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Hawkeyes go in NFL draft

Iowa center James Daniels talks to reporters during the Hawkeye football team’s media day prior to the start of the 2017 season. Daniels was the first Iowa player picked in the 2018 NFL draft, selected 39th overall by the Chicago Bears. (photo by Don Lund)

There are two reasons I watch the NFL draft.
One is to see where the Iowa Hawkeyes go and two is to see who the Chicago Bears pick.

It seems that this happens more times than not but the pre-draft “experts” are usually picking at least one or two Hawkeyes to go in the first round.
Last year Desmond King, a two-time All-American and winner of the Jim Thorpe award as a junior, was projected to go high in the draft.
Desmond dropped all the way to the fifth round, picked by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 151st selection.
Desmond played in 12 games last year for the Chargers with four starts.
The Hawkeye All-American finished with 76 tackles, five pass deflections, four sacks, and 17 kickoff returns for 353 yards.
Josh Jackson and James Daniels were projected first-round picks, but ended up in the second round.
James got drafted by the Chicago Bears as the 39th overall pick.
Josh was selected by their archrivals Green Bay six picks later at 45.
James is the first Hawkeye to be drafted by the Bears in 28 years.
The last center from Iowa to start for Chicago was Jay Hilgenberg. Jay played along side fellow Hawkeye Mark Bortz.
Jay played from 1981-91 for the Bears and was all-pro seven times.
Josh Jackson might have had the greatest one year as a starter since Brad Banks in 2002. He went from backup to consensus first team All-American after leading the nation in interceptions with eight.
Brad Banks went from backup in 2001 to runner-up in the Heisman, AP College Football Player of the Year and the Big Ten MVP.
Josh’s size and background as a receiver come in handy playing the ball.
Some scouts compare Josh to Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, one of the best defensive backs in NFL history.
That’s not bad.
Josey Jewell was drafted by Denver in the fourth round. I think this is a good pickup for any team. Josey was a consensus All-American after being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
His scouting report includes… eyes work fast, always flowing downhill looking to make plays near the line of scrimmage.
There were only three other Hawkeyes that had more tackles than Josey; Larry Station, Andre Jackson and Abdul Hodge.
The thing that’s hard to measure about Josey is that he is a student of the game, watching film and learning every day.
Denver has a great defensive line and that will help Josey develop faster.
Four Hawkeyes signed as free agents with Akrum Wadley going to Tennessee, Sean Welsh to the Redskins, Ike Boettger to Buffalo and Ben Niemann to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Da Bears

I started following the Chicago Bears in 1965 when two first-round draft picks, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, burst on the seen and led the Bears to a 9-5 record.
All Gale did is score 22 touchdowns, still a rookie record, including six in one game (which tied an all-time record).
Gale was the NFL Rookie of the Year.
Dick Butkus was also great his first year and was named All-Pro.
In both 1969 and 1970, the former All-American from Illinois was named Defensive Player of the Year.
I had to wait until 1985 for the Bears to win their first Super Bowl.
I went with some Moville friends to see to Bears play is Chicago once a year from 1984-1987.
One of the games we saw was in 1984 when Walter Payton broke Jim Brown’s rushing record.
Walter broke the record against the New Orleans Saints when he ran for 154 yards.
It is still sad to think “Sweetness” left us in 1999.
Walter was my age.
Kelly Neustrom, a childhood friend from Moville, and I would go to Platteville, Wis., to watch the Bears in preseason camp from 1984-89 every August.
Chicago has always been known for its defense and especially linebackers including Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher.
It looks like they got another good one in Raquan Smith (6-1, 225) from Georgia.
Raquan was a consensus All-American, the Butkus award winner and the Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC.
Raquan is described as a “speedy and tenacious sideline-to-sideline three-down linebacker who excels against the run and in pass coverage.”
The Bears were 5-11 last year and haven’t had a winning record since 2012 when they were 10-6.
They fired head coach Lovie Smith after 2012 and are on their third coach since then.
The Bears No. 2 pick, James Daniels (6-3, 306), was a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said James is the best center he has ever coached.
That includes All-American Bruce Nelson (1999-2002).
James, who is only 20, has great feet, good balance and is a good athlete.
Chicago’s next pick was Anthony Miller, a 5-11, 201-pound receiver from Memphis.
Anthony was a consensus first team All-American.
Last season, Anthony caught 95 receptions for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns… all school records.
The Bears traded up to get Anthony.
In the fourth round, the Bears selected linebacker Joel Lyiegbuniwe (6-1, 225) from Western Kentucky. Scouts say he is a good athlete with good speed.
Joel ran a 4.6 40 at the NFL combine.
The fifth round saw Chicago pick Bilal Nichols (6-5, 306), a defensive lineman from Delaware. Scouts say Bilal has power and instincts to stack, shed and make plays on inside runs.
Chicago picked up another defensive player in Kylie Fitts (6-4, 263), a defensive end from Utah. Kylie is an edge rusher that can play in the 4-3 or 3-4.
In the seventh round, the Bears selected wide receiver Javon Wims (6-3, 215) from Georgia. Javon has a big body that could play split and slot. He caught 45 passes last season for 720 yards and seven touchdowns.
I like the Bears’ picks.
Their first four picks, including James Daniels, should play right away.
They were okay on defense last year, but need to improve to be in the chase.
Top pick Raquan Smith should help as the Bears chose four defensive players in the draft.
Chicago also needs some receivers for Mitchell Trubisky and they got a couple, along with some off-season signings.
Will it be enough to catch the Vikings and Packers?
After five straight non-winning seasons I’m hoping for a winning season, at least.