It’s been over 30 years since the Iowa football team has had a QB drafted in the first round, but Nate Stanley could change that in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Heading into the 2019 college football season, Iowa football quarterback Nate Stanley had a few eyes on him in the NFL scouting community and buzz was beginning to generate after a fantastic sophomore campaign under center.
The Wisconsin native was considered a fringe first-round prospect heading into last season, but after a relatively up and down junior season that saw the Iowa football team limp to an 8-5 finish, the buzz quieted down significantly. Stanley, however, passes the eye test with flying colors, and if he is able to put together a remarkable senior campaign, we could see him back in the discussion as a first-round quarterback next April when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around.
Stanley, of course, has a lot to improve on between now and then, particularly with his accuracy and decision making, but he has the size (6’4” and 243 pounds), leadership ability (he will be a three-time team captain by the end of his Iowa football career), and the familiarity with a pro-style offense under Brian Ferentz. He also has a strong arm capable of making any throw on the field.
If we learned anything from the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s that traits matter especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Daniel Jones is a big project with accuracy concerns as Stanley but he was taken sixth overall. Drew Lock has one of the best arms of any quarterback prospect in recent years but has terrible footwork and has a penchant for making bone-headed throws. Dwayne Haskins, meanwhile, played in an offensive reliant on getting the ball out quick to playmakers covering up any possible issues in Haskins game, plus he was just a one-year starter.
For Stanley to make the leap from a big quarterback with intriguing traits to a first-round prospect, he will have his work cut out for him though.
First, he will need to continue to clean up the accuracy issues.
Second, he will need to stop making one or two killer mistakes a game.
Finally, he will need to be willing to force the ball into tighter coverage than he has had to in the past. Stanley is incredibly risk-averse, and it shows in his game. His 16 interceptions total in two seasons is less a result of great placement and accuracy and more a result of lack of willingness to test coverages.
With both of his All-American tight ends drafted in the first round this year, he will need to utilize his wide receivers more and work on throwing these guys open.
If he can do that and put together a great run with the Iowa football team next season resulting in a CFP appearance or even just a Rose Bowl appearance, we could be talking about Stanley as a legitimate first-round prospect next year.