31 NFL teams scouted Iowa football's pro day. Here are 4 things that stood out.
IOWA CITY — On Monday, months of training and anticipation came to a head when Iowa football hosted its 2022 NFL pro day.
All but one NFL team (Los Angeles Rams) were represented to meet with and scout 10 Hawkeye hopefuls: Dane Belton (defensive back), Tyler Goodson (running back), Matt Hankins (defensive back), Ivory Kelly-Martin (running back), Jack Koerner (defensive back), Tyler Linderbaum (offensive lineman), Kyler Schott (offensive lineman), Caleb Shudak (kicker), Zach VanValkenburg (defensive lineman) and Xavior Williams (defensive back).
After their workouts, players like VanValkenburg explained the mixed emotions that come with an opportunity to showcase his talents to professional teams with the pressure of having just one opportunity to do so.
"It's a little nerve-wracking having a lot of your future boil down to one day," VanValkeburg said. "But there's also two years of film to look at. What you do every day ultimately makes you who you are so hopefully teams see that."
For the most part, all active participants went through the full set of workouts. The hope for VanValkenburg and the rest of his teammates is they made enough of an impression on teams to generate interest heading into the NFL Draft, which is April 28-30.
Here are four takeaways from Iowa's 2022 NFL pro day:
Tyler Linderbaum did not work out
After not working out at the NFL Combine due to a foot injury, Linderbaum did not work out again at pro day, a team spokesman said. The projected first-round pick is still recovering from a mild foot sprain suffered in Iowa's Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky on Jan. 1.
Linderbaum can still work out for teams on his own time but right now it's undetermined if he'll do so before the draft. On Tuesday, USA Today released a fresh mock draft that had Linderbaum as the No. 29 overall pick to the Miami Dolphins. Here's what was said about Linderbaum in that mock draft:
"The head coach, Mike McDaniel, is new, but the necessity to safeguard – and better evaluate – QB Tua Tagovailoa does not change. One seemingly obvious way to do that is by upgrading one of the league’s worst offensive lines with a consensus All-American and 2021 Rimington Trophy winner. Linderbaum's upside and athleticism are hard to ignore – and should largely offset any concern about his short arms." - Nate Davis
Linderbaum's arms measured at 31.125 inches, which are tied for the sixth-shortest arms of an offensive lineman entering the NFL since 2000. That measurement has been a cause for concern among scouts. Goodson backed his teammate up when asked if that should be a concern for NFL teams.
"I don't know why you'd be concerned about that," Goodson said. "Turn on the tape and he's driving dudes 20 yards downfield and putting them in the bleachers. Yeah, arm length might matter, but once Linderbaum gets his hands on you, then you can call it wraps."
Dane Belton and Tyler Goodson's interest from NFL teams is rising
The other two Iowa players who joined Linderbaum at the combine, Belton and Goodson, both worked out fully and put forth performances good enough to raise their draft stock. Among safeties, Belton finished with the fifth-highest vertical leap (36.50 inches), sixth-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds) and finished seventh in broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches) and the three-cone drill (7.01 seconds).
Goodson impressed scouts by running a faster than expected 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds, good for the fifth-fastest among running backs. He also had the fourth-highest vertical jump (36.50) of the running backs.
With strong results at the combine, both Belton and Goodson opted to not participate in the full depth of workouts at Iowa's pro day and focused on doing their positional drills.
Goodson felt that his combine performance helped him rise on NFL radars. To him, pro day provided another opportunity for teams to meet with him in person.
"Me running that fast time has definitely opened some eyes," Goodson said. "It's put me in a position to meet with more teams. Right now, I just have to prepare for those situations and prepare for those meetings."
Goodson met with the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans on Monday and is awaiting more invitations for private workouts. Belton has a visit scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 7 and is working to set up more over the next few weeks. On Monday, Belton estimated that he's met with over 20 NFL teams during the pre-draft process.
"Teams have shown a lot of interest in what I can do," Belton said. "And the times I've put up just confirms the kind of player I am, so getting meetings with those teams, I feel like a lot teams have talked to me whether in person or Zoom and I've been able to get a feel for them and they get a feel for the type of guy I am on and off the field. That's been big."
Several Hawkeyes got to make first-time impressions
Belton, Goodson and Linderbaum were the only Iowa players who were invited to the NFL combine. The other seven pro day participants received their first chance to work out in front of NFL teams on Monday. Jack Koerner (College Gridiron Showcase) and Zach VanValkenburg (NFLPA Collegiate Bowl) got the chance to meet with several teams in January.
Most of them have received All-Big Ten honors throughout their careers, including Hankins, Koerner, Schott, Shudak and VanValkenburg. Kelly-Martin and Williams don't have the same body of work but were hoping to pop out with a good workout. Overall, the non-combine invitees felt some added pressure knowing that this was their one chance to impress a lot of teams at once.
"The pressure was probably on more so when I was watching the combine and seeing guys with those fast times," Kelly-Martin said. "But once I knew in my heart that I trained as hard as I possibly could, then all of those nerves flushed away."
Several players who made themselves available for interviews after pro day pinpointed areas of their workouts that they were proud of, including Kelly-Martin's 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash. Van Valkenburg was proud of his times in cone drills and how he showed quick change of direction. Koerner's 4.51 second 40-yard dash would've ranked ninth-fastest among safeties at the NFL Combine, and had 20 reps on the bench press, which would've ranked fourth-most at the combine at his position.
Jack Koerner is eyeing a Jake Gervase career arc
Koerner was one of the staples of Iowa's secondary during the 2021 season. A projected undrafted free agent, Koerner's been under the tutelage of former Iowa safety Jake Gervase, who was also an undrafted free agent and just finished his third season with the Super Bowl champion Rams.
"I feel healthy for the first time in three years, 100%," Koerner said. "I feel really confident about what I put out there. Obviously it's a great opportunity and I feel like I maximized that today."
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.