The debate's getting serious.
AllCyclones.com listed Iowa State's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-25 — using production, potential, positional value and a little bit of by-the-gut reasoning.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty, beginning our one-by-one countdown of No. 25 to No. 1, a task that'll run through Spring Football.
The envelope, please ..
No. 24: Qujuan Floyd, Safety, JR
Both starting seniors headed out the door, the Cyclones saw safety as a position of serious need this fall and did their best to rectify it, signing two JUCO transfers to contribute immediately. One, Devron Moore, is already in school and will appear further down this list.
The other, Qujuan Floyd, is finishing up classes at Santa Monica this spring, balancing his books with daily, sun-soaked workouts.
Floyd is trying to add 15 to 20 pounds before fall camp — with the knowledge he'll lose about five of 'em after fall camp — to adjust to the Big 12 and the possibility he ends up the strong safety (replacing Deon Broomfield) while Moore takes Jacques Washington's free safety post.
If Floyd can make the transition (he was a free in JUCO) and give the Cyclones a dual (coverage and run-game) safety, there shouldn't be as many lapses over the middle of the field as ISU fans saw in 2013.
A 12-interception guy at Santa Monica and a backfield mate of De'Anthony Thomas' in high school, Floyd doesn't lack for athleticism, range and play-making abilities. He's probably not as good as Moore, but the expectation is he'll provide an upgrade over Broomfield.
It is with caution that I dip my toe into what will likely be choppy waters. Ranking Iowa State's 50 best players is an arduous task. With a number that allows for the two-deep (22 on each side) plus a few, any omission might be construed as an insult. That's not at all what I set out to do here. I wanted to locate and then rank the most valuable Cyclones for the 2014 football season. Read that again. For the 2014 football season. Not from last season. Or for 2017. How'd I do this? I looked at production, sure, and of course I looked at short-term potential — can this player contribute in 2014, and at what level?
Phone calls were made, brains were picked, contributions considered. I tried to think like an NFL executive: Quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback are by many accounts the most important positions in football, but I didn't always obey that rule, not unless the talent stacked up. I went back to my notes for the first and second watches of all the 2013 games, but those were last season's schemes, at least on offense, and I project the change to Mark Mangino's scheme will shake things up.