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Who’s going to have the best NFL career: Greene, King, or Fletcher?

BY DI SPORTS STAFF | FEBRUARY 24, 2009 7:29 AM

Shonn Greene

Don’t let the 40-yard dash fool you.

Over this past weekend, 23-year-old Shonn Greene ran a 4.63 40 at the NFL scouting combine, which for him was an expected time. But while his speed isn’t elite, Greene does have quickness.

A dominant north-south runner at 5-10 and around 230 pounds, great footwork near the line of scrimmage will undoubtedly aid Greene in having the best career of any Hawkeye in this year’s draft.

While such guys as Bradley Fletcher and Mitch King also received invitations to the combine, they have much more to prove than Greene. Fletcher has good size for the cornerback position, but he has around 25 other players with a higher draft stock. King is an incredible workhorse, but he has to put on about 25 pounds if he wants a shot at making a career as a defensive end at 6-2.

Greene’s running style would probably fit best in Denver, a team that used around seven running backs last season and typically has the downfield running style, although that may change this year with new head coach Josh McDaniels.

Unfortunately for the Doak Walker Award winner, there aren’t too many organizations in need of a running back. But that’s where he can step in right away, wherever it may be, as a short yardage back.

Of course Greene’s stock isn’t going to rise from the combine, and he’ll probably be a second-round pick at best.

However, Greene’s ability to gain yardage after contact, his low center of gravity that carries him through defenders, and his ability to hit the holes will lead him to a prolific career in the NFL.
If you think the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year’s size and running style won’t suit him well in the NFL, just look at these bruisers’ careers — Ladell Betts, Brandon Jacobs, and Rudi Johnson.

— by Peter Gustin

Bradley Fletcher

Bradley Fletcher was always an under-appreciated talent during his four years in an Iowa football uniform. Although Fletcher didn’t earn a true starting spot until his final season, he made his 2008 campaign count.

The senior cornerback totaled 60 tackles, three interceptions, and 10 pass breakups — good enough to earn an All-Big Ten honorable mention. He ended his college career strong, picking off a pass in the Outback Bowl. Many scouts also felt he was the most impressive cornerback at the East-West Shrine Game.

Although some feel that his speed leaves a little to be desired, his agility, deceptive strength, and general cover skills should allow him to remain at his natural position in the NFL. Still, his size (6-0, 196 pounds) should give him the ability to transition to free safety if necessary. Fletcher’s overall athletic ability, not to mention his great defensive instincts, will secure him a place in the NFL for years to come.

You see, from February to April, every single year, the so-called experts compare times in the 40 and discuss pointless bench-press reps. Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay will waste countless hours discussing whether a player who will never end up a star will go 15th or 16th. It’s almost as if the whole reason the players are getting drafted — football — is forgotten.

“Fletch” may not have the best combine numbers out of any cornerback hoping to hear his name called this April. As of Feb. 22, ESPN.com even ranked him the 32nd best prospect at corner. Many scouting sources don’t have him being selected until the seventh round, while others don’t believe the man who wore No. 29 for the Hawkeyes will even hear his name called at the podium on draft weekend.

But after you get past all the combine drills, the fancy numbers, the tests asking you such strange questions as if you have ever thought about killing someone, there’s only one thing left to do — play football. That’s where I think Fletcher will excel.

You see, Fletcher might not run the best 40-time, or be the strongest guy out there. But he’s a damn good football player.

And isn’t that what really matters?

— by Jordan Garretson

Mitch King

Mitch King is going to have a long, productive NFL career simply because he plays too damn hard not to.

King’s motor made him a terror for Big Ten offensive linemen. He had double-digit tackles-for-loss all four years he played. Last season, his 15.5 tackles-for-loss helped earn him the title of Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a senior.

He certainly doesn’t fit the prototype for an NFL defensive tackle. At around 280 pounds, King’s size may scare some teams away. However, his speed, relentlessness and skill with his hands could make him a valuable penetrator for a team that values undersized defensive tackles, such as the Indianapolis Colts.

During Senior Bowl practices in January, King showed that his speed may help him overcome his lack of size, earning praise as he beat many of the top offensive linemen in the draft one-on-one.
Rob Bruggeman, who like King was invited to the NFL scouting combine this past weekend, said King was the toughest player he faced during his career with Iowa.

King’s fierceness on the field and good character made him a fan favorite. He always represented the football program positively off-the-field, even while some of his teammates did not. With the enhanced media scrutiny of professional football and league crackdown on player conduct, his NFL team will never have to worry about him “making it rain” or shooting himself in the leg.

At Iowa, he represented everything good about college football. He was a hardworking student athlete who happened to be a standout on the field because he gave the game everything he had.
Whether it’s as a starting defensive tackle in a scheme that knows how to utilize him or as a situational pass rusher, King will find a place in the pros for years to come.

— by Mike Slusark


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