Moving along with our series of the best players in each position group Iowa will face in 2017, it’s time to take a look at the tight ends.
It’s not a real deep list, but there is serious talent there. A couple of these guys are the sort of difference makers that keep defensive coordinators up at night.
Let’s take a look.
4. (Tie) Brandon Lingen and Nate Wozniak, Minnesota
These two could end up being the Wild Card for P.J. Fleck’s Gophers in 2017. You have a prototypical NFL tight end in Lingen coming off of an injury that limited him to only three games a season ago. WalterFootball.com has him as one of the top tight end prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Then you have the 6-10 Wozniak — a potential red-zone nightmare with scary athleticism for his size.
You can expect a coach as creative as Fleck to have plenty of packages featuring both and creating mismatches all over the field.
3. Cole Herdman, Purdue
Herdman could be looking at an uptick in production with DeAngelo Yancey out of the picture as a top receiving threat. Last year as a sophomore, he caught 35 passes for 344 yards and three scores.
Quarterback David Blough will certainly target him early on as arguably his most dependable receiver. He’s a strong blocker as well, making him all the more dangerous with Markell Jones in Purdue’s backfield.
2. Mike Gesicki, Penn State
Speaking of the NFL Draft, Gesicki is another guy who will likely hear his name called during draft weekend in 2018. He’s the total package with decent speed, “Gronk” size and great hands. He broke out in 2016 with 48 catches for 679 yards and 5 touchdowns. He’s a matchup problem for most linebackers and safeties, and just another reason Penn State is expected by many to have another fantastic season.
1. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
What sets Fumagalli apart is his terrific athleticism. He moves with running back quickness and runs sharp routes. His hands are top-notch and he has a knack for finding openings in the secondary to get open. CampusInsiders.com has him as the top returning tight end in the nation, with Gesicki at No. 2. He’s a dangerous weapon to have to account for when you are already focused on shutting down Wisconsin’s rushing attack.