Believe it or not, the NFL Draft starts tomorrow at 7:00 PM CST and will be held…on the internet. If you weren’t aware, it’s because you haven’t been watching any sports networks because, well, there aren’t any sports on. We’re living in abnormal times and COVID-19 forced the NFL Draft to adopt the necessary measure of making what is usually a complete circus into what will presumably be the biggest GoToMeeting call in history. It will be televised on ESPN, ABC, and the NFL Network.
Iowa expects to be well represented in the draft, with at least two players consistently projected to be chosen in the first round. A total of five Hawkeyes were invited to the NFL Combine and at least four of them will be drafted. The fifth? Well, we’ll talk about him too.
Tristan Wirfs, Tackle
NFL.com: Pick #4, New York Giants
USA Today: Pick #8, Arizona Cardinals
CBS Sports: Pick #8, Arizona Cardinals
NBC Sports: #9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sports Illustrated: #4, New York Giants
Pro Football Focus: #8, Arizona Cardinals
Wirfs might’ve not been the guy we expected to be chosen first in this year’s Draft but following his exceptional performance in the Combine and the fact that scouts and NFL Draft Gurus routinely talk themselves into thinking offensive lineman are always the safest picks, here we are. The Giants had been the favorite to take Wirfs but a number of experts think the Giants might go with someone else like Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. If that’s the case, Wirfs would fall to the Cardinals, as the Cardinals could use an athlete at tackle to help Kyler Murray.
A.J. Epenesa, Edge
NFL.com: Pick #23, New England Patriots
USA Today: Pick #32, Kansas City Chiefs
CBS Sports: Pick #38, Buffalo Bills
Pro Football Focus: Pick #23, New England Patriots
Eppy is consistently projected to be a late first round projection or someone who just slips out into the second. The Patriots are a popular prediction, with an NFL Network analyst saying that Belichick choosing him “makes too much sense.” That article also pays a lot of lip service to the Belichick/Ferentz connection but here’s a fun fact: During Belichick’s tenure at New England he has only drafted one Iowa Hawkeye, Mike Elgin in the 7th round, back in 2007. Elgin was released following the preseason and never played in a regular season game for the Pats.
Michael Ojemudia, Cornerback
NFL.com: Pick #96, Kansas City Chiefs
CBS Sports: Pick #82, Dallas Cowboys
Sporting News: Pick #103, Philadelphia Eagles
Ojemudia hovers at anywhere from a 3rd – 5th round pick but consensus is that he will be drafted.
Geno Stone, Safety
NFL.com: Pick #117, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CBS Sports: Pick #117, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pro Football Focus: Pick #53, Philadelphia Eagles
Same goes for Stone, who will be drafted anywhere from the 3rd – 5th round. Curiously, two of the experts agree that Stone will go to Tampa Bay, likely because the Bucs have had a slew of injuries at safety over the past couple of seasons.
Nate Stanley, Quarterback
NFL.com: Pick #136, Green Bay Packers
And we close with the big question: Will Nate Stanley get drafted? If you’re reading this you’re probably an Iowa fan so you know what type of college quarterback Stanley is. But what type of NFL quarterback could he be? Kirk Herbstreit likes Stanley (he likes every Big Ten QB), saying that he could be the guy to back up Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Todd McShay also likes him, noting that he played in a pro system and that translates well in the NFL. Of all the mock drafts I’ve seen, only Chad Reuter of NFL.com has him being selected, by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round. With Aaron Rodgers graying and the Packers currently listing an undrafted kid from EKU as his backup, that means Reuter thinks Nate Stanley could be the Packers quarterback of the future.
Is it too early to start talking Nate Stanley as the next great Packers quarterback? I report, you decide.