Iowa football: Which Hawkeyes could end up at the 2020 Senior Bowl

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #12 of the North Team passes over South Team defenders during second quarter of the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 29, 2011 at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour)
MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #12 of the North Team passes over South Team defenders during second quarter of the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 29, 2011 at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour) /

The 2020 Senior Bowl watch list is set to be announced tomorrow. Here’s which Iowa football players we think have the best chance of being invited.

In recent years, the Senior Bowl has become an incredible opportunity for college football players to elevate their draft stock, and being invited is a great honor especially now with the oversight of former NFL scout Jim Nagy. For many guys, it’s the last chance to show front offices how they can perform against top-level competition, and for a program like the Iowa football program, that historically doesn’t see many guys depart early, it’s become an annual event for at least one Hawkeye.

Last year it was fourth-year junior Anthony Nelson, and the year before it was Sean Welsh and Akrum Wadley. In 2017, we saw a Jaleel Johnson, CJ Beathard, and Desmond King all participating in the Senior Bowl activities.

The list goes on, and there have been quite a few Iowa football greats on a Senior Bowl roster, but with the start of the 2019 college football season, our attention turns to the future, and who could be participating in the 2020 Senior Bowl.

The first and most obvious participant (and likely watch list player) is Nate Stanley. By the conclusion of his Iowa football career, he will be a three-year starter and three-year team captain. He’s likely to walk away with the career record in touchdowns, and if he can put together a good season with improved accuracy numbers, he could be in the discussion of first-round quarterbacks. There’s no doubt in my mind, barring injury, that he will be in Mobile in January.

After Stanley, it gets a little murky.

There are ten other Iowa football players that will either be a fourth-year junior (and is even remotely likely to declare) or a senior that is currently listed as a starter for the Hawks. Here are those guys:

RS JR Alaric Jackson, LT

Tackles are a hot commodity and Jackson is considered one of the best tackles in the class. If he does declare and has finished his undergraduate degree, he will certainly be receiving a late invite if there are roster spots.

RS SR Landan Paulsen, LG

Anytime you’re a starting offensive lineman for the Iowa football team, you have a chance to end up at the Senior Bowl, but last year neither Ross Reynolds or Keegan Render were invited. I just don’t see Paulsen in a better light than Reynolds or Render therefore no invite is likely extended.

RS SR Nate Wieting, TE

Like the offensive line, when you are the starting tight end at Tight End U, you’ll get an opportunity to show what you can do. Wieting has already been named to the Mackey Award watch list. If he puts together a surprisingly nice season in his first year as a starter, chances are high he will be in Mobile.

RS SR Brady Ross, FB

There is a precedent to see fullbacks on the roster. Last year it was Alec Ingold out of Wisconsin. As long as he stays healthy, Ross should also find his way onto the roster.

RS JR Chauncey Golston, DE

Like Jackson, this all depends on if he declares and if he has graduated, but Golston is my pick to have a breakout season this year. He’s constantly overshadowed by AJ Epenesa, but he has the talent to have a double-digit sack season. If he declares, it’s likely because he’s got a nice grade from the advisory board. The Senior Bowl would have to consider him for the roster.

SR Cedrick Lattimore, DL

In his first year as a starter, Lattimore will need to put on a show to be invited. I just don’t see it.

RS SR Brady Reiff, DL

Similar to Lattimore, I just don’t see Reiff getting much of a sniff from the Senior Bowl.

SR Kristian Welch, LB

The tradition of producing great linebackers from the Iowa football team is there, but we didn’t see much from Welch in his junior season as the Hawks tried figuring out the best use of their linebacker group. This year, Welch will be starting at the middle linebacker spot, but he is not on any NFL radars right now.

SR Michael Ojemudia, SR

I might be higher on Ojemudia than most, but I think he could be a sleeper pick for the Senior Bowl roster. There’s almost no way he’s on the watch list, but if he can step up and be a leader in Phil Parker’s secondary, it will be tough for Nagy and his staff to leave him off the roster.

SR Michael Sleep-Dalton, P

Last but not least is the graduate transfer Sleep-Dalton. Considering there are just two slots for punters during Senior Bowl week, this is unlikely, but it’s much more likely than it would have been with Colten Rastetter handling punting duties.

We’ll have a better sense tomorrow when the Senior Bowl releases its initial watch list, and the Senior Bowl scouts will be hitting the road soon to see if there are any guys that have flown under the radar thus far so not being on the watch list is by no means a death sentence.

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That said, not including the guys who fourth-year juniors, I think we will see just two Iowa football players on next year’s roster: Nate Stanley and Michael Ojemudia.