Iowa's Clayborn, Donahue Land on Mel Kiper's 2011 NFL Draft Watch List

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Iowa's Clayborn, Donahue Land on Mel Kiper's 2011 NFL Draft Watch List
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In 1986, the Iowa Hawkeyes had three players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Quarterback Chuck Long was the first Hawkeye drafted that year, going No. 12 overall to the Detroit Lions. Four picks later, one of Long's favorite targets, Ronnie Harmon, was selected by the Buffalo Bills.  

Not long after that, lineman Mike Haight went to the New York Jets at No. 22 overall.

In 1997, two Iowa football players became first-round selections.

Cornerback Tom Knight went ninth to the Arizona Cardinals that year. Ross Verba, who played almost every offensive line position imaginable, went No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers.

In 2011, Iowa football could easily have another multi-Hawkeye first round draft.

ESPN's Mel Kiper might agree.

Kiper performs analysis on the top players available for the draft every year. In the process, he compiles lists of the top five players, position-by-position. The lists are the top five players at each position among seniors and players expected to consider entering the 2011 NFL draft.

As a surprise to no one, Kiper has Adrian Clayborn among his top defensive lineman available in the draft. Clayborn is listed as Kiper's No. 2 defensive end.

Early indications suggest Clayborn will be 2010's Ndamukong Suh. Several ridiculously early 2011 NFL Mock Drafts have him as high as the No. 3 overall draft pick.

Of course, that's assuming Clayborn isn't disqualified from the draft for not being human. It's been suggested that he might be a Terminator, a theory Michigan's Tate Forcier likely agrees with.  

Clayborn's not the only Hawkeye on Mel's watch list. Kiper currently has Ryan Donahue as the No. 1 punter available for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Donahue is a talented and experienced punter for Iowa. As a sophomore in 2008, he was a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award, an award given to the top punter in college football. He also has the second longest punt in Iowa history.

While Ray Guy was the first, and only, punter to ever be selected in the first round in the NFL draft, it's not outside the realm of feasibility that Donahue could have a monster year that impresses NFL scouts enough to make him the second first-round punter. It might be a long shot, but still a possibility.

Iowa's chances of the first-round NFL promise land don't stop at Clayborn and Donahue. Several other Hawkeyes will be eligible for the draft, a few of whom have an outside shot at a high draft selection as well.

Linebacker Jeremiah Hunter, wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and tight end Allen Reisner have the potential to go high in the draft, given their solid careers at Iowa. Don't rule out an early departure for safety Tyler Sash, either. 

If he keeps his Matt Roth-like intensity going the whole year, defensive tackle Karl Klug could easily be a first round pick along with Clayborn.  Like Mitch King before him, Klug might be on the small side for an NFL defensive tackle.  

That doesn't stop defensive coordinator Norm Parker from gushing about him.  

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi also has NFL potential, assuming he drastically cuts down on his interceptions. Love him or leave him, stranger things have happened.

With the spotlight shining bright on Iowa this year, and with the number of nationally televised games they have, any number of players could impress scouts into remembering their names on the opening day of the 2011 NFL Draft.

As Kiper reminds, anything can change between now and the opening round. Summer practice is still ahead, not to mention the entire fall season, not to mention the myriad of pre-draft workouts and tests for potential draftees.

That reminder out of the way, Kiper explains that his lists act as an early road map in the process.

Iowa's early road map points in the direction of a multi-Hawkeye first round draft in 2011.

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