The Shadow Knows Player Development

My Dark Friend has returned from Naples, Florida, where he stayed for a few days to rest after the Orange Bowl festivities. He has some thoughts to share about next season, spring ball and the NFL draft.

1. How much did Brad Banks hurt his NFL chances with his dismal performance against USC? Lets just say it certainly did not help. While Banks entered the game with many telling him he could move up to the second round, he was most likely to be selected in the third or fourth rounds. Now he has now moved down the charts. After speaking to one source, it appears Brad may now be looking at the sixth or seventh round before hearing his name called.

2. The first Hawkeye to be selected in the draft would be TE Dallas Clark if he elected to go pro. Many believe, for his sake, he would be unwise not to enter the draft. At twenty four years old and considered the top tight end in the game, what much more does he have to accomplish? Well, remember for one thing that he is still only around 245 pounds, and many scouts have desired to see how well he plays at 255/260. Kellen Winslow is likely to take over all honors next season, but Dallas still has room to improve that could make both Winslow and he become the first two tight ends to be selected in the first twenty picks.

3. Eric Steinbach is emerging as a very likely first day selection with even some saying late first round. Eric is not the most flashy lineman, and he does need to improve his strength. However, he is a sure-fire out on the field and always gets the job done. Depending on Clark, he would be the next candidate to the be the first Hawkeye selected in the draft.

4. One Hawkeye who is making a move up the draft ladder is DT Colin Cole. Besides Bruce Nelson, he is probably the next Hawkeye to receive the highest praise from the Hawkeye coaches. His mental toughness may be his best attribute. Depending on his performances and work-outs in the post-season games, he could be joining Bruce Nelson as a third or fourth round selection.

5. After the ugly defeat to the Trojans, many writers around the country have now stated there is no hope for Iowa next season. Once again it is very likely that you will see Iowa picked up among the bottom teams of the Big Ten. That will be in spite of Iowa bolstering a legit four pre-season All-America candidates in LT Robert Gallery, TE Dallas Clark, DE Matt Roth, and K Nate Kaeding. Also, do not forgot the best running back tandem with Fred Russell, Jermelle Lewis, and Ray Perkins. Ray will also be a force on special teams. Two other Hawkeyes The Shadow says will make a bigger name for themselves next season are LB Abdul Hodge and CB Jovon Johnson.

6. The staff was hurt with the Corey Reddick situation. They viewed him as the best cover corner they had seen on tape the whole fall regardless of high school or JUCO status. While his size likely would have kept him from being an every down cornerback, he would have given them a third cover corner to throw in nickel and dime packages. They also believed he would have gone a long way in tutoring Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson. Now the staff will pick up the pace with Richey Williams this spring as he will figure in as the #3 cornerback. Adolphus Shelton and Miguel Merrick will both be fighting at cornerback as well, but one could make the move to free safety.

7. Going back to RB Ray Perkins, he has been one of the best kept secrets among Hawk fans this fall. While he has not gathered much discussion, he has quickly developed a presence out on the field. Jermelle Lewis has continued to struggle a bit in the Hawks spread offense due to the lack of explosiveness in hitting holes. The staff hopes to overcome that factor this spring as they believe he tries to read too much instead of relying on instinctive decisions. Perkins, on the other hand, has shown great ability coming from eight or nine yards back and is considered a Fred Russell like back with more size. Ray also has shown the potential to be All Big Ten as a special teams performer next fall. Some believe Ray could even make a push for the #2 spot on the depth chart. Hopefully, that sort of mention will trigger Jermelle Lewis to step up his performance.

8. HTO.com's own Josh Clark made a call three years ago into the offices of the Hawkeye coaching staff. That call was made to inform them that two very good Iowa lineman inquired into walking on at Iowa. Those lineman happened to be Sioux City North OL Jake Bowers and Dubuque Walhert OL Pete McMahon. While some off the field problems have slowed Bowers, McMahon is quickly emerging as a candidate to be the starting right tackle. Coming out of Dubuque Walhert at 6'7 300, many envisioned the potential Pete carried if the staff would work with him. He may very well be the next walk-on success story for Coach Ferentz. The next Bruce Nelson or Dallas Clark, so to speak. The staff now is conversing on possibly moving Sam Aiello back inside. It also should be noted that both McMahon and fellow junior Sean Considine could be starters making it two years in a row that at least two former walk-ons earned starting spots.

9. What will take place at wide receiver next fall? Many urged that the Hawks needed to upgrade the speed after viewing the gazelles of USC. Maurice Brown will enter spring as the Hawks top receiving target. The Hawks will also be looking for Clint Solomon to really emerge with some added size. While Ed Hinkel is still a posibility at free safety, he will also be looked upon to step up with added size. Ramon Ochoa is likely to receive some time next fall, as well, with his experience and ability to get open. He is a tough possession wide receiver the Hawks can use over the middle to help spread the field more for Brown and Solomon. Also, do not be surprised to see more backs out in the slot with playing time being spread among Russell, Lewis, and Perkins.

10. I saved the best question for last. Who will be Iowa's starting quarterback in 2003? Your answer: Nathan Chandler. The staff will always stress loyalty to those whom work hard, and they expect to see that from Chandler this spring. There has been some concern with his leadership abilities this fall as he didn't always carry himself as being serious. That is much like Banks last year with how quiet he was last year. Now they hope to hear Chandler step up vocally as much as Banks did last spring. However, do not expect Chandler to be in every single series like Banks was this fall. You can bet your horses, discounting injuries or off the field problems, that Jason Manson will play in at least one series of every game next fall in helping to build his future as Iowa's starting quarterback.


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