Iowa’s defensive line depth in 2019 has taken a major hit, as defensive end Anthony Nelson has declared for the NFL Draft after a stellar junior campaign.
I will always bleed black and gold! Thank you Hawkeye nation for all of your love and support! pic.twitter.com/evFHyl9R7e— Anthony Nelson (@ANelly98) January 7, 2019
Nelson, a former three-star recruit out of Waukee, IA, has been consistently good in his three years as a Hawkeye, but really splashed onto the scene in 2018, when he was named second-team all-Big Ten by the media and third-team by the coaches. The junior had 9.5 sacks, one off the team lead of 10.5 by sophomore A.J. Epenesa, 12 tackles for loss, and 44 tackles in 2018, easily becoming Iowa’s best overall defensive lineman. He had a huge three sack game against the Gophers in October, and even had himself a nice touchdown against Maryland a couple weeks later.
Overall, Nelson finishes his Iowa career with 23 sacks and 31 TFL. He’s an intriguing prospect in 2019’s NFL Draft, as he has a ton of size at 6’7”, 270 lbs, and is both excellent as a pass rusher and run defender. It’s quite possible that he hears his name called on the second day of the draft, as some have given him a second to third round draft grade. Nothing’s for certain, but he has a lot of qualities that NFL teams desire, and as someone who played at Iowa, he’ll be well-disciplined and easy to coach.
The departure of Nelson means that Iowa will be without all four of their starters from 2018’s defensive line, as Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, and Sam Brincks have all exhausted their four years of eligibility. Epenesa, Cedrick Lattimore, Brady Reiff and Chauncy Golston remain, and will likely be the starters in 2019, but the defensive line will certainly be taking a step back.
Congratulations to Anthony on your decision, and we can’t wait to see you playing on Sundays next season! Go get paid!