It’s a slow period with a long wrestling break, basketball schedule cupcakery and the period before the bowl game. So when I read this article ($) Monday morning, I figured we should talk about it!
First of all, if you don’t have an Athletic subscription, get one. They’re running a holiday special where you can gain access to it for like 48 cents a month for the next 87 months. Second of all, the article in question is titled “Why 49ers Tight End George Kittle went in the fifth round and what scouts think about him now” and it includes three really, really, interesting quotes from two NFL scouts about grading Kittle, and the Iowa program in general.
First, the reporter, John MiddleKauff asks an anonymous NFL Scout why Kittle lasted until pick 146 in the 2016 NFL draft. The scout’s answer?
“He didn’t fall, he was over-drafted. Just an average player at Iowa, and they (the coaches) crushed his football character at the school,” said a scout who was assigned to study him.
CRUSHED HIS FOOTBALL CHARACTER. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
And there’s more:
When he says football character, he is talking about attributes like his love of football and other elements within the program — working out, easy to coach, etc. Kittle wasn’t a guy who was all in, something NFL teams really value.
“I was way too low on him,” said another NFL executive who did a scouting visit at Iowa. “But Iowa didn’t exactly sell him as a legit dude.”
When I asked if he dinged him for football character his response was kind of funny.
“Yes, but it’s Iowa. Bad football character there is good football character in the SEC.”
This is why scouting is so difficult. It’s not black and white. Iowa is run by an old school throwback in Kirk Ferentz. He likes overachievers. That’s the underlining theme of the program: working hard, being all in, loving football to the deepest core of your bones.
I have an absolutely IMPOSSIBLE time believe Kittle wasn’t “ALL IN” on Iowa football, and football in general during his time in Iowa City. A time that overlapped, y’know, a 12-0 regular season, Big Ten Title game appearance and Rose Bowl berth.
The article seeks to answer why Kittle dropped so far in the draft. It doesn’t find one really, outside of luck—Kittle is somewhat lucky to be clearly the most dangerous receiving weapon on a team that’s on its third string quarterback. But really, I think the answer is as simple as why you find busts and sleepers in every single draft: no one in the NFL knows a goddam thing.
There is one more nugget in that piece, from another anonymous scout:
“The two tight ends Iowa have right now are both better prospects at the same stage than Kittle was during his entire tenure at the program,” said a scout who has evaluated Iowa this season.
SO is that some fodder for Hockenson now?!?
I mostly just wanted to talk about that Kittle story, but there’s some other media nuggets from the past few days worth mentioning:
- Speaking of Hockenson fodder... apparently he’s reached out to Dallas Clark for advice, and is waiting to hear from the NFL draft advisory board, but said he’s committed to preparing for Mississippi State.
- Iowa football players often wear devices on their wrist to monitor sleep, in addition to heart monitors. Coach Doyle will know how many pitchers at SpoCo you had!
- It turns out Iowa offensive line coach Tim Polasek was never really in the running for the head coaching gig at North Dakota State, where he was an offensive coordinator before coming to Iowa City. Nice write up from Rob Howe here.
- Despite being ranked as the seventh-best QB prospect in the upcoming draft by Mel Kiper, Nate Stanley is returning to Iowa City to finish his senior season.
- Fortnite, Drake, and Memes: how Purdue is killing it (Iowa) in the football recruiting game. God this is depressing to read knowing Iowa will never pander to youths.