The debate's getting serious.
AllCyclones.com began listing ISU's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-26 — using production, potential, positional value and a little bit of by-the-gut reasoning.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty, beginning our one-by-one countdown of No. 25 to No. 1, a task that'll run through Spring Football.
The envelope, please ...
No. 2: Brock Dagel, Offensive Tackle, JR
It may come as a surprise to outsiders the level of optimism surrounding the state of the Cyclones' offensive line, but it makes sense.Do they like their coach? Check.
Are they battle-tested? Check.
Do they know what they're supposed to do? Check.
Are they big enough? At an average of 304 pounds, with bookend tackles of 6-foot-7 or taller, check.
Do they have a complete stud at left tackle? Check.
At 6-foot-8, 303 pounds, with 11 starts under his belt, Dagel has not yet reached his full potential. He'll probably add 10 pounds before the fall begins and that's unlikely to jeopardize his quickness. This is a former double-double machine in basketball. The way Dagel wears his weight, he looks good for 30 more pounds.
Dagel was too good to keep out of the starting lineup in 2013, Chris Klenakis making him the starter after one game, sending fifth-year senior Kyle Lichtenberg to the bench. New coach Brandon Blaney saw Dagel's ability from the get-go, immediately tabbing him as Iowa State's left tackle. Hyperbole has been at a minimum this spring for Dagel — perhaps that's because he missed the last week of practices after a cleat gashed his leg — but, to a man, the staff would tell you it has an All-Big 12-type player on its hands.
It is with caution that I dip my toe into what will likely be choppy waters. Ranking Iowa State's 50 best players is an arduous task. With a number that allows for the two-deep (22 on each side) plus a few, any omission might be construed as an insult. That's not at all what I set out to do here. I wanted to locate and then rank the most valuable Cyclones for the 2014 football season. Read that again. For the 2014 football season. Not from last season. Or for 2017. How'd I do this? I looked at production, sure, and of course I looked at short-term potential — can this player contribute in 2014, and at what level?
Phone calls were made, brains were picked, contributions considered. I tried to think like an NFL executive: Quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback are by many accounts the most important positions in football, but I didn't always obey that rule, not unless the talent stacked up. I went back to my notes for the first and second watches of all the 2013 games, but those were last season's schemes, at least on offense, and I project the change to Mark Mangino's scheme will shake things up.