Peterson: Multiple NFL Combine invites another indicator that Iowa State football is trending up

Randy Peterson
The Des Moines Register

AMES, Ia. — The shock would have been Hakeem Butler not being invited to the NFL Draft Combine. David Montgomery, too.

The former Iowa State stars getting an opportunity to show their stuff in Indianapolis between Feb.  26 and March 4 is a logical step toward becoming the program's first NFL Draft selections since the Jets selected linebacker Jeremiah George in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.

Since then? Crickets. While every other Big 12 Conference school has had players selected:

Iowa State's Hakeem Butler (18) makes a catch during the Valero Alamo Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in San Antonio. Washington State would go on to win 28-26.
  • Baylor: 9
  • TCU: 11
  • Texas Tech: 6
  • Texas: 11
  • Oklahoma: 19
  • Oklahoma State: 8
  • West Virginia: 12
  • Kansas: 4
  • Kansas State: 6

The most recent Iowa State player to participate in the combine was wide receiver Allen Lazard last spring. Before Lazard, it was tight end E.J. Bibbs in 2015. Of 26 Cyclones who attended NFL combines since 1999, 11 were drafted. It's the first time for multiple Iowa State players since linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein in 2013, according to the pro football reference web site. 

So yeah, it’s a good deal for the players and the program. It’s not every year Iowa State guys are given the respect that Butler and Montgomery have received.

But let’s take this a step beyond just the testing they'll undergo at Lucas Oil Stadium. Let’s peek ahead to the April draft — first, with this word of caution:

Don’t go to the bank with what you’ll read and hear alleged NFL scouts and experts say. Remember last year when all of them wrote or said Lazard would be drafted?

We all know how that turned out. At his draft party at an Ames restaurant, Lazard's friends and family waited … and waited … and waited for his name to be called. It never came.

But the former Urbandale High School star ended up on the roster with the Green Bay Packers, so all's well that ends well.

I’m not sure the experts really knew as much about Iowa State players of the past as they do Butler and Montgomery -— and Lazard last year. It’s not like Cyclones football in prior seasons was on a lot of Saturday must-watch lists. But if they did tune in this season, they saw statistics and big-time highlight plays.

Matt Campbell, with a very good coaching staff and very good players, has put Iowa State football on the national radar. Everyone worth their mock draft has actually seen how good Butler and Montgomery have been.

Can Butler become the first Iowa State receiver drafted since the New York Giants nabbed Tracy Henderson in the fifth round of the 1985 draft? Can Montgomery be the Cyclones’ first running back selected since Troy Davis to the New Orleans Saints in the third round in 1997?

Stay tuned.

But for them to be invited to the combine, it’s a logical — and probably telling — next step toward their NFL dream.

And for the Iowa State football program that Campbell runs?

It's a big deal.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the most recent Iowa State attendees at the NFL Scouting Combine.