By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - It took longer the many of the so-called experts had predicted, but former Iowa players James Daniels and Josh Jackson both finally heard thier names called in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Friday.
Daniels was the first to hear his name called as the Chicago Bears selected the Ohio native with the 39th pick overall.
Jackson then was taken 45th overall by the Green Bay Packers, which means he and Daniels will be division rivals in the NFL.
The two former college teammates both shared in a special moment as some of the patients from University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital congratulated them on television and performed their own wave in honor of the new tradition at Kinnick Stadium that swept the nation last fall.
"That means everything," Jackson said to ESPN. "I love all those kids and what the hospital does and what the University of Iowa does for the kids. It means everything to me and I'm just so happy to be part of such a great organization."
Jackson and former Iowa defensive back Miles Taylor both auctioned off their Iowa game jerseys from the Ohio State victory and raised over $13,000 for the children's hospital.
Daniels is the 64th Iowa player under Kirk Ferentz to be selected in the NFL Draft. Daniels is also the 17th offensive linemen under Ferentz to be selected in the draft, and the eighth player taken in the second round.
Daniels started 25 games during his three-year Hawkeye career, including 23 at center and two at guard. He could play both center and guard in the NFL.
"I wouldn't say he's the strongest offensive lineman, but he's got some power, he's got some shock in his hands and he is an Iowa offensive linemen," said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. "These guys, even when they don't live up what they're supposed to be, a Robert Gallery, they're still long-time contributors and really good football players.
"I think James Daniels is a starter day one, and I think he's going to be one of the top centers in the NFL."
In barely eight months, Jackson has gone from being a reserve defensive back to a unanimous first-team All-American and now a second-round NFL Draft pick.
Not since quarterback Brad Banks in 2002 has an Iowa player made such a miraculous ascent from reserve to superstar. Banks finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2002 after having been Iowa's backup quarterback the previous season.
The difference is that Banks didn't project as an NFL quarterback. He tried the free agent route after not being taken in the 2003 draft, but was unsuccessful.
Jackson will enter the NFL as a second-round pick and with that comes a lot of nice things, namely money and opportunity. Jackson lost a substantial amount of money by not being selected in the first round, but the money given to second-round picks is a nice consolation prize.
Jackson is the 12th defensive back from Iowa to be selected in the NFL Draft under Ferentz, but only the second defensive back to be taken in the second round, the other being Bob Sanders in 2004.
Jackson was surrounded by family and friends at the draft. He is from Corinth, Texas, which isn't far from AT&T Stadium in Arlington where the seven-round draft is being held.
Kirk Ferentz also attended the draft in order to support Jackson.
Jackson's improbable rise to stardom serves as inspiration for his former college teammates, and especially for junior cornerback Michael Ojemudia, who is expected to replace Jackson in the starting lineup.
"The story of him working so hard to get where he is today is motivation for anybody playing football," Ojemudia said.
It was widely assumed that Daniels picked Iowa over a host of schools that included Ohio State because he wanted to play with his older brother, former Iowa running back LeShun Daniels.
However, that was just a small part of James' decision.
James Daniels mostly wanted to play football for Iowa because he felt it would give him the best chance of making the NFL.
And now that's where he is headed as a 20-year old third-year junior.