THE STAR: There's no question that C.J. Beathard is one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten, if not the country. He has great velocity on his throws, tremendous arm strength, mobile when healthy, intelligent with his reads for the most part, has great ball placement in his short to intermediate throws, and commands the huddle and the locker room. You can win a lot of games when your starting quarterback has those traits and Iowa has.
One of the remaining last steps in his evolution will be ball placement and accuracy on his deeper throws. Quite frankly, it's far from his asset in the game. Iowa can throw the ball down the field and take more chances with a quarterback like Beathard but for them to do that, he has to show that he can connect on more of those types of passes and hit on a higher percentage or else it's just a waste of his play.
Another key component for him this year will be the growth in his anticipation. That's another step he needs and it could be the difference in where he gets drafted in April. How well can he anticipate the throw, the opening a wide receiver will make, and where a defense is going to be. This is actually why Jameis Winston got drafted where he did. He was one of the best in this department. He could anticipate a defense and anticipate where a throw needed to be delivered and when based on the route of the receiver, timing, and what the defense was. That's Beathard's next step.
But based off what he's showcased already and his mobility when healthy, he's just what Iowa needs.
THE FUTURE: I don't want to jump the shark at all here but I do believe that it is Nate Stanley. Scout was high on him as a high school prospect and by all accounts the Iowa coaching staff is as well after seeing him throughout fall camp. His performance has warranted him jumping over Drew Cook on the depth chart and he's 'in contention' with Tyler Wiegers. Does that mean he plays this year? It could. But that's a debate many of us are already having and for a different story.
Stanley is the future, in one way or another. When that is will be decided in the next 12 months but it's happening. He's got great composure and maturity and understanding for a true freshman and much of that comes from being a coach's son. His arm will never be doubted as he's closer to Beathard in that category than any of the other quarterbacks on the roster. As long as he continues to learn the offense, catch up with the pace of the game, become better acquainted with the multiple defensive schemes, and gel with his wide receivers and teammates around him, the future is bright.
THE OUTLOOK: It's pretty simple. Beathard is going to win Iowa a lot of football games. He's just got 'it'. And he's talented. If he loses his helmet, Wiegers is likely the guy. If he goes down for any extended period of time, Stanley becomes an option. If you're asking me now who will be the quarterback a year from now, I don't have a definitive answer and wouldn't want to make that call until I know more and see more. But I'd lean towards Nate Stanley.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm going to jump at this from a different angle now. Iowa has five quarterbacks this year and many said 'why are we recruiting quarterbacks again'? Iowa did land three-star signal caller Peyton Mansell of Belton, Texas.
Here's why: Beathard graduates. Boyle moves to a different position. Stanley is rising up the ladder at a fast pace. Transfers happen and especially when an underclassman begins to jump upperclassmen on the depth chart. It's almost a lock. So down Boyle, Beathard, and a probable transfer if Stanley's rise produces instant results on the depth chart. That leaves you with two quarterbacks on the roster, not counting the incoming freshman. That's why you always recruit quarterbacks. You can't take chances with the most important position on the roster, a position that goes through the most changes.
Folks are opining that Drew Cook could now move to tight end. I don't see it. I don't think he'd be one to transfer. He's an Iowa kid with a father that played for the Hawkeyes. And you have to have a landing spot to transfer. I just don't see that. And with a quarterback room that could thin out rather quickly, I can't see him moving to tight end. He's going to be needed in the quarterback room.