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NFL Combine Profile: James Morris

BY MATT CABEL | FEBRUARY 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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James Morris has been a household name for Iowa football fans since 2010.

And his draft stock, although never extremely high to begin with, benefited from a strong senior season in which the Iowa defense was one of many bright spots for a much-improved Hawkeye football team.

After what some called a disappointing junior campaign, Morris responded with a swan song in the Black and Gold that included 89 combined tackles, 5 sacks for 22 yards, 3 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble return, which helped him earn second-team All Big Ten honors at the end of the season.

Morris was one of the team’s biggest leaders on both sides of the ball, and the bona fide general of the linebacker and defensive units. Morris is currently projected as a seventh-round pick all the way down to being picked up as a free agent, on nfldraftscout.com and CBS Sports websites. But if recent history is any indication, Morris will hear his name called in Radio City Music Hall at some point during draft weekend.

Morris was a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes, a rarity in the Kirk Ferentz-era of Hawkeye football. He affected the program every year, accumulating almost 400 career tackles. His tackling numbers were down in his senior campaign, but with the combined talent of Iowa’s linebacker corps and Morris’ bigger contribution in other categories make up for the decrease.

Morris could see that stock rise should he perform well in Indianapolis at the combine. He’s small for a linebacker, and leadership alone doesn’t move you up the board, but should Morris put the numbers up in the 40-yard dash and in weight lifting, there may be a team that picks him up based on Iowa’s historic run of NFL success.

The office website NFL website praised Morris’ instinct, vision and resistance to injury, calling the linebacker “very tough and durable.” The website lists his weaknesses as playing bigger than he actually stands and that he plays with stiff arms and hips. The website's final verdict on one of Iowa’s finest linebackers from 2013 is that Morris is a fundamentally sound linebacker who will probably have to work his way through the ranks of being a backup and bulking up in muscle and speed before seeing significant playing time on Sunday afternoons.

And that’s exactly who Morris is: A player that is more than willing to work his way through the ranks to succeed at the highest level of his craft. But the fact of the matter is that Morris will hear his name called, and that will be dream come true for the Solon native.


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