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NFL Draft Player Profile Part 2: The Middle Rounds

Tristan Wirfs and AJ Epenesa aren’t the only former Hawkeyes hoping to hear their name called in the 2020 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In part two of our NFL Draft Player Profile, we examine the former Hawkeyes who could hear their names called in the middle rounds of the draft.

Geno Stone (Defensive Back):

Measurables: 5’10, 207 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.62 seconds
Bench Press: 12 reps
Broad Jump: 116 inches
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches

Geno Stone was never supposed to make it to this point. An afterthought to most Power Five teams during the recruitment process, Stone blossomed into a real contributor during his sophomore season before breaking out and earning second-team All-Big Ten from both the AP and the coaches as a junior. Now, the high school prospect who nobody in the Big Ten wanted is eyeing an opportunity to be picked on either the second or third day of the NFL Draft.

Stone’s best attribute as an NFL prospect is the same feature which propelled him to a successful collegiate career: his football intelligence. Stone has an innate feel for the game which, combined with his discipline in the film room, allowed him to play every down like the smartest player on the field. Stone was almost never out of position during his junior year and showed himself very capable of quickly diagnosing (and disrupting) plays from his safety position.

This high football IQ allows Stone to react quickly and take great pursuit angles to blow up running plays,

and also allows him to jump routes in pass coverage to make a play on the ball.

Stone’s physical tools are not quite as impressive as his mental ones, however. Stone is on the shorter side (5’10 with 29 inch arms), and his 4.62 40-yard dash time is slower than most teams would like for a player at his position. There are also questions about Stone’s agility and whether he can change directions quickly enough to corral shiftier ballcarriers at the next level.

Still, Stone has the instincts and acumen of a professional football player and could be yet another classic mid-round pick who blossoms into a regular contributor on the basis of his hard work and football savvy.

Draft Projection: 5th round

Michael Ojemudia (Defensive Back)

Measurables: 6’1, 200 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds
Broad Jump: 122 inches
Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Three-Cone Drill: 6.87 seconds

Michael Ojemudia’s ascension was one of the most pleasant surprises of Iowa’s 2019 campaign. While the senior cornerback had shown flashes of greatness at times during his career, his final year in Iowa City saw Ojemudia finally put it all together, earning several second and third-team All-Big Ten nods in the process.

Still, Ojemudia turned plenty of heads at the combine from scouts who hadn’t been paying attention to his quietly productive 2019 season. The lanky cornerback posted an impressive 4.45 40-yard dash time and his armed measured as the 4th-longest among members of his position group invited to the NFL Combine. While Ojemudia never seemed to fully flex his 4.4 speed at Iowa, he did manage to hold several speedy wide receivers in check his senior year, and he certainly proved himself to be a difficult man to throw over the course of his career.

NFL GMs scouting Ojemudia will have to weigh his strong senior season and impressive physical tools against a somewhat inconsistent career which often saw Ojemudia either blend into the background or stand out for all the wrong reasons, especially early on.

Still, scouts have to be encouraged by the significant strides made by the cornerback prospect in 2019. Ojedmudia may not have fully tapped into his physical gifts while at Iowa, but his senior season showed that his ceiling may be far higher than many Hawkeye fans realized, and is sure to entice a GM to pull the trigger on him during the middle rounds. Some mock drafts have him going as high as the 3rd round, but mocking him as a day three pick feels like the right call.

Projection: 4th-5th round

Nate Stanley (Quarterback):

Measurables: 6’4, 235 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.81 seconds
Broad Jump: 108 inches
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches
Three-Cone Drill: 7.26 seconds

Somewhere there is a GM huddled in his home office and salivating as he watches tape of a mid-late round NFL quarterback prospect who he’s convinced has all the tools to be an NFL starter and be the steal of the draft. Meanwhile, another GM is watching the exact same footage and concluding that this prospect lacks the touch, pocket poise, accuracy, and mobility to stick in the league.

After three years of watching Nate Stanley as Iowa’s starting quarterback, most Hawkeye fans still aren’t sure which GM’s projection to believe. On one hand, Stanley has the look of an NFL quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm that he is not afraid to fire at will,

can fit the football into incredibly tight windows,

and has the size and strength to shrug off defenders like a mini Ben Roethlisberger.

Stanley also managed to win 27 games during his three years as a starter, tossing 68 touchdowns to only 23 interceptions. Those are the kind of numbers NFL GMs like to see.

On the other hand, Stanley also showed erratic accuracy on his deep ball,

often lacked touch on his throws (both short and long), projects as a fairly immobile QB at the next level, and never managed to complete 60% of his passes during the course of a single season. All of these signs seem to point to a developmental prospect at best and a player too inconsistent to be a steady backup at worst.

Still, the good easily outweighs the bad with Stanley, and it only takes one GM to fall in love with a player for them to be picked and given a shot to make a team. Stanley showed poise, promise, and one powerful arm during his time as a Hawkeye, and has every reason to believe his name will be called on day three of the NFL Draft.

Projection: 5th-6th Round

Be sure to stop by next week as well to read about the Hawkeye players who will be fighting for a spot near the end of the 2020 draft.