College sports can be both exhilarating and heartbreaking. We fall in love with teams and players because of the moments and subsequent lasting memories they give us. As die-hard fans, we start to view many players as an extended part of our family.
And that’s where the heartbreak comes in.
After four years – if we’re lucky – these players we’ve come to know and love move on. Some graduate and join the everyday workforce like the rest of us. Others move on to play their respective sport professionally. Either way, it’s hard to say goodbye. Goodbyes are always easier, however, when you know that a player is off to a good situation where they will fit in and be given a chance to thrive.
In just a few weeks, a handful of Iowa Hawkeyes will be sitting around, waiting to hear their names called in the 2017 NFL Draft. Four of those guys were at the NFL Combine in February, and realistically, they are the only four Iowa players likely to be drafted.
But where would each of them fit in best? What teams are going to give them the best chance to maximize their potential and excel?
Let’s take a look.
George didn’t really wow anyone with his stats during his time in Iowa City. That said, he’s a guy who passes the eye-test athletically. At the combine, he did much more than pass the eye test – he turned heads. His 4.52-second 40-yrd dash and 11-foot broad jump stood out in his position group, highlighting his athleticism. Already known an a solid run blocker, NFL teams are now looking at Kittle as a solid all-around prospect at the position.
Best fit: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are looking for an eventual successor to the legendary Jason Witten. Landing in Dallas would be the perfect situation for Kittle, as he could learn from Witten for a season or two – perhaps even stealing some reps before eventually assuming the starting role. With the rest of the young talent on the Cowboy offense, Kittle could become part of something special for years to come.
Other good fits: Denver, Oakland
C.J. was everything you’d want in a leader at Iowa. He was charismatic, smart and not afraid to take risks when they needed to be taken. He has a more-than-adequate arm and underrated mobility. Realistically, Beathard will be a backup, but he has all of the tools to have a long career in the league in that role.
Best fit: Seattle Seahawks
The offensive scheme designed around Russell Wilson’s skill set makes it difficult for traditional pocket-passers to step in and replace Wilson without limiting the team’s playbook and offensive capability. Beathard – though not nearly as athletic as Wilson – has the skills and athleticism to run that Seattle offense without forcing the team to change what they do if they must be without their starter for an extended period of time.
Other good fits: Tennessee, New Orleans
Jaleel has been one of the more consistently dominant defensive tackles in college football over the last couple of seasons. He’s both a run-stuffer and a pocket-penetrator, making him a valuable commodity at the next level. His stock took a hit, however, thanks to a lackluster combine where he showed up overweight and was extremely slow. Thankfully, he still has a sizable library of film that should convince teams that he can play at a high level.
Best fit: Detroit Lions
The Lions have been without a pass-rushing force in the middle of their defensive line since Ndamukong Suh left town. If he can get in shape, Johnson has the ability to start for Detroit and be a dominant player in the NFC North for years to come. His style of play and demeanor would make him a fan-favorite quickly in the Motor City.
Other good fits: Kansas City, Baltimore
Everyone knows how good Desmond has been during his career and what he’s meant to Iowa football. He’s the kind of guy who probably would have excelled at every position on the field outside of the trenches. Unfortunately, he was picked apart by scouts during Senior Bowl practice and was not 100-percent at the combine. As a result, many are projecting him as a safety as opposed to a cornerback.
Best fit: New England Patriots
Bill Belichick likes to stockpile all-round good football players – guys who he can plug in and play any role asked of them. King’s ability to play both safety and corner as well as his experience on special teams makes him the sort of player that thrives in New England. Everyone wants their favorite player to go to the best team, but King just seems like a guy who would fit in well with “The Patriot Way.”
Other good fits: Houston, L.A. Chargers