Iowa shut out in NFL draft’s first 2 rounds

April 25, 2009

IOWA CITY — No former Iowa football players, including running back Shonn Greene, were selected today in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

Most NFL analysts expected Greene to be drafted between rounds two and four. Other Hawkeyes likely to be drafted Sunday include cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Mitch King and offensive lineman Seth Olsen. Center Rob Bruggeman, defensive tackle Matt Kroul, tight end Brandon Myers and wide receiver Andy Brodell also could be drafted. 

Greene, 23, rushed for 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 last December, which annually is given to college football’s best running back. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He was a consensus All-American, Iowa’s first at running back since Nile Kinnick, and finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting.

At the NFL Combine in February, ran the 40-yard dash in a sub-par 4.66 seconds But he then cut that time at Iowa’s pro day from anywhere from 4.59 to 4.50 seconds at Iowa’s pro day, ranging from scout to scout. He also increased his 225-pound bench press repetitions from 19 at the NFL Combine to 23 at Iowa’s pro day.

Three running backs were selected in the first round. Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno was picked at No. 12  by Denver. Indianapolis drafted UConn’s Donald Brown at No. 27 to Indianapolis, while Arizona selected Ohio State running back Chris Wells.

Philadelphia drafted University of Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy in the second round (No. 53). The Eagles were Greene’s favorite team when he was a youth in south New Jersey.

Fletcher and King are projected as third- or fourth-round picks. Olsen is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round selection. Bruggeman and Kroul are viewed as late-round picks, while Myers and Brodell are likely free agents or seventh-round picks.


2009 NFL Mock Draft, 1st 2 rounds; Iowa draftee predictions

April 24, 2009

Here’s a look at Saturday’s first two rounds of the NFL draft. Along with the annual infusion of new blood into the NFL, the most intriguing part will include trades.

I anticipate Washington will get antsy for USC QB Mark Sanchez and will give away the farm to Kansas City to get him. That will include a No. 1 this year and next year, and their own No. 2 next year. Washington will trade starting QB Jason Campbell to the New York Jets for the Jet’s second-round pick, which then will be dealt to the Chiefs.

I expect Cleveland to deal WR Braylon Edwards to the New York Giants for a first-round pick.

At the bottom are Iowa’s draft hopefuls and where I think they could land.

1. DETROIT - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

2. ST. LOUIS - Jason Smith, T, Baylor

3. WASHINGTON (from Kansas City in a draft-day trade) – Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

4. SEATTLE - Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia

5. CLEVELAND - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

6. CINCINNATI - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

7. OAKLAND - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

8. JACKSONVILLE - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

9. GREEN BAY – Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

10. SAN FRANCISCO – Aaron Maybin, DE/LB, Penn State

11. BUFFALO - Everette Brown, DE/LB, Florida State

12. DENVER - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

13. KANSAS CITY (from Washington in a draft-day trade) – Andre Smith, T, Alabama

14. NEW ORLEANS - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

15. HOUSTON - Brian Cushing, LB, USC

16. SAN DIEGO - Michael Oher, T, Ole Miss

17. N.Y. Jets – Robert Ayers, DE/LB, Tennessee

18. DENVER (from Chicago) – Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

19. TAMPA BAY – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

20. DETROIT (from Dallas) – James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State

21. PHILADELPHIA - Alex Mack, C, California

22. MINNESOTA - Eben Britton, T, Arizona

23. NEW ENGLAND – Connor Barwin, LB/DE, Cincinnati

24. ATLANTA - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

25. MIAMI - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

26. BALTIMORE - Darrius Bulter, CB, UConn

27. INDIANAPOLIS - Ron Brace, DT, Boston College

28. BUFFALO (from Carolina through Philadelphia) - Max Unger, C/G, Oregon

29. CLEVELAND (from NY Giants in a draft-day trade) - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

30. TENNESSEE - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

31. ARIZONA - Clay Matthews, LB, USC

32. PITTSBURGH - Jamon Meredith, G/T, South Carolina

SECOND ROUND

33. DETROIT - Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri

34. NEW ENGLAND (from Kansas City) – Donald Brown, RB, UConn

35. ST. LOUIS – Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

36. CLEVELAND - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

37. SEATTLE - Jarius Byrd, CB, Oregon

38. CINCINNATI - Paul Kruger, DE, Utah

39. JACKSONVILLE - Eric Wood, C, Louisville

40. OAKLAND - William Beatty, T, UConn

41. GREEN BAY - Craig Urbik, G, Wisconsin

42. BUFFALO - Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma

43. SAN FRANCISCO – Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama

44. MIAMI - Hakeen Nicks, WR, North Carolina

45. NY GIANTS – Scott McKillop, LB, Pittsburgh

46. HOUSTON - Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa

47. NEW ENGLANDBradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa

48. DENVER - Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina

49. CHICAGO - Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State

50. CLEVELAND - Larry English, DE/LB, Northern Illinois

51. DALLAS - William Moore, S, Missouri

52. KANSAS CITY (from NY Jets through Washington in a draft-day trade) – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

53. PHILADELPHIA - LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh

54. MINNESOTA - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

55. ATLANTA - Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State

56. MIAMI - Patrick Chung, S, Oregon

57. BALTIMORE - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

58. NEW ENGLAND – Gerald Cadogan, T, Penn State

59. CAROLINA - Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati

60. NY GIANTS – Phil Loadholt, T, Oklahoma

61. INDIANAPOLIS - Kenny McKinley, WR, South Carolina

62. TENNESSEE - Dorell Scott, DT, Clemson

63. ARIZONA - Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan

64. PITTSBURGH - Fili Moala, DE, USC

IOWA DRAFTEES

2. Shonn Greene, RB, Houston (46)
Perfect tandem back with Houston’s Steve Slaton
2. Bradley Fletcher, CB, New England (47)
Ascending player with good size, speed; perfect for Belichick
3. Mitch King, DT, Washington (80)
Will make a great combination with hulking Albert Haynesworth
4. Seth Olsen, G, Indianapolis (127)
A solid, dependable player on team with Iowa ties
6. Rob Bruggeman, C, Chicago (190)
Eventual replacement for Olin Kreutz?
7. Matt Kroul, DT, Minnesota (221)
Could make a good back-up this year behind Kevin Williams and Pat Williams
7. Brandon Myers, TE, Cincinnati (252)
Only way Bengals can get Myers in their camp
F/A Andy Brodell, WR, Minnesota
Vikings like to snag Iowa players as free agents


Olsen, Brodell look for an NFL shot

April 24, 2009
Iowa offensive lineman Seth Olsen talks to reporters during Iowa's annual football media day, Aug. 4, 2008, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa offensive lineman Seth Olsen talks to reporters during Iowa's annual football media day, Aug. 4, 2008, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA CITY — Dan Shonka describes former Iowa guard Seth Olsen as a finished product.

That doesn’t mean Olsen, 23, is ready to pound the likes of NFL defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth anytime soon. But Olsen can step into just about any offensive scheme and understand what the offensive line coach is talking about.

“Olsen can put his hat on you,” said Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC. “He can block in the zone-blocking scheme, he can run his feet into you, he’s smart, he’s aggressive, he does a lot of good things.”

“We like him, he’s liked by a lot of offensive line coaches. He’s definitely a guy with ability to block in zone schemes, he’s valued for that and his understanding of zone blocking schemes.”

Shonka ranks Olsen (6 feet, 4 1/2 inches, 306 pounds) as the 11th-best guard in this draft. Shonka said has got “pretty good first-step quickness” but “he could use a little more body strength.” Shonka projects Olsen as a fifth-round pick going to Indianapolis.

Olsen was voted a first-team all-Big Ten offensive lineman by both the league’s coaches and media outlets. He was named to four different All-American squads, including first-team by Rivals.com.

Former Iowa wide receiver Andy Brodell (6-3, 200) also is vying to make an NFL club. Shonka said Brodell reminds him of former Iowa receiver Kevin Kasper, who covered and returned kicks for several different NFL teams.

“If (Brodell) could go down and make tackles on special teams, coverage teams and be your fourth or fifth receiver, he’ll have a shot at making a ballclub,” Shonka said. “A lot of times you can’t find that third, fourth or fifth receiver that can make a tackle on a special team.”

Brodell’s top performance came in the 2006 Alamo Bowl, where he caught six passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. But in 2007, he suffered a torn hamstring against Wisconsin and missed the final eight games.

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


Greene has detractors, but he’s confident

April 23, 2009
Iowa's Shonn Greene flips into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009.   (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa's Shonn Greene flips into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/ The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Shonn Greene unanimously was declared the nation’s best running back last fall.

He 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. He 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.

“He’s fast, and he’s big, and he’s a pro,” said former Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack, who now is the head coach at Illinois State. “He’s the best back in this conference — bar none. There’s no contest.”

Greene’s college accolades have failed to vault him into the NFL first-round draft discussion. Whether it’s his size (5 feet, 9 inches, 227 pounds), a year of academic ineligibility, only one proven collegiate season or difficulty catching the ball out of the backfield, someone always has something negative to say about Greene.

“I like his running skills. I wish he were a better receiver,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Catching the football out of the backfield is something he needs to work. If he was a little more complete, he’d be guaranteed a second-round pick.”

Kiper lists Greene anywhere from the NFL draft’s second through fourth rounds. Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Service, LLC., lists Greene as the fourth-best running back entering the draft.

Like Kiper, Shonka is concerned about Greene’s pass-catching skills. But Greene’s downhill running style and experience of running the ball in a zone-blocking scheme could elevate him into the second round.

“A lot of teams run a zone-blocking scheme, and Shonn is perfect because that’s what they teach at Iowa,” Shonka said. “The offensive line is taught pro techniques at Iowa. Shonn is a downhill one-cut runner, so he’s going to fit in a lot of different schemes.

“Obviously, I think the thing that concerns people about Shonn is his ability to block and to catch ball out of the backfield. But they just didn’t throw it to him a lot. And when they did, he kind of fumbled it or double caught it, or he wasn’t smooth catching the ball.”

Greene caught eight passes for 49 yards last season.

In February, Greene struggled in measurable categories at the NFL Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds, but then cut that time to anywhere from 4.59 to 4.50 seconds at Iowa’s pro day, depending on the stopwatches. He also increased his 225-pound bench press repetitions from 19 at the NFL Combine to 23 at Iowa’s pro day.

“I feel like I had a very good day,” Greene said after his pro day workout. “I did everything better than I did at the combine. I ran faster, lifted more reps with the bench, did pro agility faster. I think I did pretty good, caught the ball well.”

Iowa running back Shonn Greene removes athletic wrap from his feet after practice at the University of Tampa on Dec. 26, 2008, in Tampa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa running back Shonn Greene removes athletic wrap from his feet after practice at the University of Tampa on Dec. 26, 2008, in Tampa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Shonka slotted Greene as a second-round pick to Houston and provide a 1-2 punch with second-year running back Steve Slaton. Kiper raved about Greene’s intangibles when running the football.

“Greene, I think, is a running back,” Kiper said. “You like his determination. I like the low center of gravity, the way he ran with power between the tackles, good balance as well. I like his running skills; I wish he were a better receiver.”

Greene, a junior last season, was ruled academically ineligible for the 2007 season and went to Kirkwood Community College to regain his eligibility. He was on pace to graduate before he declared to enter the NFL draft.

Greene shrugs off the experts’ criticism and instead points to his production last year.

“If you look at the stats and all that, it will tell you that I’m the top back,” Greene said. “You look at some of those guys that I went head-to-head with and some of them I faced the same defense, and I did much better. I’m not worried about that. Whoever takes me is going to get a good running back.”


Combine snub motivates Kroul toward NFL

April 21, 2009
Iowa defensive lineman Matt Kroul carries the Heartland Trophy off the field after the Hawkeyes' win over Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 18, 2008, in Iowa City. Iowa won 38-16. Iowa won, 38-16. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive lineman Matt Kroul carries the Heartland Trophy off the field after the Hawkeyes' win over Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 18, 2008, in Iowa City. Iowa won 38-16. Iowa won, 38-16. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — It’s hard to overlook Matt Kroul’s impact to the Iowa football program.

The Mount Vernon native started a school-record 50 straight games. That’s every game for Iowa’s last four seasons, including three bowls. He has an award roll in Iowa’s spring prospectus that includes the Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship Award, permanent team captain status and second-team all-Big Ten honors by the league’s media outlets.

However, lost in his long list of accolades, was his name from the NFL Combine in February.

“After some of the stuff I had done, it was disappointing,” Kroul said. “But at the same time, it opened my eyes to keep working, and keep on … I figure, hopefully, for the next few years of my life to just keep competing every day, I took it heart, too, I guess.”

Kroul thought about the slight when he met with Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle. Getting left out stung Kroul.

“I used it as motivation and make the most of things on my pro day,” Kroul said. “Hopefully I put good enough numbers up there that there’s more interest.

“Yeah, it hurt a little bit, but at the same time, you just kind of roll with things and go on.”

Kroul, 23, finished his Iowa career with 238 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He’s forever linked with fellow defensive tackle Mitch King, with whom he paired in the starting lineup for 45 games. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz often references “King and Kroul” when talking about leadership and work ethic, whether it’s in a spring practice or a game.

“From my vantage point, he’s a guy that’s going to make someone’s team better and help them win football games,” Ferentz said.

“I’ve had several people say they were really impressed with him,” Ferentz said. “It’s going to be him finding the right spot, right place, right time.”

Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC., graded Kroul as a seventh-round pick despite Kroul not receiving a combine invitation. Shonka said Kroul has several intangibles teams are looking for, including his physical skills.

“He’s an excellent technique player,” Shonka said. “He can run those guards back; he can drive them back,. He uses his hands really well, he keeps a low pad level, he’s instinctive. …”

“If you study Iowa’s tapes, he’s one of those guys that’s always in the picture frame, He’s always around the ball. I think that he does so many good things.”

Kroul has improved his stature with a strong showing at Iowa’s pro day in March. He’s up to 291 pounds and stands nearly 6 feet, 1.5 inches. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.99 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

“If Matt Kroul gets signed as a free agent, he’s going to be a steal for somebody,” Shonka said. “Because, again, there’s not a lot of true 4-3 tackles out there because there’s so many of the nose tackle types. Matt would fit right in that 4-3 scheme.”

The Sporting News listed Kroul as a priority free agent for teams. The magazine touted Kroul as a punishing tackler who “wants to be in on every play … a hard-nosed player who shows intelligence and toughness.” The magazine’s assessment of Kroul is “he’s limited at the next level, (but) he’ll make it tough for a team to cut him.”

Iowa defensive tackle Matt Kroul takes down Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer during the fourth quarter at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Oct. 27, 2007. (JONATHAN D. WOODS/THE GAZETTE)

Iowa defensive tackle Matt Kroul takes down Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer during the fourth quarter at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Oct. 27, 2007. (JONATHAN D. WOODS/THE GAZETTE)

Kroul has heard from several teams interested in either drafting him or signing him to a free-agent contract after the draft. Kroul is confident he’ll get a chance to play in the NFL either way.

“I don’t want to be arrogant or anything, but I’ve done enough the last four years that I should be able to compete with these guys,” Kroul said. “It’s definitely going to be enjoyable. I’ll be looking forward to doing that.”

This weekend, Kroul plans to enjoy the time with his family when he shifts from college to pro player. His thoughts range from “stressful” to “exciting” to “satisfying” when thinking about his journey from Mount Vernon all-stater to Iowa four-year starter to the NFL. He also said the gathering won’t be “too flamboyant.”

“All it takes is one team,” he said.


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.”


And now, the waiting game for Bruggeman

April 20, 2009
Rob Bruggeman runs to the fan section to sing the Iowa fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009.   (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Rob Bruggeman runs to the fan section to sing the Iowa fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Rob Bruggeman views his transition from college football to the NFL in the same vein he once did when he entered the University of Iowa five years ago.

“Coming in here nobody thought I could play D-I football at the time,” Bruggeman said. “I’m sure plenty of people think I’m too small, too whatever to play NFL football. You just go in with the mentality that you’re good enough, and you’re ready to play.”

Bruggeman, 23, originally walked on at Iowa and paid his way for three years before earning a scholarship in spring practice before his junior season. He built himself into a team leader by his senior year, earning permanent captain status for the offense. Bruggeman, who graduated last December with a degree in finance, ended the season with second-team all-Big Ten status at center by the league’s coaches and media.

But none of those honors matter to him now. Bruggeman, like all NFL prospects, is playing the waiting game. Until he sees his name announced as a draft pick this weekend, he’s keeping busy to avoid the typical anxiety that captures football players before the draft.

“Everything is done that I can do as of this point,” Bruggeman said. “I just keep working out, trying to stay in shape. And what happens, happens; there’s not a lot I can do from here on out. The film is set, I’ve done the interviews … I’m just trying to not think about it too much.”

Bruggeman’s journey the NFL began at Cedar Rapids Washington, where he was an all-state player his final two years. He received little attention from colleges and decided to walk on at Iowa.

Rob Bruggeman (at center) leads Cedar Rapids Washington out of the locker room of the UNI-Dome prior to the Class 4A Championship game against West Des Moines Valley in Cedar Falls on Nov. 21, 2003.

Rob Bruggeman (at center) leads Cedar Rapids Washington out of the locker room of the UNI-Dome prior to the Class 4A Championship game against West Des Moines Valley in Cedar Falls on Nov. 21, 2003.

“I was surprised he didn’t get a shot out of high school,” said Chuck Bruggeman, Rob’s father. “I knew if he got a chance to play there that he would deliver.

“It was never the goal to earn a scholarship. It was never to make the team. His goal was to get the starting position.”

Bruggeman’s opportunity came last season. He delivered for Iowa, starting every game and becoming the unit’s vocal leader. He started every game and impressed his coaches. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Bruggeman surprised him with his durability and even with some of his mistakes.

“He’s only been a one-year starter; we had to remind ourselves of that,” Ferentz said. “He’s a highly intelligent guy, very competitive. He played well on film.”

Bruggeman is projected as a possible seventh-round draft pick or priority free agent by many scouting services. As for accolades, NFLDraftScout.com describes Bruggeman as an “ascending player with good overall technique.” The Sporting News touted Bruggeman’s “flexibility, body control and balance.”

Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services LLC., listed Bruggeman as a priority free agent. Shonka said the depth at center makes Bruggeman’s draft chances difficult.

“Obviously, he’s a hard worker,” Shonka said. “All of his intangibles are excellent. He’s well thought of … he’s going to go to a camp. He may be taken late, and he’s certainly going to be signed as a free agent, but which is not bad either because you pick your team where you might fit, where you have a chance of making a ballclub.”

Bruggeman stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 293 pounds, a little light for many NFL clubs. But he ran the 40-yard dash at Iowa’s pro day in 4.97 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times. Bruggeman also could play guard if necessarily.

To Ferentz, Bruggeman is a leader, a value NFL teams will accept once he dons their helmet next week.

“I can think of three guys that I had association with during my time in the NFL that he’s better than, and all those guys played nine or 10 years,” said Ferentz, a former NFL offensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. “He belongs, he’ll find a spot. I don’t know how he’s going to get there, but once he gets on a team, I just can’t see him getting cut.”

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, right, hugs center Rob Bruggeman after the Hawkeyes beat South Carolina 31-10 in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2009 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, right, hugs center Rob Bruggeman after the Hawkeyes beat South Carolina 31-10 in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2009 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


Slight adds motivation for Brandon Myers

April 19, 2009
Iowa's Brandon Myers misses a pass during the fourth quarter against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on September 27,  2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa's Brandon Myers misses a pass during the fourth quarter against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on September 27, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Brandon Myers thought he had played himself into the draft discussion.

Good statistics. Started every game for a team that won nine games. Converted three third-down catches into first downs in a bowl game. All-Big Ten selection by the league’s coaches.

But Myers, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end from Prairie City, wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine in February. Initially, it hit him hard that NFL scouts didn’t think he was one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects.

“I thought I had good film from this year,” Myers said. “I thought with our success we had and having Shonn (Greene) and Mitch (King) and everyone was watching, getting first-team all-Big Ten, I thought for sure I’d definitely get a shot.

“I was happy for my teammates that got to go but at same thing, I wanted to go. It definitely made me realize I had to work that much more harder and I have that much more to improve. I wasn’t selected in the top 20 tight ends; obviously I have to pick up my game and get better.

Myers, 23, hauled in 34 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns last year. He earned the Iowa offense’s Coaches Appreciation Award. But neither those statistics or that praise earned him a spot at the NFL Combine.

But that’s not all bad, either. Former Iowa defensive end Aaron Kampman didn’t make the NFL Combine, but he was a fifth-round draft pick. Kampman has played in two Pro Bowls for Green Bay.

“Yeah, that was the first thing Coach (Kirk) Ferentz mentioned to me, which definitely made me feel better,” Myers said. “But obviously I was still disappointed. If things turn out like Aaron Kampman, I’ll be all right with that.”

Myers has gotten some play from NFL scouts and teams within the last month. Scouts from 29 teams watched him and other Hawkeyes compete during pro day in late March. He ran a 4.74 40-yard dash time and had 17 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds.

Myers also has been one of the most active Hawkeyes in taking visits before this weekend’s draft. He’s met with several teams, whose officials conduct interviews similar to those at the combine.

Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services LLC, doesn’t have Myers ranked as a drafted player. But Shonka said Myers has skills that will help get him into a camp and possibly stick with a team.

“He does catch the ball well,” Shonka said. “He screens off blockers. He’s not a big drive blocker for a tight end, which you don’t have to be. You just have to create a little seam where you have somebody run up inside you. He’s that kind of guy.”

Shonka said Myers has an advantage on other tight ends by playing in Iowa’s pro-style offense.

“A lot of them are more like slot guys than tight ends,” Shonka said. “(Myers is) used to blocking in Iowa’s system. That definitely helps him. If he was drafted late, it would not surprise us, but we think probably going to end up being more like a free-agent guy. He’ll have a chance to go to camp and show what he can do.”

That’s just what Myers wants. He and his agents have discussed potential destinations if he doesn’t get drafted. By early April he had visited four NFL teams and several others would like a closer look at a player the teams didn’t interview at the NFL Combine.

“Obviously I’d love to get drafted,” Myers said. “I think taking these visits, it definitely gets my name out there. It’s kind of like the domino effect where one team hears about other teams hear about it and bring me in. I have no idea if I get drafted or where I will be. I just want a shot, just want a chance. It doesn’t really matter where. I just want an opportunity to play.”


Shonn Greene a witness in assault case

April 9, 2009
Iowa Hawkeyes Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine Black Bears Jhamal Fluellen for a loss of 3 yards during the third quarter of their game against the Maine Black Bears at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine's Jhamal Fluellen for a 3-yard loss during the third quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn will stand trial June 22 on charges he punched an Iowa City cab driver Jan. 18.

Clayborn, a 20-year-old junior from St. Louis, was charged with assault causing bodily injury, a serious misdemeanor. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the police complaint, Clayborn punched a cab driver who honked at him during a traffic jam around 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at the intersection of Johnson and Bowery streets. The complaint states Clayborn got out of his vehicle, reached inside the driver side window and punched the driver. A court filing states the driver had a swollen lip and a small cut inside his mouth. The police complaint also states a friend had to restrain Clayborn.
Shonn Greene

Shonn Greene

All-American Iowa running back and likely NFL draft pick Shonn Greene was one of six witnesses listed in court documents.  It was undetermined whether it was Greene who restrained Clayborn during the altercation.

Clayborn was arrested March 16 and released on his own recognizance. A pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. June 10.

Clayborn remains in good standing with the football team, unlike other players who have had recent legal issues. That includes Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz’s son, James, who was arrested for public intoxication earlier this week. Clayborn started 11 of 13 games last fall as a sophomore.


Greene wows NFL scouts at Pro Day

March 23, 2009
Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene blasts through South Carolina's defense for a touchdown in the 2009 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene blasts through South Carolina's defense for a touchdown in the 2009 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY – Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene wowed NFL scouts at Iowa’s Pro Day on Monday.

Greene, a consensus All-American last fall, sprinted a 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at Iowa’s indoor facility, according to one scout. That’s about .06 seconds below his time at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month. Others had him running as low as 4.5. Those times could also send him up the draft charts as well.

Scouts from at least 29 NFL teams attended Iowa’s Pro Day and three different NFL scouts – all of whom spoke anonymously – were excited about Greene’s performance. Along with lowering his speed, Greene increased his 225-pound bench press repetitions from 19 at the Combine to 23 on Monday.

“He looked good,” one scout said. “Very good.”

Greene, 23, is projected as a late second-round to early third-round draft choice. Many draft predictions have Greene ranked as about the fifth running back slated for the draft. That has Greene somewhat agitated.

“My take on that is I think (Ohio State’s) Beanie Wells and (Georgia’s) Knoshown Moreno … I think (they) are great backs, they just had another year whereas I had only had one year to show what I could do,” Green said. “Ohio State gets a lot of publicity but I don’t make that as an excuse. I just do what I can do.

“If you look at the stats and all that, it will tell you that I’m the top back. You look at some of those guys that I went head-to-head with and some of them I faced the same defense, and I did much better. I’m not worried about that. Whoever takes me is going to get a good running back. That’s how it goes.”

Greene said he uses some of the draft projections as motivation.

“It just makes you work harder,” he said. “When people don’t recognize you as much, it makes you want to work harder and do much better.”

Greene earned the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back last fall. He was the only running back to rush for more than 100 yards in every game. He finished the season with 1,850 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, school records in both categories. Greene also earned the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Greene announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft minutes after Iowa thumped South Carolina 31-10 in the Outback Bowl. He has slimmed down from 235 pounds to 227 and has emphasized strength and speed in his pre-draft training.

“Just being more explosive for the 40, just getting out good and maintaining my speed,” Greene said about his off-season workout. “I’ve been working on my bench a lot, so that improved.”

Greene has stayed in Iowa City to train, except for his combine workout. Several draftniks have downgraded Greene because of character issues. Greene became academically ineligible for the 2007 season and went to Iowa City’s Kirkwood Community College before transferring back to Iowa last fall.

At the combine, Greene said, he repeated the story several times. He told scouts about his part-time job that fall delivering furniture and how it helped mature and re-focus him on football.

“Nobody really asks here,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much under the mat now. I got that story out and everybody knows the deal with that.”

Greene said he plans to keep training in Iowa City for a few more weeks then leave for his hometown of Sicklerville, N.J., shortly before the draft, which takes place April 25-26. He’s unsure who might take him, and he’s not focused on the possibilities right now. He grew up 30 minutes from Philadelphia and often rooted for the Eagles, but he’s not picky.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve been watching (the draft) for the last three years, and it only takes one team. You never know. Hopefully I’ll go as high as I can and just wait for the best.”


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