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NFL Draft 2012: Ferentz thinks seven could be drafted

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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A dozen of Kirk Ferentz's former players have been drafted into the NFL in the past two years.

If he has his way, that number will jump to 19 — or maybe even 20 — by the end of the upcoming weekend.

Seven former Hawkeyes worked out at the NFL's scouting combine in late February, and Ferentz said on Tuesday that he expects all to be chosen in this weekend's NFL draft.

"If [teams] want 340-pound linemen, don't take any of our guys," he said. "… But I think our guys fit for a lot of people."

Arguably the best of those guys isn't a good fit for New York City, though, and therefore won't be sitting in Radio City Music Hall to hear his named called in person.

Former left tackle and presumptive first-round pick Riley Reiff will watch the draft from his home in South Dakota. Ferentz said Reiff's grandfather is "up there in age and a little bit frail right now," which is part of the reason he won't make the trip, but he also said Reiff likely doesn't want to deal with the distractions of the Big Apple.

"It's certainly not Riley's nature," he said. "Riley, I could promise you, would be a lot more comfortable in Green Bay than New York City if he had a choice where he went … he'd rather be out fishing or things like that than be in Manhattan hanging out with whoever."

Reiff's draft stock has dropped somewhat since he first announced he would forego his final year of eligibility and declared for the draft in January. He appeared as the No. 9 pick on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's first mock draft, but he is No. 18 on Kiper's most recent one; he fell as far as No. 23 (Detroit) on Sports Illustrated's final mock.

"His fall ends in Motown, which isn't a bad place to land these days," Sports Illustrated columnist Don Banks wrote. "He infuses the Lions offensive line with some much-needed youth."

Ferentz doesn't necessarily agree with the experts, though. He said this year's pool of offensive linemen isn't deep — Reiff is widely regarded as the second-best in the class — and that Reiff could benefit if some teams get "antsy."

That bodes well for the two other offensive linemen Ferentz expects to be taken, too. Adam Gettis stands 6-4 and weighs 280 pounds but has had to answer questions about his relative lack of size; Markus Zusevics tore a muscle in his chest while performing the bench press at the combine.

But Ferentz said Gettis "might be a sleeper in the whole thing … this guy just blocks people." The Illinois native is quick, too; his unofficial time in the 40-yard dash at the combine was the fastest of any offensive lineman, and his official mark of 5.00 seconds clocked in at third.

Ferentz shook off concerns about Zusevic's health, pointing to a similar injury suffered by former defensive lineman Broderick Binns last June. Binns came back at full strength for the 2011 season, and a torn pectoral isn't all that difficult to come back from, he said.

"Zuse will probably miss the mini-camps, but when it comes time, he should be able to go in August," Ferentz said. "… I'd be shocked if he didn't get drafted."

Both Gettis and Zusevics should be off the board by the end of the fourth round on Saturday, according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay. And if McShay's complete mock draft is correct, the duo could be joined by several other former Hawkeyes in Saturday's later rounds.

McShay listed defensive tackle Mike Daniels and cornerback Shaun Prater as Iowa's other fourth-round hopefuls and said wideout Marvin McNutt will go in the fifth and linebacker Tyler Nielsen in the seventh.

Those four would push Ferentz's drafted list to 19 over the past two years, but he may have one more card in his hand.

Former safety Jordan Bernstine was among Ferentz's highest-rated recruits at Iowa; the Des Moines native was the best safety in the state and the No. 51 prospect in the country in 2007, according to Rivals. But he had issues staying healthy at Iowa and didn't get consistent playing time until his senior campaign in 2011.

The National Football Post's college scouting director, Wes Bunting, told The Daily Iowan in November that he hadn't seen any of Bernstine's tape because he hadn't appeared in enough games to be strongly considered for the NFL.

But Bernstine has had as busy an off-season as any other former Hawkeye, Ferentz said.

"I think he has got a shot," Ferentz said. "He has been worked out by a lot of people and several teams. He tested very, very well, and I think he's going to get an opportunity.

"I'd be shocked if he didn't."

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.


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