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Time for McNutt to make mark on NFL

[ 3 ] April 25, 2012 |

Name the school receiving record and chances are that Marvin McNutt broke it during his career with the Iowa football team.

And he did so despite coming to college as a quarterback and staying behind center until midway through his redshirt freshman season when he switched to receiver.

But now it’s on to the NFL, where what you did in the past doesn’t mean nearly as much as what NFL executives think you can do for them in the future.

McNutt is expected to become the first Iowa receiver selected in the NFL draft since Kahlil Hill was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round in 2002.

But McNutt might have to wait a while to hear his name called with most draft prognosticators projecting him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

The NFL draft will start today and will cover seven rounds over three days.

McNutt, who couldn’t be reached for comment, passes the eyeball test with regard to his size (6-foot-3, 216-pound) and his productivity, but his speed is a concern at the NFL level. He improved his speed after switching to receiver at Iowa, but the concern is that McNutt lacks the extra gear that’s needed to stretch NFL defenses and that’s needed to go in the early rounds.

“He’s a big, physical guy; he can win in jump ball situations,” said Wes Bunting, who is director of college scouting for the National Football Post. “He has good feel for coverage. But he doesn’t have a ton of explosion in and out of the sharply breaking routes. He’s not a big time vertical threat, but he adjusts and go gets the football.”

McNutt’s senior season last fall became a week-by-week assault on the school record books and ended with him sitting as Iowa’s career leader in receiving yards (2,831), single-season receiving yards (1,315) and touchdown receptions (28). He also tied Iowa’s single-season record for receptions with 82 last season, 12 of which resulted in touchdowns.

The St. Louis native also showed a knack for making big plays at pivotal times as an Iowa receiver. McNutt’s touchdown reception on the final play of a 15-13 victory at Michigan State in 2009 helped propel Iowa to an 11-2 season.

He also scored Iowa’s first touchdown in the 24-14 victory over Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl on a 4-yard catch in the first quarter.

But this year’s NFL draft is loaded with big-play receivers with big-time productivity, most notably Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.

That’s another reason McNutt could fall to later rounds because receiver is considered one of the deepest positions in this year’s draft.

“Marvin had a fantastic career with us,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Nobody has been more productive and made more big plays, but a lot of the draft is based on who’s available, what’s out there.

“The bottom line is the one thing I tell all those guys is it really doesn’t matter how you get to where you get. There are financial ramifications, obviously, but the most important thing is what they do when they get there and if they take advantage of that opportunity.”

The last time an Iowa receiver was taken before the sixth round in the NFL draft was when the Atlanta Falcons selected Tim Dwight in the fourth round in 1998. However, Dwight had added value with him also being an all-America return specialist at Iowa.

Dwight went on to play nine seasons in the NFL and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl as a rookie.

Dwight also switched to receiver as a sophomore at Iowa after coming to college as a running back.

McNutt now hopes to make his position switch pay off in the NFL.

“I think he’s got his best football ahead of him,” Ferentz said of McNutt. “He’s kind of, not an infant at the position, but he still has room for development.”

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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