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My Projected 2021 Depth Chart

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WombatHat42's picture
January 6, 2021 at 3:41pm
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OFFENSE

QB
1. Spencer Petras
2. Alex Padilla
3. Deuce Hogan

Petras: I think Petras did enough towards the end of the season to show he can be the guy. But there is still a lot of work needed in spring training. And while I think there will be an open competition, I think he will have been named starter(not publicly) by mid spring camp so that he can focus on what he needs to and get a rhythm with his receivers. I think once Petras has a full spring/fall camp where he can work through his mechanics and get used to his receivers he will show up and match the hype. His highlight tapes shows he can make these throws but something has affected him whether it is first time starter jitters, the tweaking of his mechanics or lack of familiarity/timing of his receivers is still to be determined but regardless those issues should be fixed in camp.

Padilla/Hogan - I would like to put Hogan at #2 but from what was seen of Padilla and what coaches have said I don't think he will lose that spot. The only way I see that happening is if he some how so impressive that he wins the starting job.

RB
1. Tyler Goodson
2. Ivory Kelly-Martin
3. Gavin Williams
4. Leshon Williams

If IKM's knee is healthy by the fall camp (from what i have read it was serious so unlikely he will be ready for spring and might not be 100% for fall either. if ACL that is typically a 8 month recovery minimum). This was an unfortunate injury because he had the path ahead to be one of the greats but his career has been marred with ankle injuries and now his knee.

Gavin Williams got some mop up and looked good so i think he will be our #2 or #3 back pending IKMs recovery. Our backfield is thin(only 5 on the roster) at the moment unless we add a grad transfer or another recruit. I personally think Arland Bruce fits better at tailback but since I have no evidence to say that is where he will play i left him off. Otherwise I would have had him at #4 ahead of LW.

FB
Monte Pottebaum
Turner Pallissard

Pottebaum was solid at fb and should continue that into the '21 season

WR1
Tyrone Tracy
Charlie Jones

Tracy is imo every bit as athletic as ISM but his hands are not as reliable as we would like for a true #1 receiver. However, limited experience of our other receivers I have to give the nod to TT. Jones looked good as a return man, and filled in for ISM during his suspension however we didn't target him on a pass so I do not think he will be ISMs replacement. Could also see Keagan Johnson here but I don't see Tracy filling that role and there is no way I see KF not starting Tracy barring injury so I think he will be competing to replace Brandon Smith.

Slot
Nico Ragaini
Arland Bruce
Arland Bruce/Diante Vines/Quavon Matthews

Ragaini has been solid. His hands are better than a lot give him credit for and he runs good routes. He will never be a Vandeberg out there but he is reliable and that is what you want from a slot in Iowa's pass game. Behind him I think is going to come down to the last week of fall camp. But I listed them in order of who I have more confidence on winning the #2 spot. I think Vines or Matthews will step up but if Bruce stays as a receiver his tape and seeing him play in the championship game has more than sold me that he will be Ragaini's back up. Receiver is hard to determine without first hand knowledge of what they do in practice or lineup so I am going more off their build for Vines and Matthews. Both are <6' and Matthews is listed at 168! Really hope he adds some weight and get into the mid to upper 170 range(based off what I have heard our SCC say on how backups workout routine is set up, he is probably low to mid 170s now).

WR #2
Desmond Hutson/Keagan Johnson
Jackson Ritter/Isaiah Wagner
Brody Brecht

Personally, I hope Hutson wins the job. He was one of my favorite recruits of the '19 class. But I have not heard anything since his first camp when I heard a little bit of praise about him. That being said, I almost had Jones here but based off how we used him (and the fact we need someone above 6' at receiver), I think this spot is for Hutson or Johnson to lose. Johnson was the steal of the class. His dad was a Nebraska alum during their heyday. His tape makes me think he will be able to play all three positions. He has the athleticism and size to stretch the field and go up and get the ball. Behind those two are Jackson Ritter(who go in for some mop up duty mid season) and Isaiah Wagner. Ritter and Wagner are both walk-ons but KF has never been afraid of using walk-ons at receiver. Then there is Brody Brecht. 

*Lack of experience and size at receiver could see a starting lineup of Jones, Tracy and Ragaini(a Greg Davis' wet dream of receivers) but I just can see that happening. It could also have a pair of freshman(or trio) getting serious PT

TE
Sam LaPorta
Elijah Yelverton

We have brought in quite a lot of talent at TE the past couple seasons. And while our #1 is in no doubt LaPorta there will be a battle for the #2. I wouldn't be shocked to see 3 tightends get used this season. I think Yelverton will jump Miamen in the pecking order. However, he played more as a receiver in HS so his ability to block may be in question. Same goes for Lachey. I think our second TE will be used similar to Fant/Hockenson with one being more of a receiver and the other one being a do it all. It is anyone's ball game here so Miamen, Lachey, or Yelverton could be lining up to replace Beyer. Regardless of who it is, I have a feeling TE will be special this season and a strength for Petras to rely on in the passing game.

LT
Mark Kallenberger/Coy Cronk*
David Davidkov
Nick Dejong

If Cronk comes back, he will be the starter at left tackle. I am just going to say that right now. He struggled to adjust to the right tackle position but you could see his potential until a back injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. That injury could lead to him coming back to try and improve his draft stock or it could make him realize the clock is ticking and jump to the NFL or call it good all together. I have not heard anything on him staying or going. Without Cronk, MK i think is the starter. Going all the way back to Jackson and Wirfs suspensions when MK started all reports were that coaches saw MK being best as a LT. Behind him Davidkov jumps Dejong to be named #2.

LG
Cody Ince
Mason Richman

As with the other interior starting jobs, LG is pretty much rinse and repeat. Ince starts and Richman remains his #2. Why change what works?

C
Tyler Linderbaum
Justin Britt

In what will be TLs last year as a Hawk before getting drafted first round he starts again. Britt continues to groom to be his replacement and I see him being potentially almost just as good. He has solid technique in run blocking and has the aggression I love to see in a lineman. However, technique of a center is extremely different than that of a guard or tackle where Britt has been playing so sitting another year can only help my prediction.

RG
Kyler Schott
Tyler Elsbury

Since Schott has entered the lineup our line has had an attitude to it that has been lacking for quite some time. I don't see any reason to change a good thing here. I do however see Elsbury jumping into the two deep and will most likely get into the rotation as a 6th/7th man/

RT
Jack Plumb/Mark Kallenberger*
Tyler Endres

Again, if cronk comes back MK is our RT. If he is gone, Plumb jumps in. With a little bit more development and a little more strenght(at 6'7 293 he looked a little lean for his size to me) he could be pretty good for us next year. Backing him up we see Endres make his two deep debut finally. He had a lot of hype out of high school but haven't heard much in a stacked lineman room.

*Other names to keep an eye on Volk, Empen, Fenske, Stephens. Our line is very deep with talent. I wouldn't be surprised if a could of these names make their way into the two deep and get mixed in on the rotation.

DEFENSE 

LE
Joe Evans/John Waggoner
Deontae Craig/Isaiah Bruce

In the 4-3 I think Waggoner is our guy. In a 3-4 or pass situations I think Evans is in. I just don't trust Evans against the run and waggoner looked good when he was in both against starters and mop up alike.

DT1
Noah Shannon/Jack Heflin
Taylor Fox/Griffin Liddle
DT2
Logan Lee/Grad Transfer
Jake Karchinski

Tackle is a giant question mark. Especially if Heflin doesn't come back. And like Cronk I have heard nothing about him. Whether he is gone or not, I wouldn't be surprised if we went after another grad transfer tackle. Just read today that Heflin is leaving for the NFL. Which means at the moment, Lee and Shannon are our starters. Honestly, i think all 4 top spots are fair game. Waggoner, Black, Karchinski, Jones were all recruited as ends but we could see any of them move inside. Or freshmen Liddle/Pittman get some serious action but both need to put on some size first.

RE
Zach VanValkenburg
Yahya Black

I am very thankful VV came back. Our dline scares me more than throwing 50x vs jNW. His is the only spot on the front 4 I see as a lock. I think the main rotation at end will be a combination of VV(playing almost every snap) Black Waggoner and Evans. Similar to Epenesa's freshman year.

*Others we could see at end: Matt Lorbeck, Taajhir Mccall, Luke VanNess, Chris Reams, Max Llewellyn, or even Jake Karchinski & Logan Jones(if not moved inside)

WLB
Djimon Colbert*/Jack Campbell
MLB
Seth Benson/Jack Campbell
Jay Higgins/Jaden Harrell
SLB
Jestin Jacobs

Attrition has hurt us here with the lose of Jeudy and McDonald and I do not know enough about our back ups to list who I think will be weak/strong side nor have I heard who all is coming back in terms of senior back ups. But the non seniors that could see time are: Logan Klemp, Josef Smith, Mike Timm. Before the season, reports were Colbert would be back. I have read an article that he is as good as gone(Hawkcentral). So if he is gone, I see Campbell moving outside rather than Benson because he is more athletic but the argument could be made that you want the more athletic guy inside as well. If Colbert is back, Campbell stays inside and rotates with Benson again and regardless Jestin Jacobs finally gets his chance to start. Regardless I think linebackers will be a strength but they will only be next level if the dline is at least competent.

CB1
Matt Hankins*/Xavior Williams
Terry Roberts
CB2
Riley Moss
Jermari Harris
Nickel
Dane Belton
Xavior Williams

Hankins is most likely gone but nothing official has been announce. If he is gone, Williams is the hands down guy. He was a beast for UNI and can play corner or safety but with the depth we have at safety I doubt we brought him in for anything other than corner. I could also see a case being made for Belton moving to corner and Williams being nickel. On the other side Moss returns and Jermari Harris backs him up. Again attrition has hurt us but Brents and Johnson were part of a stacked corner class and Roberts and Williams will do more than a decent job. I had heard Castro could possibly be used as a nickel but with Williams addition I dont see that happening

FS
Jack Koerner
Dallas Craddieth

I think we finally see the coveted Craddieth here. He out works Schulte to get the #2. I am honestly surprised he hasn't transferred but there is still time for that. I am curious if injuries have prevented him from developing and getting into the line up sooner. But if Craddieth does hit #2 does that mean Castro is gone?

SS
Kaevon Merriweather
Reggie Bracy

I think we saw the transition of the Merriweather slash Belton to just Merriweather towards the end of the season. Merriweather has earned the right to be the starter. He is a hard hitter and is getting better in coverage. Behind him is Bracy. The dude looked the part on kick off and in mop up duties. I could even see him getting some rotation in real game situations.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker
Shudak

The era of Duncan is over. Time for shudak to show us what he's got. Without him, only Aaron Blum is listed on the roster.

Punter
Tory Taylor

Tory "Too early to call GOAT?" Taylor returns. Nuff said

KR
Charlie Jones & Matthews/Vines/Bruce

I think Jones becomes the main guy at KR but really hard to tell who will be the #2 out there. I think Matthews and Bruce probably have the highest chance.

PR
Charlie Jones

Returners are the only question of special teams. Jones is a lock. But who is our 2nd KR and who comes in if he goes down for PR? Should be fun to watch this spring.

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