Iowa's NFL Pipeline Ranks Among the Top 25 Over Last Three Decades

B.Senior Analyst IMay 11, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 18:  Linebacker Chad Greenway #52 of the Minnesota Vikings perpares for action against the Baltimore Raven during NFL action at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 18, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Ravens 33-31.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Iowa football is slowly turning into one of college football's best pipelines for professional talent.

ESPN 's Mark Schlabach wrote an article titled "SEC not alone in elite NFL talent ," in which he mentions that the SEC had 49 players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft.  

That fact prompted a crew of ESPN writers to find out which college football team produced the best NFL pipeline over the past three decades. 

The writers conducted a survey of NFL drafts from 1979 to 2009 to find the most prolific teams sending talent to the pros. The survey "awarded one point for each player who was named NFL most valuable player, defensive player of the year, offensive player of the year, or All-Pro (first- or second-team), and one point for each Pro Bowl appearance."

The SEC found six of its members among the top 25 teams on ESPN 's survey results. The Big Ten was not far behind with five teams in the top 25 result set.

Joe Paterno's Penn State ranked No. 9, Michigan came in No. 10, Ohio State ranked No. 11, and Michigan State and Iowa tied for No. 23.   

According to ESPN 's Adam Rittenberg , Iowa has produced 10 first-team All-Pros, 10 second-team All-Pros, and 27 Pro Bowl appearances. Some of Iowa's top players during the last three decades included Andre Tippett, Reggie Roby, Bob Sanders, and Nate Kaeding. 

Not included in ESPN 's criteria were the number of first-round draft picks each team had over that time frame. Had this criteria been included, the Hawkeyes might have come in higher on the list.

Over the last 30 years, Iowa has had 11 first-round draft picks. The most recent being left tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 23 pick in this year's draft.

Of those 11 players, four are currently still playing on Sundays.  Former Hawkeye and current Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark is even in the process of setting about every NFL record a tight end ever set.

The list of first-round Hawkeyes over the last three decades might not be as long as Oklahoma's or Alabama's, but it's nothing to poke a stick at.

If the trend at Iowa continues, the Hawkeyes will rank much higher on the list the next time ESPN conducts their survey.

Iowa's Top First-Round NFL Draft Picks in the Last 30 Years

Bryan Bulaga, OT
Drafted: 2010, Round 1, Pick 23 by Green Bay Packers

Chad Greenway, LB
Drafted: 2006, Round 1, Pick 17 by Minnesota Vikings

Robert Gallery, OT
Drafted: 2004, Round 1, Pick 2 by Oakland Raiders

Dallas Clark, TE   
Drafted: 2003, Round 1, Pick 24 by Indianapolis Colts

Ross Verba, OG/OT/TE  
Drafted: 1997, Round 1, Pick 30 by Green Bay Packers

Tom Knight, CB  
Drafted: 1997, Round 1, Pick 9 by Arizona Cardinals

Dan Mcgwire (via San Diego State), QB
Drafted: 1991, Round 1, Pick 16 by Seattle Seahawks

Mike Haight, G/OG/T
Drafted: 1986, Round 1, Pick 22 by New York Jets

Ronnie Harmon, RB
Drafted: 1986, Round 1, Pick 16 by Buffalo Bills

Chuck Long, QB
Drafted: 1986, Round 1, Pick 12 by Detroit Lions

John Alt, OT/T
Drafted: 1984, Round 1, Pick 21 by Kansas City Chiefs

Ron Hallstrom, G/OG/T
Drafted: 1982, Round 1, Pick 22  by Green Bay Packers

Other Notable First-Round Hawkeyes from the Past

Craig Clemons, DB/S
Drafted: 1972, No. 12, Bears

Rod Walters, G/T
Drafted: 1976, No. 14, Kansas City

Dick Crayne, FB
Drafted: 1936, No. 4, Brooklyn

John Niland, G/OG/OT
Drafted: 1966, No. 5, Dallas

Alex Karras, DT
Drafted: 1958, No. 10, Detroit

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