Brian Bulaga, Mike Daniels, and Micah Hyde are all graduates from the University of Iowa and two of the three have been selected to an NFL Pro Bowl. Though all of them have had great NFL careers. Hyde, of course, was forced to leave Green Bay to pursue a better opportunity in Buffalo, but his presence in Green Bay was missed in 2017. While Hyde was tied for fifth in the league this past season with five interceptions, the Packers struggled to defend the pass and create turnovers. He and Daniels earned their first pro-bowl invites while Bulaga is still waiting for his. Which is surprising considering how rock solid he has been at right tackle. Bulaga got his first start week five of his rookie season and has started every game he’s played in since. Iowa has become a tremendous producer of pro talent and the Packers would be wise to stick with them through the draft.
This seems likely as just about every mock draft has the Packers selecting cornerback Josh Jackson with the 14th pick. Jackson led the NCAA in interceptions (8) and passes defended (26) in 2017, which pushed him to forego his senior season and enter the 2018 draft. His potential has no ceiling as he’s proven to match up well against all types of receivers. Whether its bump and run or physical press coverage, Jackson is ready to follow number one receivers right away.
If Jackson is still available at 14, the Packers would be taking a huge risk by selecting someone else. Jackson is the most pro-ready prospect linked to the Packers draft board.
However, Jackson is not the only Hawkeye the Packers should keep tabs on as the draft nears. Josey Jewell (6’1”, 235 lbs.) is an inside linebacker the Packers could be able to grab in the third or fourth round.
Jewell has been starting games for Iowa ever since he was a redshirt freshman. As a sophomore in 2015, he intercepted four passes while recording 126 tackles. He would go on to make at least 120 tackles in his junior and senior seasons. Jewell was an AP All-American last season when he had 132 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 4.5 sacks. He’s a rare all-around playmaker from the inside linebacker position.
Jewell does not have great athleticism or size and because of that, he will fall to the middle of the draft. Blake Martinez at 6’2” 237 pounds wasn’t a great athlete either but he has turned into a difference maker on the Packers defense.
Teams are hoping Jewell is cut from the same cloth and can provide depth on the inside. Jake Ryan is currently the Packers second starting inside linebacker but he has yet to stand out on film. The Packers need a fresh look in the middle of the defense and Jewell plays with a high motor and incredible instinct.
Iowa products have been kind to Green Bay and there is no reason they should not go back to the hand that keeps feeding. Jackson and Jewell are two Big Ten standouts that should have productive NFL careers.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. Brandon graduated from Longwood University in 2016 with a degree in mass media. He has covered the Packers for over two years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.