
“This is something you really enjoy, training here with (Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris) coach Doyle,” McCarron said. “It’s not work at all, it’s just having fun. To be able to play football a little longer and extend it, it’s fun, that’s how I’d sum it up.”
Tight end George Kittle ran a 4.52-second 40 at the Combine. He also leapt 11 feet in the standing broad jump. With those numbers — considered high-end for tight ends — he stayed on those.
What did the combine do for Kittle’s bid for NFL employment? You already know the answer. Yes, it drove some interest in Kittle.
“I had a couple of coaches come up to me and told me they’d be at my pro day, this was after they hadn’t talked to me all week at the Combine,” Kittle said. “There was some more interest, some more phone calls. It was nice. A couple of coaches said they had no idea I was going to do that, saying we thought you were going to run a 4.8 40. Well, I’m not going to do that.”
Quarterback C.J. Beathard didn’t run the 40 on Monday. He’s still feeling the effects of the hamstring he pulled during the Outback Bowl in January. Beathard said most teams have told him forget about running, you’re a quarterback. Beathard has gone through throwing drills at every stop.
Beathard is confident that he will get drafted.
“I’m not worried about it, I know I’ll get a shot at some point,” Beathard said. “All it takes is one team to fall in love with you, for who you are and what you’ve done on the field.”
Perhaps the most interesting 40 of the day belonged to former Iowa tight end Jake Duzey.
In his sophomore and junior years at Iowa (2013-14), Duzey caught 55 passes for 668 yards. On the penultimate practice of spring in 2015, Duzey suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. He played in 2015, but only in three-tight end situations. Then on Christmas Day during Rose Bowl prep in Los Angeles, Duzey suffered the same injury.
Duzey graduated from Iowa with a finance degree, but football hasn’t let go of him.
He spent 2016 training in Iowa City and Arizona while working jobs as a Lyft driver, delivering food for Order Up and working at an outdoors store. He also spent time in Michigan, his home state, working out with former Hawkeye and former Michigan QB Jake Rudock, a Detroit Lions draftee.
“When it happened (the injury) a second time, the doctors didn’t know, so I was ‘we’ll see,’” Duzey said. “Either way, I was going to be all right with it, but after a while, my knee started feeling really good. I thought, I’ve got to give it one more shot.”
Monday, Duzey ran a 4.62-second 40. He also did 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and a 4.16-second shuttle time. These numbers compare favorably with numbers tight ends put up at the Combine.
“I was surprised at how good he was looking,” said Beathard, who threw some passes to Duzey during drills Monday. “He looked like the old Duze who was here a few years ago. Full speed and moving around really well. It was good to see.”
Duzey isn’t draft eligible. His path to the league will have to be as a free agent, the same path former Iowa defensive end Drew Ott (who had his career end in 2015 after multiple injuries) is on.
There hasn’t been a ton of dialogue with NFL people for Duzey.
“I think they wanted to make sure I could come out here and run again and do what I used to be able to do on the football field,” Duzey said. “I need to see what happens from here and we’ll figure it all out.”
Is he a financial analyst or an NFL tight end?
“It was always there,” Duzey said about keeping the NFL hopes alive. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I finally made it back and we’ll see what happens. . . . I didn’t want to give up on it yet, and so I figured I’d try one last time.”
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