Several Hawkeyes may be taken in NFL draft


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Last year, Iowa set a school record for the number of players selected in a single NFL draft, with six Hawkeyes hearing their name called at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Just one year later, that record could be in jeopardy.

The 2011 NFL draft kicks off at 7 p.m. today in Radio City Music Hall; it will be broadcast live on ESPN. With the event in its second year using a three-day format, tonight will exclusively feature the first round, while rounds two and three will be Friday. Rounds four through seven conclude the draft Saturday.

Four Iowa players — defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, quarterback Ricky Stanzi, and safety Tyler Sash — are considered near-locks for selection.

Clayborn headlines that group.

After a 2009 junior season in which the 6-4, 285-pounder recorded 20 tackles for loss — including 11.5 sacks — he was thought by many to be a potential top-10 selection if he chose to declare early for the 2010 draft. He didn't, citing his desire to win a Big Ten Title and "finish what he started."

Iowa finished fourth in the Big Ten, and Clayborn put together a slightly less impressive senior year, totaling 52 tackles. That dip in productivity, as well as some concerns about his Erb's palsy and its possible effect on his upper-body strength, have caused a slight drop in his stock.

Erb's palsy is a condition in which there is a loss of movement of the arm because of nerve damage during birth.

Still, most experts, including ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., project the St. Louis native to be picked no later than the late first round.

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Wes Bunting, the National Football Post's director of college scouting, doesn't think the condition affects Clayborn's play. He slotted him as the No. 24 overall pick (New Orleans Saints) in his mock draft Wednesday.

Clayborn's biggest asset is his versatility, Bunting said, noting his ability to play as both a pass-rusher and run-stopper.

"I would have never even noticed [the condition]to be honest," Bunting told The Daily Iowan. "I think it's been blown out of proportion. Versatility, ability to play three downs for a team."

After those four, there are three players — defensive tackle Karl Klug, tight end Allen Reisner, and punter Ryan Donahue — who appear as if they could all be drafted between the sixth and seventh rounds. Each would almost certainly wind up as signing with teams as free agents if they weren't picked.

Klug was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree this past season after making 13 tackles for loss for the second-straight year. But at 6-3, 275 pounds, he is considered undersized for an NFL defensive tackle. The Football Post ranks him as the No. 30 player available at his position.

Ballard told the DI he believes Klug is not getting the attention he deserves as a pro prospect.

"He might be undersized, but the motor he plays with and technique is all flawless," Ballard said in a phone interview last week. "You have to have some guys like that on your team if you want to win."

And the Hawkeye considered the best at their respective position may be not even hear their name called this weekend. Punter Ryan Donahue is listed as the class' No. 1 punter by both the Football Post and ESPN/Scouts Inc, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be drafted.

Donahue called that punter's plight "the nature of the beast."

"You have Adrian [Clayborn] who's No. 3 or 4 or 5 at his position and probably a first-round lock in many people's minds. Then, you have punters that are in the top three and not even picked," Donahue told the DI in a phone interview Wednesday. "You never know. That's just how it is — you just have to live with it, and it's only more motivation to be No. 1."

DI reporter Seth Roberts contributed to this article.

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