Austin Blythe might be undersized for his position, but he doesn't care.
Fresh off his performance at Iowa's Pro Day Monday in Iowa City, the offensive lineman reiterated his ability to play at the next level. A group of departing seniors from the Iowa program competed in the annual workout event, which features scouts and coaches from NFL teams in advance of the NFL Draft April 28-30.
Despite an endorsement from Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz as the best center in the country, Blythe is still regarded as small for his position on the field. The four-year Hawkeye starter also competed in last month's NFL Scouting Combine, where he checked in at 6-foot-2, 298 pounds. By contrast, the top center prospect this year, Alabama's Ryan Kelly, is 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds.
"It is what it is," Blythe said Monday. "People can say what they want. What I’ve put on tape is there. You can’t fake that, so I think if you can play football, you can play. It doesn’t really matter your stature."
There should be a lot on that tape. Blythe started 50 games over his career at Iowa, mainly lining up at center but also making appearances at both left and right guard. He was one of three finalists last fall for the Rimington Trophy, given to college football's top center.
Whatever the case, the Williamsburg native — projected to go in the sixth or seventh round — is approaching the draft process with perspective.
"It was fun," Blythe said. "It’s a once in a lifetime thing, so it’s important to take advantage of it. This was a six-hour job interview, but again, you go back to that short window. You’ll never do (a Pro Day) again in your life and you’re going to be done playing by 35, if you’re lucky. You need to take advantage of the opportunity you’re given."
Krieger Coble: 'This was my combine'
After being shut out of last month's NFL Scouting Combine, Henry Krieger Coble was pleased with his performance at Iowa's Pro Day.
Four Hawkeyes were invited to the combine — Blythe, defensive lineman Drew Ott, defensive back Jordan Lomax and kicker Marshall Koehn — so Monday was not only a chance for many to post results in front of coaches and scouts, but also, in a way, make up ground in front of NFL personnel that could either pick a player in the draft or sign a player as a free agent later on.
Krieger Coble did receive an invite to the Senior Bowl and fared well there, but Monday was still a relief for the tight end, who made 35 catches for 405 yards and one touchdown in 2015.
"Now having done it, it feels like a big relief," Krieger Coble said. "I did pretty well and I feel good about it.
"This was my combine. Same with a lot of other guys. We did everything that those guys did (at the combine), so we knew we had to do well to give ourselves the best possible chance to keep playing."
Others showcase their skills
In addition to the aforementioned players, running back Jordan Canzeri, linebacker Cole Fisher, defensive lineman Nate Meier, receiver Tevaun Smith and offensive lineman Jordan Walsh all have a shot to at least enter a rookie mini-camp with an NFL team this spring.
Smith and Canzeri, in particular, seemed unfazed by the attention, showcasing their speed Monday with reported 40-yard dash times of 4.33 and 4.43, respectively.
"You need to be ready and prepared when the day comes," Canzeri said. "We’ve played in front of thousands of people, so when the scouts come and watch, it’s no different. This is our dream. All of us want us to make it to the next level. You need to have that confidence in yourself when you step onto the field that you can compete with anybody. A lot of guys did well today."