Stanzi Stays Calm

Ricky Stanzi gained success by staying cool in the pocket at Iowa. The quarterback used that same approach in preparing for this week's NFL Draft.

Your past always is with you. That's certainly true when it comes to pre-draft interviews with NFL player personnel.

Iowa underachieved last season based on talent level. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has been asked about it.

"When you're a fifth-year senior and the team doesn't play as well as it's supposed to, they want to know what happened," Stanzi said. "When you lose three of your last four games they want to hear from the quarterback what happened. They want to see if you're going to take responsibility. If you take credit when you win, you have to take criticism when you lose."

Plenty of NFL eyes have focused on the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Ohio native since Iowa's season wrapped up in December. He took part in the Senior Bowl, the Scouting Combine, Iowa's Pro Day and individual workouts for franchises.

"Everything really has gone well," said Stanzi, who captained the Hawkeyes to a 7-5 mark as a senior, including a win against Missouri in the Insight Bowl. "I had a great time at the Senior Bowl. It was a blast. It also was great to train with all my Iowa teammates and Chris Doyle."

Scout.com and ESPN.com rank Stanzi as the eighth best quarterback in the draft. He's projected to go anywhere from the second to the fifth rounds.

"I really haven't spent much time looking at that stuff," Stanzi said. "It's really out of your control. You play college football and work out for these guys the last few months and that serves as your application.

"I really think it's a waste of mental energy to worry about that stuff. I would rather put my attention in getting better and improving the things I need to improve than wondering what a certain GM or analyst is thinking."

Stanzi realizes that teams also could be throwing up smoke screens in what they say about him in hopes of misleading the competition.

"I hear things," he said. "I know the word out there is that they question my accuracy and my deep ball. I know that. I know I have to improve on those things and other parts of my game."

The Patriots, Chiefs, Vikings, Colts, 49ers and Dolphins came to Iowa City to work out Stanzi. He visited the Cleveland Browns last week.

"It's real interesting to work with each team and see how they coach the quarterback position," Stanzi said. "It really is a learning experience and I took something out of each one of them."

One of the attributes that made Stanzi successful in college has served him well in preparing for this week's draft and what follows it. He's grounded. He's not easily rattled or overwhelmed by a life-chaging event.

"I think I'll be a little nervous and excited during the draft," said Stanzi, who plans to watch the proceedings with family and friends back in Mentor, Ohio. "But again, it's really not something to get too worked up over.

"Really, in a matter of a few years, it won't matter if I'm drafted in the second or the sixth round. The most important thing will be going into the situation and gaining the respect of the coaches and the players by working hard and showing I'm capable. Nobody really remembers where you're drafted."

Stanzi completed 221 of 345 (.641) passes as a senior. He totaled 3,004 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also led Iowa to three consecutive bowl wins, the only quarterback in school history to accomplish that feat.

The Iowa offense faltered in the final month of the season. Most things that could have gone wrong did.

"I told the (NFL people) the same thing I've told everybody," Stanzi said. "We didn't play well from me right on down the line. I'd be the first to raise my hand and say I didn't play well. That's on me."

Stanzi made headlines after his "USA, No. 1" comment following the 2010 Orange Bowl. He became of folk hero of sorts for the Iowa fan base.

In the end, that wasn't touched on much in the pre-draft interview process.

"They really want to know about Xs and Os," Stanzi said. "They ask strange questions about personality, but they really want to know that you understand the game. They want to see you break down film and how you process a game."