So another year and another NFL Draft has come and gone. Despite some speculation that this year could be the year, Iowa State continues to hold the dubious crown of 1st round futility. George Amundson in 1973 is still an obscure trivia answer. For most of those 46 years, Iowa State hasn’t come particularly close to producing a 1st round pick. Last week, David Montgomery broke a 5 year streak without a single player drafted.
How should the fan base feel about that? Happy to be sending players to the NFL, sure. Is it fun to be the butt of the joke? Of course not. Am I going to worry about the streak continuing indefinitely? Not at all. This program is in as good a place heading into 2019 as it ever has been. We’re officially showing up in “Way-Too-Early” Top 25s. There’s a good chance that we’ll be ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 for the first time since 1978, and just the 2nd time ever. Our head coach is a hot commodity. Some professional team in New Jersey wanted him, and he turned them down. Dreaming of ESPN’s College Gameday broadcasting from Jack Trice Stadium in 2019 is acceptable, maybe expected. Competing for a Big 12 championship into November is the expectation, not a pipe dream.
Let’s take a closer look some of our draft prospects. David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler both received 1st round hype at various points in the last year. Unfortunately, they fell victim to the positions they played. Is it crazy to think that 12 receivers were taken before Hakeem Butler? Maybe. Who knows what each individual GM is looking for? A year ago, Allen Lazard couldn’t even get his name called, despite being mocked as high as the 3rd round.
David Montgomery likely would’ve been a 1st round pick in 2009, but not 2019. Is it our fault that the NFL doesn’t value running backs as a whole anymore? There’s probably a reason Jon Gruden’s team is the only one to select a 1st round running back this year. On the flip side, 2019 is a new world for quarterback prospects. Kyler Murray stands just over 5’10” and he just got picked #1 overall. I’m not here to say 6’0” Seneca Wallace in 2019 would be a 1st round pick, but in 2003, he never had a chance because of his height and playing style.
The NFL puts high draft priority on quarterbacks, pass rushers, and offensive lineman. Simple math tells you that you need more lineman than wide receivers. A great quarterback can lift a bad team. It’s no coincidence that the closest the streak came to being snapped were offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele in 2012 and Keith Sims in 1990. The chances of the streak breaking, at least in the next year, are minimal. For as silly as 2020 mock drafts are, right now Marcel Spears is the only potential draftee mentioned. No worries. Matt Campbell and the coaching staff will continue to develop talented football players and punching above their weight in the recruiting rankings.
Sure it stinks that Iowa State hasn’t had a first round pick since before the internet was invented and 16 years before Busch Light was first released. Sure it stinks that it’s the longest drought of all Power 5 schools. I say so what? I’d much rather sit where we are right now than say, Louisville, Baylor, Colorado, or Nebraska. Iowa State is an underdog kind of school. It has been for a long time. It will be for a long time into the future. Some day our school will be called through the boos aimed at Roger Goodell. Until that time, I look forward to riding the wave of momentum as long as we can, or until Brock Purdy gets picked #1 in 2021 after winning consecutive Heisman trophies.