Coming off their best NFL Draft class in nearly 50 years, can the 2023 Iowa State NFL Draft prospects match last year’s group? With at least four players drafted being the target, here are the Iowa State scouting reports for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Iowa State 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Anthony Johnson Jr., DB
Strengths: Tough, run-defending safety who flashes ability against the pass. Aggressive, punishes opponents, and delivers crushing blows. Immediately diagnoses plays, works hard to defend passes, and fires upfield against the run.
Effective facing the action, has a burst to the ball out of his plant, and displays closing speed to get to the action laterally. Has experience at cornerback. Fluid pedaling in reverse and smooth flipping his hips in transition.
Weaknesses: Plays to one speed. Does a lot of holding and grabbing over the slot receiver. Slow getting his head back around and faceguards.
Overall: Johnson was productive and consistent for Iowa State, but he lacks next-level athleticism. He needs to brush up on his coverage techniques but has enough ability to be used as a zone safety.
Want more information on Johnson Jr.? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Anthony Johnson Jr., CB, Iowa State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Colby Reeder, LB
Strengths: Tough, intelligent linebacker who gets the most from his ability. Instinctive, immediately locates the ball handler, and works to get involved in the action. Stays with assignments, fires upfield to defend the run, and gives effort on the blitz. Takes proper angles and chases the action hard. Stays with assignments and doesn’t bite on ball fakes.
Weaknesses: Possesses average size and speed. Easily blocked from the action and isn’t forceful on the blitz.
Overall: Reeder began his college career at Delaware before making a successful transition to big-time football and was productive for Iowa State. He possesses great instincts but comes with poor size and speed. Reeder could be a backup at inside linebacker in a 3-4 if he plays well on special teams.
MJ Anderson, EDGE
Strengths: Minnesota transfer who flashed dominance over the past two seasons. Agile, quick, and explosive. Plays with outstanding pad level, fires off the snap with a terrific first step, and explodes through gaps to penetrate the line of scrimmage.
Keeps his feet and hands active, moves well laterally, and quickly locates the ball. Occasionally stands over tackle and breaks down well. Flows to the ball handler and wraps up tackling. Fights to get off blocks and plays through the whistle.
Weaknesses: Comes with average size and bulk and is easily out-positioned or blocked from the action. Lacks a large body of work. More of a first-step lineman.
Overall: Anderson has shown himself to be a game-wrecker who plays with great suddenness. He needs to get bigger and stronger, and more than anything else, he needs additional playing experience. Anderson is worth a late-round pick and has an upside.
Want more information on Anderson? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: MJ Anderson, EDGE, Iowa State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
O’Rien Vance, LB
Strengths: Explosive, intense defender who was a four-year starter for Iowa State. Remains disciplined with assignments and quickly locates the ball handler. Plays with reckless abandon, is fast up the field, and quickly changes direction. Uses his hands exceptionally well, busts through blocks, and plays all out.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Order
Weaknesses: Easily out-positioned from plays. Inefficient and doesn’t always take proper angles.
Overall: Vance is an underrated prospect who possesses decent size, instincts, and intensity. While he’s a backup linebacker on Sundays, Vance plays with a special-teams mentality and would be an asset on coverage units.
Trevor Downing, C
Strengths: Zone-gap prospect who started for three seasons at Iowa state. Quickly gets into blocks, bends his knees, and gets leverage on opponents. Effective with his hands, fundamentally sound, and displays outstanding blocking vision. Immediately recognizes blitzes, adjusts to defenders, and seals opponents from the action. Quick to the second level and can hit a moving target. Remains disciplined with assignments and slides in space.
Weaknesses: Struggles to handle larger opponents and gets knocked around in the middle of the field. Rarely finishes run blocks.
Overall: Downing displays athleticism and agility, but he needs a running start into opponents. He offers possibilities as a backup center or guard in a zone-blocking system.
Will McDonald IV, EDGE
Strengths: Explosive front-seven defender with tremendous upside. Athletic and quickly changes direction. Moves around the field with ease and covers large amounts of area. Stays with assignments, plays with balance, and is rarely off his feet.
Tremendous edge rusher who shows speed up the field and ability in backside pursuit. Plays with excellent lean, quickly gets his hands up, and effectively uses them to protect himself. Often comes out of a three-point stance and plays with great leverage and body control. Stays with assignments and works hard.
Weaknesses: Lacks bulk and is easily disrupted from his angle of attack by the initial block. Out-positioned by opponents. Never really developed at Iowa State. May be unable to handle complex defensive schemes.
Overall: McDonald is an outstanding athlete who caused a lot of disruption over the past three seasons for the Cyclones’ defense. He possesses the size and explosion to be used as an edge rusher in a 3-4 alignment, but, at the same time, McDonald has enough athleticism to play in space. McDonald comes with great upside, but he’ll need proper coaching and development to fully complete his game.
Want more information on McDonald? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Xavier Hutchinson, WR
Strengths: Reliable and super-productive wideout who projects as a possession receiver. Sells routes and possesses terrific short-area quickness and soft hands. Tracks the pass in the air, easily adjusts to the errant throw, and reaches back to make the reception in stride. Displays eye/hand coordination, consistently extends to make the reception away from his frame, and displays strong hands.
Quickly exits breaks, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and competes to come away with the difficult catch. Sturdy, makes the reception with opponents draped on his back, and takes a big hit while holding onto the throw. Works to help out the quarterback when the passer is in trouble. Displays plenty of discipline.
Weaknesses: Lacks natural quickness. Gathers into routes. Plays to one speed.
Overall: Hutchinson was a tremendous receiver for Iowa state, totaling 254 receptions and 2,929 receiving yards over the past three seasons. He’s an average athlete, but Hutchinson’s a terrific football player whose reliability and approach to the game should help him secure a roster spot this fall.
Want more information on Hutchinson? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
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