The Detroit Lions got some protection for breakout quarterback Matthew Stafford in the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick in the first round.
Words can't describe how happy I am right now, Reiff, a junior at Iowa, said in a teleconference with Detroit reporters, the Detroit Free Press reported. I'm super excited to be a Lion. I really can't put into words what I'm actually feeling, but I'm excited. The Lions are a great team, and there'll be great seasons ahead.
Draft night can be one of the most anxious moments for a young college football player. Reiff told the Detroit Lions official website that he wasn't even looking at the television when Lions general manager Martin Mayhew called him to let him know he was a Lion.
I really didn't care to watch the T.V., Reiff said. I was just hanging out in the barn.
Mayhew said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to select Reiff in last night's 2012 NFL Draft.
A little bit of a surprise he was even available, he said. So he's going to help our football team a lot.
Detroit was one of the NFL's most uplifting stories of last season, earning a playoff berth for the first time in more than a decade.
Reiff is expected to start at right tackle in his rookie campaign, according to NBC Sports. His job will be to protect Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Reiff played left tackle for Iowa.
Aside from Iowa Hawkeye football fans and college football junkies, Reiff is largely unknown to most observers. Here are five things to know about the Lion's newest draft pick:
- Reiff is a native of Parkston, S.D. and was a standout player at Parkston High School. He chose to attend the University of Iowa over the University of Minnesota and the University of Nebraska
- Reiff has great size for an offensive lineman, with his University of Iowa bio listing him as 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds.
- Reiff had impressive numbers at the NFL combine for an offensive tackle. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.23 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times and had a broad jump of 8 feet and 2 inches
- Reiff is a three-time state wrestling champion
- Reiff has experience playing other football positions, including tight end and defensive tackle. But he has developed nicely as an offensive lineman and don't expect him to change positions in the NFL.