Last year was a banner season for the Hawkeyes, who started 12-0 and played in their first Rose Bowl in 25 years. What was perhaps most impressive about it was how it wasn’t on the back of stars or big names, and this year’s draft results showcase it with only one player from the current roster going in the seven rounds.
In April’s draft, the Big Ten churned out 47 draft picks through the seven rounds. That still trailed the SEC’s 51, but it beat out every other league and topped the previous year’s total by 12.
RELATED: Ohio State draft breakdown, Penn State draft breakdown, Michigan State draft breakdown, Michigan draft breakdown, Indiana/Maryland/Rutgers draft breakdown, Nebraska draft breakdown, Wisconsin draft breakdown
This is the eighth part of a series that takes a look at the Big Ten’s draft picks and how they might fit in early on with their NFL teams.
Today, we continue with the Hawkeyes:
Iowa — 2 draft picks (sort of)
Round 6, Pick 16: Jake Rudock, QB, Detroit Lions — This is cheating a little bit, as Rudock transferred to and finished his career at Michigan, but he did start two years at Iowa in 2013-2014, so he’s in some ways a Hawkeyes product. He got better after he transferred to the Wolverines, helping to re-energize a dormant program with his consistency and intelligence, two traits that made him an intriguing backup option in the NFL. Rudock doesn’t have the arm strength to really scare defenses or to bail him out of difficult situations, and he’ll need to work on his pocket presence, but his experience in a pro-style offense should expedite the process of competing for a backup spot behind Matthew Stafford for Detroit.
Round 7, Pick 27: Austin Blythe, C, Indianapolis Colts — Blythe played in better than 96 percent of Iowa’s offensive snaps over the past three years, and now he’ll look to provide depth for what is the weakest unit on the Colts roster. The offensive line is also the team’s second-most valuable unit next to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, and protecting him is finally a priority after he missed nine games last season. Indianapolis spent its first-round pick on Alabama center Ryan Kelly, so it’ll look to Blythe to provide depth to him and starting guards Jack Mewhort and Jonotthan Harrison. Blythe appealed because he’s started multiple games at guard and center, giving him a level of inside versatility few rookies can step right in and offer. At 6-foot-2 and 291 pounds, Blythe is undersized for both positions, but he has exceled in the zone scheme the Colts will employ, and he’s fleet enough to aid in pass protection, which is obviously their No. 1 concern.
The best player the Hawkeyes had last season should make for their best prospect in next year’s draft. Cornerback Desmond King enters his senior year after picking off a school-record eight passes last season, earning him All-America honors.
Whether he’ll give them their first first-round pick since offensive tackle Brandon Scherff went No. 5 to the Redskins in 2015 will depend on whether he can take his game to another level against top-flight receivers this year, but he looks very much to be in that conversation in the early goings.