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NFL Draft Player Profile Part 3: Late Round Gems and UDFAs

Several former Hawkeyes are hoping to make NFL rosters this fall whether they hear their names called on draft day or not.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In parts one and two of the NFL Draft Player Profile series, we examined the five Iowa players likely to hear their names called during the 2020 NFL Draft. However, there are seven other former Hawkeyes eyeing a potential shot at the NFL and hoping to be selected during one of the draft’s seven rounds receive a camp invitation in the hours after the draft’s conclusion. Since none of these players attended the combine, each lost a prime opportunity to boost their draft stock when Iowa was forced to cancel its Pro Day due to coronavirus concerns. Now, these NFL hopefuls must keep their fingers crossed that their performances on tape will be sufficient to give them a shot at making a professional roster this fall.

Kristian Welch (Linebacker)

Measurables: 6-3, 239 lbs.

Of all Iowa prospects stuck on the NFL Draft bubble, Welch is the one who arguably would have benefited most from being able to attend Iowa’s Pro Day and perform individual workouts for prospective teams. After playing most of his junior season at weakside linebacker, Welch blossomed after shifting inside and locking down the starting job as a senior. Welch accumulated some impressive stats despite only playing in ten games, including a team-high 86 tackles, two sacks, three pass deflections, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble.

Whether Welch gets drafted or not, he is likely to get a shot to stick in the league. He has the size and athleticism to play middle linebacker at the next level and plays with a focus and intensity that will make him stand out in camp. Welch could sneak off the board in the 7th round, but his relative lack of film may force him to make his way as an undrafted free agent. Either way, don’t be surprised if he finds his way on to a 53-man roster come fall.

Nate Wieting (Tight End)

Measurables: 6’4, 250 lbs.

Wieting entered the season with massive shoes to fill after the departures of Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson, and never approached the kind of receiving statistics posted by his predecessors (thirteen receptions for 185 yards for his career). Where Wieting did make a name for himself, however, was as a blocker, as he was an absolute asset for the Hawkeye in the running game. His strong receiving performance against Penn State (four catches for 54 yards) also left room for the possibility of yet-untapped potential for Wieting as a pass catcher.

At least one site believes Wieting’s ceiling could be as a 7th-round pick, and with Iowa’s recent track record of producing quality NFL tight ends, it’s not inconceivable that a GM could take a late round flier on a player who started nine games for the Hawkeyes at that position. Still, Wieting is more likely to be given a shot to make his mark as an undrafted free agent.

Cedrick Lattimore (Defensive Line)

Measurables: 6’3, 295 lbs.

Next to Welch, Lattimore might be the Hawkeye most likely to sneak into the back half of the NFL Draft. After losing his starting position midway through his sophomore year, Lattimore rebounded with a solid senior campaign which saw him named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by the coaches. Lattimore wasn’t usually the first Hawkeye to reach the ball carrier, but he was disruptive up the middle and did a good job freeing up his teammates to make tackles in run support. His contributions didn’t always show up on the stat sheet, but he played a major role in helping his teammates rack up stats and stops all season long.

Lattimore lacks the size to be a 3-4 nose tackle but could play inside in a 4-3 alignment. Lattimore definitely doesn’t pop as a pass rusher but can do the dirty work inside and showed impressive pursuit for a player his size. Hawkeye fans aren’t likely to hear his name called on Saturday, but Lattimore could have a shot to stick with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent.

Brady Reiff (Defensive Lineman)

Measurables: 6’3, 277 lbs.

It’s odd to think of a man Brady Reiff’s size as “small” in any context, but Reiff is undersized for his position relative to his NFL peers. The brother of eight-year NFL veteran offensive tackle Riley Reiff, Brady spent his collegiate career on the defensive side of the ball, starting ten games at defensive tackle in 2019. The best games of his career seemed to come in big moments, as Reiff had strong performances in Iowa’s home bouts against both Penn State and Minnesota last season, providing great pressure up the middle on passing downs. Reiff isn’t likely to be drafted due to his relative lack of size and production but could stick in an NFL camp if given the right opportunity. Riley’s career certainly proves that Brady has the pedigree of a productive NFL player.

Michael Sleep-Dalton (Punter)

Measurables: 6’1, 212 lbs.

It’s very on-brand for Iowa fans to get excited about a graduate transfer punter, but Sleep-Dalton filled an important need for the Hawkeyes during his one season in the black and gold. Not only did the Arizona State transfer earn Honorable Mention All-Conference honors, but he was immortalized as part of the greatest punter’s duel to hit Iowa City in years.

Sleep-Dalton probably won’t get drafted; he’s a punter, and NFL GMs are generally remiss to spend draft picks on specialists unless they absolutely wow at the college level. Still, the Aussie kicker showed some skills for Iowa this season and could get a shot to unseat a sitting veteran if he can impress as an undrafted free agent.

Brady Ross (Fullback)

Measurables: 6’0, 246 lbs.

Fullback is a dying breed at both the college and NFL level, but Ross is a fantastic throwback player to the days when lead blockers out of the backfield were key cogs of any elite offense. Ross wasn’t much of a ball carrier (as his one career touchdown attests to), but he excelled at opening up lanes for others to break off successful runs. Ross doesn’t project as an NFL player; several teams don’t even carry fullbacks on their active rosters anymore, and those who do generally look for players who can either play more of an H-back role such as Kyle Juszczyk or are lead blockers with greater size than Ross. Ross’ best chance to stick at the NFL level is to snag a camp invite and impress teams with his contributions on special teams.

Toren Young (Running Back)

Measurables: 5’11, 223 lbs.

I’m still not 100% sure why Young declared for the NFL Draft, aside from fearing that Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent might crowd him out of the backfield next season. Young is a bruising, powerful runner who was underutilized by Iowa in short-yardage and goal line situations last year, largely because Nate Stanley proved to be such an effective weapon in these situations. But therein lies the problem with Young; he’s a power back who isn’t big and strong enough to stand out at the NFL level, and who lacks the speed to beat defenders in the open field. It’s tough to imagine Young making an NFL roster, but any team would be lucky to have a leader and student of the game of his caliber in their training camp this summer. Hawkeye fans aren’t likely to see Young carry the rock in the NFL, but he did give them plenty of fond memories to cherish in his absence.

Jackson Subbert (Long Snapper)

Measurables: 6’3, 243 lbs.

You may not know Subbert’s name, but you certainly know his work. For every Miguel Recinos and Keith Duncan field goal during 2018-19, there was Subbert with his hands in the dirt, prepared to rocket the ball on a straight line towards the holder. In fact, it’s precisely because Iowa fans DON’T know the name of their long snapper that Subbert will likely have a shot to make an NFL roster. After all, how many times has Iowa botched a snap on a kick or punt over the past two years?

Long snappers are rarely drafted, but Iowa alum and 2018 Pro Bowler Casey Kreiter proved that former Hawkeyes can excel in this position even if they don’t hear their name called on draft day. Subbert should be the next Hawkeye to get a shot at making it in the league.