Iowa’s Josey Jewell lived a dream during the final day of the NFL Draft.
A consensus all-American linebacker, Jewell was selected in the fourth round by Denver and was the only Hawkeye selected during the final four rounds of the draft on Saturday.
The only other Iowa college player chosen in the draft beyond the Iowa trio of James Daniels, Josh Jackson and Jewell was Northern Iowa wide receiver Daurice Fountain, taken in the fifth round by Indianapolis.
Jewell’s wait was short. He was the sixth player selected on Saturday and later in the day, Denver coach Vance Joseph said at a news conference that Jewell will be given a chance to fill the same middle linebacker role for the Broncos that the Big Ten defensive player of the year started at for Iowa.
“This guy is a great football player,’’ Joseph said. “He plays the game with the type of resolve we like. He has great instincts for the position and is going to help us.’’
The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Decorah, Iowa, native led the Big Ten in tackles in two of the last three seasons and is one of three Hawkeyes to record 115 or more tackles in three consecutive seasons, joining Larry Station and Abdul Hodge.
Broncos general manager John Elway praised Jewell’s consistency and personality on Twitter shortly after making him the first Hawkeye to be drafted by Denver since offensive lineman Seth Olsen was chosen in the fourth round in 2009.
“Josey Jewell was an extremely productive player at linebacker for Iowa,’’ Elway wrote. “He has a lot of great qualities as a person, has been a team captain for many years at Iowa and we’re thrilled to get him at pick 106.’’
The feeling was mutual.
Shortly after taking a call from Elway letting him know he was the Broncos’ first pick of the day, Jewell posted three photos of himself on Instagram.
One was taken recently holding a Denver helmet. The other two were from his youth, including one wearing a Broncos stocking cap and another with him in a Denver jersey.
“This has been my dream since I was a little kid,’’ Jewell wrote. “Thanks to the Broncos organization for the opportunity. Time to go to work.’’
Fountain was taken with the 22nd selection in the fifth round, becoming the first UNI receiver taken in the draft since Eddie Berlin was drafted in 2001 and first Panther taken in the draft since Deiondre Hall was picked by the Bears in 2016.
After catching 150 passes in his collegiate career, the Madison, Wisconsin native helped his draft stock by earning most valuable player honors at the East-West Shrine Game where he caught three passes for 61 yards and had 40 yards on punt returns.
Shortly after the draft concluded, Iowa running back Akrum Wadley was among four Hawkeyes who announced free-agent deals and three more who have accepted tryout opportunities in hopes of earning a free-agent contract.
Wadley, fifth on Iowa’s career rushing list with 2,872 yards, signed with Tennessee. He announced the deal on Twitter, writing, “Head to the sky. This won’t be the last time you heard of me.’’
Also Saturday, linebacker Ben Niemann announced he had signed with the Chiefs and offensive linemen Sean Welsh and Ike Boettger signed as free agents with the Redskins and Bills, respectively.
Iowa offensive lineman Boone Myers announced he would participate in a tryout camp with the Colts, while wide receiver Matt VandeBerg and running back James Butler indicated they have agreed to participate in a tryout camp hosted by and the Jets.
Five Iowa State players announced free-agent agreements after the Cyclones were shutout in the draft for the fourth straight year, the longest active drought among programs in power-five conferences.
ISU’s career receiving leader, Allen Lazard, has signed with the Jaguars, while two-way standout Joel Lanning has signed with Cowboys. Lanning will be joined in Dallas by two other Iowa State players agreed to free-agent deals, offensive lineman Jake Campos and wide receiver Marchie Murdock, and punter Colin Downing has signed with the Chiefs.
Northern Iowa announced the signing of two defensive backs to free-agent deals, Elijah Campbell with the Browns and Malcolm Washington with the Cardinals.
Western Illinois wide receiver Jaelon Acklin, an all-American who caught a school single-season record 84 passes for 1,369 yards last season, has signed as a free agent with the Ravens.