Projecting NFL careers of Cyclone draft picks

Iowa State running back Breece Hall runs past defenders for a touchdown in the Cyclones’ 48-14 win over TCU on Nov. 26, 2021.

James Powell

Breece Hall, Enyi Uwazurike, Charlie Kolar and Brock Purdy all heard their names called at the 2022 NFL Draft, with the former Cyclones earning a chance to make their dreams come true.

But based on where they were taken and the history of their respective positions, what are the chances they make it big?

Now that the draft is behind us, it’s time to analyze the past to predict the future.

Breece Hall

Hall was drafted No. 36 overall to the New York Jets, with his immediate future the clearest. He was drafted to be a difference-maker, and most assume he’ll take the lion’s share of the carries in his first year.

Early in the second round is a commonplace to pick up a running back, but hasn’t usually been a spot the first running back comes off the board. 36th overall is the lowest the first running back has been picked in an NFL Draft since 2014. 

Still, Hall has a great chance to be a productive running back. Just look at Jonathan Taylor. Taylor was drafted No. 41 overall last year, yet took the league by storm and led the entire NFL in rushing in 2021.

Dalvin Cook was drafted No. 41 overall in 2017. Alvin Kamara was No. 67 overall that same year. Going way back in the time machine, Frank Gore was drafted No. 65 overall in 2005 and has gone on to have a storied career.

As far as the first running back off the board, which Hall was this year, the track record is solid. So while some believe that the NFL may be going away from running backs as a position of need, Hall’s position amongst his tailback peers and in the draft indicates he has a great chance to make it big.

Enyi Uwazurike

If you looked before the draft started, or even as the mock draft season went by, few put Uwazurike as the second Cyclone to be drafted.

And yet, Uwazurike was taken with the 116th overall pick in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos. Uwazurike was the 11th defensive lineman taken in this year’s draft. He may have to fight for playing time, but he’s certainly got the chance to make an impact.

Interestingly enough, it’s the third straight year a defensive lineman has been taken with the No. 11 pick in the fourth round. Last year it was Elerson Smith to the Patriots, the year before that, D.J. Wonnum to the Minnesota Vikings.

Wonnum has seen the field a fair amount for the Vikings since being drafted, which may bode well for Uwazurike. Other notable players at this position taken around this time in the draft include Za’Darius Smith, No. 122 overall in 2015, and Brian Robison in 2005, No. 102 overall.

Uwazurike could start, could see time on third down, or could have to work his way into a spot a couple of years down the road.

But defensive lineman have had success stories from almost every round of the draft, so the hope is certainly there for the Denver Bronco.

Charlie Kolar

The seventh tight end taken off the board, Kolar fell to No. 23 in the fourth round, or No. 128 overall to the Baltimore Ravens.

Tight end is another position that teams have found middle-to-late round value from. Tyler Conklin, Breece Hall’s teammate on the Jets, went in the fifth round in 2018 and carved out a nice role for the Vikings last year, as did Dalton Schultz of the Cowboys.

Thought by some as the best tight end in the NFL, George Kittle went early in the fifth round in 2017 to the 49ers. Tyler Higbee, a Super Bowl Champion with the Los Angeles Rams, went in the fourth round that year.

C.J. Uzomah, also on the Jets, was taken in the fifth round in 2015, as was Nick Boyle of the Colts. Travis Kelce was taken in the third round in 2013.

Mark Andrews, Kolar’s new teammate, also a top tight end in the league, was taken in the third round in 2018.

There have certainly been players at tight end taken in rounds one and two that have shown success, but there are still plenty of examples for fans of Kolar to point out that show he may succeed in being taken in the middle rounds.

Brock Purdy

“Mr. Irrelevant,” a name given to the last pick in each NFL Draft, went to Brock Purdy this year, with the 49ers selecting him.

He was the ninth quarterback off the board this year.

Ian Book, Jake Luton, Clayton Thorson, Luke Falk and Brad Kaaya were the ninth quarterbacks off the board in each of the past five drafts. None were taken past the sixth round, while Purdy was taken in the seventh.

Notable quarterbacks taken in the seventh round include Matt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005 and Gus Frerotte in 1994. 

The most notable “Mr. Irrelevant” in recent years is kicker Ryan Succop in 2009. Purdy is the seventh quarterback taken with the last pick in the draft, with the last coming in 2017.

Only five Mr. Irrelevant selections have gone on to play more than 50 career games since 1976. So while the odds may be stacked against Purdy to carve out a starting role in the NFL, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Each year, the “Lowsman Trophy” is awarded to Mr. Irrelevant, and Purdy will be honored at a banquet during “Irrelevant Week” in the summer.