Hawks in the NFL | Combine Edition

A handful of Hawkeye football alums improved their draft stock during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness competes in a drill with defensive end Brian Allen during a spring practice at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Five former Hawkeye standouts participated at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend.

Tight end Sam LaPorta, defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness, linebacker Jack Campbell, and defensive backs Riley Moss and Kaevon Merriweather showed off their skills and recorded official height, weight, wingspan, and hand size measurements at the event.

Campbell, who walked away with the Butkus Award and William V. Campbell Award as the best linebacker in the nation last season, boosted his draft stock tremendously at the event. The Cedar Falls native measured in at 6-foot-4 and a half inch and recorded a 9.98 unofficial Relative Athletic Score (RAS) on a scale from zero to 10.

As one of the top off-ball linebackers in this year’s draft, Campbell could sneak into the late first round due to his combination of size and ability to range from sideline to sideline. His leadership abilities and intelligence could justify a first-round selection, as well.

LaPorta getting love

The 2023 tight end crop is a loaded group of prospects. Iowa’s Sam LaPorta took the opportunity to show why he stands out in the class during his workout at Lucas Oil Stadium.

LaPorta measured in at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He recorded a 4.59 second 40-yard dash time en route to a 9.1 RAS score.

ESPN analyst and Hawkeye football alum Matt Bowen praised LaPorta’s run after the catch ability in a recent tweet, stating LaPorta is “rugged after the catch.”

In addition to increased eyes from NFL scouts, LaPorta got a shoutout on Twitter from his mother, Staci.

Van Ness stock rising

Lukas Van Ness, nicknamed “Hercules” by his Iowa teammates, tore up the Combine by showcasing his elite agility at 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds.

Van Ness, who has been mocked as high as pick No. 8 by NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, was one of the top standouts among the defensive line group as he earned a 9.22 RAS. He has drawn comparisons to the recently retired J.J. Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Van Ness is projected to be picked in the top 20 by nearly every major draft analyst despite never starting a game during his time in Iowa City. Jeremiah has him ranked No. 22 on his Big Board after his showing at the Combine.

‘Doughboyz’ a mixed bag in Indy

Riley Moss showed his elite athleticism and track speed on the big stage in Indianapolis.

The Ankeny Centennial grad looked tremendous in the ball skill drills, showcasing his fluid hips and mobility. Moss recorded the sixth-highest vertical jump among cornerbacks with a 39-inch leap and tied for runner-up in the 10-yard split category, accelerating to the tune of 1.48 seconds. Moss ran a 4.45 40-yard dash to earn a 9.89 RAS.

Merriweather participated in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump at the combine. The safety posted middling numbers, but Merriweather’s selling points for NFL scouts are his leadership capabilities and his playmaking skills on the back end.