IOWA CITY — Josey Jewell will take the field at the Outback Bowl one week from today with a bit of added motivation.
The advisory committee for the 2017 NFL Draft armed the Iowa linebacker with results he expected to receive when he inquired about the possibility of placing his name into the list of candidates for this year’s draft.
“They told me what I already knew. That I need to keep working,’’ Jewell said. “That’s kind of what I expected. I figured this was my one chance to check things out and that I might as well do that and see what would happen.’’
Jewell said he was more interested in learning about the process as opposed to finding out he was ready for the next level.
In its initial stage, the advisory committee offers draft-eligible underclassmen with one of three levels of opinion.
It can tell a prospect that he is a likely first-round selection, a possible second-round selection or would be better served by continuing to develop his skills at the college level.
Jewell, who has led Iowa in tackles the past two seasons and was the only Big Ten player selected as a finalist for this year’s Butkus Award, was informed rather quickly that his best option would be to keep his nose to the grindstone in a Hawkeye uniform.
“I can’t say I disagree with their assessment,’’ Jewell said. “It gives me something to focus on and work toward over the next year. It’s a little motivation, yeah, but that’s in a good way. I’ve never been afraid of a little work.’’
Unlike a year ago when Desmond King learned that he needed to concentrate on improved quickness after testing the possibility of an early exit, Jewell said the letter he received didn’t contain much detail.
“It pretty much just said I wasn’t at that level yet and that I needed to work on things,’’ Jewell said. “I’m OK with that.’’
That work started this month as Iowa began preparations for its noon match-up on Jan. 2 against Florida at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.
Jewell, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 114 tackles, said the Hawkeyes are preparing to face a Gators team with as much quickness as any team Iowa has faced during its 8-4 season.
“It will be another good test for us, a chance to see where we are,’’ he said. “These types of games, they give you a good measure of where you are at and what you need to work on.’’
Jewell said lessons Iowa learned from last season’s 45-16 loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl provided the Hawkeyes with a starting point for this season.
That work has translated into development which helped Iowa compete in the Big Ten this season.
“I feel like I’m making better reads, shooting gaps better and quicker, that type of thing,’’ Jewell said. “We all had room to grow and these types of games let you know where you stand.’’
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said the NFL analysts provided that same type of help in their message to Jewell.
“The results were kind of predictable and if he was really serious about it, what we would have done is talked to, like we’ve done for the other guys, reached out to six or seven people that are real high up on the chain and get their reports, a good accurate survey of where they would go,’’ Ferentz said.
The Iowa coach pointed to former Hawkeye Pat Angerer as an example of an Iowa player who benefitted from a successful senior season.
“That extra year makes a really big difference for most players unless you are a freak of nature,’’ Ferentz said. “There are a couple of those walking around, but I don’t think we’ve had too many come through our hallways. Most of our guys get better with every step along the way.’’