Iowa has been an offensive line factory for the NFL. With a star quarterback to protect, that alone makes the Iowa-Iowa State game (Saturday 4 p.m., FS1) one worth watching for Ravens fans. Add in the fact that the Hawkeyes will be facing some NFL talent from Iowa State's interior line, and this is a good game for you amateur NFL scouts out there.
Here are the players Ravens fans should be watching.
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
Edge rushers are some of the most important players in the game today and Epenesa is one of, if not the best edge rusher in the country. He was dominant in his sophomore season recording 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 16.5 tackles for loss.
Epenesa has great size at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds. He has incredible power and can fight off blocks and push linemen into the backfield to disrupt plays. Despite that, he also shows great burst and acceleration off the line to get quick pressure on opposing quarterbacks. There are not many tools this guys does not have in his toolbox to get through blocks.
For the first time in many years, the Ravens do not have a star edge rusher. Epenesa could fit the bill, the only problem is he likely will not be available at where Baltimore ends up drafting.
The NBC Sports Washington Mock Draft 1.0 has the Indianapolis Colts selecting Epenesa with the No. 9 overall pick.
OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Iowa has been an offensive line factory, but Wirfs is something special. He was the first true freshman to start at tackle for Iowa in head coach Kirk Ferentz's tenure there. He has played on the right side primarily through his career. Opinions on him vary with some thinking he is the best lineman in the draft and should move to left tackle and others thinking he will be better as a right tackle in the NFL. Having said that, there is no doubt that he is a first-round talent.
Wirfs is a dominant run blocker with incredible power.
While the run block is his specialty, he has also shown dominance in the pass rush and did not allow a single sack in 2018.
The NBC Sports Washington Mock Draft 1.0 has the Minnesota Vikings selecting Wirfs with the No. 19 overall pick.
DL Ray Lima, Iowa State
Iowa State's strength on defense is the interior of its defensive line and the star of that line is Lima.
Lima knows his job and does a great job using his 305-pound frame to plug up the middle and disrupt the run. He also has shown some ability to penetrate.
While many NFL defenses employ the 3-4, nose tackles are extremely hard to find. With some development, Lima could be an NFL nose tackle.
LB Marcel Spears Jr., Iowa State
Spears is an athletic linebacker who can diagnose the run quickly and zip through traffic after the ball carrier or the quarterback on the pass rush. He is not great defending the pass and he is very undersized. That makes Saturday's game interesting as he will play against an NFL-sized and talented Hawkeye offensive line.
CB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa
Ojemudia had three interceptions, six broken passes and 39 tackles in 2018. He is expected to go late in the draft and his NFL future may be more as a special teamer, but there is some potential there to develop him into a depth corner.
Other potential NFL prospects to watch:
OT Alaric Jackson, Iowa
QB Nate Stanley, Iowa
FB Brady Ross, Iowa
LB JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
S Greg Eisworth, Iowa State
RB Mekhi Sargent, Iowa