IOWA CITY, Iowa - In addition to bowl preparations, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz will be conducting NFL Draft research this month. It's a part of his job that doesn't get a lot of attention but is very important.
Three Hawkeye juniors - Bryan Bulaga, Adrian Clayborn and Amari Spievey - appear to be looking into their prospects of going pro after the season. Ferentz and his staff will compile information to help them make the best decision.
Ferentz only has spoken to Bulaga, but he will be meet with all three guys in the next week or two.
"(Bulaga) was inquiring about the paper work," Ferentz said. "I'll encourage all of them to fill the paper work out. It's like anything. It's like before you get your driver's permit. You're curious about it and all of that stuff. I'm good on that.
"I'll try to touch base with them here in the next week and a half, certainly, all three of the guys. And then it's going to be a process of getting them on the phone with people who really know what the board looks like."
Ferentz coached in the NFL and still has many friends in the league. He will put those people in touch with his players.
"There will be several (NFL personnel people that Ferentz contacts)," the coach said. "I think it's going to be important that they hear it from several different people just so they don't think there's any collusion going on. I'll let them have a choice, too.
"There will be a couple of names I'll let them choose from. I think it's probably good to get a couple of opinions. I'll do some of that work here in the next couple of weeks, too."
Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award last season as a Hawkeye and then entered the draft with a year of college eligibility remaining. NFL standout Dallas Clark exited after the 2002 season and Fred Russell split after ‘03.
Those individuals were in different positions than are the current Iowa underclassmen considering the NFL. Greene, Clark and Russell all were further along in their careers and lives. Greene missed a year due to academics, Clark walked on and changed positions, and Russell spent a year at prep school.
This year is the first one where the Iowa coaches have been faced with three younger guys considering an early exit. Bulaga, 20, is a true junior. Clayborn and Spievey, both 21, are redshirt juniors.
They are accomplished, however. Bulaga is the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the year and all three guys are first-team all-Big Ten players for the coaches and media.
The Internet is littered with NFL Draft sites ranking college players for the April selection. They generate hits. They may not be accurate, however.
"I don't know what's on the dot coms so I couldn't tell you," Ferentz said. "The only thing I've read is what I've seen in papers because I don't read those (Internet sites). Nobody is throwing any of that stuff on my desk.
"But I think they're a little bit off right now, yeah. The (NFL) scouts have pretty much just made their rounds. Very few of them will be out the next couple of weeks. They may stop at a bowl practice or something like that. But I think most of the evaluations now have been done until the end of the season. Typically, most of those teams are meeting right now to pull that stuff together. So until everybody gets together, it's really hard to say what that board looks like."
Among the plethora of NFL Draft web sites, ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranks Bulaga as the 25th best player on the board. That's the first round for the offensive tackle and a lot of guaranteed money.
Projections for Clayborn and Spievey range from the second round to the end of the draft. CBS Sportsline ranks Clayborn, a defensive end, as the 13th best at his position and has him as a fourth or fifth rounder. CBS does not list Spievey, a cornerback, as one of its prospects.
Greene kept reporters in the dark last year, not announcing his intentions until after the bowl game. Ferentz has asked this year's prospects not to talk to the media about the NFL.
The coach and his staff gathered information for Greene, but Ferentz admitted that it's an inexact science. The Jets selected Greene with the first pick of the third round. He was projected to go anywhere from the end of the first to the middle rounds prior to the draft process.
"That was a tough one.," he said of projecting Greene's draft position. "That altered a little bit. There were some concerns; some body part concerns. And every team looks at things differently. That's the wild card here. You can get a general idea of where a guy is going to go. But how the guys come off the board that day (of the draft) is significant.
"Dallas (Clark) is a good illustration. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Dallas could have fallen to 40-60, too. And that's a unique position. But it hit perfectly for him."
The Indianapolis Colts chose Clark in the first round, the 24th selection overall of the 2003 draft. He's been one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets and helped his team to a Super Bowl title in ‘06.