No. 43 -- CB Sean Draper
The sophomore owns the nickel spot, angling for more
The transfers of Kevin Buford and Torrey Campbell put Iowa's cornerback depth in the crosshairs this fall.
Iowa has starters in senior B.J. Lowery and sophomore Jordan Lomax, who holds the right corner spot going into camp. And then it's redshirt freshman Maurice Fleming and sophomore Sean Draper.
I had Fleming at No. 45 and now have Draper at 43. You could make an argument that these two could be higher. Iowa will use an extra corner in dime (and maybe nickel if the staff likes No. 3 corner better than No. 3 safety or No. 4 linebacker). One of these two will play, maybe a lot.
Draper gets bumped a little higher because he played as a true freshman last season while Fleming redshirted and made the move from WR to CB.
Draper didn't play a ton, but he did see action in 11 games with six tackles and one pass breakup. He lost an angle on QB Jordan Lynch during his 73-yard TD run in the opener. He also was out of place during a big pass play at Michigan State (a 38-yarder to Aaron Burbridge). But you see above Draper did make a play against Penn State's Allen Robinson, the best WR in the Big Ten last season.
Small sample size, but Draper, 6-0, 180, is in the race for No. 3 corner and will push Lomax, who's far from established.
Key 2012 factor: Draper played and that, perhaps, triggered some depth chart dominoes. Draper played and kept playing, while Buford, who was a fellow true freshman, started out playing and then didn't see much action, not seeing the field in three games. Campbell was a redshirt frosh who saw two true freshman pass him on the depth chart.
Offseason factor: During the spring game, Draper lined up at No. 2 corner, stepping in for Lomax on the right side. Draper also was the first defensive back off the bench in nickel situations.
Competition: Draper is in the driver's seat for some playing time, either as a nickel or starter. Fleming will push, but Draper holds an edge. Is there a freshman -- Desmond King or Malik Rucker -- on the horizon? I don't think so. Draper has good size and, from everything I've heard, is a workout warrior. (Does it worry you that Iowa has five CBs on the roster, not counting Rucker who I think ends up at FS? That's probably just one off of what it usually is.)
Why No. 43?: Again, as a nickel corner, Draper will probably see more time than, say, the No. 3 offensive tackle, so there's an argument for raising the corner reserves. Special teams value? Maybe in punt coverage, but I don't see a return role for Draper.
Outlook: At times last season, it looked as though Draper got a little weak in the knees when it was time to matter. He should be a much more confident player. Iowa needs him to be.Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.