Here are the 12 Iowa football tight ends selected in the NFL Draft during the Kirk Ferentz era

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

When it comes to the NFL Draft and Iowa football, the Hawkeyes' tight-end success is usually among the first items mentioned.

The pipeline that Kirk Ferentz has developed will stand as one of his greatest career accomplishments whenever the veteran Iowa coach decides to retire.

Sam LaPorta added to the Hawkeyes' tight-end legacy this year, going to the Detroit Lions in the second round with the 34th overall pick. In doing so, LaPorta became the 12th tight end drafted since Ferentz took over the program in 1999.

While noteworthy Iowa names such as Marv Cook (3rd round, 1989) and Jonathan Hayes (2nd round, 1985) technically got the tight-end party started on draft day, they were two of just four Iowa tight ends picked before Ferentz's arrival.

These days, when one departs to the pros, the next guy is expected to do the same. With that, here are the 12 Iowa tight ends drafted in the Ferentz era. Names are listed in chronological order.

Iowa tight end Austin Wheatley tangles with Ohio State cornerback Antoine Winfield during a game on Oct. 4, 1997, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

1. Austin Wheatley, 2000 (5th round, No. 158 overall to the New Orleans Saints)

Wheatley was on Ferentz's first Iowa team in 1999, hauling in nine catches for 103 yards amid a 1-10 season. Across three college campaigns (1997-99), Wheatley racked up 25 grabs for 348 yards and one touchdown. His NFL career consisted of four games with the Saints in 2000.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark catches a pass against the Houston Texans in 2010.

2. Dallas Clark, 2003 (1st round, No. 24 overall to the Indianapolis Colts)

The first premier name on this list, Clark produced a successful 11-year NFL career mostly as Peyton Manning's top tight end in Indianapolis. His best pro season came in 2009, when Clark hauled in 100 catches for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to the Pro Bowl. Before that stardom, Clark piled up 1,281 receiving yards across the 2001 and 2002 Iowa football seasons.

Iowa tight end Erik Jensen (center), shown here in 2001, was the third Hawkeyes tight end drafted under Kirk Ferentz.

3. Erik Jensen, 2004 (7th round, No. 237 overall to the St. Louis Rams)

Stuck as Clark's backup for much of his college career (2000-03), Jensen had only 24 catches at Iowa. He spent one season with the Rams, as well as time on the San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Cincinnati practice squads, but never appeared in an NFL regular-season game.

Iowa tight end Tony Jackson (81), shown here in 2004 at Penn State, was the fourth Hawkeyes tight end drafted under Kirk Ferentz.

4. Tony Jackson, 2005 (6th round, No. 196 overall to the Seattle Seahawks)

Across three Iowa seasons (2002-04), Jackson caught 14 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to Seattle, Jackson spent time in the Giants and Raiders organization but never appeared in an NFL regular-season game.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks with tight end Scott Chandler during a 2016 game.

5. Scott Chandler, 2007 (4th round, No. 129 overall to the San Diego Chargers)

The next name on this list carved out a lengthy NFL career. Chandler played seven seasons split between the Bills, Cowboys, Patriots and Chargers. He racked up 2,379 career receiving yards and 21 touchdowns, with his most productive seasons coming in 2012 and 2013. Before then, Chandler had nearly 1,500 career receiving yards and 10 touchdowns across three Iowa campaigns (2004-06).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Brandon Myers warms up before a 2016 game.

6. Brandon Myers, 2009 (6th round, No. 202 overall to the Oakland Raiders)

Sixth-round status did little to hamper Myers' NFL career, as he played eight seasons (2009-16) split between the Raiders, Buccaneers and Giants. His best season came with the Raiders in 2012, when Myers had 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns. At Iowa, he piled up 56 catches for 665 yards and nine touchdowns across four years (2005-08).

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Moeaki runs for a touchdown against New Orleans in 2016.

7. Tony Moeaki, 2010 (3rd round, No. 93 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs)

After being named a first-team all-Big Ten selection in 2009 to cap a solid Iowa career that saw Moeaki rack up nearly 1,000 career receiving yards, the third-round selection followed with a multi-year NFL run (2010-15). Moeaki suited up for the Chiefs, Bills, Seahawks and Falcons, with his best season coming as a Kansas City rookie in 2010 (47 catches, 556 yards, 3 touchdowns)

Houston Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is shown during a 2017 game against the Carolina Panthers.

8. C.J. Fiedorowicz, 2014 (3rd round, No. 65 overall to the Houston Texans)

His name is hard to spell, and his production was hard to deny. After capping a four-year Iowa career (2010-13) with a first-team all-Big Ten selection as a senior, Fiedorowicz played four years with the Texans. His best season came in 2016, when Fiedorowicz had 54 catches for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is shown after catching a pass for a two-point conversion during a 2023 playoff game.

9. George Kittle, 2017 (5th round, No. 146 overall to the San Francisco 49ers)

The man who has taken Iowa's tight-end reputation to a new level didn't seem like a great candidate for stardom coming out of Iowa. Kittle never had more than 325 receiving yards in any of his four collegiate seasons (2013-16), although his did manage 10 touchdowns over his final two. It's been a different story in the NFL, where Kittle has racked up four Pro Bowl appearances in his first six pro seasons. He currently stands as one of the most dominant tight ends in the league.

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson is shown after a 2023 playoff game vs. the New York Giants.

10. T.J. Hockenson, 2019 (1st round, No. 8 overall to the Detroit Lions)

Hockenson's Iowa rise was a quick one, culminating with a 2018 season that saw him grab 49 catches for 760 yards and six touchdowns. He then became Iowa's highest drafted tight end ever, but Detroit has since shipped Hockenson to division rival Minnesota. Across four seasons, he has more than 2,500 receiving yards with 18 touchdowns.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant (87) throws his gloves to fans following a victory against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 4, 2022.

11. Noah Fant, 2019 (1st round, No. 20 overall to the Denver Broncos)

The other half of Iowa's best tight-end tandem, Fant's usage (or lack thereof) frequently dominated the headlines during the final season of his three-year Hawkeyes career (2016-18). Like the Lions with Hockenson, Fant's draft team has already moved on from him as well. The Broncos shipped Fant to Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson trade. Over four seasons, Fant has nearly 2,400 receiving yards and 14 scores.

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta runs with the ball against Minnesota on Nov. 19, 2022, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

12. Sam LaPorta, 2023 (2nd round, No. 34 overall to the Detroit Lions)

LaPorta's professional dreams became reality last week when the Lions scooped him up early in the second round to keep the Hawkeyes' tight-end legacy going. LaPorta finished his Iowa career with 153 catches for 1,786 yards and five touchdowns over four seasons (2019-22).

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and Email him at