Iowa Football Post-Spring Analysis: Offensive Line

Hawkeye Insider takes a look at the offensive line just after spring practices have come to a close.

Depth Chart

The offensive line is consistently a strong point for the Iowa Football team and I think it will be this year as well when you consider who returns.  Cole Croston is going to settle back in nicely at the left tackle position for the Hawkeyes and will lineup next to Boone Myers, who will be at left guard.  Sean Welsh, who didn't participate in the spring game, will assume the duties at the center spot replacing Colt's 7th rounder, Austin Blythe.  To go along with Blythe, Iowa will be replacing Jordan Walsh, who started all 14 games at right guard last season.

James Daniels will be on the right side of Welsh, replacing Walsh, and then Ike Boettger, who missed seven games last season with an injury, will round out the starters at the right tacke spot.  

Look for Keagen Render to be the sixth guy the Hawkeyes use, he played right guard for James Daniels in the spring when Daniels was out due to injury.

Other than that, it's Ryan Ward, Lucas Legrand, Dalton Ferguson, and Brett Waxter who could potentially see time if a starter is dealing with an injury, which as we know from last year, can and will happen at some point.

Evaluation 

I don't think fans need to worry too much about Sean Welsh and James Daniels not playing in the spring.  Obviously the season is still a ways away, so those two should be healthy in time for fall camp.

They also shouldn't be worrying about how this group is going to perform this season.  They return everyone except for Austin Blythe, who was drafted in this years NFL Draft, and Jordan Walsh, who played a consistent role in 2015.  I have confidence in Welsh and Daniels to be able to replace what was lost with those two players.

Croston is the lone senior at the left tackle spot, he started 10 games last year and was really a plug-and-play guy for Kirk Ferentz considering he started six games at right tackle and four at left tackle in the 2015 campaign.  The offensive line missed a combined 10 games last season due to injury and seven were from Ike Boettger, who just couldn't seem to get back and healthy.

He'll get the nod at right tackle and hopefully he can stay healthy, otherwise we may see Keagen Render or Dalton Ferguson start to assume some of the duties.  James Daniels and Sean Welsh are the two that you have to worry least about.  Both players played in all 14 games last season.

Daniels should have some valuable experience now that he is in his second season.  He was one of just four true freshman to see action for the Hawkeyes and he without a doubt saw the most of it.  I initially thought he was going to be assuming the duties at center this year, but Welsh hops over from right guard as the pair switch roles.

This offensive line will have four upperclassmen on it, but Daniels got so much experience last year that you could throw him into that category as well even though he is just a sophomore.  I'm really excited about what this offensive line could bring to the table for Iowa this fall.

Prediction

I'm really hoping Boettger can stay healthy and we can see this offensive line in tact throughout the entire season.  It seemed like everyone was getting a little dinged up last year and I just hope the same doesn't happen again this year.  Even though Iowa did finish their regular season with a 12-0 record, it could not have been easy switching roles like they did for the lineman.

These guys will be paving the way for talented rushers LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley, so they shouldn't have to give them much space to operate considering the duo could go for over 1,000 yards rushing each.

The offensive line always seems to be a strong suit for the Hawkeyes and I expect no different during the 2016 season.


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