The Iowa Hawkeyes are one of the most consistent teams in the Big Ten. They are always in the mix and their home games are loud and daunting for opposing teams. After losing their first two games in 2020, the Hawkeyes pulled off six straight wins before having their last two games canceled due to COVID-19, including their bowl game against Missouri and a regular-season game against Michigan.
Iowa's blowouts of Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin were impressive and could be a tease of what's to come in 2021. The Hawkeyes have some notable prospects that could be taken high in the 2022 NFL Draft, after seeing former Iowa stars Chauncey Golston (Round 3), Daviyon Nixon (Round 5) and Ihmir Smith-Marsette (Round 5) drafted this past April.
Let's take a look at the top Hawkeyes prospects for the 2021 season:
OL Tyler Linderbaum
Linderbaum is a hard-nosed interior lineman who excels in the run-blocking facet of the game. While he may lack the athleticism to move around a lot, he can move bodies inside and could play both guard and center at the professional level. Iowa has a history of dominant interior linemen and Linderbaum should be the next great lineman out of Iowa City.
RB Tyler Goodson
Goodson is a shifty running back who can do a bit of everything out of the backfield for the Hawkeyes. He enters the 2022 season as a top-five back in the Big Ten, which should be stacked with talent at that position. Goodson has impressive straight-line speed and can zoom past any defender at the second level. If he can't be stopped at the line, there is no hope once he gets to the linebackers.
DL Zach Vanvalkenburg
Coming off of his best season yet at Iowa, Vanvalkenburg is looking to improve his potential even more. He was fifth in sacks in the Big Ten last season with 3.5. The Michigan native can disrupt the game in several ways, but his strength stands out on tape as one of his best traits. His strike can leave offensive linemen unbalanced at times.
WR Tyrone Tracy Jr.
When scouts use the word vertical threat, they are talking about someone like Tracy. He can fly down the field and has the vision to track balls in the air. The redshirt junior is also a reliable playmaker, catching balls in the middle area and getting some yards after the catch. He will be one of the more experienced receivers on the roster and have a big season next year.
CB Matt Hankins
Hankins proved to be one of the most dominant cornerbacks last season for the Hawkeyes. With five pass deflections and one interception in a shortened season, Hankins showed he could compete with the best and should be a target of NFL teams next season. The senior cornerback has ball-magnet abilities and uses his athleticism to stay with receivers down the field. With as much hype as he has already received this offseason, don't be surprised to see Hankins as a top-10 corner in the draft next April. The extra year has undoubtedly provided some much-needed draft reassurance for players like Hankins.