NFL eyes Hawk Bradley Fletcher

BY RYAN YOUNG | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

There is a reason Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey aspires to be like Bradley Fletcher.

Playing alongside Fletcher last year, the junior-to-be saw firsthand how having a never-ending source of tackling fuel can generate interest from NFL scouts and coaches.

“He was always going, and going, and going,” Spievey said. “Like he had a battery on his back or something — always had energy.”

That Energizer-bunny work ethic, coupled with his size, speed, and all-around artistry as a defensive threat, has landed Fletcher on several wish lists in the upcoming NFL draft.

The former Hawkeye said he recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, and Indianapolis Colts. He also said he had private workouts with the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots.

NFLdraftScout.com, a CBS Sports affiliate, projects Fletcher to be a third-round selection as the 11th-best cornerback prospect in the draft.

Similarly, ESPN draft specialist Mel Kiper, Jr., lists Fletcher going to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round as the 72nd overall pick in his latest mock draft.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen right now,” Fletcher said. “I’ve heard some good things, but until the weekend comes and it happens, I have plans to go in with an open mind.

“What someone thinks, you know, that’s just one opinion. I’m just staying with an open mind and waiting to see what happens.”

But with the numbers he logged at both the NFL scouting combine and Iowa’s Pro Day, Fletcher may not be waiting for very long.

Showcasing his talents at the combine in February, the Youngstown, Ohio, native ran a 4.50 40-yard dash and recorded a 38.5-inch vertical jump — two of the highest marks among corners at the event.
They only got better a month later at the Iowa Pro Day, though.

After training for four weeks in Iowa City with Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, Fletcher ran faster and leaped higher than he ever had before, shaving .06 off his previous 40-yard dash time, at 4.44, and increasing his vertical to 40 inches.

Yet in spite of his pre-draft success, Fletcher said, he continues to improve his footwork so he can contend with the quickest of pro receivers. According to combine analysis on NFL.com, the 6-2, 200-pound defensive back needs to prove he has breakaway speed.

Scouts also question the legitimacy of his productivity since he played just one full season and saw marginal playing time in 2007.

But Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker isn’t concerned with his any of that, considering Fletcher started all 13 games for the Hawkeyes in 2008, posting 60 total tackles, three interceptions, and one forced fumble. He knows Fletcher will be drafted this weekend.

“Yeah, he has a chance because Bradley can run,” Parker said last week. “Bradley can run, and he’ll hit, and he has good size. I think he played awful well last year.”

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