University of Iowa fans finally got to see one of their native sons take the reins of the Hawkeyes in 2011, as Vandenberg became the first Iowan in more than a decade to start for the Black and Gold on opening weekend (2001, Kyle McCann). His first season at the helm was not as successful as was hoped (7-6, with a 31-14 loss to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl).
The 2007 Iowa High School Offensive Player of the Year owned 12 state passing records by the time of his graduation, including career passing yards (7,709) and touchdown passes (93). As a redshirt freshman, he played in four games, starting two when Ricky Stanzi went down with an injury (he finished the year going 42-for-87 (48.3 percent) for 470 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions). He saw limited action in three games (5-8, 45 yards, TD) the following year before taking over for Stanzi as a junior, completing 58.7 percent of his passes for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions. Vandenberg took a step backwards his senior year. He completed only 57.3 percent of his his passes, with just seven touchdown passes to eight interceptions.
Arm motion is really top to bottom, almost in an exaggerated way. That throwing style is consistent. Best on intermediate routes between the numbers and hashes. Carries play fake through draw. Flashes as a rhythm passer, especially over the middle of the field if routes are in his line of vision. Holds the ball high in the pocket. Waits on the checkdown when given time to survey downfield coverage.
Does not always set footwork, even on three step drops. Lacks composure to work through progressions, appears to lock on to a receiver and overthrows if they do not separate. Gets happy feet when that first read is not there, attempts to reset but those throws are consistently poor. Placement is not good despite consistent motion. Rarely puts touch on his passes, makes one-speed throws. Ducks when facing interior pressure at the release point. Tends to sail outside breaking routes rather than leading receiver.
This native Iowan, who set many state high school passing records, patiently waited for Ricky Stanzi to graduate before getting the keys to the Hawkeyes’ offense. He didn’t set the college football world on fire with his play as a first-year starter in 2011 (58.7 completion percentage, 3,022 yards, 25 TD, seven INT) and struggled mightly as a senior (57.3 completion percentage, 2,249 yards, seven touchdowns, eight interceptions). Still, Vandenburg has shown the ability to be a rhythm passer who will likely be brought into camp as an undrafted free agent for a team that runs a more up-tempo type of offense.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.