Rookie Report: What can we expect from Iowa football's NFL rookies this season?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Six Iowa Hawkeye rookies made the NFL's final cut this past weekend. Here's a breakdown of what to expect from each player in their inaugural professional season:

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 20: Defensive back Desmond King #36 of the Los Angeles Chargers tackles running back Daniel Lasco #36 of the New Orleans Saints short of the first down during the first half of their preseason football game at the StubHub Center August 20, 2017, in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers

Preseason stats: Nine tackles, two sacks; one interception; two kick returns for 39 yards

What they're saying: "Fifth-round pick Desmond King capped his strong preseason with a sack — a blind side hit on (C.J.) Beathard, his collegiate teammate at Iowa." — Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times

Season outlook: King is listed as the No. 3 free safety on the Chargers' depth chart. But he can also play corner, slot defender and special teams for Los Angeles. He'll see his fair share of snaps this season.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: C.J. Beathard #3 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball under pressure by Jaleel Johnson #94 of the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter in the preseason game on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 32-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers

Preseason stats: 26-for-45 for 401 yards, four touchdowns, one interception; six rushes for 85 yards and a touchdown

What they're saying: "Beathard showed play-making panache by producing a fourth-quarter comeback victory in the exhibition opener at Kansas City, and he opened eyes Thursday night with a 62-yard touchdown run in the 23-13 win over the Chargers." — Cam Inman, Bay Area News Group 

Season outlook: After beating out Matt Barkley for the backup job, Beathard will spend the season behind Brian Hoyer, an injury-prone quarterback on a two-year contract with the 49ers. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Beathard sees some snaps this year.

San Francisco tight end George Kittle runs past Denver Broncos safety Orion Stewart on a touchdown reception on Aug. 19 in Santa Clara, Calif.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Preseason stats: Three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown

What they're saying: "We’re just extremely high on him. He’s shown us he can be an all-around tight end. He blocks very well. He showed up here and it wasn’t too big for him. He fit in. ... He’s got the ability to separate that (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) really covets in his scheme. So we feel we found a great player, moving forward. Now he’s got to translate. He’s young. He’s got to prove he can do it when the regular season starts and we’re confident he can." — 49ers general manager John Lynch, via Mercury News

Season outlook: Kittle is expected to get a lot of snaps with the 49ers — likely as the starting tight end.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Jaleel Johnson #94 of the Minnesota Vikings hits C.J. Beathard #3 of the San Francisco 49ers after a pass in the preseason game on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 32-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Jaleel Johnson, Minnesota Vikings

Preseason stats: 12 tackles, eight solo tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack

What they're saying: "Jaleel Johnson put an exclamation point on his excellent preseason by dominating the middle on Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins. ... Johnson started out slowly at training camp, but caught on quickly once the Vikings began using him more often at three-technique defensive tackle than nose tackle. Battling for position with several other DTs, including offseason signees Will Sutton and Datone Jones, Johnson stepped up when the lights turned on for preseason games." — Matthew Coller, ESPN 1500 Twin Cities

Season outlook: Johnson emerged as a promising option at Minnesota's under tackle spot, where depth is needed behind 32-year-older starter Tom Johnson. He could very well be Johnson's backup to start the season. 

Buffalo Bills cornerback Greg Mabin (26) intercepts a pass to Detroit Lions' Dez Stewart (12) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Greg Mabin, Buffalo Bills

Preseason stats: Six tackles, one tackle for loss; two interceptions, one pass breakup

What they're saying: "Greg Mabin doesn't offer as much versatility as Kevon Seymour, but he's clearly better fit in #Bills Cover 3 scheme. (6-foot-1) & good ball skills" — tweet from Chris Trapasso, The Buffalo News

Season outlook: It seems like Mabin will play on the back end of Buffalo's cornerback rotation this season. But his size and athleticism could earn him good time on special teams.

Iowa offensive lineman Cole Croston (64) will likely get one more game in his Hawkeye career. He was working with the No. 1 unit in Wednesday's practice at right tackle.

Cole Croston, New England Patriots

Preseason stats: Played 223 snaps during the preseason — more than anybody else on Patriots roster

What they're saying: "Not overly surprised by (Croston making cut). Spoke to a scout who was really high on Cole Croston. Said he would have been claimed if waived." — tweet from Doug Kyed, NESN

"OL Cole Croston was a walk-on at Iowa and made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. What a story." — tweet from Pete Abraham, Boston Globe

Season outlook: Croston can play guard or tackle for New England and will provide depth at either position.

Other notes

  • Riley McCarron didn't make the Texans' 53-man roster, but he did make their practice squad.
  • LeShun Daniels did not make the Patriots' 53-man roster or their practice squad. As of Monday morning, he had not signed with another team.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.