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Six players drafted ties Iowa record

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | MAY 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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After setting a school record for with six players drafted in 2010, Iowa matched that total this past weekend.

Six Hawkeyes — Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard, Ricky Stanzi, Karl Klug, Julian Vandervelde, and Tyler Sash — were picked during the 2011 NFL draft. Iowa has now produced 45 draft picks under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first-round selection at No. 20 on April 28, Clayborn was the only Hawkeye drafted in the event's first two days.

Some teams' questions about Clayborn's Erb's palsy and its potential effect on his upper-body strength threatened to slide the 6-4, 285-pounder out of the first round.

But the St. Louis native actually went slightly higher than he was projected by most experts — ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay slotted him at No. 27 and 26, respectively.

Buccaneer head coach Raheem Morris said he and general manager Mark Dominik had Clayborn near the top of the team's big board.

"We're really fired up," Morris said at a news conference shortly after Clayborn was selected. "When [Clayborn] came here a couple weeks ago, we looked at each other, and we both knew that was the guy."

The draft's second and third rounds proceeded April 29 with no Iowa players chosen. The Minnesota Vikings ended that stretch the next day when they selected Christian Ballard in the fourth round.

Reporters asked Ballard to confirm the accuracy of a report last week by Fox Sports that said he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February. He said it was "confidential," and he wasn't willing to talk about it.

"I've made mistakes in the past, but I'm going to look to the future. I'm a Viking now," he said during a conference call on April 30. "Whatever happened in the past is behind me. Now, all that's on my mind right now is trying to make the Vikings a Super Bowl team."

Fewer than 30 picks later, the Kansas City Chiefs took quarterback Ricky Stanzi 135th overall in the fifth round. The National Football Post ranked Stanzi as the sixth-best quarterback in this class.

"I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the predictions or where you may go," Stanzi said in a conference call. "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 about that opportunity."

Among the six players, Sash may have been the biggest surprise. Not that he was selected — but how long it took. Picked by the New York Giants 198th overall, the Oskaloosa native was the sixth-to-last pick of the sixth round. Sash chose to forgo his senior season at Iowa to enter the draft.

"This guy has good size, he runs good enough," said Marc Ross, the Giants' director of college scouting. "He is not your top-flight athlete, but the guy has a feel for the game — instinctive, excellent ball skills.

"We hope he will play special teams for us. He has that kind of toughness about him, reckless with his body. So we really like that about him."

In a typical NFL off-season, numerous undrafted free agents may be invited to rookie mini-camps. But amid the current lockout, undrafted free agents cannot be signed.

That means the likes of ex-Iowa punter Ryan Donahue — ranked by some as the best player at his position in this class — are in limbo.

Donahue told The Daily Iowan last week he would probably get a part-time job to "keep myself afloat," but his focus would continue to be on his training and trying to make it in the NFL.

"What I'm going to do is keep training and keep performing my craft, trying to excel," he said. "I have to keep going at it."


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