Credit - Lydia Knoll - IU Athletics

IU Football’s NFL Draft Streak on the Line This Year

For six straight NFL Drafts, at least one former Hoosier football star has heard his name called.

There will be some anxious moments in 2020 as the program looks to keep the streak going.

Sending players to the NFL is obviously something that college football teams can hang their hat on when it comes to recruiting, and IU’s recent consistency is a source of pride for the head coach.

“Definitely something that we’re proud of, IU head coach Tom Allen said of the program’s streak on a video conference on Wednesday.

“It involves way more people than myself. Previous coaches, and previous staffs, and a lot of hard work by a lot of people going into that result.”

The Hoosier with the best odds of extending the streak to seven had the worst luck — at the worst time.  Guard Simon Stepaniak tore his ACL in the week of practice preceding the Gator Bowl.

Although he was invited to the NFL Combine, Stepaniak could only participate in the bench press.  He impressed with 37 repetitions of 225 pounds, but the injury prevented the Ohio native from showcasing his prowess as a run blocker.

Since then Stepaniak has had conversations with several NFL teams, and he is emphasizing that he will be ready to go by training camp.

“Everything is going at an accelerated pace,” Stepaniak said.  “I’m going to ready for camp and beyond, whatever club I’m at. That’s something I’m stressing to all of the teams and their doctors. So, it’s good news that I’ll be ready to by that time.”

NFL.com’s draft analysis projects Stepaniak as a possible late-round selection.

Although the circumstances with the knee injury are not ideal for Stepaniak, Allen believes his performance on the field during his IU career will be the most important variable.

“I do know that film is really the ultimate evaluation for guys,” Allen said.

In 2019, offensive lineman Brandon Knight went undrafted but was able to win a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys at their training camp.

Allen believes that could be a path to the league once again in 2020 for his former players.

“I have full confidence that we have guys in this class that are going to get opportunities to go play in the NFL whenever they get drafted or taken as a free agent,” Allen said.  “As I told them, you just need one team to believe in you, one team to give you a chance. And when they do, you show you belong.”

HOOSIERS ON THE DRAFT BOARD

Simon Stepaniak

Credit – IU Athletics

Stepaniak started 31 games (30 at right guard, 1 at left guard) and appeared in 41 games.  He was a team captain in 2019 and earned third‐team All‐Big Ten honors (media) and honorable‐mention All‐Big Ten (coaches).

Stepaniak started all 11 games in which he appeared in 2019, 10 at right guard and one at left guard.

Projection – late round pick / free agent.

Reakwon Jones

Credit – IU Athletics

Jones was a team captain in 2019 and earned honorable‐mention All‐Big Ten (coaches).

Jones shared second on the team with 55 total tackles and second with 39 solo stops.  He added one sack, 3.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery (returned for a touchdown), two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

The Florida product started all 13 games on the weak‐side and led the team in tackles four times.

Projection – free agent.

Nick Westbrook

Credit – IU Athletics

Westbrook finished his career with 144 receptions for 2,226 yards and 16 touchdowns. He ranks sixth in catches, seventh in yardage and touchdowns, and he is tied for seventh in 100‐yard receiving games (6) in the IU record book.

Westbrook, who played in the 2020 East‐West Shrine Bowl, became the seventh Hoosier to reach 125 receptions and 2,000 yards. The four‐time Academic All‐Big Ten honoree appeared in a program‐record 52 games (36 starts).

Projection – free agent.

Logan Justus

Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

Justus finished his career 32‐of‐39 on field goals (82.1 percent) and 77‐of‐80 on extra points (96.3 percent). He is Indiana’s all‐time field goal percentage leader, seventh in PATs made and eighth in field goals made.

Justus was named second‐team All‐Big Ten (coaches, media) and he was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

Projection – free agent.


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