Iowa has had a few players declare early for the NFL draft. Dallas Clark, Fred Russell and Shonn Greene shook off what would’ve been fifth years of eligibility.
This year is the first year, however, Coach Kirk Ferentz will deal with multiple juniors considering the jump to the draft. Offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and defensive back Amari Spievey are on the NFL’s radar.
Ferentz knows it. He doesn’t want the trio bogged down during bowl week with “will you stay or will you go” questions during preparations for the Orange Bowl. But he’s also not shying away from their pro possibilities and his responsibility to give them fair and accurate counsel.
“To me, my job is to make sure we get the information, accurate information, in front of the players, and then it’s up to them to figure out what it is they’re looking for, their families are looking for,” Ferentz said.
The NFL status report on all three is murky. Bulaga said his parents are handling the matter. Clayborn said he didn’t want to talk about it. Spievey’s mom said he’d either be the family’s first college graduate or
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is Jan. 15. Ferentz is determined to give the three an accurate read.
“(Bulaga) was inquiring about the paper work,” Ferentz said. “I’ll encourage all of them to fill the paper work out. It’s like anything. It’s like before you get your driver’s permit. You’re curious about it and all of that stuff. I’m good on that.
“I’ll try to touch base with them here in the next week and a half, certainly, all three of the guys. And then it’s going to be a process of getting them on the phone with people who really know what the board looks like.”
Ferentz spent six seasons coaching the offensive line for the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens. Iowa’s football complex is open to any and all NFL scouts during most any time of the year. He has well chronicled friendships with Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and former Cleveland GM Phil Savage.
“I think it’s going to be important that they hear it from several different people just so they don’t think there’s any collusion going on,” Ferentz said. “I’ll let them have a choice, too.
“There will be a couple of names I’ll let them choose from. I think it’s probably good to get a couple of opinions. I’ll do some of that work here in the next couple of weeks, too.”
He wants players to hear both sides of the “stay/go” argument. He’s definitely an interested party and biased on the subject.
“I’d rather have everybody stay through their senior year,” Ferentz said. “I personally think it’s the best thing for any player. But it’s kind of like we get occasional calls, staff members, guys call and say we’d like to talk to so and so on your staff about a position. I don’t answer for our coaches, and I always tell people that. I respect the call, but I think it’s up to our coaches to make the best decision, and for the players it’s the same way.
“I know we have three guys right now that are worth talking about. We’ve already probably beaten that horse to death enough. But it’s a very simple process. I think it comes down to getting the right information, where do they really fit, not based on somebody’s dot com site but talking to NFL people that really know and watching all the tape, and they also know the draft board, so you try to get that information in front of a player.”
This is the first time Ferentz has dealt with younger players – Bulaga, 20, is a true junior; Clayborn, 21, and Spievey, 21, are red-shirt juniors — with NFL options.