The NFL Combine wrapped up yesterday with the defensive back drills, meaning Josh Jackson finally got his chance to show NFL scouts what he could do. In all, five Hawkeyes were invited to the Combine: James Daniels, Josh Jackson, Josey Jewell, Akrum Wadley and Sean Welsh. Here’s your recap on how each player performed:
James Daniels, Center
Daniels has been given a prospect grade of 6.00 by NFL.com, meaning he’s likely to become an instant starter. He’s projected to be drafted in the second round and BOY ARE THEY IMPRESSED WITH THAT ARM LENGTH:
Iowa center James Daniels, a first-round prospect, with a great arm length of 33 6/8". That's what teams want to see.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 28, 2018
No, but in all seriousness, Daniels showed out despite not running the 40-yard dash due to an injured hamstring. Among centers, his 30.5 inch vertical jump was 6th best, he had the second fastest 3-cone drill, the fastest 20-yard shuffle and the 10th best long jump. The consensus seems to be that not only is Daniels a heady player, but he’s an athletic one to boot.
James Daniels is an impressive interview and communicator. Talked about the importance of communication and knowledge at center.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 1, 2018
To me, James Daniels is Rodney Hudson. Very mobile, puts on a clinic with reach blocks and walling off at second level. Put him in this DAL ZBS and let him thrive at guard. Take him at 19. Doesn't turn 21 til September. Best football ahead of him.
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) March 1, 2018
Guess the whole going pro early thing will work out well for James. Honestly, seems like if Daniels was thought of as a 2nd round player heading into the Combine, his athletic showing could potentially bump him up to the 1st. Looks like the NFL guys doing mock drafts agree with that view, as a number of them having Daniels going as high as 23rd to the Los Angeles Rams.
Josey Jewell, Linebacker
Things could've gone better for the Outlaw. Jewell has been given a grade of 5.65, meaning he has a chance to become an NFL starter and is projected to be drafted in the 3-4th rounds. Naturally, his comparison is for Sean Lee (because he’s white, you see) and, well, he didn’t have the best performance at the Combine. He ran an abysmal 4.82 40-yard dash and w
as in the bottom of the pack of nearly every other workout. That’s the bad news. EDIT: Actually he did well in the 3-cone drill and the shuttle drills, as Scott Dochterman noted over at Land of 10.
The good news is that it sounds like a number of people really don’t care:
Josey Jewell runs slow and plays fast. I'm gonna trust the tape.
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 4, 2018
.@HawkeyeFootball ILB Josey Jewell ran an unofficial 4.83.
Won't bother people who've checked out the footage. A tackle machine with tremendous instincts.#NFLCombine
— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) March 4, 2018
The tape doesn't lie on Josey. That's what's important here. He was consistent at Iowa, had good games when Iowa was on national TV, and has all of the intangibles to be a successfully middle linebacker in the NFL.
Sean Welsh, Center
Welsh played a number of positions during his career at Iowa and he’s listed as a center at the Combine. He’s been given a grade of 5.37, meaning he’s an NFL backup or has special teams potential. He’s projected to be drafted in the 5-6th round and his NFL comparison is…wait… Austin Blythe? C’mon. That’s just lazy.
Welsh didn’t blow anyone away at the Combine but he didn’t fall flat on his face either. He was merely…there. I’ve seen some Tweets and posts criticizing him for his size but I guess I don’t think that 6’3, 306 pounds is terribly small for a center. Regardless, it’s criticism he’ll have to deal with despite the fact that he was arguably Iowa’s best lineman for two straight years and barely missed any playing time. He’ll find his niche in the NFL one way or another.
Akrum Wadley, Running Back
You can see the criticisms of Akrum Wadley a mile away. He’s obviously too small. Where is he going to play? He can’t block. Etc. Etc. Etc. And yeah, he is small. That hasn’t stopped Jacquizz Rodgers, Dion Lewis or Darren Sproles from playing, though. Is he an every down back? Absolutely not. Here’s someone appropriately identifying what he’ll be great at in the NFL:
Iowa RB Akrum Wadley - natural hands. Again, you knew this if you watched his film.
Probably more of a playmaker than an out and out runner. As a big fan of his, I truly hope he lands with a team who will heavily include him in the passing game. He can offer a lot to an offense.
— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) March 2, 2018
Wadley didn’t participate in too many workouts, with his showcase being the 40-yard dash:
His official time turned out to be 4.52, which was solid but well above his goal of running a 4.4. Overall, it was the 11th fastest time. Wadley is projected to be drafted in the 3-4th rounds and has been given a grade of 5.45, meaning he’s a backup or has special teams potential. It's not unreasonable to think he can make a living as a third down or scatback, provided his blocking technique is solid.
Josh Jackson, Cornerback
We got really excited when we saw this:
Because running a 4.4ish 40-yard dash is something that NFL scouts are looking for in a cornerback. But it turns out that his 40-yard dash was unofficial and the actual time was 4.56. How big of a difference is that? Well:
How significant is that seven-100ths of a second? That (time) meshes with his workouts. Tight in his pedal, breaks, one NFL analyst told me. That doesnt translate to top 15-20 (draft pick), in my opinion. The traits arent there in terms of testing.
— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) March 5, 2018
I'm of the opinion that if you're not drafting Jackson over that time difference, well, you're a fool. Here's the full tape:
Just last season at @HawkeyeFootball: 27 passes defensed + 8 INT.
— NFL (@NFL) March 6, 2018
Despite the disappointing 40-yard dash time, Jackson was 3rd overall among cornerbacks in bench press and 5th among cornerbacks with a 38 inch vertical. Lots of guys on NFL.com continue to be high on him, with majority of them projecting the Bills to draft him with the 22nd overall pick.
In short, it looks like there's a substantial likelihood that Iowa could have two players drafted in the first round, another two drafted in the 3rd or 4th rounds and Welsh being drafted in the later rounds. If they managed two first round draft picks, it would be the first time the Hawkeyes accomplished such a feat since the 1997 NFL Draft with Tom Knight and Ross Verba. Iowa also hasn't had five draft picks since the 2012 Draft, when they had SIX players taken.
The Kirk Ferentz NFL Developmental Program is strong once again.