Analyzing 2021 Iowa Hawkeyes football, as done by 2022 NFL Draft picks

Opposing teams ‘know what we’re going to get’ from Hawkeyes

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Kaevon Merriweather (26) pushes Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver David Bell (3) out of bounds in the first half of the Hawkeyes’ 24-7 loss to Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, October. 16, 2021. (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)

As NFL hopefuls one-by-one heard their names called in April’s NFL Draft, quite a few names sound familiar to Iowa fans – more than just the two Hawkeyes being drafted.

The 14 teams on Iowa’s 2021 schedule produced a combined 43 draft picks in 2022. That includes eight from Penn State and five apiece from Michigan and Wisconsin. Many others have signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents since then.

Northwestern and Kent State were the only 2021 opponents to not have a 2022 draft pick on its roster.

The Gazette talks to some of Iowa’s former opponents about their perspective on the 2021 Hawkeyes while they were at the NFL Combine in March:

Iowa’s defense

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who earned the hon. Irrelevant nickname is being selected with the last pick of the seventh round, both games he played in against Iowa.

But it wasn’t because of anything overly complicated the Iowa defense was doing.

“Honestly, they don’t do a whole lot,” Purdy said. “They run a couple coverages. They keep it simple, but they are very disciplined with it. … Going into the Iowa game, we know what we’re going to get, but it’s just a matter of executing. “

Few, if any, opposing players have had as much of a menace to the Hawkeyes’ defense – and some of their peers in the Big Ten – as former Purdue wide receiver David Bell.

In 2021, he scorched Iowa for 240 yards and then Michigan State three weeks later for 216 yards.

Iowa rarely played zone – “We call it Cover 5 coverage, so half the field is Cover 4, the other side is Cover 2” – and Michigan State played man defense, but Bell had similar observations from the two showings.

“Both of those universities have great defensive coaches, and they stick with what they know and they just believe in their players.” The Browns’ third-round pick said. “Greatly for us, they didn’t change anything.”

Iowa’s offense

JoJo Domann, an undrafted free agent linebacker from Nebraska, described Iowa’s offensive style as “just hard-nosed football.”

“They have their identity,” Domann said. “We know as a defense what they are going to do. And it’s basically, ‘Can you stop them?’ “

Unanimous consensus All-American Tyler Linderbaum especially had a lot of respect from his fellow NFL Combine prospects who had to deal with him.

“He’s athletic, he’s strong and he understands leverage,” Domann said. “He’s always looking to get you out of your gap. … Step No. 1 as an offensive and defensive lineman is gap integrity, so he’s a good player. “

Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal referred to Linderbaum as the “No. 1 center in the country. “

“He’s fast,” Chenal said. “He’ll get to the second level really quick, so you’ve got to be careful.”

Domann also had high praise for Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, including one of the top three environments in the Big Ten along with Minnesota’s Huntington Bank Stadium and Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium.

“Iowa’s fans are right on top of you,” Domann said.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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