NFL Draft Notebook: Scouting Iowa State’s top prospects for the 2025 NFL Draft

A look at Iowa State's top 2025 NFL Draft prospects, latest draft news & more!
Rocco Becht
Rocco Becht / David K Purdy/GettyImages

One team that might surprise many this season is the Iowa State Cyclones, who possess the talent to vie for their first Big 12 championship in school history. In this week’s Friday NFL Draft Notebook, we focus on their top NFL Draft prospects. Along with spotlighting the Cyclones' standout players, this article also highlights some of the top running backs in the 2025 NFL Draft, a rookie already turning heads, and more.

Iowa State 2025 NFL Draft prospects

Rocco Becht, QB

While Rocco Becht will only be a redshirt sophomore this season, he may have the most potential of any Cyclone prospect. The dynamic playmaker broke most Iowa State freshman records last season including yards and touchdowns. This strong effort allowed him to be named the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and earn a spot on several Freshman All-American teams. While it is unlikely Becht comes out after this season he has the tools to be a mid-round pick when he does decide to take his talent to the NFL.

Stevo Klotz, FB

One of the better fullbacks in the 2025 NFL Draft is Iowa State’s Stevo Klutz. Klutz was named to the All-Big 12 second team last year after catching seven passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. In addition to being a reliable receiver, Klotz has the size to play tight end in the NFL coming in at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He also is an imposing blocker and is a player who could help on special teams in the NFL.

Jayden Higgins, WR

The Cyclones have two NFL caliber wide receivers in Jayden Higgins and Jaylin Noel. Higgins is the bigger receiver among the two coming in at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. In addition to having good size he is also a physical receiver who does a good job of catching the ball in traffic. This combination will make him an intriguing outside receiver prospect and going into the season I have a day three grade on him.

Jaylin Noel, WR

The other Cyclone wide receiver with a day three grade is Jaylin Noel. While Higgins is more of an outside receiver, Noel will likely be looked at as a slot. The trait that makes Noel standout is his quickness which consistently allows him to gain separation against Big 12 cornerbacks. He is also a good return man and is the first player in the FBS to have four 50+ yard receptions, two 50+ yard kick returns and two 30+ punt returns in one season.

2025 NFL Draft prospect Jaylin Noel
Jaylin Noel / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Joey Petersen, DE

Another player who had a breakthrough season last year is defensive end Joey Petersen. In his first season as a full-time starter, he led the team with seven tackles for loss and was strong against the run all season long. In order to raise his grade from a late-round or undrafted free agent he is going to need to improve as a pass rusher and account for more than the 2.5 sacks he had last season.

Myles Purchase, CB

The only Cyclone to get drafted last year was T..J. Tampa who went to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round. The man who will take over his spot is Myles Purchase, who led the team in pass breakups with 15 last year. While he needs to improve his technique he could make it three straight seasons that the Cyclones have had a defensive back drafted.

NFL Draft news and notes

Already impressing: One rookie who is already impressing is Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Ladd McConkey. McConkey has already seen his share of first-team reps and has built a strong repor with quarterback Justin Herbert. Look for him to start at slot receiver from day one and to be counted on to replace Keenan Allen who the team traded to the Chicago Bears.

Already raising concerns: One rookie who has struggled some in OTAs is first-overall pick Caleb Williams. He has had trouble with accuercey and only completed three passes during a recent 7-on-7 period. He has also tended to hold onto the ball too long which is a problem he also had at USC. While these are small concerns it shouldn’t make Bears fans panic as he is learning a new offense and is likely going up against one of the better defenses in the NFL.

Most underrated: Washington’s Jonah Coleman is the most underrated running back going into the 2025 NFL Draft. What sticks out about his game is his physical running style that consistently sees him run through tackles and fall forward after first contact. In addition to his strong running style, he also has perfect ball security having not fumbled the ball once during his college career. One more positive with him is that he shows nimble feet for a 5-foot-9 225-pound running back. Going into the season I have a fourth-round grade on him, and could easily see him sliding into day two of the 2025 NFL Draft with another strong year this season.

The next Tank Dell: A wide receiver who will likely remind scouts of Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell is Oregon’s Tez Johnson. Johnson has many similarities to Dell including being a big threat after the catch. Last season, Johnson forced 17 missed tackles and his 727 yards after contact led all FBS wide receivers according to Pro Football Focus. They both also have impressive quickness which helps them on offense and when it comes to returning punts. One other trait they have in common is that both are smaller wide receivers who will likely be limited to playing slot receiver in the NFL.

Transfers yet again: Penny Boone is one of the most well-traveled players in the 2025 NFL Draft. Now that he has finally decided to play at UCF this makes the fourth program he has been a part of during his college career. He started his off at Maryland but transferred to Toledo in 2022 and was named the 2023 MAC Offensive Player of the Year during his time with the Rockets. He then decided to transfer to Louisville but his time was short with the Cardinals after he again decided to transfer to UCF this offseason.

Breakout year: A player who should have a breakout year this season is new Texas A&M running back E.J. Smith who transfers over from Stanford. While Smith has never rushed for more than 218 yards in a season and has battled his share of injuries he has NFL traits. One of these traits is his ability to help out in the passing game having caught 33 passes last year, and also impressing NFL scouts with his strong pass blocking. He also shows good quickness and this trait helped him average an impressive 6.9 yards per carry in 2022.

NFL Draft stats of the week

0: The number of fumbles Texas A&M running back E.J. Smith had, which should quiet the concerns about his ball security after he fumbled three times in 2022.

70%: The Vikings used 11 personnel 70% of the time in head coach Kevin O'Connell's first two seasons with the team. With the team lacking a legitimate number three receiver, this could be a top priority in the 2025 NFL Draft.

69: The amount of receiving yards Chattanooga wide receiver Javin Whatley had last season against Alabama. He is a small school wide receiver to watch for the 2025 NFL Draft.

2,169: The number of total yards Texas State running back Ismail Mahdi had last season which led the nation. I have a seventh-round grade on Mahdi going into the season.

2: The number of drops Stanford tight end Benjamin Yurosek has over the last two years where he has seen 93 balls thrown his way.

96.6: The winning percentage FBS teams had over FCS teams last year. One FCS team who could pull the upset this year is North Dakota State who takes on Colorado on August 29th.