Point/counterpoint: Which Hawkeye will have the biggest impact in his rookie NFL season?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle

In all likelihood, Riley Reiff will become the sixth Hawkeye player under Kirk Ferentz to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft tonight.

Reiff will also have the biggest effect of the drafted Hawkeyes in 2012.

The former Hawkeye offensive tackle is the second-best prospect at his position in his draft class, behind only USC's Matt Kalil.

The 6-6 Reiff will be selected in the middle to late part of tonight's first round; he has been projected to end up with such teams as the Bills at No. 10, Cardinals at No. 13, and the Jets at No. 16. If Reiff falls past those teams, the Bears at No. 19 could be interested. Reiff would be given the opportunity to start on the first day with any of these teams.

Wideout Marvin McNutt, on the other hand, is a projected third- or fourth-round pick, with such teams as the Bengals and Vikings rumored to have interest. McNutt will likely has less of an impact with these teams, which need the St. Louis native as a secondary option in the passing game.

Iowa offensive linemen under Ferentz have often gone on to have success in the NFL, such as first-round pick Bryan Bulaga and second-rounder Eric Steinbach. Even Robert Gallery, considered by many a bust, has had a solid career since switching from tackle to guard. Reiff will be another in the list of successful Iowa lineman in the NFL, whereas McNutt would be the first successful Iowa receiver in the league since Tim Dwight. (Tight ends don't count.)

Reiff will have an effect as a rookie. Like Shonn Greene in 2009, Bulaga in 2010, and Adrian Clayborn in 2011, Reiff will be a Hawkeye that puts the NFL on notice.

— by Ryan Murphy

Marvin McNutt, Wide Receiver

Countless mock drafts and speculations are released and re-released each day. Hindsight is 20/20, but the minuscule anomalies in each updated mock draft are irrelevant.

Even though ESPN analyst Todd McShay has Marvin McNutt falling to Chicago in the fifth round of his latest mock draft, and NFLdraftscout.com projects him in the fourth or fifth round, McNutt's upside is undervalued.

From the time he walked onto campus, then-quarterback McNutt improved each season. He has been a starter for the better part of three seasons, and he matched or improved his totals in receptions, yards, and touchdowns each season.

If you open the Iowa record book to the wide-receiver page, McNutt's name is near or at the top of every category.

What makes the St. Louis native outstanding is his ability to make tough catches — a statistic not easily measured. His 10-inch hands are larger than those of 22 of the 26 receivers graded ahead of him, according to NFL.com.

Stats more easily measured are the school-record 82 receptions in 2011 in addition to his 6.3 catches per game, both of which ranked second in the Big Ten behind Illinois' A.J. Jenkins.

What's more impressive, McNutt surprised scouts and fans alike with his 4.54-second 40-yard dash. Not known for his speed, the 2011 Richter-Howard Award-winner has an aptitude for getting open, especially on broken plays. He owns three of the 10 longest scoring receptions in school history — 92, 88, and 80 yards.

His 37-inch vertical leap — which ranked 13th among receivers at the NFL scouting combine — combined with already tall 6-3 frame makes for a viable red-zone option, deep threat, or a possession-type guy for any quarterback at the next level.

Where McNutt falls this weekend is uncertain — whether he is taken in the third, fourth, or even fifth round doesn't matter. What's more certain is you can expect him to be going for 6 points numerous times this upcoming season.

— by Alex French

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