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.