For the second year in a row, five members of the Iowa Hawkeye football program heard their names called during the NFL draft.
Here is where the Hawkeyes were selected (Round/Overall Selection/Team):
Robert Gallery: R1/#2/Oakland
Bob Sanders: R2/#44/Indianapolis
Nate Kaeding: R3/#65/San Diego
Jared Clauss: R7/230/Tennessee
Erik Jensen: R7/237/St. Louis
Prior to last year's NFL draft, there had never been five Hawkeyes selected in the first seven rounds of the draft prior to the AFL/NFL merger. That was before Dallas Clark, Eric Steinbach, Bruce Nelson, Derek Pagel and Ben Sobieski were all taken in the first five rounds of the draft. Each of those players made the 53-man roster of the team that drafted them.
Having said that, the number of players that Iowa has had selected the past two years (10) is unprecedented, even when you factor in the total number of players drafted in all rounds in back to back drafts since the AFL/NFL merger.
The previous post-merger high over two consecutive drafts was nine, and that happened three times: 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 and 1986-1987. In all, 18 players were selected over a four-season span during the heart of the Hayden Fry era at Iowa.
Iowa went 36-12-1 between 1983-1986, the seasons before those drafts. That is a winning percentage of .735. The best three-year total during those years was 13 players drafted in all rounds.
Of those 18 players selected over four years, 14 of them went in the first seven rounds, now the maximum number of rounds the NFL has for its draft.
Iowa has seen 13 players drafted over the course of the past three NFL drafts, equaling the best three-year total during the Fry era. Iowa is 28-10 over the past three years, for a winning percentage of .737.
While the number of players drafted does not always equal success on the college gridiron, the winning percentage during the golden era under Hayden Fry and what we have witnessed at Iowa over the last three years are nearly identical.
Back to this year's NFL draft…
While Gallery going at #2 to Oakland was no surprise, Bob Sanders going to Indianapolis where he did was a bit of a surprise. Many experts pegged Sanders to go in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, but not to Indianapolis. Just last year, the Colts drafted strong safety Mike Doss and he was their starter.
Colts head coach Tony Dungee said on Saturday that Sanders would be used at free safety, allowing the Colts starting FS from 2004 to move back to corner, and teaming Sanders in the same defensive backfield with the hard-hitting Doss.
Nate Kaeding was the 2nd pick of the third round, which was not necessarily a surprise, nor was San Diego selecting him a surprise.
When the Chargers traded the draft rights of their first pick of the draft, Eli Manning, to the New York Giants for the draft rights to Phillip Rivers and the Giants 3rd round pick of the 2004 draft, it meant that Kansas City was likely going to have to select Kaeding in the 2nd round if they wanted him. The Chiefs DID want Kaeding, but they selected a tight end with the 61st pick of the draft.
The Chargers then selected Kaeding with the 65th pick of the draft, which was the pick they got in the aforementioned trade. They also had the 66th pick of the draft.
On day two of the draft, no Hawkeye heard his named called until the end of the day, when Clauss was selected by the Tennessee Titans. Then a few picks later, Erik Jensen went to St. Louis.
Jensen performed quite well at Iowa's pro day back on March 8th and showed his athletic ability, his pass catching strengths and his speed while in the bubble in Iowa City.
As of late Sunday night/early Monday morning, here is an unofficial list of free agent deals for several former Hawkeyes, as was reported by KWWL Television:
Sam Aiello - Chicago Bears
Nathan Chandler - Buffalo Bills
Edgar Cervantes - New York Giants
Howard Hodges - San Diego Chargers
Eric Rothwell - Kansas City Chiefs
Fred Russell - Miami Dolphins
Grant Steen - New England Patriots
KWWL also reported that one-time Hawkeye and former UNI Panther Benny Sapp had signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
At the time of this writing (12:30am on Monday morning), there was no official or unofficial word regarding the free agent status of Mo Brown.
While it was not necessarily surprising that Brown did not get drafted, given the injury riddled season he endured in 2003 at Iowa, Fred Russell's omission was a bit of a surprise, considering how well he performed at the Senior Bowl and during the NFL combine.
Iowa will hold it's annual post NFL Draft press conference tomorrow in Iowa City.
2005 NFL Draft Candidates from Iowa:
We feel that at least four of those players are near locks to be drafted, if not five, barring injury.
But it would appear that Iowa is set for its best ever four year draft haul of players selected in the first seven rounds, regardless of what Hodge or Greenway might or might not do.