Top 45: The 2014 Iowa Hawkeyes

From the best to the unknowns to the potential breakthroughs

Kinnick Stadium on the University of Iowa campus Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)
Kinnick Stadium on the University of Iowa campus Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

A few years ago (more than that now), Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz mentioned the top 40-something players on a football team really set the course for where that team goes.

Makes sense. It’s an all-inclusive number. You can cover the two deeps in a 40-something. Expand it a little farther and you can add the specialists. Take it a few inches farther and you can throw in a few key special teams players, true freshmen and a few candidates at wide receiver and linebacker.

It’s time to get granular with Iowa football.

This will be the football nerd’s look into the top 45 players on Iowa’s roster. Who are these guys? What have they done? What has the last year been like for them on the field? Where do they fit? What have the coaches said about them?

Look at it as a refresher or for reference.

What went into this: The guiding factor this year (and thanks to colleague and Iowa beat writer Scott Dochterman for helping come up with the rankings) was most indispensable players on the roster. Who are the starters who don’t have much experience behind them? How much value, say, does offensive tackle Brandon Scherff carry when it could be redshirt freshmen and sophomores behind him? Same goes for middle linebacker Quinton Alston? Safety John Lowdermilk has big profile here.

That was one value. In some cases, it was pure talent, potential or necessity. Iowa has two scholarship punters on the roster. Iowa probably needs to get at least one pretty good punter out of that deal.

Start with the idea that this is the list of the 45 players the Hawkeyes can least afford to lose if they want to contend in the Big Ten West Division.

As was the case last year, this isn’t about setting limits on a player. I assume someone will rise up and tear this list to pieces. Case in point is Mark Weisman. Check the Top 45 from 2012 and you won’t find IOWA’S LEADING RUSHER. In 2013, I had a gentleman on Twitter contend that I rated defensive tackle Carl Davis too low at No. 14. At this time last season, Davis had 16 career tackles. You saw the 6-5, 315-pound body and thought, yes, there’s definitely potential there. It just didn’t show on the field until ... last season, when Davis finished the year with 42 tackles. He’s on many preseason all-Big Ten lists this season.

At the time, No. 14, but at the end of the season, yes, Davis ranked much higher. (I did track the gentleman down and tell him he was right, I was too low.)

So, you know some player is out there ready to bite me on the keyboard.

Mostly, this is a conversation piece. It’s conversational and unscientific.

This also is an introduction. It will cover the next starting left guard to the No. 3 cornerback, the No. 3 offensive tackle and the long snapper (it’s redshirt freshman Tyler Kluver, by the way).

For Iowa to improve on 2013’s 8-5 and seriously contend in the West Division, the top 20 (or thereabouts) on this list have to be Iowa’s best players.

The first post will publish tonight and then one every week night through Aug. 22. Please, tell me your thoughts. I hope you let me know where you believe a player should be on this list. If you end up being right in the end, I’ll find you on Twitter and publicly congratulate your prognostication ability.

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