Iowa offensive lineman Riley Reiff waited longer than most experts thought he'd have to in order to hear his name called during the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Reiff, projected by many to be taken among the draft's first 15 selections, fell to the Detroit Lions with the 23rd selection. It's the same spot another Iowa lineman, Bryan Bulaga, dropped to two drafts ago after also being projected as an early selection.
“It’s really hard to predict," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters last week when asked about where Reiff would go during the three-day event at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.
Reiff was one of the few players chosen on the draft's first day that opted no to attend the festivities in the Big Apple, choosing to remain at home near his family and friends. He received the news he was taken by the Lions while hanging out in a barn on his family's property.
“I didn’t really care to watch the TV,” he told the Associated Press.
With Detroit left tackle Jeff Backus turning 34, Reiff could be in line to replace the former Michigan standout at some point in the future.
“He’s smart, good athlete, he’s big — that goes a long ways,” Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz told NFL.com. “He’s not a mismatch as a run blocker or pass protector. We liked what we saw.
“We were fortunate to get him where we did.”
He lands in a good spot. The Lions, once among the league's laughing stocks, finished the 2011 campaign with a 10-6 record and reached the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Reiff's selection gives the Hawks a first round pick in the last three drafts, something only five other schools can claim. Bulaga was taken by the Green Bay Packers in 2010 and last season defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn was selected by Tampa Bay with the 20th pick. Reiff is the sixth player to be drafted among the first 30 picks during Ferentz's 13 years at Iowa and the 19th first round choice in the school's history.
The draft continues Friday evening with Rounds 2 and 3 before concluding with the final four rounds on Saturday. As many as six other Hawkeyes could hear their names called at some point during the final six rounds of picks, including wide receiver Marvin McNutt and defensive back Shaun Prater.