The Cy-Hawk game between Iowa & Iowa State fell victim to COVID protocols in 2020, marking the first time the two sides hadn’t met since 1977. Having had a year out, this one’s set to be a fantastic spectacle, and here’s a few of the prospects to watch out for in the 2022 NFL Draft.
When the Big Ten announced that no non-conference games would take place for it’s schools in the 2020 season, the traditional Cy-Hawk game was one of the casualties. Now, in 2021, with a capacity crowd and a two year gap, the teams will meet once again at the Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa has won the last 5 meetings, and leads the series 45-22, but this year, Iowa State goes into the game 9th in the AP poll, back to back with the Hawkeyes at 10. It couldn’t be closer. We’re on prospect watch for this one ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Iowa State RB Breece Hall
Breece Hall came into the 2021 season off the back of 21 touchdowns in 12 games. He found the end zone at least once in every single Iowa State Cyclones game in 2020, and at least twice in 8 of those 12 games, not forgetting that many came against Big 12 defenses, with teams like TCU, Michigan, Oklahoma twice, and Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl to round out the season. His contribution landed him second in touchdowns amongst all CFB running backs, behind only Najee Harris of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Hall stands 6″1″ 220 pounds and hardly ever goes down at the first point of contact. In his first two seasons of college football, he totalled 2,460 rushing yards. Of those, 1,597 of them were yards after contact. He was number one in college football for yards after contact in 2020. You can’t arm tackle him, and he does a great job staying on his feet and regaining his balance when knocked off course. There’s a reason he’s nicknamed ‘the beast’.
What stands out to me most on his tape, is his patience, and ability to bounce out of a gap and ensure positive yardage. There’s many a highlight of Hall waiting for his moment, then diving into the gap at the opportune moment. Not at all afraid to put his pads down and run right up the gut, his versatility out of the backfield will be appealing to teams playing on Sundays. Just 20 years old and now in his third season with the Cyclones, a replication of his 2020 production could see Breece Hall being the first running back off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Iowa State QB Brock Purdy
Brock Purdy‘s name has been mentioned on lists of the best quarterbacks in college football, and while he might not quite be there yet, there’s an opportunity for Purdy to catapult himself into the conversation this season. Purdy is playing his fourth season for the Cyclones, and has been consistently good during his tenure. 62 touchdowns and 25 interceptions with over 9,000 passing yards is a pretty good resume, but does he have the tools to be one of the very top prospects come April’s 2022 NFL Draft?
Purdy is very capable of extending a play, getting out of the pocket and finding an open man. He’s also able to run himself when called to do so, or on a scramble if he can’t find a good look. He’s patient, and always looks relaxed with the ball in his hands. He can throw a very accurate back shoulder pass, as has shown on tape on many occasions, and is responsible for numerous touchdowns where he’s had to improvise after the pocket collapses. Largely, he’s a good decision maker, however can get in his own way on a bad day. A good year for him will land him on an NFL roster as a project with good upside potential in the mid rounds.
Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar
One of Purdy’s favourite targets, and the Cyclones lead touchdown pass catcher in 2020? Charlie Kolar. The tight end has 17 touchdown catches in 3 seasons, and is able to make some exceptional catches under pressure. Kolar is a primary red zone threat for Iowa State and acts as a great possession pass catcher in their offensive system. He has reliable hands and good athletic ability. One to watch as a great value pick in the 2022 draft.
Iowa OL Tyler Linderbaum
The Hawkeyes center is one of the best offensive linemen in all of college football and could easily have his name called on day 1 of the 2022 NFL draft. With a background in wrestling, Tyler Linderbaum possesses excellent use of the hands, and the intelligence on how to beat his man.
He’s a little undersized for an offensive lineman playing on Sundays, at 6’3″ 290, but makes up for it with football IQ. Linderbaum has only played the position for two seasons, and has time left on his college football career to perfect his craft. Keep an eye on him in the running game, with another potential prospect in Tyler Goodson running behind him, an honorable mention to the shifty running back.
Iowa CB Matt Hankins
My final mention goes to Matt Hankins. The senior has four full seasons of experience under his belt, and is playing in his fifth and final season as a Hawkeye before moving on to the draft. He’s been consistently solid for the Iowa outfit, and notched fifteen pass break ups in his four years on the field so far, as well as three interceptions.
Hankins plays the ball very well, and coming off a very good set of performances in 2020 (4 pass break ups and 1 interception in only 8 games), needs to continue to display that consistency, and will have some draft stock for next. Hankins is a leader in the Hawkeyes secondary, and I love watching DBs go to work, so he’ll be one that I have my attention on on Saturday.