They’re rivals, one who played at Iowa and the other at Iowa State. They were quarterback protectors, left tackles who prevented muscle-bound, head-hunting defenders from blind-siding their leaders.
Thursday night, they’ll be glued to the television, possibly partners in a state of Iowa first:
Two first-round selections — in the same NFL draft.
Riley Reiff is expected to be the Hawkeyes’ 19th first-round pick, and sixth under coach Kirk Ferentz, during the televised first day that starts at 7 p.m.
Some draft experts think Cyclone Kelechi Osemele also has a chance to be among the first 32 players selected during the seven-round, three-day process.
If that’s the case, then he joins George Amundson in 1973 as the only Cyclones to be first-round picks.
“Kelechi Osemele – I’m going to have to learn his name. . .how to pronounce it exactly,” Todd McShay of ESPN said during a recent teleconference.
Reiff will be the Hawkeyes’ third consecutive first-rounder when selected Thursday night, following defensive end Adrian Clayborn last year and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga in 2010.
“This is a guy that gets after you,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “He’s got a rugged approach.”
Reiff plans to watch the draft with family at his home in Parkston, S.D. Osemele will partake from the family home in Houston, Texas.
“I’m probably going to be a little nervous, but it’s going to be more like an anxious nervous,” Osemele said. “I’m going to be anxious about seeing what city I’ll be in, and what the playbook looks like.”
Other players from the state’s largest schools will be selected, but Reiff and Osemele will be the headliners.
“He’s got a shot to be a top 15 guy,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s really hard to predict, but the good news is it looks like it’s not the deepest pool of offensive tackles, so maybe a team or two will get antsy.”
Reiff left Iowa after his junior season.
“I fully understand why he chose to go out,” Ferentz said. “It looks like a real smart decision at this point.”
Osemele played until his Iowa State eligibility expired. “I came back to help the team win, and I had some things I wanted to work on,” he said. “I don’t have any regrets. “I got better.”
RILEY REIFF, IOWA
Position: Left Tackle
Height / Weight: 6-6, 300
From: Parkston. S.D.
Projection: Top 15 pick
Comment: “He’s deserving of being a Top 10 pick,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., said. “He could get down to Arizona at 13. He’ll be in the discussion for Buffalo at 10, but he’s certainly off the board by pick 13.”
OTHER HAWKEYES TO WATCH
Predicted round: Third
ESPN Comment: “Flashes savvy with routes. Big hands provide him with the ability to make one-handed catches. Not a burner, but has enough top end speed to occasionally get behind coverage.”
Position: Defensive tackle
Predicted round: Third
ESPN Comment: “Plays with chip on shoulder and emotions on sleeve. Relentless pass rusher who fights through double- and triple teams. Has ability to make plays outside the tackle box. Tends to wear down late in games.”
Predicted round: Third-Fourth
ESPN Comment: Effective hand-fighter. Gives too much ground at times. Never going to be a mauler. . .but has an ability to move bigger defensive tackles off the ball.”
Predicted round: Fourth-Fifth
ESPN Comment: “Clocked above-average 4.48 in pro day. He gets quick jump on the ball, and displays the ability to mirror receivers when in press coverage. Lack of size and strength can cause him to struggle against bigger, more physical receivers.”
Position: Offensive tackle
Predicted round: Fifth-Sixth
ESPN Comment: “Not a trained killer, but plays with adequate toughness. Quick feet, and flashes a powerful initial punch. Struggles to drive defenders off the line, and unlikely to contribute if core strength does not improve, but has the potential to develop into a starter if it does.”
Predicted round: Late rounds
ESPN Comment: “Speed enables him to make plays in the run game. Picks up on runs plays quickly.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football