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Respected NFL Network scout projects Iowa Hawkeye pair to go within top 20 of NFL Draft

Zack Creglow
Hawk Central

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of the most respected college football talent evaluators in media. 

He has a history as a college scout with one of the league's top-drafting franchises, the Baltimore Ravens, and has quickly become a favorite of draft followers since he moved over to the media side of things. 

So when he releases a mock draft, it tends to carry quite a bit of weight.

And his first mock draft, released Tuesday morning, is confirming what people in Iowa have suspected for a while: That Tristan Wirfs and A.J. Epenesa appear like they are headed for an early selection in the NFL Draft. 

Jeremiah has Wirfs, a three-year starter at tackle for the Hawkeyes, going first of the pair, with the eighth pick of the first round to the Arizona Cardinals. 

"The Cardinals need to protect their investment in Kyler Murray. Some believe Wirfs will stay at tackle in the NFL, but I see him as an All-Pro-caliber guard at the next level," Jeremiah wrote. 

A handful of picks later, Jeremiah slots this disruptive Epenesa going to the Atlanta Falcons at pick No. 16. 

"The Falcons have tried and failed to land a consistently productive edge rusher. Epenesa doesn't have the highest ceiling, but I believe he'll be a dependable 8-to-10-sack performer at the next level," he wrote. 

Of course, a lot will change between now and the start of the draft on April 23.

But it is looking more and more like Iowa's two junior stars made financially sound decisions to forgo their senior seasons in Iowa City.