A day of surprises for Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George, who had set his expectations low coming into the NFL Draft. Instead of feverishly latching onto a team as an undrafted free agent once the seventh round concluded, George had a low-stress Saturday, the New York Jets snapping him up in the fifth round, with the No. 154 overall pick, just 44 picks into the day.
The 5-foot-11, 234-pound George is the eighth inside linebacker to be selected in the 2014 draft, and it's a perfect fit. The Jets run a 3-4 base under Rex Ryan, so George — if he makes the roster – will have the luxury of playing as one of two inside backers. He's not big enough to be a middle linebacker in the NFL and might've been an odd fit as a weakside linebacker in that scheme, too.
"I've had talks with some teams about that," George told AllCyclones.com in February. "They'd say for a guy my size they'd try to put a shade technique (moving a d-lineman over to occupy a particular gap) in front of him — to protect him a little more so they can make plays. For example, the New Orleans Saints, they had a scheme where they run a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 in Rob Ryan's defense. They had to protect their undersized linebackers."
Funny that three months ago, George had a Ryan on his mind. The Jets were at George's Pro Day in March, at which he improved upon his combine numbers with a 4.66 40-yard-dash and upped his bench press by two reps, his vertical by five inches and his broad jump by over a foot.
George is just the second linebacker the Jets have drafted since Ryan took over in 2009. He continues Iowa State's recently-rich tradition of sending linebackers to the NFL, joining Tim Dobbins, Alvin Bowen and A.J. Klein as drafted 'backers since 2006. Jake Knott made the Eagles' roster as an undrafted free agent last season as well.
ISU has had four players selected in the draft in the last three seasons (Klein, Carter Bykowski, Kelechi Osemele). George led the Big 12 and finished tied for third nationally with 11.1 tackles a game, earning All-Big 12 first-team honors from the AP and the coaches' vote.
The median deal in the fifth round is around $2.35 million over four years with a $188,800 signing bonus, per a 2013 National Football Post article. Notable No. 154 overall picks include Seattle's Richard Sherman, former Chargers and Falcons running back Michael Turner and old Texas Tech and Miami Dolphins standout Zach Thomas.