Unlike Green Bay and Minnesota, Chicago Bears seem to avoid Iowa football players
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I’m a long time Bears fan.
Who was the last Hawkeye on the Bears roster? So frustrating!
I look up north (GB) and they have stud Hawkeyes.
It is me or so they just draft over rated SEC players that can’t play in the cold.
— Jon McClure (@Jon_McClure_) December 5, 2017
ANSWER: Hey, Jon. It’s perplexing to think how many former Iowa players would fill perfect roles for the Chicago Bears, yet the NFL charter member never seems to take them. Other Midwestern franchises such as the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts have thrived with former Hawkeyes. The Bears, on the other hand, have avoided Iowa. It’s strange considering their shared past.
The backbone of the 1985 Bears was built on the tenacity of Iowa football. Center Jay Hilgenberg and guard Mark Bortz both were starters at Iowa. Craig Clemons was the Bears’ first-round pick in 1972 and started for six years. But the Bears’ last draft pick from Iowa was offensive lineman Bill Anderson in 1990. Occasionally, a player such as wide receiver Jacob Hillyer will get a tryout in Chicago (2016) but nobody really sticks.
Iowa’s coaching staff has built great relationships with the other NFL teams. Green Bay scouts and officials are in Kinnick seemingly every week looking at player tapes. Bryan Bulaga became the youngest starter to win a Super Bowl when the Packers drafted him in the first round in 2010. Mike Daniels has become an upper-echelon defensive tackle with the Packers. Green Bay drafted Micah Hyde in the fifth round in 2013.
Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman seems to draft or sign an Iowa player every year. Detroit coach Jim Caldwell played at Iowa in the early 1970s and has a fondness for his roots. Iowa coaches formerly were tight with officials in Indianapolis and Kansas City. With Chicago, there just hasn’t been much of a relationship.
In the 2017 draft, Desmond King would have made a perfect safety for the Bears defense. George Kittle would have started at tight end in Chicago. Both were fifth-round selections without as much as a sniff from the Bears. That’s even after their staff coached King and quarterback C.J. Beathard at the Senior Bowl last January.
But there could be changes in the upcoming draft. Bears general manager Ryan Pace was in the press box at the Iowa-Wisconsin game in Madison last month and took copious notes of the action. Cornerback Josh Jackson, who most believe will declare for the draft, had 2 interceptions for touchdowns that day and should be a first-round pick. Chicago could use an inside linebacker like Josey Jewell to not only make plays but instill an attitude on defense. It’s always possible the Bears could look at offensive lineman Sean Welsh, too.
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