by Chris Warner
In the early 1990s, current Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz served as an assistant on the Cleveland Browns staff under Bill Belichick. For the past four years, Bradley Fletcher played defensive back for Iowa. New England fans tend to analyze, and sometimes overanalyze, such connections.
It is, after all, a long offseason.
Fletcher finished up as a Hawkeye playing at his peak, nabbing three interceptions and breaking up 10 passes in 2008. After a strong week of practices leading up to the East-West Shrine Game and a solid showing at the combine, Fletcher has managed to open the eyes of draftniks. He spent a few minutes with PD on Wednesday.
I was wondering if you could talk about some of the differences between getting ready for the combine and getting ready for pro day, just in terms of your approach to each one.
Well, the difference between getting ready for the combine and the pro day, (with) the combine…it was the first time around doing the drills and doing all the testing, but the pro day, it was the second time around. I had an idea after the first time around about some of my times, and I knew what to improve on – what I wanted to improve on.
I saw that you improved on your 40 (time), is that right?
Now, what does it take to do that?
The start is very important, getting out, and the running phase, (keeping your hands) “chin-to-hip.” I mean, it’s just important to drive through the whole way.
Does getting ready for those drills help you be a better football player, or are they too specific?
Well, they are defensive back drills, so they can be used on the field in a game situation. I know it’s something that scouts look at, as far as a guy’s footwork. That’s what they want to see.
Playing for Iowa, what kind of a coach is Coach Ferentz?
Oh, he’s a good coach. My past five years here, I’ve learned a lot from him, and I think that’s helped me be the player I am today.
Have you ever heard Coach Belichick’s name mentioned?
No, I have not.
Being Patriots Daily, you know, we’ve got to try to get that in there somewhere.
(Laughs) Coach Belichick, I’ve been told he’s a good coach over there, but I haven’t heard his name brought up in conversation over here.
Have you been talking to NFL teams at all?
I’ve been speaking to some teams, but we’ll see what happens as next month comes around.
What do you think (has been) most helpful to you in terms of your draft stock? Do you think it was your performance in the East-West Shrine Game or your combine and pro day?
I think it’s a combination of everything. Everything that I’ve done over that time period, I think it all goes into my progress and how far I will go in the draft.
What kind of a system do you think you’re suited for as a defensive back?
As far as coverages, or – ?
Yeah, as far as coverage and defensive fronts…things like that.
Well, here at Iowa I’m used to playing against pro-style offenses. I know I’m ready to play different coverages, Cover 2, Cover 3, or any coverage. I’ve been exposed to a lot of different coverages, and I’m ready to play them all at the next level.
What do you think was the toughest team to play against (this past season)?
I would say Penn State. They had three really good receivers (Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood), and they could be anywhere on the field, so it was a challenge. It was a good game.
Do you think that was one of your better games?
I thought I had a good game that game (seven total tackles and a half tackle for loss vs. PSU). There were other games during the season I thought were good, also.
So what is your regular schedule like these days? Are you mostly working out and getting ready for the draft?
I’m going to continue to work out. I’m heading into the weight room tomorrow and doing some drills, hitting the weights, speed training. I’m still preparing because I want to have myself ready for camp, wherever I get a chance.
Have you heard anything about where you may get drafted?
I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen. I’m just going into it with an open mind, and we’ll see what happens from there.
As an Ohio guy, what brought you to Iowa?
When I made my trip here as a (high school) junior, I just really liked the time I spent here. I liked the style of football they were playing here, and I thought the coaching staff and players were good people (with) a really solid family base, and I decided to come here.
What other schools were you looking at?
I was getting interest from Michigan, some late interest from Ohio State. Syracuse. Those were some of the schools that were looking at me, but I made the choice to come here to Iowa.
Do you think Iowa’s given you the best chance to go to the next level?
Yes, especially under Coach Ferentz and the way that he runs his program here. I think that’s really helped me to be ready for the next level.
How do you think Iowa’s going to do without you?
Oh, they’ll be just fine. They have a lot of young guys. They’re going to be looking strong for (the next) couple seasons.
I read that you played basketball in high school. Is that true?
Yes, I was a basketball player in high school.
What position did you play?
Anywhere from point guard to small forward, just depending on the game and who we were playing.
Do you miss that?
Basketball’s a game that I like, but I like football also, and football is what I do. I’m a football player.
It sounds like it.
One last question:* What were some of your favorite experiences coming out of the East-West Shrine Game?
To be able to play at a level with a lot of other players that were good players. It was a good experience to be involved in that situation and to go and compete on a day-to-day basis during practice week and in the game.
Who were some of the toughest guys that you went against that week?
Butler from Penn State. I think he’s a fast receiver. Guarding him throughout the practice week, I thought that was a challenge, but it was good to be in it.
That’s great. Thanks a lot, Bradley. I really appreciate your time today.
Okay. Thanks for the call.