Iowa's Davis feels 'like I'm a first-rounder' in Draft

Chad Leistikow

Carl Davis' last several weeks have been a whirlwind.

The former Iowa Hawkeye has been to Chicago, Buffalo, San Francisco, Detroit Miami and Dallas — interviewing for the job of NFL defensive lineman.

"I got to meet (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones today," Davis said by telephone last week from Dallas. "That was cool."

Davis — a 6-foot-5, 320-pound run-clogger who has taken a giant step up draft boards since his Iowa career ended Jan. 2 — found only one downside to the once-in-a-lifetime, jet-setting experience.

"The only thing that bothers me is on these visits, it's hard to get my workout in," Davis said. "That's probably the toughest part. I want to be at rookie mini-camp in shape and be ready to ball."

Davis was a two-year starter at Iowa, earning second-team all-conference honors both seasons. His career numbers were modest — 14½ tackles for loss in 43 games — and his game film seemed to hide what emerged at the Jan. 24 Senior Bowl.

"You saw what he could do at the Senior Bowl. But for some reason he didn't play like that when he was at Iowa," said Greg Gabriel, a former college scouting director with the Chicago Bears who now writes for the National Football Post. "The intensity that he showed at the Senior Bowl, he didn't show in the Iowa tape."'s Mike Mayock moved Davis into the conversation as a possible first-round pick after his Senior Bowl performance. Davis also had a strong NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis — including 28 reps on the bench press (225 pounds) and a 33-inch vertical jump.

Mayock has said Davis "has first-round size and athletic ability. He's just got to put it together more consistently."

Projections seem to have settled in the second round (maybe third) for Davis in the NFL Draft, which begins with Thursday's first round in Chicago.

Davis, though, thinks there's a category the experts are overlooking: The interview process.

"I feel like I'm a first-rounder right now," Davis said. "After the coaches get to meet me and see what type of person I am, I think they have become more confident in the type of football player I am. I'm not just a football player, but I've got a mind. I know what's going on on the field.

"I can tell you what formation this is, what kind of blocking schemes and slide protection I'm going to get. I feel like I'm a very smart player, very intelligent."

The Iowa program under Kirk Ferentz is known for producing NFL-ready rookies. A benchmark for Davis is former Hawkeye Mike Daniels, who was a fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2012 and last season tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks by a defensive tackle (6 1/2).

A native of Detroit, Davis aspires to be the next Ndamukong Suh on the field.

Scouts don't discount Davis has the physical tools to be an impact NFL player.

"I've got all the talent. I know I can dominate the line of scrimmage," Davis said. "Now it's just doing it on a regular basis. And that's how you get known in this league as a top player. That's how these guys get big contracts."

The Register's Rick Brown contributed to this report.


The Polk County I-Club Spring Banquet is Tuesday and marks the first stop for head football coach Kirk Ferentz on the I-Club circuit this summer. Tickets are still available. Here are key details:

Where: The Sheraton, 1800 50th Street, West Des Moines.

Who: Featured speakers include Ferentz, men's basketball assistant Kirk Speraw, wrestling assistant Ryan Morningstar and emcee Gary Dolphin. Former Hawkeye football players expected to be on hand include Chuck Long, Quinton Alston Louis Trinca-Pasat, Mark Weisman and Tommy Gaul — a Dowling graduate who will presented an award.

When: Social at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., program at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $35 for adults, $25 for youth (eighth grade and younger). Available at the door.