Things got started yesterday with press conferences and continues with further press conferences today at noon CT. During the press conferences, you can “hear from the prospects, coaches and team personnel from around the league ahead of the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN.” according to NFL Network’s schedule.
Things kick off in earnest with wall-to-wall coverage Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Literally, if you turn on NFL Network any time any of those days, it will either be live coverage or a replay of the 2017 combine. Friday sees RBs, OL and special teamers take the field. Saturday is QBs, WRs and TEs (tune in to catch CJ Beathard and George Kittle). Sunday is DL and LBs (this is when you can find Jaleel Johnson). Things wrap up Monday with Safeties and CBs (Desmond King will be on full display).
Let’s take a look at the four Hawkeyes you can follow at the combine.
C.J. Beathard, QB
We all know and love CJ Beathard. And now the general of the Hawkeye offense looks to continue a long line of Iowa quarterbacks playing in the NFL. Oh wait, that’s not right. There is currently only one former Hawkeye QB on an NFL roster, the man CJ Beathard replaced as starter two short years ago. Former Iowa and Michigan QB Jake Rudock is a backup with the Lions, who drafted him 191st overall in 2016. The last QB to finish his college career at Iowa and be drafted was the great American hero, Ricky Stanzi, who was taken in the 5th round of the 2011 draft by the Chiefs. Stanzi is currently a free agent. So, while Iowa isn’t exactly known for pumping out QB talent, Beathard looks to make it three out of the last four Hawkeye starters to be drafted. I could get used to that.
According to NFL.com, Beathard is listed at 6’3” 219 lbs with a 5.28 grade. According to them, that projects as an NFL backup. Here’s a quick excerpt from their early evaluation.
Pro-style quarterback who dealt with nagging injuries to key pass catchers and himself in 2016. His 2015 tape was more impressive, but deep-ball accuracy issues, poor pocket awareness, and unnecessary hesitation as a passer shows up in both seasons. Beathard plays checkers with safeties rather than chess, which could always hinder his ability to attack down the field with success. Could be a career backup who finds himself in the action at some point down the road.
- Lance Zierlein
You can view Beathard’s entire bio here. As noted above, the QBs will hit the field on Saturday. Tune in to NFL Network.
Jaleel Johnson, DL
Unlike the QB spot, the defensive line is a place the Hawkeyes are known to produce talent. This year is no exception with Jaleel Johnson. You didn’t have to be an NFL talent evaluator to see that Johnson was damn good this year and will be playing on Sundays next year. At 6’3” and 309 lbs, Jaleel is not a small human being. Add in his sheer strength and explosiveness and he is going to make some NFL team very happy.
The folks at NFL.com give Johnson a grade of 5.67, which translates to a player with the chance to be an NFL starter. Here’s a look at their evaluation.
Active defensive tackle with the motor and athleticism to find production in the NFL. Johnson doesn't have the functional anchor that teams looking for a run-stuffer will be after. However, his effort, foot quickness and hand usage should create opportunities for him as a pass rusher. Johnson has the talent to become an eventual starter as a three-technique in a penetrating defensive front and could fight for rotational reps early on as a rookie.
You can view Johnson’s entire bio here. If you’re looking for a little more analysis of his game, be sure to check out our in-house draft analyst, Rob Donaldson’s, breakdown of Johnson’s draft profile.
Desmond King, CB
Much like Johnson, it didn’t take much of an eye for talent to know that Desmond King would be highly sought after in this year’s NFL Draft. He would have been highly sought after last year. There is debate around just how coveted he will be given “concerns” over his speed. There are rumors several teams will be looking at him as a safety rather than a corner. But there is no question he’ll be taken and likely early in this year’s draft. This weekend’s combine provides an opportunity for King to raise his stock and answer some of those outstanding questions.
At 5’10”, 206 lbs, NFL.com gives King a grade of 5.8, the highest of any of the Hawkeyes at the combine. That grade projects to a chance to be an NFL starter. OK. Here’s there bottom line evaluation.
Lack of size and speed combined with his ball skills, instincts, and competitiveness all point to a transition to safety. While he can improve as a tackler, he's got the toughness and mentality to take on run-support duties. Can cover in man when asked and has the ball-tracking skills and anticipation that should allow him to thrive in two-deep and single-high situations. A likely second-day (Rounds 2-3) selection and could be targeted as a zone corner or a safety with early starting potential.
Mike Mayock seems to be high on him.
Love watching des king from Iowa- 14 sees TE block and drives under WR- great contested catch and score ! Ball skills and competes !!! pic.twitter.com/CftZS0qOm5— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) December 7, 2016
You can see King’s full bio here.
George Kittle, TE
Kittle’s Iowa career was riddled with injuries, but he certainly has the frame and the athleticism to be an NFL tight end. And as an Iowa blog, we know NFL tight ends. At 6’4” and 250 lbs, Kittle is big enough, despite what our new friend Lance has to say. He’s actually bigger than Miami’s David Njoku, who our boy Lance gushes about and claims can be lined up anywhere and will be plenty big for blocking. Sure. I’ll grant you Kittle doesn’t have the same athleticism as Njoku, but you question his pass catching ability at your own peril.
NFL.com gives Kittle a grade of 5.38, which projects as an NFL backup. Here’s a look at his evaluation.
H-back type who lacks the desired size for in-line blocking but certainly has the technique and willingness to do it. He has good hands and flashes an ability to challenge as a pass catcher on all three levels. Kittle has the athleticism and blocking ability to become an effective move tight end if paired in the right system.
Mike Mayock also seems pretty concerned about Kittle’s size (eye roll).
Can you tell that George Kittle / Iowa TE 46 / is the son of a former Hawkeye OL ?? Bend, explosion, feet and finish ! pic.twitter.com/Uevlfdcoeo— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) February 17, 2017
Here’s a look at his full bio.
As draft day approaches, check back in with The Pants as our in-house draft expert, Rob Donaldson, will be providing breakdowns and grades for each of the Hawkeyes expected to be taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. You can also give him a follow on the twitters, where he breaks down not just Hawkeyes, but guys from across the country.