In recent years, several former members of the Iowa football program have performed well at the combine, so much so that players that travel to Indianapolis from the University of Iowa are starting to turn heads before they step onto the field at the RCA Dome, where the event takes place.
"Many NFL scouts and personnel men believe that Iowa is one of the top 10 schools in the entire country as far as coaching talent that was not recruited as being upper echelon players," said Lane Adkins, NFL expert for The Insiders network at www.nfldraft.theinsiders.com
"Iowa is able to take guys that come into their program that might be undersized as far as body development and work them into football players."
Players that fit that mold are Matt Bowen, Derek Pagel, Dallas Clark, Bruce Nelson, Robert Gallery and several other players who were lightly regarded as high school seniors but after spending four or five years at Iowa, they worked themselves into the NFL.
"Iowa's workout regiment is great, and the names that you mentioned are examples of that, including Gallery this year. That is a testament to just how good this Iowa program really is." Adkins said.
Iowa's reputation as a ‘football factory' in the eyes of many NFL scouts and experts, combined with the impeccable reputation of the Hawkeye coaching staff and strength and conditioning program, is actually giving players who come to the combine with ‘Iowa' associated with their name a bit of advantage, Adkins feels.
"Sure it does. It's something that sticks in the back of your head. Many of the teams and scouts have a very good relationship with the guys at Iowa, so that is a bonus."
"Just knowing that the majority of the kids and the talent that has come out of that school, they are in very good physical condition and they are well coached; so when you have a team that is weighing their options, many times it will fall to the Iowa guy because he has been in their program and has had the great coaching."
Another aspect that is helping Iowa's football players get a leg up on the competition of being drafted is how the Iowa coaching staff and athletic department has embraced the NFL community during the course of the evaluation process.
"They are very accommodating, very cordial and willing to take the time to teach their kids about this side of their football careers." Adkins said. "What we end up finding out in the long run, is that the Iowa coaching staff and the athletic department are very solid, very thorough and very knowledgeable; and if a scout has questions concerning any Iowa kid or is looking for a piece of film, they have it and they are more than willing to share it with you."
Not all players who set foot on the college football gridiron will have NFL careers. In fact, the overwhelming majority of them will not.
In the end, there is very little that separates some of the players who get drafted and the ones that don't make the final cut.
Right now, the NFL feels that the University of Iowa football program is providing that ‘extra' edge, as has been evidenced on recent draft days and will likely be the case again this year.
The most Iowa players taken in one NFL draft in the top seven rounds, which is how many rounds the NFL currently uses, is five, and that happened last year.
Three of those players: Clark, Nelson and Pagel, were former walkons, and it's believe that the 2003 NFL draft was the first draft in history where three former walkons from the same football program were selected.
Iowa has had seven players drafted in the first seven rounds in back to back draft's one two other occasions: 1986-86 and 1986-87.
At the conclusion of this year's NFL draft, that two-year number will likely be eclipsed.
Robert Gallery seems like a lock to be taken with one of the top five overall picks, making him the highest Hawkeye draft pick since Randy Duncan went #1 overall in 1959 to the Green Bay Packers.
At the least, Iowa is looking to add four more players to the draft, which would give them a total of nine players selected over the past two years, including at least seven in the top five rounds, if not more.