Why ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. sees former Iowa QB Nate Stanley as a late-round NFL Draft pick

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

Early in his senior season as Iowa’s starting quarterback, Nate Stanley was impressive enough to be considered a high NFL Draft pick, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

But Kiper felt that Stanley “leveled off a little bit” as the season continued. Kiper said on a conference call Wednesday that he now views Stanley as a late-round pick in the draft, which will take place April 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“He started out the year looking like he’d be in the second- and third-round discussion, dropping back in the pocket and scanning the field and making accurate throws,” Kiper said.

“He was protected by a really good offensive line. He does run hot and cold. Some of the head-scratching throws are still there.”

Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley, surveying the field against USC in Iowa's Holiday Bowl win, leaves with a 27-12 record as a starter. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. says he thinks Stanley will be picked in the fifth through seventh round of the NFL Draft.

Stanley, a 6-foot-4, 243-pound native of Wisconsin, completed 59.3% of his passes as a junior, with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He briefly considered entering the NFL Draft then but the feedback he received convinced him that he could use another year in the Hawkeyes’ pro-style offense.

Kiper said he expected to see more improvement from Stanley in that senior season. Instead, he completed 59.4% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Stanley ranks second to Chuck Long in career passing touchdowns (68) and yards (8,302) in Iowa history. He led the Hawkeyes to a 27-12 record in his three years as a starter, never suffering a significant injury.

That experience, combined with a strong arm, is what makes Stanley attractive to NFL teams, Kiper said.

“I could see him being a fifth- to seventh-round pick by the time we get to late April,” Kiper said. “But he certainly has a chance to develop down the road to be a backup (in the NFL). A starter? I wouldn’t go that far.”

There are two former Hawkeyes that Kiper, and all NFL Draft experts, view as surefire first-round picks. In Kiper’s latest mock draft, he has Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs going to the Arizona Cardinals with the eighth overall selection, and Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa to the Atlanta Falcons at 16.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at memmert@registermedia.com or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.