With the 23rd overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, Green Bay jumped at the chance to select Iowa's standout left tackle, Bryan Bulaga.
In doing so, the Packers made Bulaga the first Hawkeye offensive lineman taken in the opening round since Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery went second overall in 2004.
Bulaga became the ninth offensive lineman drafted during Kirk Ferentz 's head coaching tenure at Iowa. Like Gallery before him, Bulaga joined an elite crew of Iowa lineman selected in the first round.
Before Gallery, there was John Alt.
Alt was the 21st pick in the 1984 NFL Draft. He played on the offensive line at Iowa under legendary coach Hayden Fry. Alt went on to earn a spot in the Chiefs Hall-of-Fame, following a spectacular 13-year career.
Before Alt, there was Ron Hallstrom.
Hallstrom was taken 22nd overall, by the Packers, in the 1982 draft. Hallstrom also enjoyed a long career in the NFL. While at Iowa, he played both guard and tackle, with Ferentz acting as his position coach.
Riley Reiff could be the next player to join the elite group of first-round Hawkeye linemen.
Reiff appears to be Iowa's starting left tackle in 2010. It's a job he's already experienced, and is comfortable with, thanks to Bulaga's three-game absence last season.
As Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette puts it, "left tackle is a big deal. It’s a money position in the NFL." And it's a position Reiff appears to have a knack for.
Reiff played a big part in wins over Iowa State, Arizona and Penn State. He played three different positions last year (LT, LG, RT), showing the type of flexibility and skills needed to make the professional ranks.
In doing so, Reiff also made quite the impression on his coach. “I think Riley played as consistently as anybody we had last year,” Ferentz said of the redshirt sophomore.
The 6-foot-6, 300 pounder came to Iowa as an all-state defensive player from Parkston, South Dakota, a city not far from former Hawkeye and current Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway's hometown. Like Greenway, Reiff could be playing on Sunday's in the near future.
His play has quickly earned Reiff the confidence and respect of his teammates, as well.
"The biggest thing I know about Riley is his toughness as a person. That's really his biggest attribute," quarterback Ricky Stanzi said of Reiff.
While only a sophomore, Reiff has 11 career starts under his belt and is well on his way to developing the tools required to play football at the next level.
If Reiff has the toughness to go against defensive end Adrian Clayborn in practice this fall, he shouldn't have any problem on Sundays in the future.