The debate's getting serious.
AllCyclones.com began listing ISU's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-26 — 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. 6: Daniel Burton, Guard, SO
Cyclones fans every day should be thanking their lucky stars that neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State thought to get seriously involved in a player right in their backyard.
A three-star guard out of Putnam City North High in Oklahoma City in 2012, Burton had offers from Iowa State, Arizona, Oregon State and Tulsa. He chose the Cyclones, obviously, and two years later has eight starts under his belt.
And ahead of him? The sky's the limit, really, for the rising sophomore, who'll be in a position each of the next three years to contend for all-conference honors.
Burton's got a great frame for a guard and wears his weight well. He's very cerebral but plays with a nasty streak like that of Tom Farniok. He's been cross-trained at tackle and could conceivably play center if need be. Basically, for the next three years, he can be whatever Iowa State needs him to be, and he can do it all at a very high level.
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.