Hawkeyes of the NFL: Past, Present, and Future

A Hawkeye has fallen. Former Iowa defensive linemen Alex Karras passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. In 1957, Karras won the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior linemen and finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.  In 1991 Karras was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Alex Karras (July 15, 1935 – October 10, 2012), passed away Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles.

He was the 10th overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 1958 draft.  He played 12 seasons in the NFL, all with the Lions, and was selected to the All-Pro Team four times.  Karras was also selected to the All-Decade Team for the 1960’s.

With the passing of the Hawkeye legend, I will take a look at other notable Hawkeyes and their success in the NFL, as well as the NFL outlook for some of our current players.

The Favored Son

Nile Kinnick is the most famous of all the Hawkeyes, and the only Heisman Trophy winner in the school’s history.  In his Heisman winning season of 1939, Kinnick also took home the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell award, which are both presented to college football’s best player.  Nile Kinnick never got to test his skills at the next level however, because as many of you already know Nile Kinnick was killed in a plane crash during a training exercise in World War II.

Hall of Fame

Three former Hawkeyes have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  The first of which was Emlen Tunnell.  Tunnell played for the Hawkeyes in 1946 and 1947 before leaving the team in 1948 to join the New York Giants.  Tunnell had a 14-year career in the NFL and was an All-Pro selection nine times.  Tunnell set the all-time NFL interception record for a career with 79.  In 1967 Tunnell was the first African American selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Paul Krause (pictured) broke another former Hawkeye, Emlen Tunnell’s all-time NFL interception record. Krause and Tunnell are still have the 1st and 2nd amount of interceptions in a career in the NFL.

Paul Krause played for the Hawkeyes in the early 1960s as a two-way player.  He started as a wide receiver and defensive back.  Krause was drafted in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft.  He was also selected in the MLB draft after his sophomore year. Krause played 16 years in the NFL and was an All-Pro in eight of those seasons.  Krause also broke Tunnell’s all-time interception record bumping it up to 81 for a career.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.

The Last of Iowa’s three Hall of Famers is Andre Tippett.  Tippett was an All-American defensive end in 1981, his senior season for the Hawks.  He was a second round pick in the NFL draft in 1982.  Tippet was selected to five straight pro bowls from 1984-88, and was named to the 1980s All-Decade Team.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.

College Studs, Pro Duds

In 1985 Chuck Long won a bevy of awards as Iowa’s quarterback including: Maxwell Award, Davy O’Brien Award, Big Ten Player of the Year, and a 1st Team All-American selection.  Long was also the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy that season.  The Detroit Lions drafted him with the 12th overall pick in the 1986 draft, but Long never panned out.  He stayed in Detroit until 1989 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, where he played in 1990, before spending his final season with the Lions in ’91.

Brad Banks only played two years for the Hawkeyes, but his senior season in 2002 was something to remember.  Banks completed less than 60% of his passes, but he threw for over 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns with only five interceptions.  He also ran for over 400 yards and five scores.  Banks led Iowa to a share of the Big Ten Title, was selected as an All-American, won the Davy O’Brien Award, and was also runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.  Banks never made it in the NFL, but went on to have a successful career in the Canadian Football league and the Arena Football League.

Current Pros, Former Hawks

Chad Greenway has achieved the most success of any former Hawkeye currently in the NFL.  An All-American for Iowa in 2004, Greenway was a 1st round pick by the Minnesota Vikings and has led the team in tackles the past four seasons.

In 2010, Adrian Clayborn was a first team All-American for the Hawkeyes.  In his rookie season in the NFL he recorded 5.5 sacks.  Clayborn is an Iowa favorite, but is currently out for the season with a knee injury.

Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award, for best Running Back in college football, was a 1st Team All-American and was a Heisman Finalist in 2008 and left the Iowa with a year of eligibility left to turn pro.  He was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL draft by the New York Jets and has had a mostly disappointing career so far.

Dallas Clark is one of the most famous Hawkeyes currently in the NFL, he played his 1st nine seasons in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning and won a Super Bowl.  Clark was a 1st round pick out of Iowa where he was an All-American and won the John Mackey Award for Best Tight End in 2002.

Other notable Hawkeyes currently in the NFL include: Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff, Charles Godfrey, Tony Moeaki, Pat Angerer, Nate Kaeding, Tyler Sash, Scott Chandler, Marshal Yanda, Brandon Myers, Jonathan Babineaux, Mike Daniels, Bradley Fletcher, Ricky Stanzi, and others.

NFL Prospects

Iowa’s best current NFL prospect would be Micah Hyde, a 3-year starter in the defensive backfield.  Hyde, a senior, has been a pretty reliable cornerback for the Hawkeyes, but had some shaky moments when he briefly played free safety in 2011.  He has totaled seven interceptions in his career and in 2011 he was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten Selection.

Outlook:  If Hyde performs well the rest of the season and has a successful scouting combine he could go as high as the 3rd round.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, will be the next Iowa tight end to take his talents to the NFL.  At 6-7, 265 pounds Fiedorowicz has great measurables and often presents a mismatch for the defense.  He hasn’t put up great numbers due to limited playing time to this point in his career, but he is still a junior and has produced at a high level so far this season.

Outlook:  C.J. Fiedorowicz has the talent and size to be a first round draft pick, but will need to be more productive in the next season and a half.  Tight ends rarely get drafted that high in the draft, so my guess is he finds some late season success in 2012 and uses that to launch a big year in 2013 and becomes a 2nd or 3rd round pick next year.

Keenan Davis (6) faces off against teammate Micah Hyde (18) in practice. Both will try to get drafted in April.

Wide receiver Keenan Davis came to Iowa as a much hyped in-state recruit, and has yet to live up to the billing.  He has found moderate success over the past season and a half, but will need to get a better hold on the new offense to put up the kind of numbers needed to get drafted.

Outlook:  Davis has always had a problem with dropping passes while at Iowa, and will need to work on his hands and have a good combine if he wants to get drafted.  Best case is 6th or 7th round.

Iowa’s other top possibilities to get drafted are senior center James Ferentz and Junior Middle Linebacker James Morris.

It’s still too early in Mark Weisman’s career to forecast his future, but if he can consistently produce numbers even close to those he has this season, than he should have no problem getting drafted in a couple of years.  Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens, and B.J. Lowery all also have a shot at the NFL.  All three are juniors this season.

1 Comment on Hawkeyes of the NFL: Past, Present, and Future

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