Iowa State isn't exactly the most well-known football factory and hasn't had an offensive skill player drafted since QB Seneca Wallace in 2003. However, the Cyclones program has produced double digit draft picks since 2005 and should be improved in 2014 after a disaster three-win season a year ago.
Iowa State's top NFL Draft-Eligible prospects to watch in 2014:
1. TE E.J. Bibbs, Senior (6-3 | 252 | 4.76 | #11)
A highly recruited JUCO transfer a year ago, Bibbs stepped in as a starter for the Cyclones and finished 2013 as the team's second-leading receiver with 39 catches for 462 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was used as more of an inline blocker, but still proved capable in the passing game with good body control and hand-eye coordination to snare off-target throws. Bibbs has solid size and frame with room to get stronger, but his upper body strength is average at-best and he needs to improve his hand placement to do more than simply get in the way of defenders. He shows some laziness in his routes and needs to do more to create separation, but lowers his pads well as a ballcarrier, staying balanced through contact. Bibbs is one of the few bright spots for an offense that ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 last year in most categories.
2. WR Quenton Bundrage, RS Junior (6-2 | 189 | 4.57 | #9)
The Cyclones 2013 leading receiver, Bundrage emerged as the team's top go-to threat through the air with 48 catches last season, finishing among the conference leaders in touchdown grabs with nine. He has good height for the position and uses his frame to fight through contact as a ballcarrier, but has a lanky build with little muscle definition. Bundrage catches the ball well in stride and although he has average speed, he flashes a second gear down the field to run away from defenders once he gains a step. He is tight and lacks explosive qualities, but shows sharp footwork in his routes to create some separation. With Mark Mangino taking over the offensive coordinator duties for the 2014 season, the Iowa State passing attack should be much improved, which will help Bundrage's development.
3. C Tom Farniok, RS Senior (6-3 | 295 | 5.24 | #74)
After redshirting in 2010, Farniok earned the starting center job as a redshirted freshman and enters his senior year with 35 career starts under his belt. He displays average quickness, but plays with urgency and mobility, having no issues advancing to the second level. Farniok has aggressive, forceful hands, but his placement is streaky, causing him to overextend himself at the waist due to impatience with his overeager demeanor. Although he lacks the upper body strength to simply overpower defenders, he is a veteran and battle-tested with the tough competitive nature to anchor and fight through the whistle. Farniok isn't a sure draft pick at this point, but a strong senior performance could change that.
4. RB Aaron Wimberly, Senior (5-9 | 173 | 4.52 | #2)
Although he doesn't look like a prototypical running back, Wimberly led Iowa State in carries (141) and rushing yards (567) last season, including back-to-back 100-yard performances against Tulsa and Texas. He is clearly more comfortable outside the tackles where he can operate in space, using his coordinated footwork to redirect and make sharp cuts with his accurate field sense. Wimberly is tough, but shows very little power and won't do much after initial contact with his undersized frame and minimal growth potential. He lacks distinguishable athleticism like other pint size backs (i.e. Dexter McCluster) and needs to improve as a pass catcher to boost his NFL resume. Wimberly isn't going to get much bigger, but a healthy and productive 2014 season won't hurt his chances of a NFL future.
Other players to watch:
OLB Luke Knott, RS Sophomore (6-0 | 216 | 4.65 | #21)
DE Cory Morrissey, Senior (6-4 | 249 | 4.78 |
OT Jacob Gannon, RS Senior (6-6 | 300 | 5.08 |
WR Dondre Daley, RS Sophomore (6-1 | 191 | 4.56 | #13)
OG Daniel Burton, RS Sophomore (6-4 | 302 | 5.14 | #70)