Iowa football’s Jack Campbell picked by Detroit Lions in first round of NFL Draft

The former Hawkeye went No. 18 overall on Thursday.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell runs out before a football game between Iowa and the Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on November 25, 2022. The Cornhuskers defeated the Hawkeyes, 24-17.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Former Iowa football linebacker Jack Campbell grew up through his NFL Draft process.

Along with learning how to do taxes following his last appearance for the Hawkeyes in the Music City Bowl in December 2022, he also learned how to carry himself as a potential NFL linebacker.

“I’m a grown up now,” Campbell said. “Not that I wasn’t at Iowa, but I’ve learned everything I do is gonna be even more in the public eye or like anything that I thought that I did at Iowa. Everything, expectations go up. And I feel like what I’ve learned most about myself would just be to just stick to what I know, and be me.”

Now Campbell, one of the most decorated linebackers in Iowa football history, has made it to the NFL. He was picked by the Detroit Lions with the 18th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

“Through this whole process, I’ve learned to like, just be human, because there’s a lot of people out there who kind of try to fake it,” Campbell said. “And I just want a team to know what they’re getting in me. Based on all the interactions I’ve had, I feel like I’ve done that.”

Campbell joined the Hawkeyes in 2019 and was one of 10 true freshmen to see action that year. He only played five games in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, missing three games because of an illness.

He rocketed into the spotlight in his junior season, registering a single-season Iowa record 143 tackles through 13 games for the Hawkeyes. He earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-America honors in his junior season.

Campbell culminated his Hawkeye career with unanimous consensus All–America honors in 2022, winning both the Butkus and William V. Campbell Trophy. He recorded 128 tackles in his senior season, including 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack.

Following the Music City Bowl in December 2022, Campbell went to California to train for the NFL Combine.

He measured at 6-foot-5 and 249 pounds at the combine in early March, running a 4.65 40-yard dash. He scored an 89 athleticism score and an 82 total — both highest among linebackers in the draft.

Campbell was the third linebacker to be taken off the board in the draft. Will Anderson Jr., a linebacker from Alabama, went third overall to the Houston Texans. Will McDonald IV, an Iowa state linebacker, went 15th to the New York Jets.

He’s the second Hawkeye off the board, joining defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness, who was drafted 13th to the Green Bay Packers. It’s the first time since 2019 that the Hawkeyes had two top-20 picks

But to matter what team he ended up on, he knew that being himself was the most important thing to be successful.

“Being Jack Campbell, being who I am, and not changing, that’s the most important thing,” Campbell said. “And I’m gonna hold that tight. And it’s that mentality every single day, I’m waking up to prove people wrong and also prove myself right. Like I wake up every single day, and no one’s gonna believe in me except me every single day, and that’s okay. And I’m just excited for this next step in my journey.”