It doesn’t take much to turn five and four-star high school prospects into productive college football players and then into draft picks. But turning two-star or even unrated players that enter college football without too much bell ringing and attention is a much more impressive feat, and no one does it better than Iowa, even if the football program hasn’t been exactly winning a whole lot in recent years.
Iowa has traditionally brought out very good NFL talent in the offensive line, defensive tackle and tight end position. However, the two-star recruits that go through the Hawkeyes development system and reach the NFL has largely been built on cultivating speed from other areas. Of the fifteen two-star Iowa recruits drafted between 2005 and 2014, nine changed positions while at Iowa.
|Iowa Recruits in the Draft, Recruiting Classes 2002-2010|
Of the nine players did not add significant mass and move to a ‘bigger’ position while at Iowa. Most of the changes in Iowa City happen by beefing up players and switching them into bigger positions: Quarterback to Linebacker, linebacker to offensive lineman, Defensive end to Defensive tackle. Bringing in guys willing to put in the work inside the weight room seems to matter more than talent, which is difficult for the school to compete for, even in the Big Ten.
There’s a special focus on high school quarterbacks who don’t ever take a snap for the Hawkeyes behind center. Chad Greenway, Micah Hyde, and Marvin McNutt were all high school quarterbacks who came to Iowa and ended up at new positions. Ferentz is looking for football IQ, which translates well in other positions.
Iowa try to recruit and find diamonds in the rough. That’s hard to do in the Chicago and St. Louis area, but heading into the Northeast, rural Illinois and Iowa Class 2A football. Iowa has not had a four-star prospect in the NFL Draft that did not come from a metropolitan area, while the two-star draftees are scattered across the Rust Belt.
These two and three-star players don’t usually get picked early in the draft. The four and rare five stars coming out of Iowa might be a first-second round pick, but that’s the case with every school. Things are different with the lower rated players. NFL teams know that Iowa players are familiar with the strength & conditioning program, well-versed in proper technique, and used to pro-style schemes. Not all of them are going to be pro stars or even come close, but they’re more than ready to contribute from their first days as pros.
The bottom line: In the last ten NFL Drafts, Iowa has had 38 players drafted. The average Rivals.com star rating of those 38 players is just 2.76. Fifteen of Iowa’s 38 draftees were two-star recruits, and the chance of a two-star prospect getting drafted out of Iowa is barely lower than that of a four-star prospect. A two-star prospect has a one-in-34 chance of getting drafted nation-wide; at Iowa, his chances are one in six. A three-star recruit is three times more likely to get drafted out of Iowa than he is from an average program.