2020 NFL Draft Prospects
A.J. Epenesa, DE
Career Snapshot: First-year starter who earned Second Team All-America honors and made 49 tackles (14.5 for loss) with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a junior in 2019. Named Second Team All-Big Ten and made 37 tackles (16.5 for loss) with 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a sophomore.
Positives: Explosive, ferocious defensive lineman who is solid in all areas of the position. Instinctive, quickly reads and diagnoses the action and remains disciplined with assignments. Does more than just pin his ears back and rush up the field and plays with a violent attitude. Fast up the field, explosive, and can be an overwhelming force. Breaks down well and plays with proper pad level. Flashes great hand technique to consistently protect himself and disengage from blocks. Attacks quarterbacks, displays solid movement skills, and easily changes direction. Quick, always on balance, and plays with terrific body control. Plays with power in his lower body.
Negatives: Must develop more moves. Often gets knocked from the point by a single blocker. Not quick or fluid when asked to twist or stunt. Lacks a great first step off the snap. Not a true edge rusher.
Analysis: Epenesa presented himself as an overwhelming force at times over the past two years. He’s a well-rounded defensive end rather than a pure edge rusher and could grow into a starter in either a three or four-man line. Epenesa possesses terrific upside and should only improve with more experience and technique training.
Cedrick Lattimore, DT
Career Snapshot: First-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 44 tackles (3.5 for loss) with 2.5 sacks as a senior in 2019. Started six games as a sophomore and made 15 tackles (1.5 for loss) with 1.5 sacks. Was suspended for the season opener in 2018 due to an unspecified violation of team rules.
Positives: Quick interior lineman who could be used at the three-technique spot. Fires off the snap with a quick first step, plays with proper leverage, and works his hands throughout the action. Tough, displays the ability to discard blockers and get to the ball and has a variety of moves to protect himself. Solid change-of-direction ability.
Negatives: Displays limited strength. Will be engulfed at the point.
Analysis: Lattimore was a solid first-step lineman who plays with proper technique, but he must get bigger and lacks true upside for the next level.
Michael Ojemudia, CB
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors and made 52 tackles with three interceptions and nine pass breakups as a senior in 2019. Started seven games as a junior and made 39 tackles with three INTs and six pass PBUs.
Positives: Nice-sized corner who flashed tremendous ability the past two years. Shows good route recognition in zone coverage, tracks the pass in the air and has a nice move to the throw. Instinctive, very effective when he faces the action and displays good awareness. Possesses a terrific burst to the play and fires up the field to defend the run. Strong open-field tackler. Displays the ability to stay on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Plays to his size.
Negatives: Doesn’t smoothly flip his hips off the line and loses a half-step when he transitions to run with opponents. Stiff and minimally quick in his backpedal. Was inconsistent during Senior Bowl practices but ran well during the Combine.
Analysis: Ojemudia possesses the size to play Sunday football and has flashed terrific ball skills throughout his college career. He comes with nice upside, but he must polish his technique and learn to make plays with his back to the ball to be anything more than a dime back at the next level.
Brady Reiff, DT
Career Snapshot: First-year starter who made 30 tackles (two for loss) with two sacks as a senior in 2019. Combined to make 26 tackles (2.5 for loss) with two sacks during his first three seasons at Iowa.
Positives: Average-sized defensive lineman who gets the most from his ability. Plays with proper pad level, works his hands and consistently gets leverage on opponents. Smart, remains disciplined with assignments and gives great effort. Flashes ability in space.
Negatives: Must get stronger, as he gets rag-dolled at the point. Consistently handled by a single blocker.
Analysis: Reiff wasn’t graded by scouts coming into the year, but he comes off a solid senior season and offers potential as a backup three-technique tackle.
Brady Ross, FB
Career Snapshot: Made four starts at fullback, rushed six times for three yards and one touchdown and caught one pass for four yards as a senior in 2019. Missed the final seven games of his junior season after he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Walked on at Iowa as a linebacker and moved to fullback before his redshirt freshman season.
Positives: Hard-working lead blocker who displays outstanding vision, explodes into blocks and knocks defenders from the play. Works hard, remains disciplined with assignments and does enough to get a pad on defenders and disrupt their angles of attack.
Negatives: Possesses average quickness and shows little burst. Not an offensive threat.
Analysis: Ross is rarely talked about in the scouting community, as he’s a limited, one-way blocking fullback, but his approach to the game and football intelligence could help him stick onto a roster.
Nate Stanley, QB
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as a sophomore in 2017 and as a senior in 2019. Tossed 26 touchdown passes in each of his sophomore and junior seasons. Threw for a career-high 2,951 yards in 2019. Intercepted 23 times in his career.
Positives: Tall, strong-armed passer who is patient in the pocket, spreads the ball around to all his targets and effectively sets up screen passes. Buys time for receivers, goes through progressions and commands the offense very well. Possesses a quick release, fires the ball to the intended wideout and flashes the ability to make some incredible throws on occasion. Puts touch on throws and effectively sets up screen passes.
Negatives: Inconsistent accuracy. Makes wide-open receivers work too hard to come away with the reception. Throws high of targets and puts the ball behind them, which leads to a loss of potential yardage after the catch. Late on throws and gives defenders the opportunity to make plays on the ball. Forces the ball into covered targets and makes a lot of questionable passes. Shows little in the way of escapability or the ability to pick up yardage with his feet.
Analysis: Stanley came into 2019 highly rated by scouts despite a poor junior season, but he had a repeat campaign. He possesses the size and arm strength for the next level, but he must work on his decision-making, accuracy and pass placement to ever make it off a practice squad.
Geno Stone, S
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors and made 70 tackles (three for loss) with one interception, three forced fumbles and four pass breakups as a junior in 2019. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 39 tackles with four INTs and three PBUs as a sophomore.
Positives: Hard-hitting downhill safety who is quick up the field, displays a solid burst of closing speed and works hard to get involved in the action. Sells out to make plays and takes proper angles to the action. Effectively picks up coverage assignments and remains disciplined.
Negatives: Long speed is a question and concern. Possesses average ball skills. Ineffective when he doesn’t face the action. Limited upside.
Analysis: Stone was a solid safety for Iowa and a monster hitter who intimidated anyone who came over the middle the field. Despite this, he has limited athleticism and speed and will primarily be a one-dimensional run defender at the next level.
Kristian Welch, ILB
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, made 87 tackles (nine for loss) with three sacks and three pass breakups and missed three games due to a shoulder stinger as a senior in 2019. Started at middle linebacker during his senior season after he made three starts at middle linebacker and three at weakside linebacker as a junior, when he made 49 tackles.
Positives: Underrated linebacker who plays with great intelligence and awareness. Smart, disciplined and tough. Fires up the field to defend the run, squares into tackles and wraps up at the point. Quick to read and diagnose and displays good change-of-direction skills and the ability to redirect to ball carriers. Does not bite on play-action passes, gets depth on pass drops, and remains disciplined with assignments. Breaks down well and sells out on the blitz.
Negatives: Possesses average speed and marginal closing burst. Despite his size, he gets caught up in the trash or easily blocked from the play.
Analysis: Welch is a hard-working and productive run-defending linebacker who could have a home on the inside of a 3-4 or the middle of a 4-3 if he plays well on special teams.
Nate Wieting, TE
Career Snapshot: Former walk-on who started his final season at Iowa. Caught 10 passes for 117 yards and missed two games with a calf injury as a senior in 2019. Combined to make three receptions for 68 yards in 2017 and 2018.
Positives: Somewhat underrated tight end who gets the most from his ability. Displays great vision as a blocker, gives effort and plays through the whistle. Quickly releases off the line into pass routes, immediately gets to top speed and stays low out of breaks. Lays out or extends for the difficult reception, looks the ball into his hands and shows the ability to make the difficult catch. Nicely adjusts to the errant throw and displays himself as a solid pass-catching tight end.
Negatives: Possesses minimal strength at the point of attack. Rarely finishes blocks. One-speed tight end who won’t stretch the seam or get into the secondary.
Analysis: Wieting was not graded by scouts coming into the season, which was his only one as a starter at Iowa. He possesses minimal upside, but he has a nice feel for the game and could catch on as a third tight end if he plays well on special teams.
Tristan Wirfs, OT
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter at right tackle who earned Second Team All-America honors as a junior in 2019. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as a sophomore. Made four career starts at left tackle.
Positives: Tremendous college right tackle with potential on the left side. Bends his knees, blocks with leverage, and displays solid footwork off the edge. Patient in pass protection, works his hands throughout the action and keeps his head on a swivel. Intelligent, effectively picks up stunts and twists thrown by opponents and always looks for someone to hit. Quick out to the second level and shows the ability to redirect to linebackers. Strong and powerful in his lower body. Easily turns defenders from the action and gets movement as a run blocker to clear the way for ball carriers. Turned in a near historic workout at the Combine.
Negatives: Occasionally late with his hands. Not a nimble or agile blocker. Must improve his use of angles.
Analysis: Wirfs was a consistent force for Iowa the past two seasons and has enough skill to quickly start at right tackle in the NFL, and he could also get looks on the left side. He possesses size and upside and should be a dominant starter at the next level in time.
Toren Young, RB
Career Snapshot: Rotational back who made three starts and set career highs with 136 carries, 637 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018. Started one game as a senior, averaged 5.33 yards per carry on 81 rushes and scored one touchdown.
Positives: Explosive straight-line ball carrier who works runs. Displays a burst through the hole, grinds it out on the inside and falls forward when tackled. Patient, effectively follows blocks and runs with proper lean. Has an aggressive nature and drives his shoulders through defenders. Quickly gets out into pass routes.
Negatives: Not a quick or fluid cutback runner and loses momentum when he changes direction. Not a creative ball carrier who makes defenders miss. Rarely used as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
Analysis: Young flashed ability at Iowa, but his decision to enter the draft was a bit premature. He’s a downhill, between-the-tackles running back who does not show much versatility.
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