Hawkeye DE Anthony Nelson Declaring for NFL Draft

January 7, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A third Iowa underclassmen has declared for early entry in the NFL Draft. Senior-to-be defensive end Anthony Nelson announced Monday that he would be joining tight end Noah Fant and Amani Hooker, a safety, in turning pro.

“These past four years alongside my teammates for the state of Iowa in front of the best fans in the country will be something I never forget. After a great deal of consideration and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft,” Nelson posted on social media.

Nelson ranked second behind A.J. Epenesa in sacks (9.5), quarterback hurries (6) and tackles for loss (13.5) for Iowa this season. For his career, Nelson accumulated 23 sacks and 31.0 tackles for loss as a two-year starter.

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The NFL Draft Advisory Board returned a good grade for Nelson. That impacted his decision as did the fact that he already holds two degrees from Iowa.

With Nelson’s departure, the Hawkeyes will be replacing all four defensive line starters from the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson and Sam Brincks exhausted their eligibility in that contest.

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Iowa did rotate eight players on the front consistently throughout the season. Epenesa produced in a backup role and will slide into a starting spot. Chauncey Golston enjoyed a strong Outback Bowl, registered nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks as a reserve in ’18 and should start at end opposite Epenesa next season.

The Hawkeyes will need some inexperienced players emerging at end with the exits of Hesse and Anthony Nelson. Brandon Simon will be a redshirt junior and highly regarded prospect John Waggoner red shirted this fall, his first one on campus. They signed D-Ends Jake Karchinski, Chris Reames and Jalen Hunt in the ’19 class.

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Perhaps incoming freshman Logan Lee gets a look there as well, although he’s also needed at tight end.

With Anthony Nelson joining Hooker and Fant as early NFL Draft entrants from Iowa, that leaves T.J. Hockenson as the only other Hawkeye underclassmen to make his announcement. The Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, he should be making his intentions known in the next few days. The deadline to declare is Jan. 14.

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