Notebook: ESPN’s McShay sees Osemele, Johnson as middle-round picks

Dan Tracy

INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa State hasn’t had a player picked in the first round of the NFL Draft since running back George Amundson was selected with the 14th pick by the Houston Oilers in 1973.

The Cyclones might have to wait another year.

While offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele has drawn some first-round projections, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay believes the 6-foot-6 333-pound prospect will likely be selected outside the top 50 picks in April’s Draft.

“I thought he was a little bit erratic during the Senior Bowl. I like what he can do, but he’s more of a third round player in my opinion,” McShay said of Osemele. “I don’t know that he’s in that second round range.”

McShay, who has evaluated prospects for the NFL Draft since 1998, has enjoyed evaluating Osemele’s college teammate, 5-foot-10 defensive back Leonard Johnson.

“I really like Leonard Johnson,” McShay said. “I wish he was a little bit bigger and maybe had a little bit higher top end speed, but he plays the game hard.”

Unlike Osemele, Johnson has not garnered as much attention as some of the other players at his position. But McShay would not be shocked if Johnson had his name called before Osemele did on draft day.

“I like his quickness, I just think he’s a good football player,” McShay said. “He does a lot of little things right. Again the height, weight and speed are not in his favor but it won’t surprise me if he comes off the board somewhere later in the second round.”

Osemele completes full day of testing

With a barrage of medical tests and formal interviews behind him, Osemele completed his week at the NFL scouting combine going through a variety of speed and agility tests on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Osemele began the morning running the 40-yard dash in 5.36 seconds, ranking him tied for 22nd-fastest among the 47 offensive linemen that ran on Saturday. After running, it was on to jumping where the 6-foot-6, 333-pounder vertically leaped 26.5 inches and broad jumped 104 inches. Osemele’s vertical jump tied him for 33rd-highest among 46 offensive linemen and his broad jump registered the eighth-furthest distance.

The Houston, Texas native wrapped up testing with a pair of agility tests starting with the 3-cone test which he finished in 7.91 seconds, 23rd-quickest among 43 offensive linemen. Finally, Osemele concluded his day with the 20-yard shuttle test completing that in 4.87 seconds, the 27th-quickest time among the 43 offensive linemen tested.

On Friday, Osemele recorded 32 bench press repetitions at 225 lbs., tying for third-most among the 48 offensive linemen who participated in the bench press test.

Hawkeye McNutt lauds Cyclone Johnson

Former Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt shares with his college teammates a common view of the in-state rival Iowa State Cyclones.

He hates them.

On Friday, however, McNutt joined a group of other wide receivers in Indianapolis this week that spoke kindly of Johnson saying he was among the top defensive backs he faced during his record-setting career in Iowa City.

“He’s a tough guy, we’ve had some battles,” McNutt said. “He’s another rival so I’m sure he’s watched as much of my film as I’ve watched on him [the Iowa-Iowa State game is] always a good game.”

McNutt, who had seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns in his three games against Iowa State, pointed to Johnson as the best defensive back he matched up against during the North squad practices prior to the Senior Bowl in January.

“Iowa State, you know we hate them, but they’re one of our [in-state] rivals so he played a good game [at the Senior Bowl],” McNutt said.

Francis, Sanu recall Pinstripe Bowl battles with Johnson, Osemele

The final chance for both Johnson and Osemele to showcase themselves in a college football game came in the Dec. 30, 2011, Pinstripe Bowl when the Cyclones fell to Rutgers 27-13 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Two Scarlet Knight players in Indianapolis this week — wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and defensive lineman Justin Francis — found themselves across the line of scrimmage from Johnson and Osemele throughout their final college game.

Sanu, who set the Big East single-season record for receptions with 115 last season, hauled in six catches for 62 yards in the Pinstripe Bowl while frequently facing man to man coverage from Johnson.

“He was a complete defensive back,” Sanu said of Johnson. “He could play off, play press, he tackled well, and he just did all the little things that are needed to be done to become a real good defender.”

The Scarlet Knights’ leader in sacks with 6.5 last season, Francis described the bowl game as “a back and forth fight” especially in the trenches.

“Me and Kelechi were going at it the whole night, talking smack to each other, but there was a mutual respect,” Francis said. “I got him, he got me, but for the most part it was a fun game.”

At 6-foot-2, 268 pounds, Francis had to battle both Osemele’s size and his competitiveness when the two squared off in December.

“He’s a great kid, strong, big, got good feet and he’s a competitor,”  That’s the one thing I found out about him throughout the game was that he was just competing with me trying to counter everything I did, and I was trying to counter everything he did.”

The NFL Draft will begin on April 26 and continue through April 28.