After taking a look last week at how former Hawkeye defenders fared in the NFL in 2018, this week we’re flipping over to offense.
George Kittle, San Francisco
If 2017 served as an introduction to George Kittle for many NFL fans, we may look back on 2018 as the start of his road to superstardom. Kittle danced all over the record books, with his 1,377 receiving yards setting a new single-season NFL record for tight ends. He was also the first tight end in franchise history to hit the 1,000 threshold, and his 210 yards in Week 14 against Denver also set a 49ers tight end record. He finished with 88 receptions and five touchdowns, including an 85-yard score against the Broncos. The Pro Football Writers of America named Kittle the league’s most improved player, while Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 13th-best player in all of the NFL.
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
Yanda made his seventh career Pro Bowl appearance, remaining healthy enough to play all 16 games for the first time in three seasons. Despite being 34, Yanda continues to play at a high level, and was ranked by Pro Football Focus as in the NFL’s fourth-best guard in 2018. He didn’t allow a sack and was also listed by PFF as the league’s 99th-best player.
Austin Blythe, Los Angeles Rams
Blythe started all 16 games at guard for the Rams, who earned the distinction of the NFL’s Best Offensive Line award. He didn’t surrender a single sack despite playing all 1,100 of Los Angeles’s offensive snaps.
James Daniels, Chicago
Clearly making a strong impression on the Bears’ decision makers as the season wore on, Daniels started the final 10 games of the season. The second-round rookie was evaluated as Pro Football Focus’s 29th best guard in 2018, earning a spot on the outlet’s All-Rookie team. Incredibly, Daniels didn’t give up a single sack on 432 pass-blocking snaps.
Casey Kreiter, Denver
Kreiter earned a Pro Bowl nod after playing in all 16 contests for the Broncos. He saw 148 special teams snaps while assuming the squad’s long-snapping duties.
C.J. Beathard, San Francisco
The injury to Jimmy Garoppolo carved out an opportunity for Beathard, who compiled an 81.8 passer rating over six games. Beathard, who completed 102 of 169 passes (60.4%) for 1,252 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions, was supplanted later in the season by Nick Mullens as the 49ers were winless in Beathard’s five starts.
Bryan Bulaga, Green Bay
In his return from a second ACL tear in 2017, Bulaga was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 20th best of 85 eligible offensive tackles. He missed two contests due to knee and back injuries.
Riley Reiff, Minnesota
Reiff, now a seven-year NFL veteran, started 13 games in his second season with Minnesota. He was the lone Viking lineman to earn a top 80 evaluation by Pro Football Focus, coming in at 23rd in the league among offensive tackles.
Brandon Scherff, Washington
Scherff had his season cut short after only eight games due to a torn pectoral. Scherff has started all 54 games he has appeared in since joining the Redskins in 2015.
James Ferentz, New England
Ferentz become a two-time Super Bowl champion after playing in two games for the Patriots in special teams action. He is still listed by New England as backup left guard and No. 3 option at center.
Ike Boettger, Buffalo
Boettger saw time split over four games at guard and tackle for the Bills in 2018, totaling 76 snaps.
Tevaun Smith, Edmonton Eskimos
Smith will be playing football in his native country in 2019, signing with the Canadian Football League’s Eskimos last week after being released by the Jaguars in September. Smith was actually originally drafted by Edmonton in 2016, but never came to agreement before spending time with Indianapolis, Oakland, and Jacksonville.
Andrew Donnal, Detroit
The fourth-year pro saw time in two games for the Lions, who listed Donnal as their backup left tackle at the end of the season.
Matt Tobin, Free Agent
Tobin didn’t see the field in 2018 after playing at least 12 times in each of the previous four seasons. He bounced around, getting cut by San Francisco in September before being picked up by New England in November, only to be let go again later in the month.
Cole Croston, New England
Croston spent most of the 2018 season on the Patriots’ practice squad, though he did play four snaps across two games.
Riley McCarron, New England
McCarron will get a championship ring despite a rather conspicuous contribution to the Patriots, as he muffed a punt in their season opener against Houston and was cut the following Tuesday. However, New England brought him back into the fold a couple of weeks later by signing him to the practice squad, though he was later placed on injured reserve.
Henry Krieger-Coble, Los Angeles Rams
Krieger-Coble spent the season on the Rams’ practice squad and did not see any game action.