Outside linebacker is one of the deepest positions in the upcoming 2006 National Football League Draft, and as many as four or five could possibly be selected in the first round. After a stellar career at Iowa, outside linebacker Chad Greenway is sure to be one of the first at his position selected. Greenway is one of the top defensive players available in the draft and has the potential to be an impact player at the next level.
Greenway was raised on a hog farm in Mount Vernon, S.D., which has a population of just 477. He was a star quarterback, safety also well as punt returner for Mount Vernon High School, where he also lettered in baseball along with track and field. His decision to attend Iowa was made easy by the fact that it was the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship.
Greenway redshirted his first year in 2001. In 2002, he suffered a serious knee injury toward the end of spring practice and had major reconstructive surgery, which caused him to miss the first four games of the season. He played sparingly once he returned and totaled just 15 tackles.
Fully recovered, Greenway became a starter for the Hawkeyes defense in 2003. In 13 games, he amassed 132 tackles (13 for loss), two sacks, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and a block punt. His performance in his first full season earned him Second-Team All-Big Ten Conference honors.
In 2004 Greenway continued to excel, earning First-Team All-Big Ten Conference honors with 113 tackles (eight for loss), three sacks, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), five passes defensed, a forced fumble and his second career blocked punt. Greenway's performance and leadership helped the No. 8 Hawkeyes to a 10-2 record, capped off by a 30-25 Capital One Bowl win over No. 11 Louisiana State.
As a senior, Greenway's job was made difficult by the departure of three significant members of the team's 2004 defensive line - DT Jordan Babineaux (Atlanta Falcons), DE Matt Roth (Miami Dolphins) and DE Derreck Robinson (San Diego Chargers). Despite this, Greenway finished second on the team behind fellow LB Abdul Hodge with 156 tackles (95 solo) including 10 for a loss. Greenway also racked up two sacks, an interception and eight passes defensed.
The 23-year-old Greenway leaves Iowa ranked fourth in school history with 416 career tackles. Aside from impressive numbers, what else does the kid from a rural South Dakota town bring to the biggest professional sports league in the country?
To begin with, Greenway is a tremendous athlete and has good size at 6-foot-2 1/2, 242 pounds. Greenway also has good speed and acceleration. He recently ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but he has run in the 4.6s before.
When it comes to playing the game, there really isn't much Greenway does not do well. He is a sure tackler, an able pass rusher and does pretty well dropping back into coverage. He moves well on the field and has a nonstop motor.
Aside from the physical aspects, Greenway is also very intelligent and has good instincts. In his time at Iowa he has proven to be a hard worker and emerged as a team leader for the Hawkeyes.
One knock on Greenway is that he lacks overall strength. At the NFL Combine he did only 16 bench reps of 225 pounds (Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler did 23 reps!), so look for him to attempt to improve that number along with his 40 time at Iowa's Pro Day March 20.
As a result of his lack of strength, Greenway sometimes has difficulty escaping blocks to make plays. He also tends to sometimes be overly aggressive which can occasionally take him out of position to make a play.
While Greenway has not missed a game for the Hawkeyes from 2003-05 and has played well the entire time, serious knee injuries like the one he suffered in 2002 are always a cause for some durability concerns when evaluating football players.
After Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk is taken somewhere in the top 10, look for Greenway to be the next linebacker off the board.
At the NFL Combine, Greenway said he spoke to at least 10 teams, and it is known he had interviews with the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.
It is a pretty good bet Greenway goes somewhere in the middle of the first round. Arizona (No. 10), St. Louis (No. 11), Cleveland (No. 12), Baltimore (No. 13) and Philadelphia (No. 14) could all use linebacker help. With some of those teams having greater needs at other positions, St. Louis and Philadelphia are probably the most likely destinations. At 33 years old, LB Dexter Coakley is not the answer at weakside linebacker for the Rams, and in 12 games last season, he had just 38 tackles.
Don't expect Greenway to fall past the Eagles at No. 14. Free agent LB Keith Adams started in 2005 but is no better than a special teams player, and recently signed LB Shawn Barber is likely not viewed as anything more than a backup by his one-year deal. Greenway would be a good fit on either team, providing some much needed youth and talent at outside linebacker.
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