So if we’re being entirely truthful, the best time for a football fan hoping to catch a glimpse of Cyclones in the NFL is during the preseason. And as much as I hate the phrase “anything can happen” when used in conjunction with sports, it really is true in the
5 4-game NFL preseason in which a player has to actively root for another human being to mess up so that you can have a shot at actually squeezing into a 53-man roster.
(Side note: This exact reason is why David Irving going to Dallas is going to seem genius in retrospect.)
Anyway, Iowa State has 13 players currently listed on NFL rosters heading into preseason week one. Most will still be around for us to cover during the year, so for now let’s take a look at the Bachelorette-esque contestants that will be vying for this year’s coveted rose and a spot on a real NFL roster:
Eight of the 13 Cyclone players are likely playing for their jobs in some fashion or another in the next four weeks. From least likely to make the next cuts to most likely to make a team, they are:
13. Quenton Bundrage, 5th String RWR, Houston Texans
The Texans will be one of the best teams to watch this preseason as a Cyclone fan, as both Triple-Word-Score-Wet-Dream Quenton Bundrage and Josh Lenz will be competing for wide receiver spots on the final 53-man roster.
Houston currently has 10 WRs on their roster and it will likely be one of the positions cut on Sept. 1st when all rosters are reduced to 75. We will know more once the official depth charts come out, but right now Bundrage is projected to be at the back of that entire double digit pack. He’ll have to put on a serious show to survive the first round of cuts, separating himself from his immediate competition; Ohio-State-Wiki-Footnote Braxton Miller and Cumberlands free agent Wendell Williams.
12. Cleyon Laing, 4th String RDE, Miami Dolphins
Most teams carry at least two defensive linemen at each position in a final 53-man roster, so eventually Laing would need to work his way up into the top 4 defensive ends. If he can find a way to overtake Julius Warmsley for the 3rd string spot by the Sept. 1 preliminary cuts, it would go a long way towards achieving that goal.
11. Leonard Johnson, 5th String LCB, Panthers
The Panthers are the second of the three teams that have multiple Cyclones on their preseason roster, as Leonard Johnson will be trying to crack a loaded Carolina backfield for a chance to play with former teammate A.J. Klein on Sundays. He does have several years of experience that might help him beat out 5th round draft pick Zach Sanchez and last year’s free agent acquisition Louis Young. And he does have a 71 rating on the latest Madden game. But only time will tell if he can play his way into the rotation.
10. Oni Omoile, 3rd String LG, Oakland Raiders
3rd string at a position that only carries two into the regular season. He’s listed behind Bykowski and Lalk because the team currently has eight guards on roster. Hopefully some of Kelechi Osemele’s pro bowl magic rubs off on him and he’s able to prove himself as one of the best four guards on the team.
9. Carter Bykowski, 4th String LT, Minnesota Vikings
The NFC North’s lone representative, Carter Bykowski is listed as the 4th string Left Tackle on a team that only has two right tackles on roster. His immediate competition is 3rd stringer Austin Shepard, a rookie and two-year starter from Alabama whose scouting report includes the phrase “powerful, country-strong athlete” but also “appears slow in space” in a league that increasingly values quick offensive linemen.
8. Jamison Lalk, 3rd String RT, Buffalo Bills
Most of the Cyclones we’ve discussed so far have had multiple opponents they need to beat out. For Lalk, the path is much less complicated — either beat out Cyrus Kouandjio, their 2014 2nd round draft pick out of Alabama, or try to leverage his years playing center in Ames to become the extra 3rd string “flex” lineman that some teams incorporate.
7. Josh Lenz, 3rd String LWR, Houston Texans
And now we’ve officially crossed the border from “unlikely” to “likely” to make a team. Lenz is currently listed as the 5th or 6th overall WR on a team that will probably take 6 WRs into the regular season. But he has to watch out for the same people as Bundrage, and likely Bundrage himself would be considered a threat. This position battle is probably the best one to keep an eye on for that reason alone.
6. David Irving, Starting LE, Dallas Cowboys
Probably seems odd that someone listed as the starting left end for the Cowboys is on the list, but the Cowboys’ defensive line is such a clusterfuck right now that nobody has any damn idea how it’s going to shake out four weeks from now. That said, of the people on this list, Irving has the best chance to make it to a roster this year. Indeed, our SB Nation cohorts at Blogging the Boys seem to think he can be counted on to produce in 2016.
(All depth chart projections listed are taken from OutLads NFL Depth Chart projections.)
NFL CYCLONE POWER RANKINGS (And their Madden ‘16 Ratings)
- Kelechi Osemele, Ravens (89)
- Ahtyba Rubin, Seahawks (74)
- A.J. Klein, Panthers (74)
- Jeremiah George, Buccaneers (68)
- E.J. Bibbs, Browns (65)
- David Irving, Cowboys (67)
- Josh Lenz, Texans (58)
- Jamison Lalk, Bills
- Carter Bykowski, Vikings
- Oni Omoile, Raiders
- Leonard Johnson, Panthers (71)
- Cleyon Laing, Dolphins
- Quenton Bundrage, Texans
NFL Cyclone Watch Game of the Week - Preseason Week 1
Texans at 49ers, Sunday @ 6:00, NFL Network
Under normal circumstances, a Sunday Night game with two Cyclones playing is going to clinch this award every time. But with the Olympics going on, there won’t be a nationally televised game all week (now that the Hall of Fame game was cancelled due to turf conditions.) But the wide receiver competition for the Texans will probably be the best thing to keep an eye on in week one.
The Rest of the ISU Schedule:
Buccaneers @ Eagles, 6:00
Panthers @ Ravens, 6:30
Dolphins @ Giants, 6:00
Vikings @ Bengals, 6:30
Browns @ Packers, 7:00
Raiders @ Cardinals, 9:00
Seahawks @ Chiefs, 3:30
Colts @ Bills, 6:00
Cowboys @ Rams, 7:00
Texans @ 49ers, 6:00