2012 NFL Draft Projections: Where Will the Iowa Hawkeyes Land?

Joe FaviaCorrespondent IIJanuary 25, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Projections: Where Will the Iowa Hawkeyes Land?

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    The standard has been set by Kirk Ferentz in Iowa City.

    If you suit up in the black and gold, you have a shot at getting paid to play the game.

    Six players were chosen in the NFL Draft last season from Iowa, and a couple more got considerable playing time without having their name called in New York City.

    This season does not contain the abundance of accomplished athletes that last season saw. But, for the seniors that were in school for four seasons, they were a part of the school's most successful runs. Wins in the Outback, Orange and Insight Bowls were highlights for a bunch that proved to bring the pride back to Iowa City after the miserable 'bowl-less' '07 campaign.

    Now it is time to take a look at where these Hawkeyes could be headed.

OT Riley Reiff

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    The last time that the Hawkeyes had a player estimated to be drafted as high as Riley Reiff was Robert Gallery.

    In the line of successful Hawkeye lineman, Riley Reiff is leaving Iowa after his junior season was more or less a formality. He would be considered "old" in draft terms if he came back for another season. Reiff was the anchor of the line after players like Byran Bulaga, Dace Richardson and Kyle Calloway.

    Many have Reiff in the Top 10 somewhere. The Miami Dolphins at the ninth overall selection would be a big time pick. Reiff and Jake Long would make a dynamic duo for a team that has alot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball.

    Projection: Miami Dolphins ninth overall

CB Shaun Prater

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    Shaun Prater made the decision that is surely the most difficult for a college football player: to stay or go.

    No. 28 decided to return for his senior season after seeing cornerback mate Amari Spievey leave early a year earlier and go on to reach very solid success early with the Detroit Lions.

    Prater has gotten rave reveiws so far in the preparation for the draft (via NFL Draft Scout) He could bring a team a tough corner who has shown a nose for the ball in the past when the 'bigs' up front cause havoc.

    The colors will not change for Prater, as he will join the Pittsburgh Steelers with veterans Ryan Clark and Troy Polomalu in the secondary.

    Projection: Pittsburgh Steelers Third Round

WR Marvin McNutt

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    Marvin McNutt very well could go on to be the most prolific professional player at the wide receiver position that the school has seen.

    The ultra-athlete that converted from quarterback can give an NFL team a weapon that is surely going to be overlooked by some unfortunate teams on draft day.

    His underestimated speed, press coverage skills and quick hands will 'wow' some at the next level, as they have for Kinnick faithful for the better part of four seasons.

    The Chicago Bears very well could go wide receiver in the first round and come back in the third to select McNutt to build up an array of targets for Jay Cutler to choose from.

    Projection: Chicago bears third round

LB Tyler Nielsen

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    Tight ends, linemen and linebackers—NFL scouts take note when a player from Iowa is coming to the league from one of these positions, and Tyler Nielsen will be no different.

    His size and speed are much better than originally thought, and this could significantly move him up the ladder. The emergence of Pat Angerer in Indianapolis could also play a small factor in a team rolling the dice on Nielsen earlier than expected, as well.

    One team that has a lack of solid tacklers at the linebacker position are the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they can get over Nielsen's prone to injuries.

    Projection: Jacksonville Jaguars Sixth Round

OT Markus Zusevics

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    'Zuse' may not have gotten the attention that linemate Riley Reiff has received over the past couple of seasons, but he has done a valiant job for the running and passing attacks for coordinator Ken O'Keefe.

    Zusevics should find a team at some point during that second day. He could become a Marshall Yanda type of player who could be converted into a solid guard over time. His size makes him a great option for a team to add depth on the O-Line.

    The Tennessee Titans are offensive line deprived and adding a multitude of players via the draft will be a key to making the Jake Locker era successful. Markus Zusevics would an excellent pickup.

    Projection: Tennessee Titans Fifth Round

TE Brad Herman

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    If Penn State is "Linebacker U,"

    If Purdue is "The Cradle of Quarterbacks,"

    Then Iowa is surely the "Birthplace of NFL Tight Ends."

    I expect royalties from that.

    Brad Herman wasn't the most accomplished of the incredible run that the Hawkeyes have had at the tight end position. He was not the highly-touted prospect coming into Iowa City like Kansas City Chief Tony Moeaki or current tight end CJ Fiedorowicz.

    He did a very serviceable job in his time as a Hawkeye, and the prestige of the position among NFL scouts could result in a sleeper draft selection.

    Projection: Houston Texans seventh round

RB Jewel Hampton

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    I had to throw the former Hawkeye transfer in here.

    He most likely will not get selected, but I think he will get an invite to a camp.

    Projection: Undrafted Cincinnati Bengals

DL Mike Daniels & Broderick Binns

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    Most in Hawkeye lure will recall the names of Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard and Karl Klug when thinking about the key lineman during a fine time in the program's history.

    Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns both had key moments.

    Binns was in a loss in the desert against Arizona as he intercepted a pass to put the Hawkeyes in the game in a losing effort last year. Daniels saved the best for last; again in a losing affair in the Insight Bowl this year against Oklahoma. He was a standout in a key time in front of the pro scouts.

    I think Daniels made an impression this past season much more than Binns, and it will show through during the draft.

    Projections: Mike Daniels Miami Dolphins sixth round, Broderick Binns San Diego Chargers Undrafted