There wasn’t much action for Iowa fans during last year’s NFL Draft. In fact, Iowa almost got shut out. Austin Blythe was the only Hawkeye taken, and he had to wait until the last half of the seventh round to hear his name called.
That will change this year, however. Although, according to all of the draft experts, it’s unlikely an Iowa player will hear his name called on the first night of the draft, plenty will get drafted after that.
Desmond King will get drafted. Can you imagine a former Jim Thorpe Award winner not getting drafted? Although his stock isn’t as high as it might have been last year, King is still a top defensive-back prospect, and he will make a good amount of money in the NFL at this point next season. He might be the first Hawkeye off the board.
The guy who might challenge King as the first Hawkeye drafted would be Jaleel Johnson. Johnson has benefited from a superb senior season in which his draft stock soared. He could be a second-round pick if an organization falls in love with him, and he likely won’t last past the third round.
George Kittle will no doubt get drafted as well. He is too good a blocker and pass catcher not to. His workout at the NFL Combine raised a lot of eyebrows, and teams are a lot more excited about him than they were when he was fighting through injuries all season.
After those three, it gets a little shaky, but I believe two more Hawkeyes will get drafted — quarterback C.J. Beathard and offensive tackle Cole Croston.
Beathard has the toughness to play quarterback in the NFL. He has an arm that will play. He commands a huddle as well as any other quarterback in the draft. He has the pedigree — his grandfather was a general manager for the Redskins for many years. Some team will take a chance on developing Beathard.
Croston will benefit from the reputation of past Iowa offensive linemen. His senior season didn’t scream “NFL prospect,” but he has the size and five years of experience under Kirk and Brian Ferentz. NFL teams don’t overlook that fact. Besides, he does have some good tape when you look at it. If he gets drafted, it will likely be in the seventh round.
— Blake Dowson
Draft week is upon us, and five Hawkeyes may be lucky enough to hear their name called.
Those five Hawkeyes are Desmond King, George Kittle, Jaleel Johnson, C.J. Beathard, and Riley McCarron. While none of these five are likely to be drafted on Thursday, at least four should have a new home come Saturday night.
Last year King was a sure-fire first-round pick had he chosen to leave early. However, after a “mediocre” senior year, late third round or early fourth seems to be where King will end up. Concerns about his speed will most likely force him to play safety at the next level.
The fourth round should be a busy one for Hawkeyes — Kittle and Johnson are likely to find themselves new teams in the fourth. Johnson has a chance to be a solid NFL starter, especially if he continues to make big-time plays as he did against Michigan. Iowa is known to produce solid tight ends (i.e., Dallas Clark) and one NFL team is sure to find another solid one in Kittle. Though more of a blocking tight end, Kittle has shown some ability as a receiver as well.
Beathard and McCarron are the two fringe draft prospects for the Hawkeyes; if they get drafted, it will probably be in the seventh round. I fully expect a team to pick up Beathard sometime in the seventh because quarterbacks are at a premium in today’s NFL game, and some team is likely to give him a shot. McCarron impressed many people with his Pro Day, and many think he could be a good fit for the Patriots’ system, but we will have to wait and see until after the draft. Iowa will have four players drafted.
— Jordan Zuniga