The outgoing Iowa running back meets with media a day after his Pro Day. Chad Leistikow/HawkCentral
One of the most electric running backs to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes in decades wasn't drafted. But he has found an NFL home.
Akrum Wadley tweeted after Saturday's NFL draft concluded: "Head to the sky! This won’t be the last time you heard of me. #Tennessee"
The Tennessee Titans are a pretty good fit for Wadley. While they have a featured back in Derrick Henry and signed Dion Lewis in free agency, the franchise headed to the offseason with only two other running backs on its roster (barely used David Fluellen and Khalfani Muhammad) and didn't draft one.
It was thought that Wadley could be drafted as early as the fourth round. Instead, he wasn't picked — a surprising development that still leaves Shonn Greene in 2009 as the most recent Hawkeye running back to be taken in the NFL draft.
At 5-foot-10, 194 pounds, Wadley won't be an every-down back at the next level. But he should be an asset on third downs (he developed as a pass-blocker toward the end of his Iowa career and racked up 64 receptions in his final two seasons) and kick returns. His 171 kickoff-return yards in the Pinstripe Bowl almost single-handedly helped the Hawkeyes snap a seven-year bowl losing streak in December.
Most NFL teams carry at least three running backs, and Wadley should have a good shot to be the No. 3 guy in Tennessee.
Wadley finished his college career with 35 touchdowns, one shy of Iowa’s school record. His 2,872 rushing yards and 3,633 yards from scrimmage both rank No. 5 in Hawkeye history.
What other undrafted Hawkeyes are planning:
Offensive lineman Sean Welsh is headed to the Washington Redskins, his agent Jack Bechta told the Register. That reunites the longtime Hawkeye fixture at guard with another that's become a Pro Bowl guard in the NFL: Brandon Scherff. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has compared Welsh to Marshal Yanda, another former Hawkeye who is one of the best guards in the NFL.
Offensive lineman Ike Boettger, also represented by Bechta, has signed with the Buffalo Bills — where he will have a chance to block for new quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming, which Iowa defeated in Week 1 in 2017. Boettger had surgery after blowing out his Achilles tendon in Week 2 against Iowa State.
Linebacker Ben Niemann has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Land of 10. Niemann was a three-year starter as the all-important outside linebacker position for the Hawkeyes who was adept at both run stopping and pass coverage.
Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg will get a tryout with the New York Jets, he tweeted; offensive lineman Boone Myers will get one with the Indianapolis Colts and another with the Baltimore Ravens, his father told the Register; running back James Butler told Land of 10 that he will try out with the Jets and Redskins.
This file will be updated as necessary.