There's some room and opportunity for this one to still be won by any tight end on the roster. This isn't a slam dunk or locked up by anyone in particular. It would be great news for the Hawkeyes if Noah Fant were to win the job going away, though. That would show he's taken the necessary next steps in his development and sharpened up his blocking. It would also give Iowa more versatility in play calling and less predictability. Fant will likely head into the fall as the starting tight end.
Others in the mix that could very well land the role would be T.J. Hockenson or Peter Pekar.
Assuming Fant were to win the first spot, the best bet for the secondary role would be Peter Pekar. He's more suited as a blocker than as a pass-catcher at this point. However, Pekar is probably the best blocking tight end on the team now that Kittle has departed.
There's a great chance that redshirt freshman T.J. Hockenson also plays quite a bit as he has the great promise and potential that many teams covet at the position. Iowa especially, given their need and showcasing of tight ends and how they produce them into the NFL at a regular clip. Hockenson shares a lot of the same traits of the pros before him, just like Fant.
Watch out for sophomore Nate Vejvoda. He seemed to be coming on a bit in the Spring and was the healthiest he's been in quite some time. This will be his third year in the program and someone that looks to be starting to figure it out and reaching new heights in terms of his development. He's a sleeper type to watch out for as a late riser in his Hawkeye career.
Jon Wisnieski also flashed just a bit in the Spring. This is his last season with Iowa and perhaps he saved his best for last. I wouldn't expect a ton of Drew Cook and Shaun Beyer, at least in the 2017 season. It'll be Cook's first time at the position after making the move from quarterback, and same from Beyer after he spent the entire 2016 season with the wideouts. Jacob Coons should be redshirting. Nate Wieting has been hurt for the past several months so it is not known how much the walk-on tight end that played sparingly a year ago can contribute.
I think this will be the year all the young tight ends for Iowa emerge as stars. They're all another year into the program, a year older, and a bit more developed, and a bit more familiar with what they're being asked to do within the confines of the offense. They're also under new leadership and could be spotlighted more with Brian Ferentz at the controls.
Not only all that, but this is still a team devoid of playmaking ability on the outside. The receivers lack experience and true proven threats. That means the tight ends should be relied on more and more. It sounds like a perfect storm for me. I expect big years out of Noah Fant and possibly T.J. Hockenson. And as I said earlier, I think it is possible Nate Vejvoda could emerge as a valuable weapon as well.