Who was Iowa’s biggest NFL combine snub?
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OTs not at Combine:
Ike Boettger, Iowa–#192
Andre Dillard, Washington St–#248
Dalton Risner, Kansas St-#293
Bentley Spain, North Carolina-#310
Jamar McGloster, Syracuse–#351
— Dean Kindig (@TCBILLS_Astro) February 7, 2018
ANSWER: Not to be too wishy-washy, but I think three other former Hawkeyes were as deserving of meeting with team officials at the NFL combine last week as their five former teammates were. Offensive linemen Ike Boettger and Boone Myers were three-year starters before suffering season-ending injuries. Also, outside linebacker Ben Niemann made 40 career starts and was outstanding both in run support and pass coverage.
Niemann (6-foot-3, 233 pounds) started every game his final three seasons at Iowa with 39 starts at outside linebacker and one at middle linebacker. He registered 201 career tackles and often defended tight ends or slot receivers in pass coverage. Niemann blocked a punt for a touchdown as a freshman in 2014 and had 2 interceptions. He has the ability to play box linebacker in sub-packages, defend receivers in zone coverage and compete on either side of the ball on special teams.
Highest coverage grades among 2018 NFL Draft LBs, Ben Niemann checked in at No. 3
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 19, 2018
Myers (6-5, 310) started at several positions during his three primary seasons at Iowa. He replaced Brandon Scherff as the team’s left tackle in 2015 and started 17 games there. Myers shifted inside to left guard midway through the 2016 season and opened 5 games at that position. He was slated to begin the 2017 back at left tackle, but he suffered a significant high-ankle sprain early in training camp that stole his explosiveness and power. He tried to play during the season, first as a rotational player, and then started three games at left guard. Eventually, he opted for surgery. Myers likely is a guard at the next level but could develop into a center, too. In fact, that might be his best position.
Boettger (6-6, 307) started 6 games at right tackle in 2015 before missing the rest of the regular season with an injury. In 2016, he was named the team’s comeback player of the year by starting 12 games, including 9 at right tackle, 2 at left guard and 1 at left tackle. He began the 2017 season at right tackle but suffered a torn right Achilles tendon on Sept. 9 and was lost for the season. He had surgery and is working his way back. Like Myers, Boettger has position flexibility and could play guard or tackle in any NFL scheme.
Both Myers and Boettger were considered likely draft picks before the 2017 season. With their size and skill set, a team late in the draft should want a sure thing for training camp rather than take a chance on a boom-or-bust prospect. Nobody has to teach them how to compete in a zone-blocking scheme. Those two linemen, plus Niemann, have a shot at getting drafted despite not receiving a combine invitation. But all three should have been there.
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