As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Which Iowa tight end will hear their name called first?
The University of Iowa has long been well renown and revered for their propensity for churning out top shelf and blue-chip players on both the offensive and defensive lines as well as several skill positions on defense. Recently they’ve been churning out top-flight tight ends as well.
Last year former Hawkeye George Kittle busted on to the scene for the San Francisco in his second year in the league to quickly establish himself as one of the best at his position and would earn his first Pro Bowl bid and lead all tight ends in the league in receiving yards. His 1,377 yards are the most ever posted by a tight end in NFL history.
Iowa has not one but two tight ends that are currently being mocked to in the mid to late first round in April’s draft in Noah Fant and T.J Hockenson. Both have been the focal points of the Hawkeye’s offense since Kittle’s departure as they have capitalized on that opportunity and now sit atop the position rankings on pretty much every team’s draft board.
The question that remains and the won’t be answered until the night of the draft is, which of them will be drafted first? Both possess the skills to be playmakers in any offense as made evident in their many highlight-reel plays from college, but who is the most appealing prospect of the two is a question being heavily debated in draft war rooms across the league.
Fant is the more athletic of the two and a more dangerous vertical threat that could terrorize slower linebackers down the seam and undersized defensive backs if lined up out wide. However, Hockenson is drawing a lot of comparisons to five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Superbowl Champion Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots
Hockenson is only one inch shorter and 15 pounds lighter than Gronk at the moment and once he gets into an NFL weight room that gap could close by training camp. He’s viewed as the more complete tight end of the two even though he doesn’t possess the same amount of raw athleticism as his fellow former Hawkeye, he still won the Mackey Award last season, giving to the nation’s top tight end in all of college football.
There is a lot of speculation that suggests should either of the two falls to the final pick in the first round, of which the Patriots presently hold, that Bill Belichick and his staff would not hesitate on pulling the trigger on taking whichever of them is still available.
There are even some who believe that if one of them was to go a lot higher than they initially anticipated, that the reigning world champions would attempt to leapfrog a tight end needy team in front of them if only one is left on the board in order to secure the successor to the fun-loving behemoth that is Gronk, who has been dealing with a bevy of injuries and mulling retirement over the past couple of offseasons.