ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. on Allen Lazard’s and Joel Lanning’s NFL Draft prospects

Nov 11, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Joel Lanning (7) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard (5) in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Cyclones 49-42. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Four years.

That’s how long it’s been since an Iowa State player heard his name called during the NFL Draft.

But that drought will almost certainly end this April — thanks to the versatile and hard-working skills Cyclone stars and captains Allen Lazard and Joel Lanning flashed throughout their college careers.

“Lazard’s a big body,” ESPN‘s NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. told CycloneFanatic during a Thursday afternoon conference call. “Tall receiver. In jump ball situations, the fade routes, he can go up and get it. He doesn’t get a lot of separation. That’s the thing — I think the quickness and the burst out of his break is something he’ll need to work on because in the NFL, cornerbacks are in your hip pocket more than they are in college and he had trouble getting that great separation on a consistent basis. He could end up, depending upon how he runs and tests, an early to mid day three guy.”

Lazard is projected by most draft sites as a mid to late-rounder, so as Kiper noted, the two-time all-Big 12 standout’s pre-Draft workouts will play a major role in where he ends up.

It’s almost certain that his downfield blocking skills have been noticed by NFL scouts, as well.

Lanning, on the other hand, is considered by most draft sites to be a very late-rounder or undrafted free agent prospect — but an intriguing one, for good reason.

Kiper’s more bullish on ISU’s “Iron Man” than some other draft gurus, too.

“I think Lanning’s interesting, because, like you said, quarterback turned linebacker, that doesn’t happen very often,” said Kiper, who released his first 2018 NFL mock draft this morning on “You talk about what Matt Campbell had to say about him — and he’s revered out there in Ames. Just the kid gives you everything he has, blood sweat and — everything, he lays it all on the line. To me, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he got drafted late and he’s the kind of kid, with his overall versatility and love for the game and passion for the game and toughness, you know, he can help you on special teams. Versatility. If you get injuries at quarterback you could always do that in a pinch. So I think late rounds for Lanning and it’s a great story.”

Indeed. Both of them are.

Linebacker Jeremiah George was the last ISU player selected in the draft. The New York Jets selected him in the fifth round on 2014.

It’s been 33 years since a Cyclone receiver was drafted. The New York Giants took former star Tracy Henderson in the fifth round in 1985.

This year’s NFL Draft will take place from April 26-28. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will provided coverage of all seven rounds.


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.