© Greg Powers

Iowa Football Recruiting: 2017 Signing Day Grades

Grading the Iowa 2017 recruiting class position by position.

QUARTERBACK

http://www.scout.com/player/207294-peyton-mansell?s=73

Analysis: Mansell is a three-star prospect that was pretty much the lone target that Iowa zeroed in on. They gave Kameron Fields a look, and obviously offered others, but the pursuit wasn't greater than the one of Peyton Mansell. That means something. You're getting one of your top preferences. He is mobile enough to make plays in and out of the pocket and is a good fit for the culture at Iowa.
2017 Grade: B+
2016 Grade: A+

RUNNING BACK

http://www.scout.com/player/185277-ivory-kelly-martin?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/195104-kyshaun-bryan?s=73

Analysis: It was the second consecutive year where Iowa signed two backs and the second consecutive one where I think they did very well with both signees. Sure, they liked Eno Benjamin and Jon Lovett as well obviously, and they lost a four-star in Benjamin, but they recovered nicely to replace him with someone the talent of Kyshaun Bryan. Bryan may not come in with the fanfare that Eno would have but he's close in talent level. I'm not sure the talent drop-off is all that large and he might be a faster player as a whole, but just not as sharp with footwork, patience, and vision. But the drop-off isn't considerable. Kelly-Martin reminds me of Jordan Canzeri and I expect him to have a similar career in Iowa City. I know Iowa fans may have preferred Benjamin but as a duo, I think they did better at this position this year than they did a year ago. 
2017 Grade: B+
2016 Grade: B

WIDE RECEIVER

http://www.scout.com/player/185880-henry-marchese?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/211003-ihmir-marsette?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/201470-brandon-smith?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/210238-max-cooper?s=73

Analysis: They got the numbers they needed at this position to replenish the roster at wideouts. They only have five scholarship receivers at this time before signing the four they did on Wednesday. The talent is probably similar to what they already have, or perhaps an inch ahead in part to adding Smith-Marsette late. Marchese and Smith will definitely play on the outside. Smith is a superior talent. He's a little more athletic freak than wide receiver now but he has great potential. He's just a bit raw. Smith-Marsette could both play on the outside or in the slot because of his speed and athleticism and quickness. He's also a bit raw. In the end, I think his size and length puts him on the outside as well. Cooper is the slot receiver that is very reminiscent of Matt VandeBerg.

It's a solid group that at one time looked to consist of Beau Corrales and Gavin Holmes as well and they were also in contention for Camron Buckley, Maurice Bell and Oliver Martin. It may be viewed a disappointment because of that but I do think they still exceeded what should have been viewed as a realistic and upgraded.
2017 Grade: C+
2016 Grade: D

TIGHT END

http://www.scout.com/player/196274-jacob-coons?s=73

Analysis: Tight end wasn't a huge need after signing three a year ago but they took someone in-state that they knew they wanted very, very early on and you can't complain with that assessment. Coons is a sure-fire redshirt candidate but someone this staff had a lot of belief in early on and will have the time and ability to develop at length before having to see the field which is a good thing, especially at Iowa.
2017 Grade: B-
2016 Grade: A+

OFFENSIVE LINE

http://www.scout.com/player/200631-tristan-wirfs?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/198245-mark-kallenberger?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/200615-coy-kirkpatrick?s=73

Analysis: I think Iowa hit a home run at tackle in Mark Kallenberger. I can see him playing on Sundays at some point. He should form a good combination of bookend tackles in the future with Alaric Jackson. Wirfs also could play tackle, and he's a heck of a prospect in his own right, but it would not surprise me to star as an interior lineman with the Hawkeyes. Kirkpatrick is more of a project but a large body that would also play on the interior. He's also someone they had the utmost belief in early on and added him after a camp performance. I still tend to think he'll be a defensive tackle at some point, though. 
2017 Grade: A+
2016 Grade: A- 

DEFENSIVE LINE

http://www.scout.com/player/183229-a-j-epenesa?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/206102-levi-duwa?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/203142-daviyon-nixon?s=73

Analysis: Any defensive line class that includes A.J. Epenesa has to be considered one of the best in the country and that's how I view Iowa's group. Epenesa is a rare talent, a five-star, and should play right away in some capacity. Add in Levi Duwa who I think will be a very productive player and Daviyon Nixon who could be the next in line following Jaleel Johnson and Cedrick Lattimore and there's a lot to like about this trio of players. It doesn't get a whole lot better than these three.
2017 Grade: A+
2016 Grade: B+

LINEBACKERS

http://www.scout.com/player/194557-nate-wieland?s=73

Analysis: They didn't need linebackers so taking a flier on an in-state kid that is just a football player makes a lot of sense, especially when you look at Iowa's track record with players in-state and with his profile. Parker Hesse had a similar profile, similar career, and now he's a productive defensive end. I think Wieland becomes a productive player as well and could be similar to Bo Bower, though I think he is a bit more athletic and quicker. 
2017 Grade: B-
2016 Grade: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS

http://www.scout.com/player/203519-matt-hankins?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/207203-joshua-turner?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/204701-trey-creamer?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/185319-djimon-colbert?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/210158-camron-harrell?s=73

http://www.scout.com/player/203861-geno-stone?s=73

Analysis: There's a couple projects in this group in my opinion but there's also some firepower as well when you consider prospects like Hankins, Creamer, and Colbert. Turner is someone that I could see playing a large role in the future as well. I think the projects are Harrell and Stone but I can definitely see why they were added, especially when the Hawkeyes were in desperate need of re-tooling the secondary. You might as well add safety Noah Clayberg to this group as well since he will have the same eligibility as they do. I love what Iowa did at this position the most. I think the secondary is the best position group even though I also gave glowing grades to the defensive line and offensive line as well.
2017 Grade: A+
2016 Grade: B

OVERALL

Analysis: Last year's class was ranked 38th by Scout and this year's group was ranked 41st so it makes that the grades even out to where they are pretty similar when all positions are considered. Iowa fared much better in the 2016 class at quarterback and tight end and a tiny bit better at linebacker though the numbers they needed at positions does play a role and skews things. The 2017 class was a tiny bit better in my opinion at offensive line and running back, and much better at defensive line and in the secondary. Both, in my opinion, could have been better at wideout but I thought they still upgraded there in the 2017 class, especially when Frank Darby did not sign in 2016. I think the classes grade out similarly, but they each have different strong points which is a positive step. 
2017 Grade: B
2016 Grade: B


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