Iowa Success Related to the NFL Draft

When Iowa has had its most successful football teams, ensuing NFL Drafts have called numerous Hawkeyes at the podium. Just how many, and is there a direct correlation? If so, what does that mean for the future?

The 2007 NFL Draft has come and gone and three former Hawkeyes heard their names get called.

Marshal Yanda was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round, with Scott Chandler going to San Diego in the fourth round and Mike Elgin going to the New England Patriots in the seventh round. A few of their teammates will likely sign free agent contracts in the coming days.

These players were seniors this past season, a year that ended with a 6-7 record. They finished strong, providing great leadership in helping Coach Kirk Ferentz correct what needed to be righted last December and heading into the future.

Iowa had just two players drafted last season, in Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge. That makes a total of five in two years.

There is a school of thought that says the more players you have that get drafted, the more wins you probably had the previous year.

Before we go down that road, and it will be mostly for the sake of comparison and taking a look back at recent NFL Drafts related to Iowa, the main reason Iowa went 6-7 last year is because their turnover margin was among the worst in the nation.

You don't need to be a brain surgeon, there and I am stating the obvious.

Having said that, let's take a look back through the last 25 years or so of Iowa football to see if the number of players drafted coincides with sustained on field success.

We should mention that the NFL Draft in its present form has just seven rounds. In previous years, there were upwards of 15 rounds. So let's set the bar at players taken in the first seven rounds to be able to compare previous eras, which is surely not scientific in the first place.

1982: That 1981 team played in the Rose Bowl against Washington, and gave Iowa a share of its first Big Ten title in decades. Two seniors from that team were selected in the first seven rounds of the 1982 draft: Ron Hallstrom went in the first round (22nd overall pick) to the Green Bay Packers and Andre Tippett, a future Pro Bowler, went in the second round to New England.

Peaches n Cream in 1983: The Hawks went back to a solid bowl game the next year, their second consecutive 8-4 record, and three players went in the first eight rounds. Brett Miller went in the 5th round to Atlanta, future Pro Bowler Reggie Roby in the 6th round to Miami, and Mark Bortz went in the 8th round to Chicago.

1984: The Hawks went 9-3 during the 1983 season, and four Hawkeyes went in the first six rounds. John Alt was the 21st pick of the draft and went to Kansas City. Joel Hilgenberg went in the 4th round to Chicago, Norm Granger in the 5th to Dallas and Joe Levelis in the 6th to Dallas. Dave Mortiz went in the 10th round to San Francisco.

1985: Iowa went 8-4-1 in 1984, and four Hawkeyes were drafted in 1985. Owen Gill was a 2nd round pick to Seattle, Jonathon Hayes went in the 2nd round to KC, George Little went in the 3rd to Miami and Dave Strobel went in the 8th to Cincinnati.

1986: The Hawkeyes were rated #1 in the nation during the heart of the 1985 season and wound up with a then school record total of 10 wins. The 1986 draft was arguable the most Hawkeye friendly in school history, as three former Hawks were taken in the first round. Chuck Long was the 12th pick of the draft and he went to Detroit. Ronnie Harmon went to Buffalo with the 16th pick and Mike Haight went to the New York Jets at #22. Devon Mitchell went in the 4th round to Detroit and Larry Station went in the 11th round to Pittsburgh.

1987: The 1986 Iowa team won nine games and two players went in the 3rd round of the 1987 draft; Dave Croston to Green Bay and Chris Gambol to Indianapolis. Mark Vlasic went in the 4th round to KC and Jeff Drost went in the 8th round to Green Bay.

1988: The 1987 Hawkeyes won 10 games and had three players selected in the first five rounds. Quinn Early went in the 3rd round to San Diego, Kevin Harmon in the 4th to Seattle and Herb Wester in the 5th to Cincinnati. Joe Schuster went in the 10th to Philadelphia.

1989: The 1988 Hawkeyes began the year ranked #1 in the nation by Sport magazine, but injuries hammered this club, and they lost so many close games en route to a 6-4-3 record. Future Pro Bowler Marv Cook went in the 3rd round to New England, Bob Kratch went in the 3rd to the Giants and Joe Mott went in the third to the Jets. Chuck Hartlieb went in the 12th to Houston.

1991: The 1990 Iowa team won a share of the Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl. Nick Bell went in the 2nd round to Oakland and Merton Hanks in the 5th round to San Francisco. Michael Titley and the oft-injured Tony Stewart went in rounds 10 and 11.

1992: The 1991 Iowa team went 10-1 in the regular season and in the days before the BCS, that team played in the Holiday Bowl, where they tied the Ty Detmer-led BYU Cougars. Just one player from that team, Ron Geater, went in the first seven rounds…he went in the 7th to Denver. Mike Saunders (8th, Pittsburgh), Rob Baxley (11th, Phoenix) and Matt Rodgers (12th, Buffalo) were also drafted.

1993: The 1992 team fell of the pace and didn't make a bowl game, but there were still some players that contributed strongly to the success of the 1990 and 1991 teams and they heard their names get called. Mike Devlin went in the 5th round to Buffalo, Scott Davis in the 6th to the Giants and Danan Hughes in the 7th to KC.

The 1993 and 1994 teams combined to go just 11-11-1. Coincidentally, or perhaps not coincidentally, the 1994, 1995 and 1996 NFL Drafts included just one Iowa player in each.

1997: Iowa was back on the winning track with an 8-4 1996 season and a 9-3 1996 season. The 1997 NFL draft was Hawk heavy at the top; Tom Knight was the 9th overall pick of the draft to Arizona, and Ross Verba was a first round selection, going at #30 to Green Bay. Sedric Shaw went in the third round to New England and Damien Robinson went in the 4th round to Philly.

1998: Mike Goff went in the 3rd round to Cincy, Tavian Banks and Tim Dwight went in the 4th round (Jacksonville & Atlanta) and Kerry Cooks went in the 5th round.

Then in 1998 through the 2000 season, the Hawks fell on hard times again as far as wins and losses, going 3-8 in 1998, 1-10 in 1999 and 3-9 in 2000. Jared Devries went in the 3rd round in 1999 while Eric Thigpen went in the 6th. Austin Wheatley and Matt Bowen went in rounds 5 and 6 in 2000, while Kevin Kasper went in the 6th round in 2001.

2002: The Hawks were back into the bowl scene in 2001, and Ladell Betts went in the 2nd round to Washington. Aaron Kampman went in the 5th round to Green Bay and Kahlil Hill in the 6th to Atlanta.

2003: Following Iowa's break out 11-2 2002 season, the Hawks broke back into the NFL draft in a big way. Dallas Clark went in the 1st round to the Colts with the 24th pick. Eric Steinbach (Cincy) and Bruce Nelson (Carolina) went in the 2nd round, while Derek Pagel (Jets) and Ben Sobieski (Buffalo) went in the 6th round.

2004: The Hawks won 10 games in 2003, and five more Hawkeyes were drafted, including the #2 overall pick in Robert Gallery to the Oakland Raiders. Bob Sanders went in the 2nd round to the Colts, Nate Kaeding in the 3rd to San Diego, with Jared Class and Erik Jensen in the 7th to Tennessee and St Louis.

2005: Iowa went 10-2 in 2004, and five more Hawks heard their names called in the 2005 draft. Matt Roth (Miami) and Jonathon Babineaux (Atlanta) were second round selections. Sean Considine (Philly) went in the 4th, while Tony Jackson (Seattle) and Pete McMahon (Oakland) went in the 6th round.

2006: The Hawks finished 7-6 in 2005, and just two players were taken; Chad Greenway to Minnesota in round one and Abdul Hodge to the Packers in the 3rd round.

Which brings us to this year, a 6-7 record, and just one first day selection in Yanda, and Chandler in the 4th and Elgin in the 7th.

Should it be a surprise that the Iowa teams that have had the most on field success with regards to wins have produced more NFL caliber talent? No.

Again, it isn't always a lock, but it's interesting to see how that relationship is there.

The 2002 team had 11 future draft picks making significant contributions. The 2003 team had 10. The 9-3 1996 team had eight, as did the 1987 10-win Iowa team and the 1990 Rose Bowl Hawkeye squad. The 1985 Rose Bowl Iowa team had more than 10.

All of which begs the question; what current Hawkeyes have possible NFL futures, and will that total have a relationship to the success of those teams?

Here are some possibilities from this armchair draftnik, for the next two years:

Class of 2008: Albert Young, Damien Sims, Bryan Mattison, Ken Iwebema, Charles Godfrey, Adam Shada, Tom Busch, Mike Klinkenborg, Mike Humpal

Class of 2009: Tony Moeaki, Andy Brodell, Dace Richardson, Seth Olson, Mitch King, Shonn Greene (if he doesn't redshirt)

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