For a school that is often criticized for their lack of big time NFL talent, former Iowa Hawkeyes sure are everywhere on Sundays this year.
According to the NFL rosters on ESPN.com, there are 43 former Iowa players on NFL rosters this season.
I have ranked all 43 players in accordance with their importance to their team this year, combined with the performance expectations for the upcoming season.
Iowa fans can enjoy watching their favorite Hawkeyes on Saturday and Sunday this fall.
Brett Greenwood is the poor soul who is ranked number 43. The reason for this is because Greenwood is listed on the Steelers roster, but is not on the depth chart. The Steelers list four names on the "Free Safety" depth chart and two on the "Strong Safety" chart, but Greenwood is not one of those names.
Greenwood took some time to crack the Iowa depth chart while in college, but when he did, he shined. He was not too highly recruited in high school, but made a name for himself at Iowa and quickly became a fan favorite. I wouldn't be surprised if Greenwood makes the most of any playing time he is given.
Matt Kroul is reunited with his old Iowa teammate, Shonn Greene, in New York. There is a big difference in the attention Greene and Kroul are receiving however.
Matt Kroul is listed on the Jets roster, and has seen some preseason action, but is not listed on the three deep depth chart.
Kroul steadily improved at Iowa, and under the tutelage of Rex Ryan, should continue to improve in New York. I just wouldn't expect much from him this season.
Rob Bruggeman is a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Bruggeman is listed as the third string center right now.
The Falcons offense should be an absolute juggernaut in 2011. Injuries happen, as do tired lineman. By the end of the year, Bruggeman could be snapping the ball for one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Iowa's mainstay punter from the last few years, Ryan Donahue, is finally playing on Sundays. Donahue is a member of the Detroit Lions.
Punters often do not get hit in the NFL. Donahue will have to hope for a less than great performance from Nick Harris to take the starting punter job in Detroit.
When Donahue gets his chance, he will try to emulate former Iowa punter, Reggie Roby, and have a long and strong career as a first string punter. Will it start this year? Probably not.
Mitch King was always a fan favorite at Iowa. As an undersized defensive lineman, he had to have a never-ending motor. King was always defying odds to be one of the best linemen in the Big 10.
King was with the Indianapolis Colts last year, but begins the 2011 season with the New Orleans Saints. If King performs like he used to at Iowa, he has the benefit of a coach in Sean Payton that rewards good young players with playing time.
Karl Klug ended up being much better in 2010 than many thought he would be. The Iowa defensive line wasn't as good as many predicted it would be, but Klug was better.
Klug is listed as the third string DT for Tennessee. I would expect him to get some playing time this season, but not enough to have a real impact.
Tyler Sash chose to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. Sash ended up with the New York Giants.
Sash is listed as the third string strong safety for the Giants. Sash showed sneaky athleticism and a penchant for always being around the ball at Iowa. Sash should grow into his role as an NFL safety eventually, just not this season.
Julian Vandervelde was Mr. Everything at Iowa. He was an elite offensive lineman, a national anthem singer for President Obama and the unofficial spokesman for the Iowa Football team.
Vandervelde finds himself in Philadelphia to begin the 2011 season. He is listed as the third string right guard coming into the season, but with his intelligence and work ethic, I would guess he will see some playing time blocking for Michael Vick in 2011.
Jeremiha Hunter beings the 2011 season on the New Orleans roster. Hunter is not listed on the Linebacker depth chart, but he has the talent to be a starting linebacker in the NFL.
Hunter was overshadowed at Iowa by guys like Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds. Hunter continued to work hard and has found his chance to be an NFL player in New Orleans.
Speaking of hard-working guys, we now come to Jeff Tarpinian. Tarpinian is the third string linebacker in New England.
If there is one franchise known for making big-name players out of no-name signings, it is New England. Tarpinian has seen some time in preseason action.
New England is a lot like Iowa, in that they adopt the "next man in" strategy. If anybody goes down, expect Tarpinian to step in and for the New England defense to not miss a beat.
Marcus Paschal saw some playing time for Baltimore last season, and recorded only one tackle.
He is not listed on the depth chart right now for Baltimore, but the Ravens defense is not exactly young, so any defensive player is capable of getting some playing time.
Paschal will try to improve on his one tackle in 2010, although I don't think it will be by much.
Kenny Iwebema is the second string left defensive end on a very thin Arizona Cardinals defensive line. Iwebema will get plenty of playing time in Arizona.
Last season, Iwebema had only one tackle, and he only has 13 for his career. I think he will double his career total in 2011, but that is still only 26 tackles. Iwebema should have an alright season. Nothing less, nothing more.
Bryan Mattison is the second string Right Guard in Baltimore, behind fellow Hawkeye, Marshall Yanda.
Mattison is sure to see some playing time on the Ravens line. Iowa is known for pumping out offensive linemen, and if Mattison preforms like he did in college, he will not be second string for too long.
Colin Cole had a pretty decent 2010. He recorded 44 tackles and one sack, and if I remember correctly, had some nice plays in the playoffs for Seattle.
However, Cole is listed at fourth on the Seahawks right defensive tackle in the depth chart. I was expecting a pretty good season from Cole until seeing that.
He could still make an impact, but it will be hard for Cole to record another 44 tackles if he is still listed as fourth string.
Christian Ballard has been a nice preseason player for the Minnesota Vikings so far. He is currently listed as the third string right defensive tackle.
Ballard has shown signs in the preseason that he could be a very good addition to the Vikings new look defensive line. He should learn a few things from fellow former Hawkeye Chad Greenway and continue to make strides for the Vikings.
We stay in Minnesota for number 28, Seth Olsen. Olsen is listed as the Vikings backup left guard.
The Vikings offensive line has been under scrutiny for the last couple years, and if poor play continues, it may fall on Coach Leslie Frazier to make some changes. Olsen has positioned himself nicely to be one of those possible changes.
Eric Steinbach is the starting left guard for the Cleveland Browns in 2011. He is entering his ninth NFL season.
I originally had Steinbach rated higher, but due to a back injury, his season is now in doubt. If Steinbach plays, he will have a big job protecting Cleveland's future, Colt McCoy, and their present, Peyton Hillis.
A.J. Edds lost his whole 2010 season to injury. Many expected Edds to have a better rookie season than fellow Iowa linebacker, Pat Angerer. Angerer made a name for himself last year, Edds did not.
Edds is listed as the third string right outside linebacker. I fully expect Edds to make strides this season and find some regular playing time. Once Edds hits the field, I think he will follow the mold of other Iowa linebackers Chad Greenway and Pat Angerer, and perform at a very high level.
Derreck Robinson had 24 tackles last season for the Browns. Robinson is listed as a backup right now, but will get plenty of playing time in Cleveland.
Robinson has been in the NFL for five years already, and had his best year last year. He is still only 29 years old, and has a lot of years in front of him.
Jason Baker begins his 11th NFL season with the Carolina Panthers.
Baker was a very effective punter last season for Carolina. He punted 95 times for a 43.1 yard average and 4,097 total yards. Baker's 95 punts was the most in the league. His average was only good for 20th, but that is a bit misleading. The difference between the 21st ranked team (Minnesota) and the 8th ranked team (New York Giants), is less than two yards per punt.
Baker should continue to get plenty of opportunities to punt in 2011. The Panthers hope their offense isn't as dismal as last season, but it is unlikely it will be in the top half of NFL offenses. That means a lot of punts coming off Jason Baker's foot.
At first glance it may seem strange to see Allen Reisner ranked this high. After all, the Vikings still have Visanthe Shiancoe and Jim Kleinsasser, and drafted rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The reason for Reisner's bright prospects for the 2011 season is that he is listed as second on the Vikings depth chart at fullback.
Reisner is making the switch from tight end to fullback and is only behind second year man Ryan D'Imperio from Rutgers. Kleinsasser is always able to play fullback, but Reisner has a very good shot to be leading the best running back in the NFL through his holes.
Another former Iowa tight end comes in at number 22. Brandon Myers is the backup tight end for the Oakland Raiders.
Myers is listed behind Kevin Boss on the Raiders depth chart. Last season, Myers had 12 receptions for 80 yards for the Raiders. Increased playing time and a move from third to second on the depth chart should give Myers a chance to make an impact in 2011.
The starting center for the Kansas City Chiefs is Casey Wiegmann. It is strange to think that Wiegmann is entering his 16th NFL season.
Wiegmann anchored a KC offensive line that helped the Chiefs have the best rushing attack in the NFL last year.
Wiegmann will continue to snap the ball to Matt Cassel this season, but if Cassel goes down, Wiegmann may be snapping to former Hawkeye Ricky Stanzi, 15 years Wiegmann's junior.
Sean Considine comes over to Carolina where he will back up fellow Hawkeye Charles Godfrey. The Dixon, Illinois native is entering his 7th season in the NFL, and has had a very productive career so far.
Last season Considine had 52 tackles, forced one fumble and had a pick. This season, Considine comes over to a Carolina team that is searching for its own identity. He could be one of the veterans that gives them just that.
Marshall Yanda is the starting right guard for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are relying on their offense to perform a little bit better than in 2010, and that all starts with the line.
A Cedar Rapids native, Yanda is in his fifth season out of Iowa. Yanda will attempt to hold off fellow former Hawkeye, Bryan Mattison, and retain his starting job with the Ravens.
Starting at right defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars is Aaron Kampman. Kampman, from Cedar Rapids, is in his 10th year in the NFL.
Last season, Kampmann had only 25 tackles for Jacksonville, but recorded four sacks. Kampman only played in eight games last season for Jacksonville, after his eight year stint with Green Bay came to an end. For his career, Kampman has recorded 483 tackles, 12 forced fumbles and 58 sacks.
I expect Kampman to be closer to his career averages in 2011, and to vastly improve on his eight game 2010 season.
Jonathan Babineaux returns to the starting defensive tackle position for the Atlanta Falcons. Babineaux is in his seventh season. Last year, he had 27 tackles, four sacks and forced two fumbles.
Babineaux is being counted on again to be a force on the Falcon's defense. With Ray Edwards on the end next to Babineaux, the Falcons should have a pretty solid D-line.
The Falcons offense is being predicted as being one of the best offenses in the NFL. A lot of pressure will be on Babineaux and the defense to not let the offense down.
Ricky Stanzi enters his first NFL season as the Chiefs backup Quarterback. Stanzi was beloved in Iowa City for both his outstanding record as a starter and his work ethic in the offseason. I wrote about Stanzi in this article just last week.
Stanzi has put up pretty decent numbers in the preseason. Last week against St. Louis, Stanzi went 8 for 14 for 121 yards and a TD. Those numbers are not eye popping, but may already be better than many thought he could produce at the NFL level.
I don't put much stock into preseason games, but I am high on Stanzi. If Matt Cassel goes down, Stanzi will be the next man in. Everybody in Iowa City knows what happened when he replaced Jake Christiansen for the Hawkeyes.
The new-look Seahawks offense has a new starting left guard. Robert Gallery enters his first season in Seattle after seven years in Oakland.
Gallery was very highly thought of when he came out of Iowa, but failed to live up to expectations while in Oakland. He isn't the first player in the last decade or so who failed to live up to the hype in Oakland.
Perhaps a change of scenery in Seattle is what Gallery needs to become an elite offensive lineman again. Gallery will be trying to protect new Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, and attempt to get the Seahawks back to the playoffs.
Scott Chandler had one reception for eight yards last year. That is the opposite of impressive. So why do I have him ranked this high? Chandler is now the starting tight end in Buffalo.
Ryan Fitzpatrick showed last season that he is not afraid to throw it up there to the open man. Chandler should get plenty of opportunities in Buffalo.
Chandler was a very good tight end at Iowa, and showed great ball-catching ability. To improve on his eight yards from last year, Chandler will have to show that again, and use his big frame to make up some yards after contact.
I expect a pretty good year from Chandler, his first as a starter.
Bryan Bulaga had quite a rookie season. Not only did he start at tight tackle for the Green Bay Packers, but he made a name for himself as an elite offensive lineman, and got to meet President Obama as a member of the Packers championship team.
Bulaga should only be better this year. With a fully healthy Packers offense they should be scary good. It will be on the offensive line to block for Ryan Grant and to give Aaron Rodgers plenty of time to throw the ball. Should be another good season in Green Bay.
Matt Roth begins his seventh season in the NFL as the starting Left Defensive End for the Jaguars. Roth played in Cleveland last year and had his best year to date, recording 86 tackles and three-and-a-half sacks.
Roth is starting opposite fellow former Hawkeye Aaron Kampman on the Jags' defensive line. Roth was one of Iowa's best defensive linemen ever while in college, but struggled in his first couple years in the pros.
It seems like Roth finally figured some things out last year, and he is poised for another career year in 2011.
Bradley Fletcher flew under the radar a bit last year. Fletcher, in just his second season in the NFL, had 75 tackles and four picks for the Rams in 2010.
Fletcher remains in St. Louis this season where he will be their starting right cornerback.
The Rams seem like a team set to take off and make the playoffs for the first time in a while. The defense showed a lot of improvement last season, and Fletcher is to thank for a lot of that.
If Fletcher can improve at all in his third NFL season, he will become a lot more well known than he is currently.
As good as Bradley Fletcher's season was last year, Charles Godfrey's was better. Godfrey started at safety for the Panthers and recorded 84 tackles, one forced fumble and five interceptions.
Godfrey will attempt to help the Panthers get back to relevance, and that is no small task. The Panther's offense was abysmal last year, which puts extra pressure on the defense.
Godfrey and the Panthers defense will have to play exceptionally well for Carolina to be in any playoff conversation. If Godfrey plays like he did last season, they just could surprise some people.
Tony Moeaki returns for his second season in Kansas City. This year, Moeaki will not take as many by surprise as he did in his outstanding rookie season.
Moeaki set a Kansas City rookie record with 47 receptions. He also totaled 556 yards and three touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was the famous one handed catch that made all the season-best highlight reels.
Moeaki was battling injury at the start of camp, but has rejoined the team and is practicing. It will probably be hard to top his 47 receptions by a large margin because of how much the Chiefs run the ball. However, even with the strong running game, Moeaki should have a very solid season and avoid a sophomore slump.
I watched a lot of Lions games last season, and it seemed like every game Amari Spievey made two or three great plays. Spievey will be starting at strong safety for the Lions again this season.
In his rookie season, Spievey had 51 tackles and two picks, along with numerous knocked down passes.
The Lions are expected to be a team on the rise and could even contend for a wild card spot (assuming the Packers win the North). The defense is being looked at as a ferocious young group, with most of the attention being paid to the defensive line. NFC North teams know the line is not thing the Lions have going for them. The defensive backfield will have to step it up also, and Amari Spievey is a big part of that.
Adrian Clayborn enters his rookie season in Tampa Bay with a starting defensive end job. Clayborn was a monster in college and was even projected as a top 5-10 pick at some points.
Clayborn had a better junior season than senior season, statistically, at Iowa, however his senior season was still pretty good. His combination of speed and size should serve him well in the NFL and could make him a very effective end.
The Bucs are in the same boat as the Lions: A young team hoping to take the next step. For that to happen, the young studs need to step up.
Adrian Clayborn is one of those young studs, and I think he will be one of the better defensive rookies in the NFL.
Pat Angerer returns for his second season in Indianapolis, and this year he will have a chance to start from Week 1.
Angerer started last year pretty low on the depth chart, but injuries forced the Colts to play the rookie Linebacker from Iowa, and Angerer delivered with 88 tackles and a forced fumble.
Angerer went through the same progression at Iowa, continuing to get better game after game. The Colts hope he builds on his strong rookie campaign and develops into the defensive leader he was at Iowa.
It was hard for me to rank a kicker this high, but most kickers are not Nate Kaeding. Kaeding remains one of the premier kickers in football.
Last season, Kaeding hit 23 field goals and went 40 for 40 on extra points, for a total of 109 points.
Kaeding is about automatic from manageable distances. He may not have the leg of kickers such as Sebastian Janikowski (Kaeding's long was only 50 yards last year) but he does make a higher percentage of his field goals.
Kicking is a huge part of every NFL game, whether we like it or not, and Kaeding is one of the best at what he does.
Bob Sanders is healthy.
That is a sentence many Iowa fans love to hear. Sanders is one of the best defensive players in the NFL when he is healthy. In Indianapolis, Sanders won Defensive Player of the Year once and, whenever healthy, was probably the best safety in the league.
Sanders begins his first year in San Diego as the starting strong safety. The Chargers should have an easy road to the playoffs through the weak AFC West. If the Chargers make a run for an AFC Title, I would wager that Bob Sanders has regained his old form and is back on top of his game.
Coming in at number three is the starting running back for the Jets, Shonn Greene. Many expected Greene to have a huge year last year, but he didn't live up to expectations. Greene rushed 185 times for 766 yards and only two touchdowns.
The addition of LaDainian Tomlinson last season was one of the reasons for Greene's lower than expected numbers. LT had a huge first half, while Greene was not used as much as was expected.
This season, the Jets have said that Greene is the number one back, and will get the majority of the carries. Iowa fans and Jets fans alike have seen what Greene can do when he is the feature back.
The Jets offense should be improved this season. The addition of Plaxico Burress and the re-signing of Santonio Holmes should open up the passing game a bit, allowing Shonn Greene to run against an honest defense.
2011 will be a huge year for Shonn Greene. He may not have the hype he had at this time last year, but I believe the results will be far better than in 2010.
Chad Greenway is perhaps the most underrated defensive player in the NFL. Greenway led the Vikings in tackles last season with 144, and has developed into one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
In addition to his 144 tackles, Greenway also forced a fumble and had 14 tackles for a loss.
The Vikings defense has been led by their defensive line for the past few years. That is changing this season. With the Henderson brothers and Greenway as linebackers, the Vikings linebacking core has the chance to be one of the best in the league.
Finally, at number one, Dallas Clark.
With the exception of Antonio Gates, it is hard to argue that Dallas Clark is not the best tight end in the world.
Clark is entering his ninth year in Indianapolis, and is coming off his worst season with the Colts. Clark only had 37 receptions for 347 yards and three TD. This came, of course, in an injury shortened season for Clark.
This year, I think Clark will be back to putting up huge numbers. Peyton Manning may miss a week or two, but even so, Clark should be back to his old form, like in 2009 when he hauled in 100 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 10 TD.
When Clark is on, he is unlike any other tight end in the NFL. He has some of the best hands in the league, and it also doesn't hurt that he has Peyton Manning throwing to him. Expect big things from Dallas Clark in 2011.