The Only Iowa Hawkeye Ever Drafted #1 Overall in the NFL
The NFL Draft happens tonight in Cleveland and fans like me will be tuning in to see who their favorite team selects with their respective picks. The consensus #1 pick in this year's draft is Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback out of Clemson. He's is expected to be drafted first by the Jacksonville Jaguars. This got me thinking, has an Iowa Hawkeye football player ever been the first overall draft pick in the NFL? The answer is yes. But only once.
If I made you guess which Iowa player had been drafted #1 overall, some might guess Chuck Long. Long was drafted #12 in 1986 by the Detroit Lions. What about offensive lineman Robert Gallery. He almost did. Gallery was drafted #2 by the Oakland Raiders in 2004. You have to go all the way back to the 1959 NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers held the #1 overall pick in the draft that year. And with it, they selected University of Iowa quarterback Randy Duncan. Duncan is the only Hawkeye to ever be drafted as the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Duncan's career at Iowa is that of a legend. There is a reason his name was added to the ring of honor inside Kinnick Stadium. Wikipedia points out that Duncan became Iowa's starting quarterback during his junior year of 1957. He helped lead Iowa to a 7-1-1 record and was named first-team All-Big Ten. With Duncan a senior, the Hawkeyes had one of their best seasons ever in 1958. The team went 8-1-1 and beat #16 California in the Rose Bowl. In that game, Duncan broke the school record for TD passes in a season, a record formerly held by Nile Kinnick. Duncan was named Big Ten MVP following the 1958 season. He won the Walter Camp Award and finished second for the Heisman Trophy.
Then, Randy Duncan heard his name called first in the NFL Draft. But despite being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, he never played for the green and gold. As Wikipedia points out, this was the Packers before Lombardi. Duncan instead went to the Canadian Football League and played for the BC Lions. Duncan was cut after two seasons in Canada and then signed with the AFL's Dallas Texans, now the Kansas City Chiefs. When the team traded for QB Len Dawson, Duncan retired from football.
Randy Duncan went to law school at night during his time with the Texans, according to Wikipedia. After his retirement from football, he opened and ran a successful law office in Des Moines. Duncan and his wife Paula went on to have three sons, all of which played football. Randy Duncan passed away from brain cancer in 2016. He was 79 years old.