Former Hawks Poised to Make Their Mark in the NFL Playoffs

Story by Luke Maiers

Former Iowa Hawkeye football players are scattered throughout NFL teams. The majority of them will not be seeing postseason play this year. However, seven former Hawks will be playing for the ultimate goal, the Super Bowl. Some teams have better odds than others, but here are all of the current Hawks competing for a ring.

Austin Blythe

The Los Angeles Rams were in shambles last season, but the turnaround was on for them this year as they won 11 games and the NFC West. Austin Blythe is the lone former Hawkeye on the Rams roster. Blythe has seen limited action in his time out west, and he was with the Indianapolis Colts last season. Blythe’s stat sheet is small, but he does have one kick return on his resume from 2016. He went all Devin Hester and returned it for 10 yards.

Adrian Clayborn

Nov 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons let go of a huge lead last year in the Super Bowl. A meltdown that will be remembered forever. They will have a chance to redeem themselves this year, but they must start with the LA Rams. Adrian Clayborn is dealing with a little bit of an injury, but he should be good to go for the playoffs. Clayborn slapped his name in the NFL’s record book earlier this year when he had six sacks in one game against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 12. This was the second most sacks in one game in the history of the NFL.

Karl Klug

Karl Klug was drafted in 2011 and has been with one team since then, the Tennessee Titans. Klug’s 2011 year was his best year. He would tally seven sacks in his rookie campaign. Klug has also found the end zone in his career. He stripped New York Jets quarterback, Geno Smith, of the ball in a game in 2013 and fell on it for a touchdown. He has also reeled in one catch for nine yards in his seven years in the NFL.

Micah Hyde

The Buffalo Bills have done it! They have made the playoffs, and a big reason as to why this is is because of their first year safety, Micah Hyde. It took a little while for Hyde to get in on the action in Green Bay. He was primarily a punt returner at first, but then he emerged as a playmaker in the secondary. Hyde is having his best season this year. He has intercepted five passes and has started every game. Hyde will be playing in his first Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl.

Read more about Hyde’s thoughts on the Bills making the playoffs here.

Cole Croston

Cole Croston helps out on the offensive line that gets to protect one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live, Tom Brady. Croston was signed as an undrafted free agent in May of this year. He was listed as inactive for the first nine games of this season, but in week 11, he made his NFL debut. He came in against the Raiders in a blowout win for the Patriots. Football runs in his bloodline as his dad, Dave Croston, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1987.

Riley Reiff and Jaleel Johnson

The Minnesota Vikings are the only team to have two former Hawks on their rosters this postseason.

Riley Reiff had been with the Detroit Lions for five seasons before signing with the Vikings this past offseason. He is a dominant force on the offensive line and is a huge reason for the teams turnaround this season. Although he has been in the NFL for six years, this will be his first time getting past the first round in the NFL Playoffs.

Jaleel Johnson is the second former Hawkeye on the Vikings roster. He was drafted in 2017 in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. When Johnson was in high school, he was dominant on the gridiron along with the wrestling mats. He originally had committed to Iowa to play football, but he then decommitted to take a look at Michigan State. He would recommit to Iowa, and the rest is history.

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