Despite modest results on the field the last two years, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the top programs when the NFL Draft nears.
Iowa has had 18 draft picks the past three years — more than any other program besides Alabama (20) and USC (19).
And only Iowa and Alabama have produced a first-round pick in each of the past three years.
“Our coaches, I think, do a really good job of developing the guys on the field,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said this spring. “That was one of our building blocks when we started out here 13 years ago. That was something we really felt we had to try to maximize.”
Iowa takes pride in developing players and might do it as well as anyone in the country.
But draft day in 2013 might be the quietest since 2001, when Kevin Kasper was the only Hawkeye taken … in the sixth round.
NFLDraftScout.com lists five Hawkeye seniors, but only one projected to be selected — senior cornerback Micah Hyde in the fifth round of the seven-round draft.
The NFL.com draft tracker only lists just two Hawkeye players — Hyde with a 71.7 grade, and senior receiver Keenan Davis at 60.0.
Certainly senior center James Ferentz and senior lineman Matt Tobin could see their stock go up. Iowa has had five offensive lineman drafted the last three years.
But even if Iowa manages to sneak some players into the late rounds, one thing is clear — producing NFL draft picks hasn’t translated to wins and losses.
Iowa went 8-5 in 2010 and 7-6 last season but hung with Alabama and USC on draft day.
All three programs do share an NFL mentality. Alabama’s Nick Saban and USC’s Lane Kiffin were both NFL coaches. Ferentz was an assistant coach before taking over the Hawkeyes.
Ferentz said this week Iowa was “not necessarily” run off an NFL model.
“But we’re probably closer in that direction,” Ferentz said. “We do use tight ends and fullbacks at times if we have them, whereas some teams just don’t do that.
“You’ve got to kind of go down one path, I think, for the most part and stay with it.”
Some Hawkeye fans look longingly west, where Chip Kelly has Oregon undefeated and playing a wide-open and aggressive style.
But Iowa and Ferentz can’t unmake itself like that.
“It’s not like you can put one hat on and take if off and put another hat on,” Ferentz said. “If you do that, I think it’s really hard to sustain anything at that point.
“It doesn’t mean you don’t do something at some given point.”
Ferentz reiterated that the two teams in the Big Ten Championship game last year — Michigan State and Wisconsin — look a lot like the Hawkeyes.
And Alabama has done OK against most of those new shifty and shiny offenses.
“There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat, a lot of different ways to be successful,” Ferentz said. “It’s really about what you think is going to best serve your team and program.”
Iowa (4-6) is likely to remain a strong developmental program. And this spring, the number of Hawkeyes drafted might once again reflect the record from the fall.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football