Congratulations, professional football fans! Your favorite team has made the wonderful decision to draft Jordan Bernstine! 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.
So, Is This Guy Any Good? Funny you should ask. Bernstine is one of the few Iowa players in recent memory whose draft stock is based more on potential and workout performance than production and in-game performance. That's not to say that he was a bad in-game performer -- he wasn't -- but an acknowledgment that his resume is a little slight in that category. The reasons behind that are twofold: limited opportunity (due to injuries Bernstine played only sparingly until emerging as a starter at strong safety in 2011) and limited on-field excellence. Again, Bernstine wasn't a bad player, but he didn't tear things up in his one year in the spotlight, either. He didn't earn any All-Big Ten honors, even Honorable Mention.
Bernstine arrived at Iowa with considerable hype -- he was a 4* recruit who chose Iowa over offers from Nebraska, UCLA, and Texas A&M and who combined good speed (4.4) with a punishing ability to hit offensive players -- but took a while to make an impact. He moved to cornerback at Iowa and was expected to compete for a starting job in 2008, only to suffer a shoulder injury and lose out to Amari Spievey and Bradley Fletcher (both currently plying their trade in the NFL). He was again expected to vie for a starter spot in 2009, only to sustain a broken ankle and miss the entire season. And again, in 2010, he was expected to vie for a starting spot, only to have several relatively minor injuries slow him down during training camp. Finally, he moved to safety (where he played in high school) in 2011, stayed healthy, and claimed the starting strong safety job. He had 83 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and a forced fumble last year, as well as two pass break ups. As you might have guessed from those numbers, Bernstine isn't a great ballhawk -- he only had one career interception at Iowa and just two pass break-ups. He was stout against the run, though, and occasionally even really stout.
Despite his lack of elite production, though, Bernstine finds himself with draft buzz. Why? Well, the athleticism that made him such a prized college recruit five years ago is still there -- he ran a 4.4 forty at Iowa's Pro Day last month and had a 41" vertical leap. Bernstine also benefits from Iowa's recent excellent track record at defensive back -- every regular starter over the past four years has gotten at least a cup of coffee with the league and only one (FS Brett Greenwood) wasn't drafted. As prospects go, Greenwood and Bernstine are almost funhouse mirror opposites. Greenwood had excellent production and tremendous football smarts, but lacked NFL athleticism; Bernstine has the latter, but the former are question marks. Bernstine will likely have to make an initial impact in the NFL on special teams (which should come as no surprise; even his much-heralded predecessor at strong safety at Iowa, Tyler Sash, played primarily on special teams this past season), but has the tools to do just that. He played special teams throughout his Iowa career and was both an excellent member of the coverage teams and a fairly strong return man as a senior (he averaged 24.4 yards per return in 2011 and often appeared close to breaking a big return).
What's that about injuries? He's not made of glass like Bob Sanders, is he? Um... Honestly, it's hard to say if Bernstine deserves the dreaded "injury-prone" label or if he's just really, really unlucky. In addition to the major shoulder and ankle injuries he suffered (and the various minor dings that slowed him in 2010), Bernstine was also one of the Iowa players stricken rhabdomyolysis in the spring of 2011. Bernstine never really had recurring problems with the same sort of injury and the shoulder, ankle, and rhabdo were all pretty freakish injuries. On the other hand, we'd understand if you felt a little cautious about taking a chance on a guy who was injured so often over the past five years. (On the bright side, think of the all the wear that's not on his tires!)
How about nicknames? Those are cool. After he made this hit early in the season, the BHGP commentariat wuickly latched onto the "BOOMSTINE" moniker. It fits, it's fun to say, it sounds cool -- what more do you want in a nickname?
Anything else we should know about? Seriously, he might be able to fly.