New York Jets ink Shonn Greene

June 15, 2009
Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene signed a contract today with the New York Jets, the team announced today. The Jets drafted Greene with the first pick in the third round in April’s NFL draft.

Terms were not disclosed. Here’s the story from the Jets’ Web site: http://www.newyorkjets.com/news/articles/show/3023-jets-third-rounder-greene-reach-agreement


King had 20 teams interested

May 3, 2009

Former Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King picked Tennessee over about 20 other teams because he likes Nashville and the team’s coaching philosophy, according to the Tennessean.

King was surprisingly not drafted last weekend, but there were a flood of calls to him and his agent, Richard Rosa, after the draft.

In other news about former Hawkeyes:

Center Rob Bruggeman was one of eight rookie free agents signed by Tampa Bay, but one of 52 players hitting the field for rookie mini-camp.

Here’s more on wide receiver Andy Brodell, who failed his physical before Packers’ mini-camp on Friday.

Running back Shonn Greene shows his strength — and weaknesses in Jets’ mini-camp. Defensive tackle Matt Kroul also is at the Jets’ mini-camp.

A St. Louis Rams blog discusses cornerback Bradley Fletcher’s chances of improving the porous Rams defense.

Tight end Brandon Myers is seen as strictly as a blocking tight end in Oakland.

Here’s more analysis on guard Seth Olsen.


Draft notes: Ex-Hawk DeVries on Stafford; NFL Network’s Mayock on Shonn Greene

April 29, 2009
Detroit's Jared DeVries (95) tips Chicago Bears kicker Paul Edinger's field-goal attempt in the second quarter in Detroit on Nov. 9, 2003. The field-goal attempt was no good. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detroit's Jared DeVries (95) tips Chicago Bears kicker Paul Edinger's field-goal attempt in the second quarter in Detroit on Nov. 9, 2003. The field-goal attempt was no good. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former Iowa All-American Jared DeVries has seen many a savior come and go during his 11-year career with the Detroit Lions.

DeVries, a 32-year-old defensive end, was present the last time Detroit played in the postseason in 1999. He was there when the franchise hired — and later fired — president and general manager Matt Millen. He also was there in 2002 when the Lions drafted Oregon quarterback Joey “Blue Skies” Harrington and four wide receivers in the first round of five successive drafts.

The Lions now are on their seventh coach in DeVries’ tenure, second-longest on the team. The team picked first in last weekend’s NFL draft by virtue of its historic 0-16 season in 2008. So, that background also should give DeVries an open microphone for cynicism about his team. Instead, he chose optimism.

Detroit picked Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. Stafford signed a six-year contract worth up to $78 million in incentives, including $41.7 million in guaranteed money. That’s the largest guarantee in NFL history. DeVries told the Detroit Free Press that drafting Stafford made sense.

“It’s a good pick,” DeVries said. “Everybody felt we were going in that direction. You never know until draft day, and hopefully he’ll be a good quarterback for us.”

DeVries, however, joined the multitude of veteran players displeased with Stafford’s deal.

“”I think we as players kind of messed up, and we need to fix the system,” said DeVries, who reportedly will earn $1.3 million this  year. “Rookies are getting paid entirely too much without playing a down in the NFL.”

DeVries suffered a broken left hand in the Lions’ ninth game against Jacksonville. He sat out one game, then returned only to re-break it against Tampa Bay. He had season-ending surgery two days later.

Iowa's Jared DeVries haunts Wisconsin quarterback Mike Samuel (10) and brings him down for a 6-yard loss in the first quarter. DeVries had three sacks costing the Badgers 18 yards on Oct. 24, 1998.

Iowa's Jared DeVries haunts Wisconsin quarterback Mike Samuel (10) and brings him down for a 6-yard loss in the first quarter. DeVries had three sacks costing the Badgers 18 yards on Oct. 24, 1998.

DeVries, a former Aplington-Parkersburg all-state running back

, had 45 tackles, two sacks, defended four passes and recovered one fumble last year in 10 games — all starts. He had his best season in 2007, when he started 14 games, recorded 54 tackles, notching 6.5 sacks, recovered and forced three fumbles and notched one safety.

MAYOCK ON GREENE

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said former Iowa running back Shonn Greene has a solid opportunity to play this season for the New York Jets. The Jets moved up 11 spots in the third round and traded three picks with Detroit to select Greene with the third round’s first pick.

“I had him late (round) two,  mid three, so that’s about where I thought he’d go,” Mayock said. “I think it’s pretty exciting for him, growing up in New Jersey and now being  joined at the hip with (top draft pick quarterback) Mark Sanchez. I think that’s an exciting opportunity.”

Greene, 23, could step in and play right away with the Jets. Starting running back Thomas Jones, 31, rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, but is sitting out all off-season workouts.

“I think what (drafting Greene) does is provide them with an insurance policy,” Mayock said. “Thomas Jones is getting older and wants a new contract. Ultimately, I think (Greene’s) a really good fit with Leon Washington.”

Last year Greene won the Doak Walker Award, which annually is given to the nation’s best running back. He was a consensus All-American and rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was the fifth running back selected in the draft.


Draft analysis, expectations of Iowa players

April 27, 2009

After months of 40-yard dash times and answering questions about their favorite animals, eight former Iowa football players finally learned their career destination on Sunday.

A few Iowa players, like third-round picks running back Shonn Greene and cornerback Bradley Fletcher, virtually are locks to contribute on NFL rosters this fall. Free agents like defensive tackle Matt Kroul and wide receiver Andy Brodell face an up-hill climb to make a squad.

Either way, all of the players have an opportunity to play on Sundays. Here’s a look at how the eight players fit in with their NFL club and their chances of making the team:

SHONN GREENE, RB, THIRD ROUND, NEW YORK JETS

The Jets gave up their third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks to Detroit to move up 11 spots and draft Greene with the third round’s first pick. Greene gives the Jets a dose of toughness at running back that’s desired under new defensive-minded Coach Rex Ryan.

“His vision is the thing that jumped at you,” Ryan told reporters. “And he’s a big man, close to 230 pounds. That’s what it takes in this league. He can run through arm tackles and he can see the hole and he hits it. He’s a downhill runner.”

ANALYSIS: Greene likely will back up starter Thomas Jones, who rushed for 1,312 and 13 touchdowns last year, and alternate with speedster Leon Washington to start the season. By midseason Greene – barring injury – will become the feature back in the Jets’ new smash-mouth offensive scheme.

BRADLEY FLETCHER, CB, THIRD ROUND, ST. LOUIS RAMS

One pick after the Jets tabbed Greene, St. Louis snagged Fletcher, who will compete with Justin King, Jonathan Wade, Tye Hill at others at cornerback. Fletcher’s size (6-1, 196) is comparable to other Rams’ cornerbacks.

“He fits well for what we’re going to ask those guys to do,” new Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

ANALYSIS: Fletcher will have every opportunity to start for the Rams, who finished 2-14 last year. The Rams have a new coach, which means the slate is clean for Fletcher and his fellow cornerbacks. He’ll fit immediately on special teams.

SETH OLSEN, G, FOURTH ROUND, DENVER BRONCOS

Olsen played multiple positions at Iowa, and the Broncos apparently noticed. Olsen’s versatility will aid him as new coach Josh McDaniels tries to find a fit for his zone-blocking scheme. Olsen, who has played guard and tackle at Iowa, might even fit into a position he’s never played before getting selected.

“Seth is a player that will learn how to snap the ball and play center once he’s here,” McDaniels told reporters.

ANALYSIS: Olsen is a polished product in a zone-blocking scheme. That’s a coveted commodity by many offensive line coaches, who often have to deal with linemen in two-point stances from spread offenses. Look for him to challenge for playing time this year and settle into a position by his second or third season.

BRANDON MYERS, TE, 6TH ROUND, OAKLAND RAIDERS

The Raiders traded two picks to get Myers, who will compete with at least three tight ends this year. Myers is well-versed in Raiders Coach Tom Cable’s zone-blocking scheme after working in a similar system at Iowa.

ANALYSIS: Myers will get a shot to become the Raiders’ designated blocker and No. 2 tight end behind Zach Miller this year. Myers already has proven he can catch the ball, so if he can handle the blocking responsibilities of an NFL tight end, he’ll get to play early and often in Raiderland.

ROB BRUGGEMAN, C, FREE AGENT, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Bruggeman became Iowa’s offensive leader with his leadership and solid play during the season. The Buccaneers have two seventh-year centers from Notre Dame. Jeff Faine is the starter at 291 pounds. Bruggeman, considered light by many analysts, weighs 293.

ANALYSIS: Bruggeman, a Cedar Rapids native, is a late bloomer after suffering multiple knee injuries early in his Iowa career. His skills and experience in a zone-blocking scheme seemed suited for the NFL, and he’s going to make a roster at some point this fall. He may not survive final cuts, but he’ll easily land on a practice squad and find his way on to a roster by midseason.

MATT KROUL, DT, FREE AGENT, NEW YORK JETS

Kroul started 50 consecutive games at Iowa and has parlayed that consistency into a free-agent deal. Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum declared today on ESPN Radio that his team is “the land of opportunity” for free agents after drafting just three players this weekend.

ANALYSIS: Kroul, who hails from Mount Vernon, is a hard-working, tough player that will compete for a backup role. The Jets have just two returning starters along the defensive line from last year, and both are older than 30. With new coach Rex Ryan using multiple defensive schemes, Kroul will have a 50-50 shot to make the roster. If he doesn’t land on the team, he’s virtually guaranteed to make a practice team.

MITCH KING, DT, FREE AGENT, TENNESSEE TITANS

Perhaps the biggest surprise locally from this weekend’s draft was King not getting selected. Most draft analysts had King picked between rounds three and five. Although King is a “tweener” in size — standing 6 feet, 2 inches and weighing about 280, he made enough plays in college to earn second-team All-American honors. He’s a rowdy, fiery leader who makes plays.

ANALYSIS: King goes to a defensive-minded team that lost its best player — DT Albert Haynesworth — and always looks to upgrade. It’s tough to say if he’ll make the Titans, which finished the regular season with the NFL’s best record, but he’ll end up on somebody’s roster next September.

ANDY BRODELL, WR, FREE AGENT, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Brodell had a talented, yet oft-injured, career at Iowa. He started bits and pieces of three seasons at wide receiver and when healthy was a force. He totaled more than 900 all-purpose yards last year, including an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown against Iowa State. He does offer versatility after playing running back in high school and receiver in college.

ANALYSIS: In order to make the Packers’ roster, Brodell needs to impress the special teams coaches. That includes returning and covering kicks. Brodell has enough skills to shift to defensive back if required. He faces a tough climb to make a Packers’ roster that features five returning players from a year ago. But he’s got a good chance to make the team’s practice squad with a good, injury-free camp.


Head coaches calls seal deal for Kroul, Bruggeman

April 26, 2009

Two former Iowa football players with local ties signed free-agent contracts with a pair of NFL teams shortly after the draft concluded Sunday night.

Cedar Rapids native and former Iowa center Rob Bruggeman signed a free-agent deal with Tampa Bay. Mount Vernon native and former Iowa tackle Matt Kroul signed with the New York Jets.

Former Iowa wide receiver Andy Brodell, who hails from Ankeny, signed a free-agent contract with Green Bay. Multiple news outlets report defensive tackle Mitch King has signed with the Tennessee Titans. But neither King nor his agent, Richard Rosa, confirm a deal as of late Sunday night. An assistant in Rosa’s office said King and Rosa were still working on a contract late Sunday night.

Bruggeman, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 293 pounds, fielded several calls from teams immediately following the draft. Bruggeman spoke with both head coach Raheem Morris and offensive line coach Pete Mangurian before picking Tampa Bay.

“I really liked their offensive line coach (Mangurian) when I was down at the combine, and I liked the way he handled himself, how he talked to me,” Bruggeman said. “He seemed like a guy with integrity. I really liked him. Their head coach seems like a guy I could really get along with, too. So it’s exciting to go down there and just have an opportunity to compete.”

Bruggeman, 23, started all 13 games for Iowa last year and was named a permanent team captain. He said he made the decision after speaking with agent Jack Bechta, who then guided him to the Buccaneers.

“You kind of sit down after the draft and try to figure out a plan and a place to go that’s going fit you,” Bruggeman said. “They called me, expressed some interest, and I feel like it’s a place where I can compete to play.”

Kroul, 23, also had interest from multiple teams before talking to new Jets Coach Rex Ryan and ultimately picking the Jets.

“(Ryan) seems like a great guy, definitely a defensive coach,” said Kroul, who stands 6-1 and weighs 291. “He had great defenses in Baltimore all the years that he was there (as defensive coordinator). I like his scheme, they run a type of 4-3 with different fronts. I think I’ll be able to fit into it and just get out there and see what it is and see what I can do.”

Kroul started for a school-record 50 straight games for Iowa. He won the Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship Award, was named permanent team captain and second-team all-Big Ten honors by the league’s media outlets. Kroul finished with 238 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Both players watched most of the draft Sunday.

“You try to avoid it, but you can’t stop watching it,” Kroul said. “You just keep watching it and wait for a call. You either wait for a team in the late rounds to give you a call then and tell you they’re gonna draft you. Or you wait for a team to call you and tell you they’re gonna pick you up.”

Brodell, 23, caught 36 passes for 533 yards and four touchdowns last year. He was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown. That return clinched Iowa’s 17-5 win against Iowa State. He had 961 total yards last year for Iowa.

Here’s the story on the players who were drafted Sunday:

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene sat unwanted and unloved through the first two rounds of the NFL draft Saturday.

Sunday morning, Greene felt the love in record time.

Greene, 23, was selected by the New York Jets with the first pick in the third round Sunday, No. 65 overall. The Jets traded up 11 spots with the Detroit Lions to pick Greene and gave up their third, fourth and seventh rounds picks to get him.

Jets Coach Rex Ryan told ESPN that Greene is a “rare talent.”

“He was the best player that was on our board,” Jets Coach Rex Ryan said. “In our opinion, it wasn’t close.

“He’s a big, powerful running back. We want to have a little ground and pound.”

Greene was one of four Iowa players drafted Sunday. Former Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher went one pick after Greene to St. Louis (66). Denver drafted Iowa guard Seth Olsen in the fourth round (132 overall) and Oakland traded up to get tight end Brandon Myers in the sixth round (202).

Greene, 23, finished with 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns, both school records at Iowa. He ran for at least 100 yards in all 13 Iowa games last season. Greene won the Doak Walker Award, which annually is given to college football’s best running back. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.

Greene was the fifth running back drafted this weekend. Greene will compete with Jets veteran Thomas Jones and playmaker Leon Washington for time at running back. Greene was the Jets’ second pick in the draft behind USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

“It was Shonn and then it was a pretty precipitous jump from there,” Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum told reporters. “It was the gulf between him and the rest of the guys that made it a pretty easy decision.”

“The game of football is a physical sport. That’s why I enjoy it so much,” Greene told reporters. “I love contact. It’s violent, it’s quick, it’s fast. That’s just the nature of my game, how I like to play the game.”

Fletcher, 22, registered 60 tackles and three interceptions last year and was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection.

“He played behind a pretty good (player) two years ago (Charles Godfrey), and he actually started four games in there,” Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters. And he has started games all the way through. He started games as a sophomore. He started them as a junior. And then he surfaced this year. It’s just like Billy (Devaney, the Rams’ general manager)) said, when you put on the tape, he fits well for what we’re going to ask those guys to do. That was the biggest thing.”

“I feel that I have my best football ahead of me right now, and I’m looking forward to showing that on the field,” Fletcher said.

Olsen, 23, was a first-team all-Big Ten guard last fall. He told reporters his versatility will help him compete for a spot along Denver’s offensive line.

“I feel like I can play guard and tackle, and who knows, maybe center as well,” Olsen said. “I haven’t had any snaps there but am willing to give it a shot.”

The Raiders moved up in the sixth round to grab Myers, 23. The Raiders surrendered this year’s seventh-round pick and next year’s sixth-round pick to snag Iowa’s tight end.


Greene, Fletcher go 1-2 in 3rd round

April 26, 2009

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene was selected by the New York Jets with the first pick in the third round Sunday.

Former Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher was tabbed one pick later by the St. Louis Rams.

The Jets traded up 11 spots with the Detroit Lions to pick Greene and gave up their third, fourth and seventh rounds picks to get him.

Greene won the Doak Walker Award, which annually is given to college football’s best running back. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.

Greene, 23, finished with 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns, both school records at Iowa. He ran for at least 100 yards in all 13 Iowa games last season and combined both speed and power rarely found in collegiate running backs.

Jets Coach Rex Ryan told ESPN that Greene is a “rare talent.”

“He was the best player that was on our board,” Jets Coach Rex Ryan said. “In our opinion, it wasn’t close.

“He’s a big, powerful running back. We want to have a little ground and pound.”

Greene will compete with Jets veteran Thomas Jones and playmaker Leon Washington for time at running back. Greene is the Jets’ second pick in the draft behind USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

“We have three backs here,” Ryan said. “(Greene’s) got starter ability and he’s 230 pounds, great vision … let’s just give him the football and we’ll see what happens.”

Fletcher, 22, registered 60 tackles and three interceptions last year. He was the Rams’ third pick in the draft after Baylor tackle Jason Smith and Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis. Fletcher was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection.


Fletch a rising star on NFL draft charts

April 21, 2009
Purdue's Greg Orton, left, looks to make a reception over Iowa defender Bradley Fletcher (29) during the first half on their game Nov. 15, 2008 in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Purdue's Greg Orton, left, looks to make a reception over Iowa defender Bradley Fletcher (29) during the first half on their game Nov. 15, 2008 in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA CITY — Bradley Fletcher keeps a low profile, doesn’t say much but does so in an articulate manner.

In many ways, Fletcher’s play at cornerback reflect his outward impression. He’s confident, assertive and talented. His personal drive, combined with physical skills and a solid work ethic have parlayed Fletcher into one of the fastest risers in this year’s NFL draft. It also could land the former Iowa defensive back a spot in the first three rounds this weekend.

“He’s a guy that we kind of call one of the sleepers in this draft,” said Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Service, LLC. “He’s got loose hips, he’s smooth in transition. We’re going to give a third- or fourth-round grade at the very worst. We think he should be a third-round guy.”

Fletcher, 22, has been one of Iowa’s most traveled players in recent weeks and has met with multiple NFL teams, including the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. He said he’s worked on his speed and quickness since the end of Iowa’s football season, and the results are proven.

Fletcher ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine in February. He shaved off a little more time at Iowa’s pro day last month, running it in 4.44 seconds. He’s a good-sized cornerback at slightly taller than 6 feet and weighing nearly 200 pounds.

Shonka grades Fletcher 14th among cornerbacks, but he’s the second-tallest among those players. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lists Fletcher ninth among cornerbacks and has Jacksonville selecting him in the third round.

Fletcher’s draft stock soared with East-West Shrine Bowl in January. He recorded six tackles — including three solo — and he broke up one pass. His play and athletic ability launched him into the discussion as a potential man-to-man NFL cornerback.

“He was at least one of the best corners, if not the best corner there,” Shonka said. “He played really fast, he was impressive when he drives on the ball. The thing that was impressive about him at the combine was his ability to turn and run. That is supposed to correlate with your 40 time. A lot of guys didn’t run the drill real well, and Fletcher, his times were like 4.47, which obviously correlated with his 40 time.

“His back peddle turn and run was 4.46 and 4.46 which is outstanding. Plus he’s got long arms and can leap. His runs were real smooth in his turns. He’s very athletic.”

Fletcher started 17 games for Iowa, including all 13 his senior season. He recorded 152 tackles, including 60 last year. He had three interceptions last season and 10 pass breakups. He totaled five interceptions and 17 breakups in his Iowa career.

Minnesota's Tray Herndon, left, is upended by Iowa's Bradley Fletcher after making a reception during the first half, Nov. 10, 2007, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 21-16. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Minnesota's Tray Herndon, left, is upended by Iowa's Bradley Fletcher after making a reception during the first half, Nov. 10, 2007, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 21-16. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“You get a sense there’s a lot of interest in him,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Fletcher spent most of his off-season speed training to prepare for the combine. As the draft approaches this weekend, his focus is on conditioning.

As for any indications where the Youngstown, Ohio native might go, Fletcher is taking it in stride.

“I have no idea right now,” Fletcher said. “I’m just going into it open minded and see what happens.”

Along with speed and size, Fletcher’s athletic ability is a plus. He recorded a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, third-best among the top 14 corners on Shonka’s board.

“As Deion Sanders used to say, ‘I don’t need that playbook, I’ve got that guy right there,'” Shonka said. “That’s what Fletcher can do. I think he’s a third- or fourth-round guy. And if he goes later, somebody got a steal.”


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