6 Greatest NFL careers in Iowa football history

Who were the Hawkeyes that made the biggest impact at the next level?
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Alex Karras. . 50. Alex Karras. player. . Defensive Tackle. 1958-1970 . Alex Karras. 2

Karras is a recognized name in the trenches. While his bloodline has gone on to have extra success with the name stitched on the backs of their jerseys, it all started with Alex Karras.

Karras had a fantastic career for the Detroit Lions in the 1960s. Though he just missed the championship era of the franchise, he was a terror for offenses venturing to the Motor City.

Unofficially, Karras is credited with 100 career sacks, though his first two seasons haven't been tallied by Pro Football Reference just yet. Still, the 10th overall pick of the 1958 NFL Draft was up for consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Karras is one of just eight Hawkeyes to be drafted 10th or higher. At the time he was drafted, he was the second-highest Hawkeye drafted by the league, only bested by Dick Crayne in 1936 at fourth overall.

After ripping off back-to-back 11-sack seasons, Karras was suspended in 1963 for gambling. When he returned in 1964, he grabbed 13 sacks and was up for Comeback Player of the Year. He followed that up with 15 sacks in '65 to earn his third and final All-Pro selection, one of only four Hawkeyes with as many or more.

Karras retired in 1970 but unfortunately didn't live to see his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 as he passed away in 2012.

Today, his greatnephew, Ted Karras, is a third-generation guard for the Cincinnati Bengals.