Q&A With Iowa's Kirk Ferentz

Few schools produce more defensive linemen than Iowa, and the latest is Green Bay's Mike Daniels. Iowa's head coach, Kirk Ferentz, took a break from recruiting pitches to talk to Packer Report about Green Bay's fourth-round pick.

Packer Report talked to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz as part of a broader feature on fourth-round pick Mike Daniels for the magazine.

What kind of guy are the Packers getting in Mike?

Ferentz: Mike's a tremendous young guy, a high-energy player and a guy that's worked extremely hard to make himself into a good player. He was not a highly recruited player out of high school. We got on him late, actually. It was the January after a bowl game. We got back and his film was sitting on my desk. We looked at his film and were very intrigued with it. We snatched him away from Villanova. My question was, ‘Why weren't we recruiting this guy?' He's not tall, obviously, and at that time, he was wrestling at 215. We really liked what he did. He played running back and defensive tackle in high school at about 225. That's a little bit of an unusual combination.

How do you know that a 225-pound running back can become an NFL-caliber defensive tackle?

Ferentz: We didn't know. We project a little bit. We don't get a lot of first-round draft picks, to put it in professional terms. We get more middle-round guys that we have to project. Karl Klug, the guy playing down at Tennessee, it was the same thing. Karl was a running back that we thought could be a defensive end. We're looking for a guy that's athletic and a good, aggressive player, and whether they have the right personality for it. Mike did the rest. He really blossomed a couple springs ago in 2010. That's when he took a step forward.

Daniels had nine sacks as a senior facing obviously good competition. Is that the athleticism from playing running back?

Ferentz: I think Mike's a pretty athletic guy. Again, he's not a rebounder, but he's quick and explosive and just plays with a lot of energy. He might be blocked for a while but he's not going to stay blocked, unless the guy's really proficient at blocking. He's got some good skills. I read where Coach Capers talked about using him on sub downs, and I can see that. He can be a real effective matchup as an inside guy. I also think sometimes that guys not being really tall, that presents some problems for offensive linemen.

Obviously a silly question, but how much does it help a guy like Mike to face Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff and Adam Gettis in practice, never mind who he's facing in the games?

Ferentz: I think that he would tell you that he benefitted from that, just like Bulaga and Riley Reiff would tell you that they benefitted from going against (Adrian) Clayborn, and Clayborn felt the same about going against those guys. There's no question that makes for better players.

You've sent a lot of defensive linemen to the NFL — what, five in the last two years? Can you compare Mike to any of those guys?

Ferentz: He's probably a little bit like Mitch King (the 2008 Big Ten defensive player of the year who went undrafted in 2009) in that he has that ability to make big plays in the game. He's slippery and what-have-you. Karl was that same way. All three of them are different body types but they're similar in that they're all very disruptive. I'd like to tell you we coached it but some guys seem to have it a little bit more than others.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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