The Iowa football team, per usual, sent a few guys to the NFL last season. Here’s how well they did in their rookie campaigns.
After going 8-5 and winning the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, the Iowa football team had to say good-bye to a few players as they departed for the NFL. All in all, three former Hawks heard their names called during the NFL draft and a few others signed on with teams as undrafted free agents.
At the conclusion of the 2018 NFL season, a grand total of five Iowa football players from the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl Championship team saw game action in the NFL.
Here is how they did.
James Daniels, Chicago Bears
Daniels left the Hawks after his junior season and was expected to be a day one starter. For the most part he was as good as advertised. Playing for a surprising Chicago Bears team that won the NFC North, Daniels was a stalwart on the offensive line the last half of the season, starting a total of 10 games and playing in all 16.
Instead of playing his traditional center spot, however, he moved over to guard where he posted a 63.6 Pro Football Focus rating, good enough for 29th overall in the league putting him in the upper half of the league’s starting guards. Pretty good for a kid who wasn’t even 21 at the start of the season.
Josh Jackson, Green Bay Packers
At the time, this was considered an absolute thievery. The Packers were able to pick up a first round caliber player in Jackson, the 2017 Woodson-Tatum Defensive Back of the Year, in the middle of the second round.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Jackson though as he struggled (as did the Packers as a whole) to produce consistently. After shining in the preseason with a few highlight reel plays, Jackson failed to notch a single interception in the 2018 regular season, but he did record 46 total tackles and 10 passes defensed in his rookie season. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the 93rd best corner in the league, but that is likely to improve as the Jackson becomes acclimated to Mike Pettine’s defense.
Josey Jewell, Denver Broncos
How this guy fell to the fourth round, I will never truly understand. Yes, he may not be as superior of an athlete as some other linebackers in the class, but the guy can flat-out play. His instincts are as good as most linebackers in today’s NFL, and he’s an incredible worker. I mean, how else can a guy go from a 2-star athlete to one of the greatest Iowa football players in the history of the program?
This past season, Jewell started nine games for the 6-10 Denver Broncos and appeared in all 16 games. In that time, he racked up 53 tackles and 3 passes defensed while posting a 63.1 Pro Football rating, ranking 53rd in the league.
With the Denver Broncos bringing in Vic Fangio as the new head coach, expect big things from the former Iowa football player next year.
Ben Niemann, Kansas City Chiefs
Ben Niemann signed on with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and carved out a fantastic niche role as a reserve linebacker for the AFC conference runner-ups. The former Iowa football player even started one game for the AFC West champions. He accumulated 10 tackles in 14 games played.
Although he didn’t play enough snaps to qualify for actual Pro Football Focus rankings, he did finish with a 59.3 grade, which is considered above average.
Grade: B (relatively speaking)
Ike Boettger, Buffalo Bills
Ike Boettger had an interesting ride this seasoning being waived twice and finally sticking with the Bills on attempt #2. Although he didn’t play for the majority of the season, he did appear in four of the last five games this season.
Five guys appearing in games is fantastic, and with a strong underclassmen group this year, there should be even more guys from the 2019 draft class playing in the league from the Iowa football program.