The Iowa Hawkeyes head into the 2017 season looking to fill several holes in their roster after the 2017 NFL Draft. They need a new quarterback and a new tight end on offense, and have to replace two of their biggest impact players on defense.
Here's who the Hawkeyes need to replace this fall:
Quarterback C.J. Beathard
Drafted Round 3, Pick 104 by San Francisco
Probably the surprise of the draft for the Hawkeyes, Beathard was the first Iowa player selected. His numbers took a turn for the worst in 2016 after he threw for 2,809 yards, 17 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions in 2015. Last year he totaled just 1,929 yards, adding 17 touchdowns but 10 interceptions.
This year, Iowa has a quarterback competition on its hands, as they look to replace Beathard.
Who steps up?
- Sophomore Nathan Stanley
- Junior Tyler Wiegers
There's two potential replacements for Beathard this fall.
Stanley appeared in five games last fall, completing 5 of 9 passes for 62 yards. Wiegers didn't play last year, but saw action two years ago as a freshman in three games, completing 3 of 4 passes for 32 yards.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said earlier this spring that he would be patient with this competition and let a front runner emerge in camp. Iowa will take their time and let the QB battle play out.
Defensive Tackle Jaleel Johnson
Drafted Round 4, Pick 109 by Minnesota
By far Iowa's most impactful defensive lineman in 2016, Johnson will be tough to replace on the Hawkeyes' defense. Last year he totaled 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 56 tackles, and Iowa will need to look elsewhere for that production.
Who steps up?
- Senior Nathan Bazata
- Junior Parker Hesse
- Junior Matt Nelson
- Sophomore Anthony Nelson
- Sophomore Cedrick Lattimore
Hesse, Nathan Nelson and Bazata return as starters on the defensive line. As a situational pass rusher, Anthony Nelson totaled 6 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits and 32 QB hurries. All four will be heavily involved this fall.
The player who will likely directly fill Johnson's shoes in the defense is sophomore Cedrick Lattimore, who had just one tackle — a strip sack against Illinois — last season. The 6-foot-5 defensive tackle bulked up to 290 pounds and looks more the part as he prepares for the 2017 season.
Iowa will need depth on the defensive line this fall as they prepare for the Big Ten and its stable of tough offensive lines and running backs.
Tight End George Kittle
Drafted Round 5, Pick 146 by San Francisco
After drafting former Iowa quarterback Beathard in the third round, San Fran added his tight end in the fifth round. Over the past two seasons Kittle caught 42 passes for 604 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Who steps up?
- Sophomore Noah Fant
- RS Freshman T.J. Hockenson
The Hawkeyes will rely on a couple of young tight ends this fall. Fant caught 9 passes for 70 yards and a score last year, and Hockenson redshirted last season.
Both guys stand 6-foot-5 and weight in around 225 pounds. The duo will be used often, as Iowa likes to line up in heavy formations.
Defensive Back Desmond King
Drafted Round 5, pick 151 by the L.A. Chargers
First off, how was Desmond King still around in the fifth round? As SB Nation's Black Heart Gold Pants noted after the draft, King faced a ton of eventual wide receivers in his collegiate career and fared well against them.
In four seasons at Iowa King played in 52 games, totaled 258 tackles, 33 passes defended and intercepted 13 passes. It was surprising to see him drafted so late.
But I digress. King is gone, and the Hawkeyes need a new leader in the defensive backfield. Iowa also lost Anthony Gair, so they have a couple of homes to fill.
Who steps up?
- Senior S Miles Taylor
- Sophomore CB Manny Rugamba
- Junior CB Josh Jackson
This trio of returning defenders figures to be the backbone of the Hawkeyes' secondary. The unit will need some younger players to step up, but can trust these three players to step in and play from day one.
Rugamba started just three games last year and Jackson started only one, but each played in 12 games and Rugamba showed up with a couple of interceptions.
Taylor is the elder statesman — the only senior in the secondary — and he stared 10 games and totaled 45 tackles a year ago. Coverage isn't his strong suit, but he can wreak havoc at the line.
Replacing King won't be easy — he will go down as one of the best defensive backs in Big Ten football history –but the Hawkeyes have the pieces to build around to be successful in 2017.