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    Xavier Nwankpa’s Draft Profile | Iowa, S Scouting Report

    Iowa's Xavier Nwankpa has one of the highest ceilings in the 2025 NFL Draft safety class based on his scouting report. Can he reach that ceiling?

    Iowa Hawkeyes safety Xavier Nwankpa was a highly touted recruit, but does he have the scouting report to be coveted in the early rounds of the 2025 NFL Draft? Talent is the prime selling point of his profile at the moment, but Nwankpa’s peak potential is tantalizing.

    Xavier Nwankpa’s Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’2″
    • Weight: 210 pounds
    • Position: Safety
    • School: Iowa
    • Current Year: Junior

    Over the past two draft cycles, the Hawkeyes have had four defenders selected within the first three rounds. In the 2024 NFL Draft, Cooper DeJean went 40th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2025, Nwankpa could be called upon to maintain that representation.

    If anyone was ever born to be a football safety, it was Nwankpa. He was a four-year varsity letterman at Southeast Polk High School in Iowa, and he put up jaw-dropping numbers during his tenure.

    In total, Nwankpa secured 16 interceptions across four years at Southeast Polk — hitting a career-high six picks as a junior. He established himself as one of the deadliest ball hawks not only in the state but in the entire nation and was a five-star recruit and top safety talent.

    Nwankpa had interest from a host of blue-blood schools, but he chose to stay in-state and play for Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes.

    The in-state product started Iowa’s bowl game in 2022, earning a 52-yard pick-six in his first starting action. In 2023, he became a full-time starter as a sophomore — amassing 42 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, and two pass breakups.

    Along with Sebastian Castro, Nwankpa is one of several key returners on Iowa’s vaunted defense. The 20-year-old is also entering his first season of NFL Draft eligibility. Could Nwankpa make the leap and become an early-round pick like so many before him?

    Nwankpa’s Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Sports a lean, streamlined frame with excellent proportions and good length.
    • Unnaturally elastic, explosive athlete with superb stride and hip freedom in space.
    • Explosiveness, combined with long and fast strides, grants him near-elite deep range.
    • Has rare lateral explosiveness, flexibility, bend, and corrective athleticism for his size.
    • Effortless hip sink allows him to plant and drive and channel explosion with ease.
    • Corrective athleticism, bend, twitch, and speed combine for a supreme athletic failsafe.
    • Has the versatility to play single-high, two-high, or roam closer to the box.
    • Has a tight, smooth backpedal and can quickly snap into phase to close on route breaks.
    • Showcases good overall field vision and processing capacity, in spite of lapses.
    • Keys in on receivers’ hips well in zone and flashes instant reaction to stimulus.
    • Has shown to recognize routes crossing over and hawk in front of ill-fated throws.
    • Flashes the ability to process 2-on-1s and close in on crossing routes quickly.
    • Strong tackler who can get low, lead with his shoulder, and wrap up with his length.
    • Has vast playmaking range and has shown to extend beyond his frame to convert.
    • Shows flashes of elite early identification and ball-hawking ability in single-high.

    Weaknesses

    • Sometimes gets tunnel vision on seam routes in two-high, missing boundary threats.
    • Occasionally turns his eyes away from the QB too early when trying to square up routes.
    • Can still be more consistent balancing full-field vision and awareness of QB intent.
    • At times, could stand to tighten his swivel footwork overtop breaks and crossing routes.
    • Can divert to shuffles too early, as opposed to pedals, inhibiting depth management.
    • Tendency to rely on shuffle steps can reduce hip neutrality and impact overall timing.
    • Isn’t always comfortable throttling and getting depth on pedal, causing vertical delays.
    • When it comes to managing space and positioning, can be more anticipatory overall.
    • Can be worked upright and off-balance by stutter-steps, delaying transitions on breaks.
    • Still learning how to parse down his footwork when adapting and responding to throws.
    • Occasionally hitches at the top of his drop in single-high, delaying approach to the ball.
    • Sometimes unnecessarily widens his tracking angle overtop crossers, delaying advance.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Entering the 2025 NFL Draft cycle, Nwankpa grades out as a top-100 prospect, with the potential to keep rising up the board with more experience. An elite physical foundation is the bedrock of Nwankpa’s grade, and there’s lots of potential energy outside of that.

    At 6’2″, 210 pounds, with an enthralling mix of explosiveness, speed, hip fluidity, sink, redirection freedom, and short-area agility, Nwankpa has all of the physical tools to be a true all-encompassing presence on the back end, with single-high, two-high, and support versatility — and he has a background as a ball-hawking center-fielder.

    Right now, with just one year of full-time starting experience, it’s understandable that many flaws often seen with young players are present on Nwankpa’s tape. His technical comfort, anticipation, initial attack angles, and situational adaptability are all areas in which he can improve.

    Nevertheless, Nwankpa has already shown enough to command potential early-round interest. There’s an outcome where he becomes a first-round pick, if he can shore up his down-to-down processing and expand his technical pallet when matching in off-man and zone.

    From an evaluative standpoint, Nwankpa has rare natural ability, and that shows in the flashes of elite range and playmaking instincts on the back end. He needs more time and reps to get to his ceiling, but Nwankpa has the potential to be an impact NFL starter with two-high and single-high utility.

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