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Catch these Iowa college football players in action during the NFL Playoffs

With the NFL Playoffs set to kick off Saturday with Wild Card Weekend, you’ll certainly be seeing plenty of former Hawkeyes, Cyclones and even UNI Panther...
Rams 49ers Football

With the NFL Playoffs set to kick off Saturday with Wild Card Weekend, you’ll certainly be seeing plenty of former Hawkeyes, Cyclones and even UNI Panthers.

Take a look at some of the Iowa college football talent that will be playing for a Super Bowl beginning this weekend.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

L.J. Fort (#58), LB, Northern Iowa

As an undrafted free agent in 2012, the former Panther signed with the Cleveland Browns before jumping around the league. Fort’s stops have included Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles before heading to Baltimore.

Fort signed a two-year contract extension with the Ravens earlier this season.

2019 stats (16 games total; 12 with Philadelphia, 4 with Baltimore): 8 starts (all with Baltimore), 37 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defensed

Baltimore Ravens linebacker L.J. Fort (58) reacts as he takes to the field prior to an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Marshal Yanda (#73), G, Iowa

The historic running attack that Baltimore has unleashed would not be possible without right guard Marshal Yanda. The 35-year-old, 13-year veteran is a Cedar Rapids native who attended Anamosa High School.

Yanda has been selected to eight Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro twice (2014 & 2015). Yanda was named a Second Team All-Pro for the fifth time on Friday.

2019 stats: 15 games started

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates a 61-yard touchdown play with Marshal Yanda during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/John Munson)

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Anthony Hitchens (#53), LB, Iowa

The Cowboys drafted Hitchens in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the past two years in Kansas City have been his best.

After average 12 games played per year for his four years in Dallas, Hitchens has played (and started in) 15 games each the past two seasons.

2019 stats: 15 games started, 86 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass defensed

Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens (53) tackles Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Ben Niemann (#56), LB, Iowa

Another undrafted free agent that has found his way into crucial playing time for a Super Bowl contender, Niemann has played 36.2 percent of defensive snaps this year for KC.

2019 stats: 1 game started, 54 total tackles, 1 pass defensed

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Xavier Williams (#98), DT, Northern Iowa

Williams only had one NFL sack to his name during his three-year run with the Arizona Cardinals.

He’s more than surpassed that with the Chiefs, with 2.5 sacks in 2018.

An ankle injury kept Williams sideline from October to December, but he has been activated for the Chiefs’ postseason run.

2019 stats: 5 games played, 8 total tackles, 1 forced fumble

Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Xavier Williams (98) watches during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

James Ferentz (#66), OL, Iowa

You’ve probably heard of James’ dad. He coaches a football team that resides in Iowa City.

Ferentz has started two games this season due to injuries along the Patriots’ offensive line. With that part of the New England roster at close-to-full strength heading into Saturday night’s Wild Card matchup with the Teneessee Titans, Ferentz may have to wait patiently for his next opportunity.

2019 stats: 2 games started

New England Patriots center James Ferentz (66) warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

HOUSTON TEXANS

No players

BUFFALO BILLS

Micah Hyde (#23), S, Iowa

A fifth-round pick of Green Bay in 2013, Hyde signed a five-year contract with Buffalo in 2017. The versatile defensive back played cornerback, safety and even returned kicks in both college and the pros.

2019 stats: 16 games started, 65 total tackles, 2 passes defensed, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde carries the ball after recovering a fumble by New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead in the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Ike Boettger (#65), G, Iowa

Saw game action in Week 4 (vs. New England) and Week 17 (vs. New York Jets).

2019 stats: 2 games played

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott greets offensive guard Ike Boettger (65) and tight end Keith Towbridge (43) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Nick Easley (#86), WR, Iowa (practice squad)

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Nick Easley (86) reacts with a teammate during the second half an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

TENNESSEE TITANS

Amani Hooker (#37), DB, Iowa

In a 2019 draft that saw Iowa tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson selected in the first round, Hooker was still seen as a good value pick, as the Titans traded up to select him in the third round.

2019 stats: 16 games played, 19 total tackles

Tennessee Titans defensive back Amani Hooker (37) defends against the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. The Titans won the game 31-17. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Parker Hesse (#49), TE, Iowa (practice squad)

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

George Kittle (#85), TE, Iowa

Named a First Team All-Pro on Friday (after being a Second Team All-Pro in 2018), Kittle has had no shortage of dominant plays.

Kittle has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards each of the past two seasons, and is well-known for his skills as a blocker. He was promoted to a team captain after just his second season.

2019 stats: 14 games started, 85 receptions, 1,053 yards, 5 touchdowns

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after scoring against the Green Bay Packers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

C.J. Beathard (#3), QB, Iowa

Beathard has seen his share of snaps the last couple years, starting 10 games at quarterback and playing in 13 total throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons

After Jimmy Garoppolo recovered from a 2018 season-ending torn ACL, Bethard has spent all of 2019 serving as a QB2.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Ross Reynolds (#76), OL, Iowa (practice squad)

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Bryan Bulaga (#75), OT, Iowa

A 10-year NFL veteran, Bulaga has dealt with his share of injuries, from a high-ankle sprain in 2015 to two torn ACLs.

But 2019 was injury-free, as Bulaga started all 16 games for just the third time in his career and helped vault the Packers offense to a 13-3 season with his run-blocking and pass protection.

2019 stats: 16 games started

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Josh Jackson (#37), CB, Iowa

A second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Jackson started 10 games last year and was one of only four rookie corners to play in all 16 games.

His playing time has dipped dramatically in his second season, however, seeing the field on less than 10 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

2019 stats: 14 games played, 11 total tackles

Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Jackson (37) warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Allen Lazard (#13), WR, Iowa State

After totaling just one catch for seven yards as an undrafted rookie a season ago, Lazard broke out in his sophomore campaign. He played in all 16 games and tallied almost 500 receiving yards on the year, including a career-high 103 yards against the Giants in Week 13.

2019 stats: 16 games played, 3 starts, 35 receptions, 477 yards, 3 touchdowns

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Cyclones and Hawkeyes together on the same side. Who would’ve thought such a thing was possible?

Denver Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer (11) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) a kick-off against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

A.J. Klein (#53), LB, Iowa State

A fifth-round pick in 2013, Klein has really come into his own since joining the Saints. The last three seasons, Klein has started at least 12 games and has been a major contributor on both defense and special teams.

2019 stats: 15 games started, 65 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble forced, one interception

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

Klein signed with the Saints in 2017, but the former Cyclone played four seasons with the Carolina Panthers before that, including their Super Bowl run in 2016. You could say he likes playing against his former team…

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Keegan Render (#64), C, Iowa (practice squad)

This is a 2019 photo of Keegan Render of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team. This image reflects the Philadelphia Eagles active roster as of Thursday, May 9, 2019 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

No players

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Jaleel Johnson (#94), DT, Iowa

A fourth-round pick in 2017, Johnson has worked his way up the depth chart over his three seasons in Minnesota.

Playing in only five games his rookie season, his usage jumped the next two years as he saw action in every game of the regular season this year.

2019 stats: 16 games played, 3 starts, 29 total tackles, 3.5 sacks

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (94) celebrates after a sack during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Riley Reiff (#71), OT, Iowa

Reiff started his career with the Detroit Lions, playing there from 2012-2016 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

Over his eight-year career, Reiff has started 112 of a possible 120 regular season games.

2019 stats: 15 games started

Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Riley Reiff (71) faces off against Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Dorance Armstrong during the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

PLAYOFF MATCHUPS

NFC

  1. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) (bye)
  2. Green Bay Packers (13-3) (bye)
  3. New Orleans Saints (13-3) vs. (6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) (Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT on FOX)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) vs. (5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CT on NBC)

AFC

  1. Baltimore Ravens (14-2) (bye)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) (bye)
  3. New England Patriots (12-4) vs. (6) Tennessee Titans (9-7) (Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT on CBS)
  4. Houston Texans (10-6) vs. (5) Buffalo Bills (10-6) (Saturday at 3:35 p.m. CT on ABC/ESPN)