116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As NFL hopefuls one-by-one heard their names called in April’s NFL Draft, quite a few names likely sounded familiar to Iowa fans — more than just the two Hawkeyes picked.
The 14 teams on Iowa’s 2021 schedule produced a combined 43 draft picks in 2022. That includes eight from Penn State and five apiece from Michigan and Wisconsin. Many others have signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents since then.
Northwestern and Kent State were the only 2021 opponents not to have a 2022 draft pick on their roster.
The Gazette talked to some of Iowa’s former opponents about their perspective on the 2021 Hawkeyes while they were at the NFL Combine in March:
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who earned the Mr. Irrelevant nickname after being selected with the last pick of the seventh round, lost both games he played in against Iowa.
But it wasn’t because of anything overly complicated the Iowa defense was doing.
“Honestly, they don’t do a whole lot,” Purdy said. “They run a couple coverages. They keep it simple, but they’re very disciplined with it. … Going into the Iowa game, we know what we’re going to get, but it’s just a matter of executing.”
Few, if any, opposing players have been as much of a menace to the Hawkeyes’ defense — and some of their peers in the Big Ten — as former Purdue wide receiver David Bell.
In 2021, he scorched Iowa for 240 yards and then Michigan State three weeks later for 216 yards.
Iowa primarily played zone — “we call it Cover 5 coverage, so half the field is Cover 4, the other side is Cover 2” — and Michigan State played man defense, but Bell had similar observations from the two showings.
“Both those universities have great defensive coaches, and they stick with what they know and they just believe in their players,” the Browns’ third-round pick said. “Greatly for us, they didn’t change anything.”
JoJo Domann, an undrafted free agent linebacker from Nebraska, described Iowa’s offensive style as “just hard-nosed football.”
“They have their identity,” Domann said. “We know as a defense what they’re going to do. And it’s basically, ‘Can you stop them?’”
Unanimous All-America center Tyler Linderbaum particularly had a lot of respect from his fellow NFL Combine prospects whose defenses had to deal with him.
“He’s athletic, he’s strong and he understands leverage,” Domann said. “He’s always looking to get you out of your gap. … Step No. 1 as an offensive and defensive lineman is gap integrity, so he’s a good player.”
Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal referred to Linderbaum as the “No. 1 center in the country.”
“He’s fast,” Chenal said. “He’ll get to the second level really quick, so you’ve got to be careful.”
Domann also had high praise for Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, including it among the top three environments he visited in the Big Ten along with Minnesota’s Huntington Bank Stadium and Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium.
“Iowa’s fans are right on top of you,” Domann said.
Comments: (319) 398-8394; firstname.lastname@example.org