Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in the fifth round (135 overall) in the NFL draft.
Stanzi likely will compete with Brodie Croyle for the Chiefs’ backup quarterback slot.
Stanzi, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, threw for 3,004 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions last year for Iowa. Het set a single-season passing efficiency record of 157.63 last year and was named the team’s offensive MVP.
Stanzi was the first Iowa quarterback drafted since Matt Rodgers (12th round) in 1992. He was the 14th Iowa quarterback drafted by a major professional football league. The Chiefs drafted Mark Vlasic in the fourth round in 1986. Vlasic was the last Iowa quarterback to start a game in the NFL .
“I think it’s an excellent pick,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s a little more NFL ready than a lot of those spread guys.”
He started three years for the Hawkeyes and is the only quarterback in team history to win three bowl games. He established a school record by throwing a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games and finished his career 26-9.
“The question I have on tape is can he drive it, can he drive the intermediate routes from a five- and seven-step drop?” Mayock asked. “Almost everything looks similar to me coming out.
“He’s a timing guy. I like him a lot. He loves the game of football. He gobbles up tape. He’s got all the intangibles, 25 touchdowns against six interceptions as a senior. Prior to that, his junior year, he was 17 and 15. He just kept getting better.”
Stanzi ranks among Iowa’s leaders in several historical categories. He’s third all-time in touchdowns (56), passing yards (7,377), pass attempts (907) and total offense (7,373). He’s fourth in completions (542).
Q: How much time did you spend with the Chiefs before the draft?
STANZI: “I met with them at the combine and worked out with coach (Jim) Zorn a little bit. I became familiar with the coaching staff and the organization. I am very excited to get this opportunity.”
Q: So this is not really a surprise to you?
STANZI: “Like I said, I am just very excited to be on an NFL team, especially the Chiefs with their great tradition. I am just excited to be a part of the team and I am ready to go to work.”
Q: There seems to be a lot of predictions prior to the draft that you would end up here. Why do you suppose that is?
STANZI: “I don’t know. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the predictions or where you may go. I have just tried to work hard throughout the whole process and let teams get to know me. Wherever you end up, you join that team and I am just very excited for that opportunity.”
Q: What do you think you can bring right away to the table here?
STANZI: “I just want to come in, work hard, do what the coaches ask of me and earn the respect of all the players and the coaching staff and the whole organization.”
Q: Does coming in behind an established quarterback change your mental approach?
STANZI: “Back to what I just said. You come in and you want to work hard and whatever the coaches ask me and whatever my role has to be, that is what I will do. I am just excited to be a part of the team. You know they have great tradition. Coach Haley has done a tremendous job and the whole Hunt family. I am excited to be there and to work hard. Whatever I need to do for the team I am willing to do.”
Q: What do you know about QB coach Jim Zorn and your ability to work with him?
STANZI: “Working with him throughout the process a little bit has been awesome. To get to know him made me very comfortable with him and he is a tremendous coach. I felt that we had a good time working together and I am excited to continue that.”
Q: Have you talked to QB Matt Cassel at all?
STANZI: “No I haven’t.”
Q: Have you talked to anybody besides coaches?
STANZI: “Nope, this is my first.”
Q: What did TE Tony Moeaki tell you about the Chiefs?
STANZI: “He of course raved about it being a great organization with a great coaching staff, great people around it. For me to get the chance to play here and be on the team is just really exciting.”
Q: How much did you follow the Chiefs?
STANZI: “I think you have a lot going on during your own time, but the Chiefs have a great tradition, Arrowhead, great fans and it is a great place to play. Just to be a part of it now is really an honor.”
Q: Have you ever seen a game at Arrowhead?
STANZI: “No, I have not.”
Q: What do you think your greatest strengths are as a QB?
STANZI: “My thing is, just come in, work hard and I want to earn respect from the coaching staff and the players and just get to know the players and be a part of the team.”
Q: What has Coach Kirk Ferentz told you about Scott Pioli?
STANZI: “We haven’t exactly had that conversation. It has always just been go out there and work hard, do your best to show the coaches and the teams what kind of player you are.”
Q: Does the labor situation affect your approach?
STANZI: “It’s a new process for me anyways so the whole thing, it’s going to be the first time, so all I can do right now is control what I can control and that’s just my work ethic and attitude, and the main thing is being on a team and being in a great organization.”
Q: How do you prepare? Do you continue to work out at Iowa? What do you do now?
STANZI: “Find a place to work out and just go to work every single day and try to improve and that’s the main thing, that’s what I’ll try to do.”
Q: Will you do that back home in Ohio or in Iowa City?
STANZI: “I’ll be in Iowa City, who knows right now where I’ll end up. The main thing is finding a spot to work out and just continue to try and improve as a player.”
Q: Who did you root for growing up?
STANZI: “There was a lot of different teams, I always rooted for different quarterbacks growing up in Ohio. Obviously, the Browns were one of the teams around here, just being a fan of football really, was the main thing growing up, and being around the game and watching different players is always kind of exciting for me and my family.”
Q: Who, quarterback wise, did you idolize?
STANZI: “There were tons of guys back in the day that my dad always idolized, and I kind of just took after, and just watched the game and tried to learn as much from quarterbacks as I could. To be able to play the position is an honor and just watching football in general has been fun.”
Q: Any particular quarterbacks?
STANZI: “I really liked Joe Namath, the old-time guys. There’s a ton of great quarterbacks and just watching them playing is fun, there’s a ton of great quarterbacks now, there’s a ton of great quarterbacks in the past, and there is always someone you can learn from.”
Q: Ricky I’m trying to remember a conversation we had at the Senior Bowl. You and Tony were roommates for a while weren’t you?
STANZI: “We weren’t roommates but we hung out a lot, pretty much all the time so we’ve become very close friends.”
Q: You have a tattoo that says ‘Made in the USA 1987’?
STANZI: “Yes I do.”
Q: Obviously the year you were born I assume? Is there any other meaning?
STANZI: “Really, it’s just a patriotic thing. I’m very proud to be an American and that was really the main thing behind the tattoo, being proud of where you’re from, and it just kind of came to my mind and I just decided to go with it.”
Q: That’s kind of cool, do you have friends in the military who are defending the country?
STANZI: “I know a couple people, kind of scattered throughout Ohio, and some people in Iowa.”