Senior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff is unquestionably Iowa's top NFL prospect -- NFL Media senior draft analyst Gil Brandt even thinks there's a chance Scherff could go No. 1 overall in 2015 -- and a senior defensive tackle with just 5.5 career tackles for loss is just as unquestionably the Hawkeyes' No. 2 prospect.
Senior Carl Davis (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) doesn't have eye-popping stats -- just 58 career tackles -- but his play last season and his continued development show he can be a dominant interior lineman. Davis had 42 stops last season, his first as a starter after two years as a reserve -- a deep reserve in 2011 and a key backup in 2012.
Davis is one of the top three senior defensive tackles nationally and a guy who -- depending on how well he plays this fall -- could hear his name called relatively early in the 2015 NFL Draft.
"I've got a lot of work to do, but that will be a great day," Davis told the Des Moines (Iowa) Register about how he imagines draft day. "I don't even know what I'm going to do. I might cry ... I might play it cool, you never know.
"You get to meet the commissioner, put the hat on. Basically, you change your lifestyle forever and get to do something you love doing."
Last season, Davis' main task was to take on double teams and open up things for Iowa's talented group of linebackers.
"I took pride in making sure the linebackers were clean, taking up double-teams so 'Hitch,' Kirksey and Morris could make a play," Davis said. "There's no selfishness about that: I take up the blocks, they make the tackles."
"We're going to be inexperienced as well as younger" at linebacker, Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. "So the guys up front are going to have to help compensate for that."
Davis told the Register he is watching about six hours of video per week to help him prepare for the season, and said he is becoming well-versed in finding nuggets that can help him diagnose plays.
"If a guard might be sitting back, then you know he's pulling -- different things like that," Davis said. "If the tackle's in a two-point (stance) and the guard's in a three-point, you know it might be a pass. Different things that give it away, things that we're looking for."
Davis has the size to plug up the middle but also has the quickness and strength to be disruptive, something that should be seen more often this season. Davis might be the strongest defensive lineman in school history; he holds the school record for a "hang clean" by a defensive tackle at 415 pounds (Scherff holds the school record at 443 pounds).
Ferentz told the Register expects a big season from Davis: "I think he's confident. He realizes he can play pretty well out there if he does things right."