Congratulations, Philadelphia Eagle fans! You've made the wonderful decision to draft Julian Vandervelde! Like any responsible selector, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new draft pick. We here at Black Heart Gold Pants will try our best to answer any questions you might have.
Is this Julian Vandervelde guy any good? To be honest, we're a little surprised to see Vandervelde get drafted, especially in the fifth round. In hindsight, maybe we shouldn't have been: Kirk Ferentz's reputation as an OL guru (and the steady performance of many former Iowa players in the NFL) boosts the chances of any Iowa lineman making it to the NFL and when you've been a starter at Iowa for the better part of four years (37 career starts), you're bound to get a few looks.
But was he any good? Yeah, he was. He was rough early on (not surprising, since he was a redshirt freshman and the 2007 Iowa offense was one of the worst Iowa offenses of the last decade), but developed into a steady performer over this last 2-3 years at Iowa. "Solid" seems like a good way to describe his performance; he wasn't a road grater in run blocking nor a brick wall in pass protection, but he wasn't bad at either facet, either. He's also pretty versatile: he played both right and left guard at Iowa and spent some working at center during draft prep.
Highlights? Please? Well, since you asked so nicely:
What's he good at? Like we said up above, he's just a solid all-around lineman. He was an effective run-blocker and a good pass blocker during his last few seasons at Iowa. He needs to bulk up, fine-tune some technique issues, and play more consistently, but he has a solid foundation to work from. He's also really, really smart -- so smart, in fact, that some teams were concerned that he was "too smart" for the NFL. Leaving aside the inherent absurdity of that line of reasoning, the fact is that Vandervelde should be able to quickly pick up any new schemes or techniques that get thrown at him at the next level.
Is he gonna be awesome in the pros? If you're looking for an instant-impact lineman that you can plug in and play immediately, you're probably going to be disappointed. Vandervelde is going to need some time to bulk up and get adjusted to the speed and tactics of the NFL game. He's a guy to develop, not to thrust into the spotlight immediately. And, frankly, if you're looking for instant-impact linemen in the fifth round, something has gone horribly wrong.
Anything else? In addition to playing Dungeons & Dragon and being a general smartypants (and nerd), Vandervelde is also one hell of a singer -- he sang the national anthem when President Obama visited Iowa City a few years ago, in fact.