Iowa's Nate Stanley a first-round prospect? This ESPN NFL draft guru thinks he is entering the season.
In the around-the-clock cycle of the NFL, it’s never too early to look at next year’s draft potentials. ESPN analyst Todd McShay released his preseason top 32 draft prospects Wednesday.
Two Hawkeyes made the cut.
Checking in at No. 23 is Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, one of just two quarterbacks on the list along with North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley at No. 16.
McShay gives Stanley an 86 grade and has this to say about him:
“With good size, tremendous arm strength and the ability to move well in the pocket, the 6-4, 240-pounder emerged after being handed the keys last season,” McShay wrote. “The accuracy outpaces the completion percentage, but ball placement and timing will need to improve. Stanley's spot here is a bet on ceiling.”
McShay also points out Stanley’s 26-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a key stat.
Six spots below Stanley, at No. 29, is Iowa tight end Noah Fant. He’s the only tight end listed in the top 32. McShay gives Fant an 85 grade.
“He has the burst to regularly separate from linebackers and his size creates matchup problems for defensive backs, as well as the speed to stretch the field and the quickness to threaten after the catch,” McShay wrote. “The 6-5, 241-pound junior leads what is, so far, a light tight-end class.”
Iowa hasn’t had a quarterback go in the first round since Chuck Long in 1986, or a tight end go since Dallas Clark in 2003. There's a long way to go for Stanley and Fant, but it’s clear they’re already high on 2019 draft radars.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.