Monday, April 26, 2004
First, addressing the Princeton aspect of the NFL draft, NFL GMs elected not to draft any Princetonians, choosing instead to gamble that they will be available in the free agent market. Whether or not they are prepared to outbid Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley remains to be seen.
The Hawkeyes faired better, but then they did offer two players, Robert Gallery and Nate Kaeding, who were the best players at their position in college football last year. Gallery, a 6'7'' 323 pound left tackle, has in many ways been the story of the draft, considered a sure thing by NFL scouts watching him perform at the combine in March. I won't make any career predictions but he did bring the Outland Trophy back to Iowa City where it has not been seen since Alex Karras left campus. Gallery was chosen 2nd in the overall draft by the Oakland Raiders.
Kaeding, a kicker, went in the 3rd round to the Chargers where he will be reunited with former Hawkeye golden boy Tim Dwight. Eli Manning will not be joining him. Kickers usually are not drafted at all, let alone on the first day, so this is a compliment. Having watched Kaeding for the past three years, I will predict that he will be a successful NFL kicker for years to come. The kid is tough.
Perhaps the steal of the draft was Hawkeye safety Bob Sanders slipping to 44 overall and going to the Colts. Concerns remain over Sanders' diminutive stature, but his 5'8'' height is compensated for by 4.4 speed and the best vertical leap at the combine. Starting at safety since his freshman season, Sanders was a two time All-Big 10 selection and was widely regarded as the hardest hitter in the conference. In many respects, Bob Sanders was a key to the recent resurgence of the Iowa football program, and I expect he'll make receivers think twice about running the crossing pattern against Indy. By the end of September his height will no longer be a topic of discussion.
Hawkeye receiver Mo Brown and running back Fred Russell went undrafted, a surprise to some. Brown was injured for much of his senior year and had a lackluster showing in senior all-star games. Russell, on the other hand, rushed for 1200 yards the last two seasons and was MVP of the last two bowls he participated in, the FKA Florida Citrus Bowl and the all-star Hula Bowl. Russell is only 5'7'' and 195 pounds, a fact which obviously concerns scouts. (Seeing him in the huddle next to Gallery has always been an absurd spectacle). A Joe Morris type player, he's got a shot at the NFL if he can land with the right team. If that doesn't work out, look for him to put up big numbers in the wide open CFL (where former Hawkeye Heisman runner up Brad Banks has gone to ply his trade).
Of course the whole story can be found at Hawk Central.