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Stanzi appears set to break Iowa drought

[ 1 ] April 27, 2011 |

The list includes 204 names from 106 schools, and most of college football’s brand-name programs are represented.

USC and Michigan have sent seven quarterbacks through the NFL draft since 1993. Oregon (six) and Tennessee, Georgia and LSU (five each) are all near the top of the list. And even schools such as C.W. Post, Trinity International, Northwest Missouri State, Northern Arizona and Harvard have produced an NFL quarterback in the last 18 drafts.

But you won’t find Iowa on that list. To find Iowa’s last quarterback in the draft, you have to go back to the 12th round in 1992 when the Buffalo Bills used the second-to-last pick to select Matt Rodgers.

The Hawkeyes have put their stamp on the draft in recent years — Iowa’s 33 players selected since 2003 are one more than Alabama — just not in the passing game.

In the last eight years, the Hawkeyes have had 10 offensive linemen drafted, along with six tight ends, six defensive backs, five linebackers and four defensive linemen.

Iowa is expected to add to most of those figures this week and Ricky Stanzi is expected to become the school’s first quarterback to hear his name called since Rodgers.

“If you need a quarterback, a long-term answer, I think later in the second, early in the third round is where you’ll see Ricky Stanzi come off the board,” said Wes Bunting, the director of college scouting for the National Football Post. “He’s got moxie, he’s a senior leader who’s won a lot of big football games, he’s had that rollercoaster ride and he’s handled it extremely well, and as a senior, he significantly improved himself.”

Stanzi posted career highs in passing yards (3,004), touchdowns (25), pass efficiency rating (157.6) and completion percentage (64.1) in 2010. He cut his interception count from 15 in 2009 to six as a senior.

Former Iowa and NFL safety Matt Bowen, who writes for the National Football Post, watched Stanzi throughout his career with the Hawkeyes and got an up-close look at him in January at the Senior Bowl. Bowen said scouts at the all-star game were talking about Stanzi’s work habits, track record for winning games and statistical improvement in Iowa’s pro style offense.

“That’s one of the major draws to Ricky — the offense he played in,” Bowen said. “It’s not this spread, gimmick offense. He’s a guy who can come in first day of camp, hand him the playbook and you can expect him to understand it, understand the mechanics, the footwork and the route progressions.”

Bowen has an interesting perspective on another Iowa draft prospect. Like Bowen, Tyler Sash played strong safety for the Hawkeyes.

“Tyler’s in a lot better spot than I was when I came out for the draft,” said Bowen, who was selected in the sixth round in 2000, one pick before the New England Patriots drafted Tom Brady. “He’s a better playmaker, he’s around the football a lot more, and the thing about this year especially, it’s not a very good safety class top to bottom.”

Sash, who skipped his senior season to enter the draft, is ranked as the fourth-best strong safety prospect and the No. 160 player overall by the National Football Post. Bunting said he has questions about Sash’s athleticism and consistency as a tackler but likes his instincts and thinks he will get picked in the fourth or fifth round.

Bowen said he thinks Sash could fit in well in places such as Minnesota, Indianapolis, Cleveland and other franchises that employ a Cover-2 scheme.

“I think his biggest asset is playing around the line of scrimmage and being around the football,” Bowen said. “When you play three years of Big Ten football and you have 13 interceptions, that’s a lot for a safety, it really is. He’s around the football, and that’s what they’re going to go off because Tyler didn’t run a 4.4, and that’s fine. I talked to a DB coach the other day who said, ‘I don’t care what the stopwatch says, I want to see if they’re tough, if they’re instinctive and if they’re around the football.’ I think that describes Tyler.”

Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7370 or ahamilton@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andy Hamilton: University of Iowa graduate Andy Hamilton is originally from Williams, Iowa, and started at the Des Moines Register in August after 12 years at the Press-Citizen. He covers wrestling for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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