IOWA CITY — Nate Stanley, first-round NFL draft pick.
At least one so-called expert says so about the Iowa junior quarterback. Todd McShay of ESPN recently listed Stanley as the 23rd-overall prospect for the 2019 draft.
If you take serious stock in a preseason opinion, you also probably believe reality television is truly reality. But it does show a lot is expected this fall of the Wisconsin native, who won an open competition for the starting job last season and ran with it.
Rather threw with it, tossing 26 touchdown passes, tied for second most in a season at Iowa.
“The hard part about playing quarterback is there are a lot of things coming at you every day,” said Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. “He has done a nice job processing those things. There is no substitute for experience, and he has a lot of it now. I think the version of Nate we see every single day is a much different version than a year ago and a much improved one because of his work.”
“He has gotten to the point where he can pass along a little wisdom to some of the younger guys,” said Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe. “He can help out guys at other positions as well. That’s critical for a quarterback to be able to do. Not only to be able to fix things, know what your problems are, but also that you head some of those problems off at the pass and execute when the ball is snapped.”
Stanley has the measurables (6-foot-5) and arm to be a big-time QB. The leadership and the intangibles are coming around, too, if you listen to his coaches.
The kid wants to be great. With tight ends like Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson to throw to, as well as a group of receivers with experience, he seeks to improve upon his totals of a season ago and is a good bet to do so.
“I have just learned how to be a leader out on the field (last season) and really learned how to go about the day-to-day things that it takes to be a great athlete,” Stanley said. “A lot of people might think that it’s just physical or mental or a combination of both, (but) I just think (it’s) learning how to go about my day and learning how to be a Big Ten football player every single day. Learn how to watch film, or learn how to study tape and do certain things that elevate people from being good to great is something Coach O’Keefe really helped me out with last year. That allowed me to play the way I did last year.”
As Stanley matures and becomes more comfortable with the offense, Ferentz said he’s been given more rope, so to speak. If he sees something, Stanley is more likely to bring it up to coaches.
Likewise, the coaches trust him more with what he might say or see.
“I think you can give him a little more freedom,” Ferentz said. “I think he is more confident in making decisions and making changes and seeing things and saying ‘I like this. I don’t like that.’ It’s easier for me to put it up on the board, it always looks really good on the board or on tape or those things. But if you’re not the one pulling the trigger ... something that perhaps looks really good to us as a coaching staff, but he doesn’t like it, he’s a much better player now from the standpoint of just having the courage to say ‘I don’t like that.’
“It seems silly, seems pretty easy. But when you are a young job trying to win a job, the first thing you are going to do is not say I don’t like that play call. I don’t like that one. We’re to that point now where I think that is a great sign of progress and maturity.”
Stanley agrees with his coach.
“That continues to grow every single day,” he said. “I continue to push myself to continue to learn. Overall, just being a lot more comfortable with the offense. Moving on with Coach Brian into the second year, I think just being more comfortable in the offense is the biggest thing for me.”
Huddle Up: Iowa QB
Nate Stanley — Last season at this time, no one knew what Iowa had at quarterback. That has changed. The 6-foot-5 junior has a year of playing time under his belt. He threw 26 touchdown passes last season and only six interceptions. The NFL talk is starting to grow.
Peyton Mansell — Was listed as the No. 2 guy after spring practice. Texas freshman has an advantage over Spencer Petras in that he redshirted last season, thus was able to get a full year of learning under his belt.
Spencer Petras — Has the size at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds. Freshman from California enrolled at Iowa last spring. Threw for over 4,000 yards for Marin Catholic High School in San Rafael last season. That included 50 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
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