Iowa Football

Who's the biggest NFL draft steal from Iowa in the Kirk Ferentz era?

Aaron Kampman? Marshal Yanda? Mike Daniels? Bob Sanders?

Iowa footbal coach Kirk Ferentz sits with seniors Aaron Kampman (54) and Kyle McCann (4) and Ladell Betts (46) before the team's photo is taken on Dec. 28, 2001 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (The Gazette) the day before the Hawkeyes beat Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. (The Gazette)
Iowa footbal coach Kirk Ferentz sits with seniors Aaron Kampman (54) and Kyle McCann (4) and Ladell Betts (46) before the team's photo is taken on Dec. 28, 2001 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (The Gazette) the day before the Hawkeyes beat Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. (The Gazette)

In case you hadn’t heard, the NFL draft starts Thursday night.

Now, here are all seven rounds of my mock draft:

Just kidding.

Rather than joining the hordes of mock-drafters roaming the earth, I have a question for you Iowa fans to answer: Who is the biggest draft-steal from a Kirk Ferentz-coached Iowa team (1999 to present)?

There’s no shortage of candidates.

It’s an extremely subjective question, obviously, which is why I ask. For instance, would it be fifth-round defensive end Aaron Kampman (2002)? He was a two-time Pro Bowler who had 15.5 sacks in 2006 and 58 in his career, and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October 2017.

Pretty good value for a fifth-rounder.

Or do you say it’s third-rounder Marshal Yanda (2007), a six-time Pro Bowl offensive guard who has started 135 games for the Baltimore Ravens and was a key to their 2012 NFL championship?

If they redrafted the 2007 guys by performance, how many players would go ahead of Yanda? Not very many.

The books haven’t been fully written on other good candidates. Mike Daniels, a fourth-round defensive tackle taken by Green Bay in 2012, seems to keep getting better. He has 27 career sacks and went to his first Pro Bowl last season after being an alternate in each of the previous three seasons.

Cornerback Desmond King was a fifth-round selection of the Los Angeles Chargers a year ago. Most of us thought he would be the first Hawkeye taken in that draft. He was the fourth, behind C.J. Beathard (third round), Jaleel Johnson (fourth) and George Kittle (fifth). But King was in on 76 tackles and had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown in his rookie season.

Others who would merit being in the discussion:

Bob Sanders, second-rounder in 2004: Second-rounders don’t have as much “steal” to them as fifth-rounders who do well, but when a second-rounder was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2007), that’s a steal.

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Micah Hyde, fifth-rounder in 2013: He has 13 interceptions (five in 2017 for Buffalo) and 309 tackles over five seasons, and has returned three punts for touchdowns.

It wouldn’t seem cornerback Josh Jackson and center James Daniels will ever join this list, because both are expected to go in the first round (or early second) of this week’s draft. Maybe Josey Jewell, or Akrum Wadley.

By the way, Iowa hasn’t had two first-rounders under Ferentz. The last time was 1997, with cornerback Tom Knight and offensive lineman Ross Verba. The only other time was 1986, with three. They were quarterback Chuck Long, running back Ronnie Harmon and offensive lineman Mike Haight.

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