The 5 best NFL first-round picks in Iowa Hawkeye history since 2000

These Hawkeyes made a name forthemselves in Iowa City before becoming icons at the next level.
New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
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No. 4 TJ Hockenson

When fans think of why Iowa is called TE-U, it's often because of George Kittle, but truthfully it has a lot to do with TJ Hockenson. Hockenson was selected No. 8 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft. A few picks later at No. 20 TE Noah Fant was also selected out of Iowa.

Hockenson has lived up to the billing of a top-10 selection in the draft in his first five seasons. He's easily regarded as one of the top five players at his position in the league.

Still, team success has eluded Hockenson since joining the NFL. The Lions were terrible throughout his run in Detroit and he was shockingly traded to the division rival Minnesota Vikings during the 2022 season. Detroit has since surged into one of the best teams in the NFC while Minnesota has fallen from grace after a strong season in 2022 was thwarted in the Wild Card round.

Hockenson will move forward as one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league. Still, there's a giant question mark as to who will be throwing him the ball in 2024 and beyond. Nonetheless, despite the Vikings' disastrous season in 2023, Hockenson posted career highs in receptions with 95 and yards with 960.

For his career, Hockenson has caught 341 passes for 3,547 yards and 23 touchdowns. That has earned him two Pro Bowls early in his career, and he should earn a few more with time.

No. 3 Brandon Scherff

Brandon Scherff has long been one of the best guards in football since going No. 5 overall to the Washington Commanders in the 2015 NFL Draft. During the lead-up to that year's draft, there was talk that Scherff could be the No. 1 overall pick as a tackle.

But landing at guard may have been the best for him as he's carved out a strong career for himself.

Through nine seasons, Scherff has been named to five Pro Bowls, the most of any player on this list. He was also named First-Team All-Pro in 2020. Before the offensive guard market was turned on its head in the 2024 offseason, Scherff was one of the highest-paid players at his position.

Unfortunately, team success has not followed Scherff in the NFL. In five of his seven seasons with Washington, his teams finished with a losing record, and only made the playoffs in his rookie season. In two years with Jacksonville, he's since won his first playoff game, but the team took a step back in 2023 leaving a bold question mark moving forward.

Still, Scherff's contributions in both years in Jacksonville have shown that even at 33 years old, he's still got plenty in the tank. If he continues to play at a high level for a handful of years longer, he could find himself as a fringe Hall of Fame candidate based on his play alone.