Who's the Best? E.J. Bibbs, That's Who

Who's the Best? E.J. Bibbs, That's Who

A month-long ranking of Iowa State's 50 best players has reached its conclusion, with the announcement of tight end E.J. Bibbs as the most talented, most valuable, most indispensable Cyclone

The debate's getting serious.

AllCyclones.com began listing ISU's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-26 — using production, potential, positional value and a little bit of by-the-gut reasoning.

From 25 on, we've released rankings on a day-by-day basis. The end is finally here.

The envelope, please ...

No. 1: E.J. Bibbs, Tight End, SR

If he's ever bored at practice, Iowa State tight end E.J. Bibbs could start doing standing back-flips, just for fun. This could come before or after hauling in 70-yard touchdown passes via seam routes — the highlight of the practice made open to reporters in March.

Bibbs, simply put, is a freak-of-nature athlete. At 6-foot-3, 261-pounds, he catches the ball better than any receiver on Iowa State's roster. A wide receiver and linebacker in high school, before his days at Arizona Western JUCO, his blocking is on par with the linemen.

As a junior, Bibbs ranked No. 13 nationally in receptions among tight ends, with 39, and he played one fewer game than most and with a more dysfunctional quarterback situation than many.

Bibbs is the frontrunner to replace the Red Raiders' Jace Amaro as the Big 12's best tight end. It's unrealistic to expect Bibbs to match the results of the NFL-bound Amaro, who played in a fast-paced, pass-happy offense and recorded an insane 106 receptions for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns (first and second in the NCAA record books for a tight end).

If the Cyclones give Bibbs enough chances, however, he'll enter Amaro's stratosphere. Mark Mangino should pencil in Bibbs for at least 12 targets a game — a standard number for Quenton Bundrage in 2013. Iowa State will flex Bibbs out often, move him around pre-snap and get him the ball in a variety of ways and passing concepts. He should be the focal point of the offense.

  • Bibbs' Best Case Scenario: Iowa State's workhorse on offense stays upright and the Cyclones' outside receivers and their running game keep defenses honest and prevent them from bracketing Bibbs on every down. He catches 80 passes and is a dynamite red zone threat on his way to All-Big 12 and All-American honors.

  • Bibbs' Worst Case Scenario: The Cyclones' quarterback play isn't much better than it was in 2013, limiting the potential for their playmakers.

  • Reason for the Ranking: Soft hands, strong blocker, tough to bring down in the open field, Bibbs is everything you'd want in a tight end, a position where Iowa State lacks immediate depth. This isn't complicated. He's easily the best player on the team — the best athletic specimen, the most NFL-ready, the most indispensable and the best chance the Cyclones have at keeping up with the Big 12's dominant offenses.

    Briefing

    It is with caution that I dip my toe into what will likely be choppy waters. Ranking Iowa State's 50 best players is an arduous task. With a number that allows for the two-deep (22 on each side) plus a few, any omission might be construed as an insult. That's not at all what I set out to do here. I wanted to locate and then rank the most valuable Cyclones for the 2014 football season. Read that again. For the 2014 football season. Not from last season. Or for 2017. How'd I do this? I looked at production, sure, and of course I looked at short-term potential — can this player contribute in 2014, and at what level?

    Phone calls were made, brains were picked, contributions considered. I tried to think like an NFL executive: Quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback are by many accounts the most important positions in football, but I didn't always obey that rule, not unless the talent stacked up. I went back to my notes for the first and second watches of all the 2013 games, but those were last season's schemes, at least on offense, and I project the change to Mark Mangino's scheme will shake things up.

  • 50: Brian Peavy
  • 49: Jevohn Miller
  • 48: Pierre Aka
  • 47: Joel Lanning
  • 46: Kamari Syrie
  • 45: Colin Downing
  • 44: Kamari Cotton-Moya
  • 43: Michael Warren
  • 42: Kenneth Lynn
  • 41: Justin Madison
  • 40: Duaron Williams
  • 39: Tad Ecby
  • 38: Tyler Brown
  • 37: Mitchell Meyers
  • 36: Gabe Luna
  • 35: Cole Netten
  • 34: Rob Standard
  • 33: Dondre Daley
  • 32: Wendell Taiese
  • 31: Jared Brackens
    • 30: T.J. Mutcherson
    • 29: Oni Omoile
    • 28: Trent Taylor
    • 27: Sam E. Richardson
    • 26: Devlyn Cousin
    • 25: Terry Ayeni
    • 24: Qujuan Floyd
    • 23: Jake Campos
    • 22: Allen Lazard
    • 21: Luke Knott
    • 20: Jamison Lalk
    • 19: Jacob Gannon
    • 18: Jordan Harris
    • 17: Grant Rohach
    • 16: D'Vario Montgomery
    • 15: David Irving
    • 14: Cory Morrissey
    • 13: Jarvis West
    • 12: Devron Moore
    • 11: Tom Farniok
    • 10: DeVondrick Nealy
    • 9: Sam B. Richardson
    • 8: Dale Pierson
    • 7: Aaron Wimberly
    • 6: Daniel Burton
    • 5: Quenton Bundrage
    • 4: Rodney Coe
    • 3: Nigel Tribune
    • 2: Brock Dagel
    • 1: E.J. Bibbs

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