A few thoughts on Iowa’s offensive line situation as I sit here killing time in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, waiting for Delta Airlines to find a way to get me home from Miami:
I hope Bryan Bulaga knows what he’s doing. Iowa’s junior left tackle has declared for this spring’s NFL draft and while there never has been any doubt that Bulaga was destined to play in the pros, I would have liked his chances a lot more with one more year of college. He could be a late first-round pick this time. Had he waited, he might have been a top-five guy.
One concern is that Bulaga, although very mature both physically and emotionally, will not turn 21 years old until March 21. There weren’t any players in the NFL this season under the age of 21. In fact, the youngest player in the history of the league was Houston Texans defensive lineman Amobi Okoye, who was two months past his 20th birthday when he debuted in 2007.
This puts it in perspective: Riley Reiff, the redshirt freshman who figures to replace Bulaga at left tackle for the Hawkeyes, is actually three months older than Bulaga.
I just hope he’s not jumping too soon.
Even without Bulaga, Dace Richardson, Rafael Eubanks and Kyle Calloway, Iowa is going to have a good offensive line next season.
My guess at a projected starting lineup:
LT – Reiff. Reminiscent of Ross Verba in that he’s not overly big but very efficient. If he holds this position for the next three years, he would be 24 by the time he plays his final college game.
LG – Adam Gettis. Once he gets some experience and improves his pass blocking, he should be a star.
C – Josh Koeppel. He pushed Rafael Eubanks for the job this fall and could finally get his chance as a senior.
RG – Julian Vandervelde. Davenport native will be the leader of this group. If another guard emerges, he could get moved to center.
RT – Nolan MacMillan. After a year of prep school and a redshirt year, the Canadian native is about as physically mature as any freshman around.
Cody Hundertmark, who moved recently from defense to offense, could figure in the mix somewhere, too, as could James Ferentz, Kyle Haganman, Markus Zusevics, Casey McMillan and others. There were five other freshman offensive linemen who were redshirted this season. There’s more depth and talent here than people realize.