Q&A with Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley, the undersized workhorse of the 2018 NFL Draft class
Much like last year, the 2018 NFL draft is loaded with talented running backs of every size, shape and skill set. Pound-for-pound, you won’t find a better one in this year’s group than Iowa’s Akrum Wadley.
An undersized but explosive weapon, Wadley carried the load for the Hawkeyes, topping 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing in each of the past two seasons. He also showed off his versatility, catching 64 passes for 668 yards and six more scores over that stretch.
Wadley recently spoke exclusively with Draft Wire about his combine experience, what it takes to make a successful running play, and why he loves a big play just as much as a long drive.
JM: With the combine now a thing of the past, how do you summarize your experience?
AW: It was an eye-opening experience. I put so much hard work into preparing for the combine and my pro day. That’s all behind me now. I’m just ready to get out there and produce.
JM: Do you feel like you did something in particular to boost your draft stock?
AW: I thought I did really well during the on-field position drills. I knocked those out of the park.
MORE ON WADLEY:
- Mike Mayock, LaDainian Tomlinson like Akrum Wadley
- Wadley shows speed at NFL Combine, but has tough time outrunning 'small' label
- Akrum Wadley: From the 'doghouse' to an elite Iowa football running back
- Leistikow: The Akrum Wadley interview I'll never forget
JM: What were teams most interested in talking to you about?
AW: Every team wants to know about your background and your family. They asked about my experiences with Iowa. Just things like that.
JM: What was the strangest question a team asked you?
AW: I can’t remember anything overly strange. I wouldn’t say I had anything like that. Every interview felt the same. It was all about my family. I didn’t get any strange questions.
JM: Do you have any private visits or workouts lined up?
AW: I’ve worked out with the Dallas Cowboys running back coach. I spent some with the Titans and their running back coach. I just came back from two local days with the Giants and the Jets. I’m waiting to hear back from a few more teams.
JM: Can you break down a successful run for me, from the play call all the way to the end of the play?
AW: It starts up front with the offensive line. Every running back knows that. In a perfect world, they do their job up front. That’s not always gonna happen, of course. You might have a fullback in the game for a power run, an inside zone play. The fullback is supposed to take out the WILL or MIKE linebacker. Once the hole is there, I have to hit it with all my might. There’s always that one man to beat. That’s what we were taught at Iowa. There’s always one man to beat. That separates the guys with a real skill set from the average back.
JM: What do you find more satisfying: Breaking off a 75-yard touchdown run, or carrying the ball six or more times on a long drive?
AW: That’s a really good question. I’m glad you asked me that. Wow, I’m not sure. I like breaking off long runs, because that’s what you’re always hoping for when you’re out there. I also like toting the rock and carrying the ball six or more times. That feels like you’re putting the team on your back. It makes you feel like a workhorse. I like them both equally.
JM: Who are some of the best players you’ve ever lined up against?
AW: I wouldn’t single out one actual player. I can think of a few tough defenses we played against. Boston College had a linebacker named Ty Schwab. He was No. 10 on the defense. I remember playing against Wisconsin and T.J. Watt. He was a good player in my junior year. Jabrill Peppers was pretty good.
JM: If you could only take one teammate into battle with you, who would you bring and why?
AW: I’m bringing James Daniels with me. I have to bring the center on my offensive line. I’d take him to war with me. I can’t forget Josh Jackson. He’s a dog, man. Josh has the heart of a lion. I would say the same about linebacker Amani Jones. You may not know him, but he’s a tough guy just like me.
JM: If you could deliver a message to your future NFL team, what would you say to them?
AW: Let’s go win a championship. Let’s be champions, baby.