Bradley Fletcher ...
Since it's the off-season, I thought if might be fun to check out some articles spotlighting our third rd pick ..
Bradley Fletcher keeps a low profile, and doesn’t say much—but does so in an articulate manner.
by Scott Dochterman
In many ways, Fletcher’s play at cornerback reflect his outward impression.
He’s confident, assertive, and talented. His personal drive, combined with physical skills and a solid work ethic have parlayed Fletcher into one of the fastest risers in this year’s NFL draft.
It also could land the former Iowa defensive back a spot in the first three rounds this weekend.
“He’s a guy that we kind of call one of the sleepers in this draft,” said Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Service, LLC. “He’s got loose hips, he’s smooth in transition. We’re going to give a third- or fourth-round grade at the very worst. We think he should be a third-round guy.”
Fletcher, 22, has been one of Iowa’s most traveled players in recent weeks. He has met with multiple NFL teams, including the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. He said he’s worked on his speed and quickness since the end of Iowa’s football season, and the results are proven.
Fletcher ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine in February. He shaved off a little more time at Iowa’s pro day last month, running it in 4.44 seconds. He’s a good-sized cornerback, slightly taller than six feet and weighing nearly 200 pounds.
Shonka grades Fletcher 14th among cornerbacks, but he’s the second-tallest among those players. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lists Fletcher ninth among cornerbacks and has Jacksonville selecting him in the third round.
Fletcher’s draft stock soared with East-West Shrine Bowl in January. He recorded six tackles — including three solo — and he broke up one pass. His play and athletic ability launched him into the discussion as a potential man-to-man NFL cornerback.
“He was at least one of the best corners, if not the best corner there,” Shonka said. “He played really fast, he was impressive when he drives on the ball. The thing that was impressive about him at the combine was his ability to turn and run. That is supposed to correlate with your 40 time. A lot of guys didn’t run the drill real well, and Fletcher, his times were like 4.47, which obviously correlated with his 40 time.
“His back peddle turn and run was 4.46 and 4.46 which is outstanding. Plus he’s got long arms and can leap. His runs were real smooth in his turns. He’s very athletic.”
Fletcher started 17 games for Iowa, including all 13 his senior season. He recorded 152 tackles, including 60 last year. He had three interceptions last season and 10 pass breakups. He totaled five interceptions and 17 breakups in his Iowa career.
“You get a sense there’s a lot of interest in him,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Fletcher spent most of his off-season speed training to prepare for the combine. As the draft approaches this weekend, his focus is on conditioning.
As for any indications where the Youngstown, Ohio native might go, Fletcher is taking it in stride.
“I have no idea right now,” Fletcher said. “I’m just going into it open minded and see what happens.”
Along with speed and size, Fletcher’s athletic ability is a plus. He recorded a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, third-best among the top 14 corners on Shonka’s board.
“As Deion Sanders used to say, ‘I don’t need that playbook, I’ve got that guy right there,’” Shonka said. “That’s what Fletcher can do. I think he’s a third- or fourth-round guy. And if he goes later, somebody got a steal.”
Fletcher's path to NFL is unique
When listing Kirk Ferentz's greatest achievements as the Iowa football coach, there are, of course, the three consecutive double-digit win seasons, the two Big Ten titles and all the glitzy individual awards won by his players.
But there also are more subtle things such as the case of Bradley Fletcher, who today serves as proof that if you stay the course and listen to your coaches and never stop believing in yourself, that your day may come.
Fletcher's day came Sunday, or more specifically Sunday morning when he was selected in the third round of the NFL draft, and just one spot behind his more decorated college teammate, former Iowa running back Shonn Greene.
The brains behind the St. Louis Rams felt highly enough of Fletcher as a defensive back -- he played cornerback at Iowa -- to take him not just in the third round, which is impressive by itself, but with the second pick in the third round and the 66thpick overall.
It's crazy to think that Fletcher, who didn't become a full-time starter at Iowa until he was a fifth-year senior, was selected ahead of more celebrated players such as Penn State receiver and return specialist Derrick Williams, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman and Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum.
They also were selected in the third round, but Fletcher was taken at least 16 spots ahead of all three of them.
And then consider the list of players who didn't even get drafted. It's a Who's Who list that includes former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, and Fletcher's former college teammate, Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King.
But it's not just that Fletcher was drafted, but also how he reached this point that makes him a true representative of what Iowa football is all about under Ferentz.
Unlike former Hawkeye defensive back Bob Sanders, who was a star almost from the moment he stepped foot on the Iowa campus, Fletcher had to bide his time. Fletcher had to be humbled as part of the transition from high school to college. But with each season, he got better, little by little.
Fletcher traveled a path more typical than the one Sanders and Greene and other former Iowa stars such as offensive lineman Robert Gallery and tight end Dallas Clark took on their way to being drafted.
Nothing against those guys, but it's easy to get enamored with their rags-to-riches stories because they are so incredible.
But so is Fletcher's story because he serves as a symbol in so many ways for what Iowa football is all about under Ferentz.
The Iowa coaches saw something in Fletcher that most other Division I coaches, including those at Fletcher's home-state school Ohio State, didn't see.
Ferentz's crew saw it and then they helped Fletcher develop it over time.
Fletcher also has some physical gifts that helped him reach this point, like being legitimately 6-feet tall and being faster than most probably thought he was.
Fletcher helped his cause immensely by running the 40-yard dash in a blistering time of 4.44 seconds and by posting a 40-inch vertical leap at Iowa's pro day.
His speed combined with his size and his performance as a Hawkeye, and the fact that he by all accounts is a first-rate citizen, made Fletcher too good to pass up.
It also probably didn't hurt that Fletcher played for Ferentz because even after being away from the NFL for a decade, Ferentz's name still carries a lot of weight on draft day.
Fletcher getting drafted shows that it's as much about the journey at Iowa as it is the destination.
It's special because Fletcher wasn't an overnight sensation at Iowa. Heck, he wasn't even a sensation, or even the best cornerback on Iowa's team last season with the emergence of all-Big Ten performer Amari Spievey.
Fletcher was just a soft-spoken kid from Youngstown, Ohio, who took advantage of an opportunity, the skills he was given and the knowledge and encouragement of the people around him to achieve a goal.
Nothing came easy for Fletcher at Iowa. But the best things in life rarely do.
Hopefully this kid will reward Spag's and Billy's decision to select him high in rd #3 by becoming a solid contributor on our retooling defense .. :D
Re: Bradley Fletcher ...
Thanks for posting these articles on Mr. Fletcher. I'll admit that I was less than pleased when I heard that the Rams had selected him at the top of the 3rd round. I was hoping ever so much that we would take a pass rusher like Michael Johnson or a D-lineman like Jarron Gilbert or somebody like that. However, after further review and research I'm kinda being won over to the Fletcher pick for a number of reasons.
1.) As the article proved Fletch is a big guy for a corner. This fits in well with DeSpags desire to get bigger at each position,
2.) It has occurred to me that Spags just may not be enthralled with the troika of Hill/King/Wade. The answer to which of these wins the spot opposite to Bartell just might be none-of-the-above.
With that said Fletch may be a guy that ends up with the job sooner than later. And this would be an excellent development for the Rams.
At any rate, thanx again and keep the info flowing.
WHAT SAY YE?