Rams surprise with Iowa's Andrew Donnal; former Hawkeye QB drafted
Iowa's offensive line factory garnered another measure of respect Saturday afternoon as Andrew Donnal was a surprise fourth-round choice in the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.
Donnal, a 6-foot-6, 313-pound tackle, became the Rams' third offensive lineman taken in less than 24 hours. The native of Monclova, Ohio, was also the second Hawkeye offensive lineman picked this week and the 15th overall under coach Kirk Ferentz.
Most projections had Donnal, who started just one season at Iowa after he suffered a serious knee injury in 2012, going in the sixth round.
Iowa's other starting tackle last season, Brandon Scherff, went earlier than expected, too — he was chosen fifth overall Thursday by the Washington Redskins.
Donnal provides the flexibility to play either tackle or guard for head coach Jeff Fisher's pro-style system. Donnal joins two other rookie Rams linemen — second-rounder Rob Havenstein (6-7, 321) of Wisconsin and third-rounder Jamon Brown (6-4, 323) of Louisville.
"I view myself as a blue-collar (guy), a grinder," Donnal was quoted as saying in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'm a guy who's going to come out and work my (butt) of every day to be the best I can possibly be."
Donnal was selected with the 119th pick overall — the same spot that saw former Hawkeye linebacker Anthony Hitchens go to the Dallas Cowboys a year ago.
Iowa wound up with three drafted players in Scherff, Donnal and defensive tackle Carl Davis (who went 90th overall Friday to the Baltimore Ravens).
Motivated I: Davis thought he might hear his name called in Thursday's first round. Instead, he waited until almost the end of Friday's third. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder said motivation was built from what seemed like an eternity to wait.
"All I could do was pray and just hope somebody was going to come get me," Davis said in a conference call with reporters. "It's going to be my job to make every other team regret not taking me and just make myself the best player so I can just get in there and dominate and show everybody what I got."
Motivated II: Iowa defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat (6-1, 290) took to Twitter after he went undrafted but landed with the Rams via free agency.
Other known Hawkeyes who signed as free agents following the draft: linebacker Quinton Alston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; tight end Ray Hamilton, Dallas Cowboys; safety John Lowdermilk, San Diego Chargers; receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, Cleveland Browns; receiver Damond Powell, Arizona Cardinals; fullback Mark Weisman, Cincinnati Bengals.
Former Hawkeye QB drafted: Tight end A.J. Derby of Arkansas was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots. Derby, a graduate of Iowa City High, spent two seasons at Iowa as a quarterback before transferring to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, then Arkansas under coach Bret Bielema. Derby caught 22 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns as a senior, his only season at tight end.