Even though we mentioned the possibility of three juniors to be potentially being in the 2010 draft, we will include them with their graduating class for today's article.
POSSIBLE 2011 DRAFT CLASS
If he doesn't leave after the 2009 season and as long as he stays healthy, you can start clearing space for Bryan Bulaga's NFL jersey in the Iowa football complex. This kid looked the part as a senior in high school. I was on the sidelines for the 2007 spring game, and I saw a mountain of a person walk by, and their face was real, real familiar. I was thinking to myself, ‘Now, which former Iowa lineman is that? I can't seem to put a name with his face.' Unlike some of you, I don't study the recruiting pictures to the point where I would recognize one of them on the pedmall, so it got past me. That person was Bryan Bulaga, and I was floored when I realized that, having seen his name tag. Physically mature from the word go.
Amari Spievey will also be on an NFL roster, barring injury. I love watching him play, and he is going to be as lonely as the Maytag repairman this coming year and the next. That will create a great opportunity for the cornerback that wins the job on the opposite side of the field, as he will get plenty of chances to show what he is made of. Spievey's excellence might make a career for someone else, too.
Adrian Clayborn is another Hawkeye that will earn a paycheck in the NFL, and as I said yesterday, I think he is poised for a big season this coming year. He is also someone that figures to be a good fit in a 3-4 defensive scheme, because of his speed, agility and size as a defensive end. The same can be said of the other Iowa bookend, Christian Ballard, who has the same speed and agility with the size of a normal interior lineman at the University of Iowa. I think his skill set could work favorably in a 3-4 alignment, too. Come to think of it, I would not be surprised to see Iowa utilize the 3-4 more often in 2009 than they have in the past few years, due to that size at end, and also their depth at linebacker and the coverage depth they have in the secondary. Norm Parker has more in his 2009 bag of tricks than he ever has…
There are four names from the ‘Class of 2011' that you can pretty much put down in pen with regards to getting drafted. Five players in one draft is the high water mark of the Ferentz era, so will this class have more?
Derrell-Johnson Koulianos has the athletic ability, the speed and the strength. But clearly he has not been sending the right signals to the coaching staff this offseason to be listed down the depth chart the way that he was. He could easily leave Iowa as its most decorated receiver from a record book standpoint, as he has all of the tools. If this spring serves as a ‘wake up call' for him, and I think it will, he could play his way into an NFL career.
Julian Vandervelde will probably leave the University as a three year starter, and with Iowa's reputation for producing quality offensive linemen, it's not a stretch to think the he will get his named called in one of the seven rounds in 2011.
Iowa has a great legacy of getting tight ends into the NFL, too, and Allen Reisner, after he fills out a little bit more, could have a shot at ‘the league'. He has great hands and with the NFL offenses moving closer and closer to whatever their version of the spread is going to be, Reisner could be utilized in a similar fashion to that of Dallas Clark in Indianapolis. He has work to do, but he has the potential.
Quarterback Rick Stanzi needs to have two very good years as a starter, and he is capable of doing that. If he does, he will likely get a shot to make an NFL roster, because pro-style quarterbacks are going to carry a value in the NFL. That league is never going to go all spread, or it will not have done that by the time Stanzi is done with his Iowa career. And again, I think the 3-4 defense is going to put a dent into spread looks, and that alignment is going to filter down to the college ranks as a countermeasure to the spread.
Daniel Murray has a long way to go, but he has a) time and b) talent. Ryan Donahue appears to have a future of punting in the NFL, and he will be a member of the 2011 draft class. I never put kickers or punters in the lock category, unless they are Nate Kaeding-like. I would bet that most Iowa fans had Kyle Schlicher ticketed to the NFL after his sophomore campaign where he was 21-26 on field goals. Injuries set him back and kept him from that dream.
Karl Klug has a Mitch King-like motor, but is just 258 pounds as of this spring's roster. He can add more weight, but if the league keeps moving to the 3-4, players like him are going to get squeezed out of NFL thinking. The evidence? Mitch King went undrafted this year and he might be the best interior lineman of the Ferentz era.
It's too early to know about Cody Hundertmark, but he has enough lead in the trunk at a youngish age. Jacody Coleman & Jeremiah Hunter have time to show what they are capable of, as does Jeff Tarpinian and Jordan Bernstine.
When you go down this list of defensive players, it's easy to see why Norm Parker is pretty excited about the 2009 season…and we haven't even touched on the sophomores.
POSSIBLE 2012 DRAFT CLASS
This list is mostly about players that have flashed and shown some ability, and have been on the field, or players that have been mentioned by the coaching staff.
Adam Gettis has been getting a lot of pub in recent weeks, especially when Ken O'Keefe threw his name out two weeks ago as the player on offense that has been the biggest surprise. Tight end Brad Herman is 6-5, 242 pounds and played as a true freshman. There was some debate on whether or not he would stay at linebacker or move to tight end. Sound familiar, Hawkeye fans? While its far too early to speculate on his NFL worth, he is at a great position historically for Iowa players to the NFL and he has good size and agility.
Receiver Marvin McNutt has impressed enough people in Iowa City to move to the top of the receiver depth chart in his first spring at the position. Now, spring depth charts aren't worth a whole heck of a lot, but he is 6-4/215 and he is a great athlete. He had several offers to play college hoops (Hey Kirk, can you do a time share with Coach Lick?). So he at least has a foundation to build upon here.
Running back Jewell Hampton had a solid freshman season and if he can stay healthy, he has a shot to put his name into the Iowa record books. I know, slow down a bit, and I agree. But the talent is there, and time is on his side. He will certainly be a proven commodity once it's all said and done.
Broderick Binns has shown a lot of flash, and he was basically splitting time with Christian Ballard over the second half of last year. He has NFL potential, as does cornerback Shaun Prater, whom some in Iowa City believe came to town with the best coverage skills of any incoming Iowa DB in the Ferentz era. Tyler Sash showed a knack to be around the ball last year and he has two years to improve his skills.
While many names on this list fall into the potential category, I believe it spells out one thing very clearly; there is a lot of talent in this Iowa football program right now, and more coming in that will dot the 2009 roster. It's too early to say for sure, but there might be as much raw talent in the program right now than we have seen since that 2001 Iowa team, when you factor in all five classes and view it through the perspective of hindsight.