Iowa is on the verge of a historic feat. You know, in case you haven’t heard.
If T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are both selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, it’ll be an all-time draft feat. Forget that brag tweet. That’s like, put a shrine up at Kinnick that can be seen from outer space stuff.
I’m not sure if the average person even realizes how unbelievable it would be for Iowa to produce a pair of first round tight ends. It’s obviously different than having a pair of first round defensive linemen or even a pair of first round receivers. At a position with 1 starter, Iowa’s tight end feat is hard to put into context.
Well, let’s try to do just that.
Keep in mind that this is simply projecting. If Fant and Hockenson don’t both hear their names called on Night 1, it’ll be for naught. Sort of. I’d argue just getting to the point where several mock drafts have 2 tight ends from the same school is an accomplishment.
For it to be an all-time feat, though, the first round thing is kind of a deal-breaker. Why? Well because it’s never been done before. This is a position that averaged 1 first-rounder in the last 5 drafts. In fact, only 7 tight ends have been first-round picks this decade (2010-18). Only 22 have been selected that high this century.
Here’s the breakdown of first round tight ends by school since 2000:
- Miami (FL) — 5
- West Virginia — 1
- Arizona State — 1
- Colorado — 1
- Washington — 1
- Iowa — 1
- Georgia — 1
- Virginia — 1
- Maryland — 1
- UCLA — 1
- Purdue — 1
- Oklahoma State — 1
- Oklahoma — 1
- Notre Dame — 1
- UNC — 1
- Alabama — 1
- Ole Miss — 1
- South Carolina — 1
What do you notice there? Only one school has had multiple first round tight ends THIS CENTURY. And while Miami’s feat was certainly impressive — the Canes had a ridiculous 4 first round tight ends from 2000-07 — none of their first round tight ends came in consecutive years.
In fact, here’s a list of all the schools who had multiple tight ends picked in the same year during the 7-round draft era:
- LSU, 1997 (David LaFleur, 1st round; Nicky Savoie, 6th round)
- Washington, 1998 (Cameron Cleeland, 2nd round; Jeremy Brigham, 5th round)
- Miami (FL), 2000 (Bubba Franks, 1st round; Mondriel Fulcher, 7th round)
- UNC, 2001 (Alge Crumpler, 2nd round; Dauntae’ Finger, 7th round)
- Notre Dame, 2001 (Jabari Holloway, 4th round; Dan O’Leary, 6th round)
- Penn State, 2004 (Matt Kranchick, 6th round; Sean McHugh, 7th round)
- Virginia, 2005 (Heath Miller, 1st round; Patrick Estes, 7th round)
- Wisconsin, 2006 (Owen Daniels, 4th round; Jason Pociask, 5th round)
- Colorado, 2006 (Joe Kolpfenstein, 2nd round; Quinn Sypniewski, 5th round)
- Oklahoma, 2010 (Jermaine Greshman, 1st round; Brody Eldridge, 5th round)
- Penn State, 2010 (Andrew Quarless, 5th round; Mickey Shuler, Jr., 7th round)
- Pitt, 2010 (Nate Byham, 6th round; Dorin Dickerson, 7th round)
- Miami (FL), 2010 (Jimmy Graham, 3rd round; Dedrick Epps, 7th round)
- Rice, 2014 (Vance McDonald, 2nd round; Luke Willson, 5th round)
- Stanford, 2014 (Zach Ertz, 2nd round; Levine Toilolo, 4th round)
OK, I’ll admit it’s not TOTALLY uncommon to have multiple tight ends drafted. If you did some quick counting, you saw that 15 times schools have had multiple tight ends selected in the same draft since it went to 7 rounds in 1994. So basically in 60 percent of 7-round drafts, 1 school has multiple tight ends selected.
But what you also might’ve noticed was that the second tight end selected never went in the first 3 rounds. In fact, the most recent school to have 2 tight ends selected in the same draft, 2014 Stanford, was the only school to have multiple tight ends selected in the first 4 rounds.
Starting to see the picture with this potential Iowa feat?
Even if Hockenson and Fant don’t get that all-time achievement of both going in the first round, they’ll likely make history as the first tight end duo in the modern draft era to come off the board in the first 2 rounds.
But just for fun, let’s say they do get picked in Round 1. I think that given how unprecedented it would be, it’s fair to at least mention them in the same breath as some of these incredible modern-day draft feats:
- Oklahoma has 3 of first 4 picks in 2010
- Miami (FL) has 6 first round picks in 2004
- Ohio State has 12 draft picks in first 4 rounds in 2016
- Auburn has 2 running backs in first 5 picks in 2005
- Penn State has first 2 players selected in 2000
There’s probably a feat or two that I’m forgetting about, but you get what I’m saying. Shoot. Iowa is already in shape to brag about this for the next decade.
Oh, wait. The Hawkeyes are already dunking on schools (Michigan) who claim to be “Tight End U.”
Tight End Who? pic.twitter.com/enqV4SYDKN
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) February 5, 2019
Jokes aside, this is a major deal for Iowa when it comes to recruiting. Getting to walk into any tight end recruit’s living room and boasting about what Fant and Hockenson accomplished is as good of a selling point as there is. They had completely different paths to get to Iowa, yet both are about to become instant millionaires.
Iowa is about to make a loud statement. Don’t chalk it up as fluky or dismiss it because it didn’t yield a B1G Championship.
Take it for what it would be — an unprecedented feat that’ll allow Iowa to flex for years to come.