2011 NFL Free Agency: So You've Draf -- er, Signed Ryan Donahue

(Ed. Note: I wrote this three goddamn months ago and then Donahue didn't get drafted and the NFL spent its offseason farting around in courtrooms, so it languished in the depths of the BHGP archives, unused.  But football is back and Donahue got signed by the Detroit Lions, so I'm gonna use it dammit.

Fee free to use this thread to discuss Iowa's other undrafted free agents, too.  Last I knew, DJK got snapped up by the Eagles (or maybe not), Jeff Tarpinian was signed by the Patriots, Jeremiha Hunter inked a deal with the Saints, the Vikings grabbed Allen Reisner, and Brett Greenwood traded one set of black-and-gold unis for another set of black-and-gold unis.

Which leads to this insight from Brendan Stiles on Twitter:

With the UDFA signings today, all 11 of Iowa's 2008 defensive starters are active in the NFL (at least until cuts are made): Clayborn, Ballard, King, Kroul, Angerer, Edds, Hunter, Spivey, Fletcher, Sash and Greenwood.

Goddamn.  That 2008 defense was really, really, really good. -- RB)

Is this Ryan Donahue guy any good?  Yep.  He started all 51 games of his career at Iowa, was honorable mention All-Big Ten all four years, and was a semifinalist or finalist for the Ray Guy Award each of his final three seasons. For his career, he averaged 41.9 yards per kick and his average improved almost every year at Iowa (it dipped slightly, from 41.6 to 40.9, between his sophomore and junior seasons).  He had a few issues with shanks early in his career, but they were few and far between over the last few seasons.  In addition to getting great distance on his kicks (he has five of the fourteen longest punts in school history), he also gets very good height on them and makes them difficult to return.

You've got highlights, right?  TELL ME YOU'VE GOT HIGHLIGHTS.  I NEEDS MAH FIX.  You're a degenerate addict.  You know that, right?  And punting highlights?  Really?  Seriously?  Are you Jim Tressel?  If you are, I want the goddamn money you owe me*.  I know you got my emails.  Anyway, you're in luck, sort of:

* This joke would have killed in April, right?  Right?  No?  Oh, shut up.

What was that?  Punting highlights.

But... he wasn't even in pads.  Or in an actual, uh, game.  Don't be so picky.  Punting highlights aren't easy to come by and, anyway, that's pretty much what his in-game punts looked like for the last four years at Iowa.

What's he good at?  Um... punting?  No, really, he was very good and consistently did his part to help Iowa win the field position battle.  

Will he be awesome in the pros?  Well, he'll be a punter, so I'm not sure "awesome" is the best word to use, but... yeah, I think he'll be good at the NFL level.  He has all the mechanical tools -- a quick release, good height, good distance -- and he has plenty of experience (he punted 86 times in his freshman year alone).  If he has a flaw, it might be that he doesn't have perfect control over his distance: a few too many of his punts went into the endzone for touchbacks.  But that's something that might be improved with further experience and coaching.  Is Donahue the next Shane Lechler?  Eh, that might be asking a bit much -- but there's every reason to think that he'll be a reliable pro.

Anything else?  Donahue was able to emerge as a top collegiate punter despite being saddled with a significant handicap: he's a ginger.  Despite that, he was a very good player and he never tried to steal our souls, so... yeah.

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