Tracking where Iowa draft picks, undrafted free agents landed after 2021 NFL Draft

Four former Iowa football players heard their names called during the 2021 NFL Draft.


Katie Goodale

Iowa Defensive Tackle Daviyon Nixon raises his fist as the Hawkeyes take to their home field for the first time in the season during the Iowa v Northwestern football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 21-20.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Four former Hawkeye football players were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning 79 Iowa players have been drafted in the last 23 years under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Unlike the past two seasons, no Hawkeyes were drafted in the first round this year. Chauncey Golston was the only Iowa player to go on the second day of the draft, before three of his teammates heard their names called on Saturday, the third day of the event.

Along with these drafted players, eight Hawkeyes who went undrafted have also signed free agent contracts with an NFL team. The Daily Iowan broke down where Iowa players are after this year’s draft.

DE Chauncey Golston: Round 3, Dallas Cowboys (No. 84 overall)

The first Hawkeye off the board may have been a surprising one. Daviyon Nixon was widely considered to be the top Iowa draft prospect this year, but Golston — his former teammate on the defensive line — ended up claiming that title.

Golston (6-foot-4, 269 pounds) heads to Dallas, a team that allowed the third-most points in the league last season defensively. At defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory start for the Cowboys. Golston is also capable of playing on the interior if that’s a route Dallas wants to go. projects Golston’s four-year rookie contract to be worth $4.9 million with a signing bonus of $935,701. 

WR/KR Ihmir Smith-Marsette: Round 5, Minnesota Vikings (No. 157 overall)

Smith-Marsette became the first Hawkeye wide receiver drafted in nine years when the Vikings took him in the fifth round.

RELATED: Former Hawkeyes Smith-Marsette, Nixon selected with back-to-back picks in fifth round of 2021 NFL Draft

The speedy New Jersey native joins Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen in Minnesota’s deep receiving room. Smith-Marsette (28.4-yard kickoff return average at Iowa) could play immediately for the Vikings on special teams.

Smith-Marsette (6-foot-1, 179 pounds) is in line for a $318,960 signing bonus and a $3.79 million total value contract, per Spotrac.

DT Daviyon Nixon: Round 5, Carolina Panthers (No. 158 overall)

Nixon’s draft-weekend fall came to an end one pick after Smith-Marsette’s selection. The 2020 All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was expected to go in the second or third round coming into the draft.

Nixon (6-foot-3, 313 pounds) is due a contract similar in value to Smith-Marsette’s.

LB Nick Niemann: Round 6, Los Angeles Chargers (No. 185 overall)

By being picked by the Chargers, Nick Niemann will play against his brother — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann — twice a year.

The Chargers, led by first-year head coach Brandon Staley, made Niemann the team’s only linebacker draft pick in 2021. Niemann would be due a $3.69 million contract with a $214,000 signing bonus if he made the team.

Undrafted free agent signings

Even after the final round ended, former Hawkeyes were plenty busy over draft weekend.

Eight undrafted Iowa players have signed free agency contracts with NFL teams.

Wide receiver Brandon Smith joined Golston in Dallas by signing a contract with the Cowboys. Running back Mekhi Sargent and offensive guard Cole Banwart reunited with the Tennessee Titans, as did offensive tackle Coy Cronk and defensive tackle Jack Heflin in Green Bay with the Packers.

Tight end Shaun Beyer will be in the same meeting room as former teammate Noah Fant, with the Denver Broncos. Four-year starting left tackle Alaric Jackson was perhaps the most surprising Iowa draft snub. Jackson signed with the Los Angeles Rams shortly after the draft ended. Linebacker Barrington Wade, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens, rounds out the former Hawkeyes entering the NFL this year so far.

Kicker Keith Duncan is also expected to receive NFL interest, but has yet to sign with a team.