Iowa Football Post-Spring Analysis: Defensive Backs

Hawkeye Insider takes a look at the defensive backs now the Spring practices have come to a close.

Depth Chart

This may be one of the more cut-and-dry areas heading into the fall.  Iowa returns Desmond King, who was a consensus All-American last season, and tied a school record with eight interceptions.  He would've likely been a first round draft pick, but chose to come back to the Hawkeyes to get his degree and get that sour taste out of his mouth following the Rose Bowl disaster.

Greg Mabin will give Iowa stability across from King, but will likely get picked on a little bit more given who is across the field from him.  Maurice Fleming figured to impact the secondary as probably the third corner, but he transferred to West Virginia to play his final year of college football.  

That gives Josh Jackson a chance to jump in there and become the third corner for the Hawkeyes.  The fourth option is probably going to be Michael Ojemudia, who played quite a bit in the spring game and even had an interception, which he promptly returned for a touchdown.

Evaluation

Iowa knows what they're going to get out of Desmond King, so there isn't anything to worry about there.  We'll likely see teams try to avoid the Jim Thorpe Award winner and try picking on someone else considering picking on him didn't work all that frequently last season.  He had two interceptions in the games against Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.  

King is working on being faster, but his biggest attribute is the way he anticipates plays.  It almost feels like he knows where the ball is going before anyone else does. 

Mabin, like King, will be senior this season and possesses good height and size for a cornerback.  He played and started in all 14 games for Iowa last season and recorded 54 total tackles while adding two interceptions.  I've spoken with some people who aren't high on Mabin, but he gives them added experience in the secondary.  And you can never have enough of that.

Jackson has been back and forth between receiver and cornerback during his first couple years in Iowa City, but it seems like we've settled in on the defensive side of the ball with him.  Jackson played sparingly in all 14 games last season, but will take on a bigger role this season.  Many thought he would start this season because a lot anticipated King making the jump to the NFL, but he did not.  Jackson jumps into the third corner slot with the departure of Fleming.

Ojemudia is a guy a lot of fans were curious about at the spring game because Mabin didn't play, so Ojemudia got a lot of the first team reps.  He's a redshirt freshman and should factor in a little bit for Iowa this fall.  Like Mabin, Ojemudia has good size for a cornerback at 6'2". Expect him to see some reps this fall.

At safety, Miles Taylor returns fresh off a season in which he started all 14 games recording 69 total tackles.  Taylor is heading into his junior season, and hasn't missed a game for Iowa since arriving in Iowa City a few years ago.  Taylor will be the guy at safety now that Jordan Lomax has departed and will need to help redshirt freshman, Brandon Snyder, out a bit as he learns the ropes.

Snyder is a redshirt sophomore who doesn't have a scholarship yet, although that should change here soon with the departure of Maurice Fleming.  I was keyed in on Snyder for most of the spring game and I thought he played really well.  I was especially impressed with his ability to play downhill and come up and make tackles.

Prediction

I think I like this group just as much as the linebackers.  Teams are going to be challenging Greg Mabin a bit more with King on the other side, so Mabin is going to have to step up and I think he will.  Miles Taylor seemed a bit bigger from last year, a season when he laid some big hits on some ball carriers.

Snyder will fit right in with Taylor in the defensive backfield given his size as well.  I'm not worried about the ability to come up and stop the run with the safeties, but falling back in pass coverage is a different story.  It's going to be interesting seeing what kind of pass defender Snyder did.  Iowa's talented corners will help out their safeties in pass coverage this upcoming season quite a bit.


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