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Grading the Steelers third round selection of DeMarvin Leal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 9:30am
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal with the 84th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Great news, Steelers Nation. The 2022 NFL Draft is finally upon us. Every rabid football fans version of Christmas in April.

I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal with the 84th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

DeMarvin Leal is a talented young defensive line prospect from Texas A&M, a school that has recently become a talent pipeline of sorts for the Steelers. At 6'4" and 290 lbs., Leal has been considered by some scouts to be a man caught between positions entering the NFL. The great news for Leal and the Steelers is the fact he appears to be a good fit as a Steelers 3-4 defensive end, a role filled by Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt to perfection. Both standouts are asked to stop the run, and then drop inside to pass rush from the interior.

Leal is a powerful athlete who lacks ideal explosiveness. He doesn't possess the quick twitch abilities necessary to excel as a pass rushing defensive end. He has heavy hands and a non-stop motor necessary to create consistent pressure from the interior, but lacks the closing burst to complete the play. An excellent tackler, he engulfs ball carriers and rarely misses opportunities to do so.

Leal finished his 2021 junior season with 8.5 sacks, and was named to the All SEC First Team and a Consensus All American. He decided to forgo his senior year and enter the 2022 NFL Draft. He is a 21 year old young man with loads of upside, but should be viewed as a rookie project, one hopefully capable of contributing as part of the defensive line rotation.

Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers third round selection of DeMarvin Leal an initial draft grade of B.

Leal was given a third round grade by most projections, and he definitely fits in an area of need for the Steelers. With the Stephon Tuitt situation still far from settled, and with all three projected starters across the defensive line getting a little long in the tooth, the Steelers desperately needed to get younger and deeper at the position. Leal has NFL caliber talent, and plenty of room for substantial growth at the position.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome DeMarvin Leal to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!

NFL Draft: Updated Day 3 mock draft has Steelers adding talent on both sides

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and here is what could happen.

After a crazy Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, I anticipated nothing less than more madness on Day 2. Sure enough, we saw a continued fall of the top quarterbacks in this draft, along with other surprises. Thus, we are back to the mock draft drawing board one more time.

I am not going to waste much time with an intro today, but I must say that, like most years, there is still a multitude of potential starters available as we head into the third day of the draft. This class may not have been top-heavy, but we knew the class would be relatively deep. Some of my top players available include quarterbacks Carson Strong and Sam Howell, defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey, and wide receiver Khalil Shakir.

The Steelers are currently slated to be picking four times today, one of which is in Round 4 at pick 138. Cornerback, offensive tackle, and linebacker could all be in play at that pick.

Let’s see how the Steelers, and every other every NFL team, fared in my revised mock draft.

Round 4

106. Buccaneers- Khalil Shakir | WR | Boise State
107. Texans- Darrian Beavers | ILB | Cincinnati
108. Browns- Perrion Winfrey | DL | Oklahoma
109. Seahawks- Sam Howell | QB | North Carolina
110. Ravens- Daniel Faalele | OT | Minnesota
111. Jets- Brandon Smith | ILB | Penn State
112. Giants- Isaiah Likely | TE | Coastal Carolina
113. Commanders- Jamaree Salyer | G | Geoorgia
114. Giants- Coby Bryant | CB | Cincinnati
115. Broncos- Zach Tom | OT | Wake Forest
116. Broncos- Zyon McCollum | CB/S | Sam Houston State
117. Jets- Spencer Burford | T/G | UTSA
118. Browns- Jerreth Sterns | WR | Western Kentucky
119. Ravens- Bo Melton | WR | Rutgers
120. Commanders- Darian Kinnard | OT/G | Kentucky
121. Patriots- Jalyn Armour-Davis
122. Colts- Carson Strong | QB | Nevada
123. Chargers- Isaiah Spiller | RB | Texas A&M
124. Browns- DaRon Bland | CB | Fresno State
125. Dolphins- Marquis Hayes | G | Oklahoma
126. Raiders- Amare Barno | EDGE | Virginia Tech
127. Patriots- Jack Sanborn | ILB | Wisconsin
128. Ravens- Tariq Castro-Fields | CB | Penn State
129. Cowboys- D’Marco Jackson | ILB | Appalachian State
130. Ravens- Matt Henningsen | DL | Wisconsin
131. Titans- Charlie Kolar | TE | Iowa State
132. Packers- Joshua Williams | CB | Fayetteville State
133. Buccaneers- Isaiah Thomas | EDGE | Oklahoma
134. 49ers- Kellen Diesch | OT | Arizona State
135. Chiefs- Eric Johnson | DL | Missouri State
136. Bengals- Cade Otton | TE | Washington
137. Patriots- Samori Toure | WR | Nebraska

138. Steelers- Max Mitchell | OT | Louisiana

The Steelers have a lack of depth at offensive tackle, and we have seen them go to Louisiana for offensive line help in recent history. Mitchell is not the most athletic tackle, and he will get beat by quicker edge rushers coming around the edge on occasion, but gets good hand placement and moves his feet relatively well. The Steelers should have intriguing options at tackle in the fourth round.

139. Ravens- Pierre Strong, Jr. | RB | South Dakota State
140. Packers- Matt Waletzko | OT | North Dakota
141. Ravens- Tycen Anderson | S | Toledo
142. Rams- Daniel Bellinger | TE | San Diego State
143. Titans- Zachary Thomas | OT | San Diego State

Other Steelers Selections

6:208- Jack Jones | CB | Arizona State

The Steelers have yet to address cornerback, which is one of their most pressing needs. Here is what I had to say about Jones on the BTSC Big Board:

Andrew Wilbar: Jones was a five-star athlete coming out of high school who had committed to USC. After a breakout 2017 season, Jones’ was declared ineligible to participate in football for academic reasons. It did not end there, however. During the summer of 2018, Jones was arrested for burglary, and his football career was in jeopardy. To make a long story short, Jones transferred to Arizona State, got his life into some sort of order, and actually made the Dean’s List for the 2020 spring semester. He has matured greatly during his time at Arizona State and has now regained his footage as a draft prospect. After a year of solid production followed by an impressive combine performance, he is more than worthy of a mid-round selection. He would provide schematic versatility to any team in need of a slot corner.

7:226- Christopher Allen | EDGE | Alabama

Allen is an injury-ridden prospect who has potential but will need a good amount of time to develop. Here is what I said about him on the BTSC Big Board:

Andrew Wilbar: Allen is coming off a foot injury that cost him the vast majority of the 2021 season, but he began to come into his own when healthy in 2020, recording six sacks and thirteen tackles for loss. I have concerns about effort when he is trailing a ball-carrier, as he does not seem to trust his traits enough to believe that he can catch up and make a play. He also does not have a large repertoire of pass rush moves. On the flip side, he does a good job setting the edge, as he rarely gets pushed off the ball. The most intriguing part of his game, though, is his athleticism. He has the speed, strength, and bend to beat the best of tackles, but he is still incredibly raw, and he has the injury concerns. That will likely cause him to drop to day three or even undrafted free agency.

7:242- Bailey Zappe | QB | Western Kentucky

We have seen an unexpected fall of the top quarterbacks in this class, which could cause a guy like Bailey Zappe to drop as well. The Steelers still have to add one more arm to the mix before training camp, and getting someone as talented as Zappe in the seventh round is an absolute steal. Jeremy and I interviewed him a couple weeks ago, and he impressed us with his calm demeanor and poise. You can check out that interview below.

Which prospects do you want to see the Steelers draft today? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!

Stock Report: Stock rising and falling after Day 2 of the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers added to the offense and the defense on Day 2. Let’s look at who’s rising and falling after these selections.

Amidst all the trades and shifting around between teams and players on Day Two, the Pittsburgh Steelers did the most Steelers thing ever and stayed put and took their guys. On the Draft Preview episode of the Steelers Draft Fix, I locked it up that the Steelers would take a wide receiver (WR) in Round 2. That’s exactly what they did, making University of Georgia stud George Pickens their newest addition at pick No. 52.

In the 3rd Round, Pittsburgh addressed a future need in the selection of Defensive Tackle DeMarvin Leal from Texas A&M with the 84th overall pick. With so many unknowns along the Defensive Line, the Steelers took a versatile player to develop for the future.

So, whose stock is going up and whose is going down after these selections? Let’s dive in and take a look.

Stock Up: Whoever the starting quarterback will be

What better to help a reclamation project in Mitch Trubisky or an unproven rookie signal caller in Kenny Pickett than a big-bodied, physical weapon on the outside? Pickens is 6’3” and 195lbs and has a huge catch radius. If it weren’t for an ACL injury early in 2021, Pickens would have been a sure-fire 1st Round pick and a top 5 WR in this class.

The Quarterbacks (QB) have to love the thought of adding a contested catch specialist and vertical threat to the roster. He’ll make every throw easier with his length and sure hands. The Steelers selection of Pickens shows that they are committed to surrounding whoever starts at QB with as much young talent as possible to help carry the offensive load.

Stock Up: Red-Zone efficiency

Imagine the jumbo skill position package the Steelers can trot out in the Red area with 6’3” Chase Claypool, 6’5” Pat Freiermuth, and the newly acquired Georgia WR. All three are able blockers in the run game, but also massive human beings that can physically outmatch any defense in the passing game. Couple that with the mobility of the QBs and you have all the potential for a highly efficient Red Zone team in 2022.

Stock Down: Carlos and Khalil Davis

The brothers were far from roster locks, but with the selection of DeMarvin Leal, one has to think the writing is on the wall so to speak for both of these guys. Neither has really shown they can develop into even solid rotational defenders, and the Steelers value their Day 2 draft investments. Leal’s leash will be a good deal longer than either Davis brother’s, and his versatility also gives him higher potential for a larger role early on.

Stock TBD: Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu

The looming question of the offseason regarding the health and status of the two gentlemen listed above comes to the forefront again after the Steelers Round 3 addition. With the answer not likely to be revealed any time soon, it’s a waiting game to see if Leal’s selection was precautionary or preparatory for potential issues with either’s availability.

The other aspect is that the Steelers could simply be adding a future piece to the Defensive Front, knowing that their current assets there are getting up in years. Cam Heyward is an All-Pro player and also basically a part-time TV analyst at this point. How much longer is he wanting to lace up the old spikes is a valid question as well. In any case, this situation should be monitored closely as Training Camp and Preseason approaches.

Don’t look now, but the Steelers roster is starting to take shape, and it isn’t looking that bad. In fact, there is a lot to be excited about. Let’s not write off the Black and Gold just yet. As always, I look forward to hearing your well-informed comments below. Don’t forget to stay tuned to BTSC for all the NFL Draft news you’ll want or need regarding your Pittsburgh Steelers.

All you need to know about the Steelers’ Day 2 draft picks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 8:26am
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Georgia WR George Pickens in the second round and Texas A&M DeMarvin Leal in the third of the 2021 NFL Draft. Here is all the coverage on their Day 2 picks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made two bold, and strong, statements in the 2022 NFL Draft by selecting WR George Pickens in the second round and DL DeMarvin Leal in the third round of the selection process. The Steelers took Pickens and Leal without thinking about other prospects who might have been available when it was their turn to select, but this doesn’t seem to bother Mike Tomlin or Kevin Colbert.

Without looking ahead, the Steelers did something they needed to do in fortifying the offensive weapons on Day 2. Pickens is known as a deep threat, one the Steelers don’t have currently in their wide receiver room. The pick of Leal injects some youth into the aging defensive line, and his versatility is something the defense will be able to utilize this season.

The addition of Kenny Pickett in the first round combined with Pickens, the Steelers’ offense will have a new, and young, dynamic, wrinkle in it this season. The offensive line being rebuilt from the inside with free agent acquisitions, the Steelers offense could look dramatically different in 2022 than what fans saw in 2021.

With that said, be sure to check out all of our coverage on the Day 2 selections here in this stream, and be sure to check back so you don’t miss a thing on all of our draft coverage as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to press on throughout the 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL Draft: Best of the Rest entering Day 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 8:01am
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and DeMarvin Leal were the Steelers’ top three choices. Which players might complete their 2022 Draft class?

For some, Day 2 of the NFL Draft is even more enthralling than Day 1 given the pool of first-round-caliber talent still available. We won’t necessarily go that far, but Rounds 2 and 3 still provide plenty of entertainment with star names floating and teams looking to fill needs.

With the Steelers making Kenny Pickett the only quarterback taken in the top 32, most pundits felt there would be a slew of QBs to go off the board in Round 2, but that was not the case. Only in Round 3, with the Falcons selecting Desmond Ridder at Pick #74, did the engine on the quarterback train gain steam; Malik Willis (Titans) and Matt Corral (Panthers) were taken in the third as well.

On the Pittsburgh front, the board fell as well as Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert could have hoped at Pick #52. The team chose Georgia WR George Pickens over players such as WR Skyy Moore, LB Nakobe Dean and CB Marcus Jones. Then, at Pick #84, PIT selected Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal to add insurance to an already robust defensive line.

While the preliminary three rounds are where the meat and bones of a draft class originate, shrewd GMs can still find quality talent in Rounds 4-7. Using our BTSC Big Board rankings and analysis, let’s analyze the best players left as well as potential targets for the Steelers.

Top 10 Overall Prospects Remaining
  1. Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (BTSC Rank: #51)

Redshirt junior, 6-foot-3, 226 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown of Strong, I talked about a knee injury he suffered in high school, and that injury has now become the biggest question mark surrounding his draft stock. As a prospect, the first thing that stands out about Strong is his arm strength. He puts good zip on short and intermediate throws and can sling it 60 yards down the field with ease. Over the past two seasons, he has learned to make quicker decisions with the football, and his delivery has become cleaner and quicker as well. Strong has also improved his accuracy, taking yet another step forward in 2021 with an impressive 70.2% completion percentage. Although his poise in the pocket has contributed to his success, his improved footwork has been the thing helping him become a more consistently accurate passer. At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Strong is primarily a pocket passer, but he has enough mobility to move around in the pocket and make an occasional play on the ground. Just don’t expect any designed quarterback runs with him at the helm. People close to him have also raved about his high IQ. My concerns lie in his clutchness and health. The most well-known issue with Strong is his knee problems, and that could be what keeps him from going in the top half of the first round. Fortunately for him, the latest reports indicate that teams do not see his knee issues as something that could plague his career.

Strong is one of two of the top six quarterbacks still standing, alongside Sam Howell — more on him in a second. The Nevada quarterback has arguably the biggest arm of any gunslinger in this class, but his medicals are especially concerning, as is his lack of mobility. Given that Willis slid all the way to the third despite being regarded in a different plane than Strong, the latter might not be taken until the fifth.

The Steelers, Falcons, Titans and Panthers all took quarterbacks, leaving a thinner market for Strong. The Seahawks (#109, #145), Giants (#112, #114, #146, #147), Commanders (#113, #120), Colts (#159) and Saints (#161) are all candidates.

#2. Sam Howell, QB, UNC (#52)

Junior, 6-foot-1, 218 lbs

Necksnation: A junior who has often been compared to Baker Mayfield, Howell was considered by many to be the top QB in this class prior to the 2021 season. However, his production took a notable hit in 2021. Although this was largely due to the departure of his top four playmakers to the NFL Draft, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t necessarily shown the ability to thrive without top talent around him. He had arguably his worst statistical season last year, putting up lows in TD:INT ratio, yards, and rating (per PFF) while also significantly regressing in completion percentage and yards per attempt. However, the loss of his top playmakers gave him the chance to make more plays with his legs, and he had by far his best season as a runner. Howell has very good arm talent, and his accuracy is pretty good as well. I did notice that he sometimes held on to the ball too long and tried to do too much, which is something that he could improve on at the next level. That said, he is more than capable of throwing on the run, leading the nation in TD passes thrown on the run. His tendency to try to make something out of nothing can be a double-edged sword, as it also created many of his interceptions. Howell needs to work on going through his progressions more, as I didn’t see him make too many throws that weren’t to his primary reads, but that may have also been due to scheme. This tendency to throw to his primary reads sometimes resulted in poor decision making, so he’ll need to work on his progressions in the NFL. Ball security seems like it could be a potential issue for Howell, as he fumbled 8 times in 2021 and 19 times across his three years at UNC. His pocket awareness is sometimes lacking, but he’s mobile enough to get out of difficult situations rather frequently, so while it’s something that he should work at, it’s not a huge concern for me. He is a little on the shorter side at 6’1”, but recently we’ve seen plenty of shorter QBs succeed so I’m not too worried about his height. I think that the Baker Mayfield comparison is a fair one, and I think that Howell has a similar ceiling in the NFL. I don’t think that Howell will ever be a true franchise QB, but he has enough upside to warrant a mid to late second round selection. He seems to me like a guy who will be a great backup but never a good starter, which is fine as long as no team reaches on him with their top pick.

Once viewed as a surefire first-rounder, Howell will, at the earliest, hear his name called three rounds later than once expected. The junior had one of the more prolific careers in ACC and North Carolina history, flashing his dual-threat ability and cannon of an arm. At the same time, Howell is a bit stockier and needs to refine his decision-making, especially in crunch time.

The same teams lining up for Strong would likely have interest in Howell, but we would also throw in the Eagles (#154) and Lions (#177).

#3. Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma (#57)

Senior, 6-foot-4, 290 lbs

Noah: Winfrey looks relatively unspectacular. There are some pros, he’s very mobile for a nose tackle and was used in a lot of stunts at Oklahoma. He’s a good tackler and frequently disrupts runs at the line of scrimmage. However, he doesn’t seem to have a real plan as a pass rusher and he doesn’t have the size or strength to get past bigger offensive lineman. He does have a good hand placement that helps him get home for a sack every now and then, but overall, if he can’t develop more as a pass rusher, he could turn out to be a bust for whoever drafts him.

Ranked just ahead of new Steeler Leal on our big board, it was a surprise that Winfrey didn’t get taken on Day 2; then again, the slide of UConn’s Travis Jones likely didn’t aid Winfrey. The Oklahoma product posted a lackluster 59.7 PFF grade in 2021 but is just 21 years old.

Winfrey feels like a solid bet to go in Round 4. His fits include the Texans (#107), Jets (#111), Broncos (#115, #116) Vikings (#122) and Chargers (#123).

#4. Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati (#60)

Senior, 6-foot-4, 237 lbs

Necksnation: Beavers fits the mold of a prototypical buck linebacker, and while he could become successful in that role, it may hurt his draft stock a bit. At 6’4’’ and 255 lbs, he certainly has the frame to be a run stuffing linebacker, and he showed an ability to do so plenty of times at Cincinnati. Although he didn’t pick up linebacker until after graduating from high school, Beavers spent five years playing linebacker at the collegiate level (two with Connecticut and three with Cincinnati), so he does have a decent amount of experience at the position. He tested well at the combine, and had a pretty week at the Senior Bowl, but the biggest question mark surrounding Beavers is his ability in pass coverage. He isn’t too bad in zone, but he shouldn’t be asked to play man very often, as he is likely to be exploited by a veteran QB. Overall, Beavers is a good downhill tackler and run defender who should have a solid career in the NFL, but I don’t ever see him becoming any more than a two down linebacker, and it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. Still, I would feel comfortable taking him late in day two, since he certainly has the upside to become a quality starter in a primarily run defending role.

Cincinnati’s historic 2021 season has already yielded five draft picks: Sauce Gardner, Alec Pierce, Bryan Cook, Ridder and Myjai Sanders. Beavers will likely become the sixth Bearcat drafted on Saturday.

With Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal falling until the third round, Beavers may be taken later than once expected. His 88th-percentile broad jump and 79th-percentile three-cone time will still generate fans in NFL war rooms, though.

The Steelers could still look to shore up their ILB corps, so they could be in play for Beavers. Other candidates are the Browns (#108), Ravens (#110), Jets, Giants, Broncos and Patriots (#121).

#5. Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State (#65)

Senior, 6-foot-0, 196 lbs

Ryland B.: Shakir’s knack for acrobatic catches really stands out. He has good hands and excellent ball-tracking ability, always putting himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Even though he played the most in the slot at Boise State, he lacks the ideal quickness for the position in the NFL. Shakir has a slower release than most and although he has good long speed he isn’t a short distance accelerator. As a route-runner, Shakir takes great angles and his buildup speed can create separation down the field, but he isn’t the twitchiest. However, he shows good vision after the catch and was a successful returner in college. Shakir’s solid athleticism and size, along with his ability to be a reliable pass-catcher, project him as a very good 4th or 5th receiver on an NFL depth chart.

Shakir turned heads with a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, but the Boise State wideout doesn’t display insane athleticism with an 8.01 raw athletic score (RAS). Altogether, though, Shakir is one of the better receivers available for teams who have yet to meet such a need.

#6. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State (#69)

Junior, 6-foot-3 1/2, 250 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: If you want to take a risk on a boom-or-bust guy early on day three, look no further than Brandon Smith. His tape is up and down, but it is easy to see his athletic traits. His 40 time was a bit slower at the scouting combine last month than the 4.38 he reportedly ran back in high school, but that is understandable when you consider the amount of weight he put on toward the end of his collegiate career. That weight needed to be added, though, as there were several occurrences on tape where he struggled to disengage from blocks and make more challenging tackles. If he keeps the added weight on, he may be able to handle the BUCK position in addition to being able to play a MACK or MIKE role at the drop of a hat. Part of the reason he struggled at times in 2021 was because he had a lot more on his plate. In 2020, he did not have to communicate as much, and he rarely had to deal with difficult run-stopping assignments. Before adding weight this past season, Smith’s frame was on the slighter side, and he was used primarily as a coverage linebacker. He was impressive in that role the majority of the time, but when his role increased in 2021, he seemed overwhelmed at times. Nonetheless, if you want to gamble on a guy with traits, Smith could pay big dividends.

Having already seen Arnold Ebiketie (Falcons) and Jaquan Brisker (Bears) get taken, Smith is poised to become the third PSU defender selected in this year’s draft. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projects Smith to be picked in the third or fourth round, so this is the linebacker’s sweet spot.

A bit of a riskier choice than Chenal or Beavers, Smith fits the bill of a linebacker with upside for the teams already looking at Beavers. In fact, given that all 32 teams were at Penn State’s Pro Day, he may be on additional squads’ radars.

#7. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis (#74)

Redshirt senior, 5-foot-8, 170 lbs

Ryland B.: Austin has literal track speed, and it translates into explosive plays on the football field. Austin is a smooth athlete, lighting-fast accelerator, and a great route-runner. He has quickness to make defensive backs look silly and the speed to run past a secondary. Despite his diminutive size, he has a great release with urgent footwork and violent hands. But size is still a major issue. Austin’s 5’9” frame just doesn’t have an elite catch radius despite his good hands, and at 162 pounds he doesn’t pack much physicality after the catch although he plays with good effort. Austin’s 4.3 speed makes him an intriguing NFL prospect, but his size may result in him only finding a gadget role in an NFL offense

We’ve seen lightning-quick receivers Jameson Williams and Skyy Moore already find new homes, and Austin is next in line. Flaunting a 4.32 40, Austin is a true burner but lacks good build in both height and weight.

Despite similar concerns, the Rams took Tutu Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While the Atwell pick is already evoking some concerns, Austin’s wheels alone make him arguably the best WR remaining; The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Austin as his top receiver still available. Teams monitoring Shakir could easily defer to Austin.

#8. Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati (#76)

Redshirt junior, 5-foot-10 1/2, 210 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ford reminds me in many ways of Javonte Williams last year. He hits the hole with great quickness, and his blend of speed and power give him high upside as a workhorse back in the NFL. What I also like about Ford is his leg drive. He has outstanding lower body strength, and he keeps those legs churning after contact, trying to get every possible yard out of each carry and occasionally carrying defenders with him. My biggest knock on him is in pass protection. He doesn’t have great awareness as a pass protector, and there are times when I watch him on tape and feel as if he didn’t give his best effort. Another issue, albeit a teachable issue, is that he can be too patient running routes out of the backfield. While he has the hands to be an efficient receiver out of the backfield, there were several instances on tape where Desmond Ridder wanted to dump the ball off to Ford only for Ford not to have turned around yet and not be ready for the ball. In the end, I think Ford overcomes these issues and develops into a nice NFL running back.

Running backs were hot commodities on Day 2, with Breece Hall (Jets), Kenneth Walker III (Seahawks), James Cook (Bills), Rachaad White (Buccaneers), Tyrion Davis-Price (49ers) and Brian Robinson (Commanders) being drafted. However, there are still a myriad of solid running back options, including Cincy’s Ford.

Having transferred from Alabama, Ford was an integral part of the Bearcats’ College Football Playoff run and was especially great on the big stage, collecting 187 yards and two touchdowns against Houston in the AAC Championship. A solid 5.1 yards per carry against the vaunted Crimson Tide in the CFP Semifinal should also help Ford become noticed by scouts.

Although six contingents have taken ‘backs, the Texans, Giants, Chargers, Steelers (#138), Rams (#142) and Falcons (#151) are suitors.

#9. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA (#79)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 205 lbs

Necksnation: Woolen has appealing physical traits, but is incredibly raw and will be quite a project for the team that drafts him. He converted from receiver to cornerback in 2020, and it shows on his tape, as he was burnt numerous times in man. In zone, his instincts are okay, but could use a bit of work, as he sometimes misreads his assignments. As a former receiver, Woolen does have impressive ball skills, but he sometimes struggles to make plays on the ball while simultaneously covering the receiver. He is certainly an aggressive defender while the ball is in the air, and he’s willing to make hits to jar the ball loose and get his hands in the way to prevent a completion, but this can be a double edged sword, and he gave up a few big plays because of this aggression. Additionally, I have some concerns about his competitive toughness. He often appeared unwilling to make tackles and defend the run, and while this may be partially due to his lack of experience at the position, it’s something that he’ll need to figure out in the NFL. On the bright side, his athletic upside is tremendous. Standing 6’4” and running a 4.26 40 yard dash, he absolutely has the physical tools to succeed, but his tape doesn’t back up his measurables yet. He seems like a good guy to take a flier on early in day 3, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable selecting him before then due to how much development he still needs.

With a lanky 6-foot-4 build, an astonishing 4.26 40 and a 9.71 RAS, you’re not going to last very long on NFL draft boards. The fact that Woolen wasn’t taken yet is surprising.

Only three corners were pried in Round 3, meaning the UTSA cover man should be in prime position to be near the top of the fourth round. The Buccaneers (#106), Seahawks, Ravens, Commanders, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys (#129) and Steelers are matches.

#10. Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers (#80)

Senior, 5-foot-11, 189 lbs

K.T. Smith (CHISAP): Melton can run, having clocked a 4.37 at the Combine. I’m familiar with his speed, having coached against him when he was a stud receiver at Cedar Creek High School in southern New Jersey and watched him run by our defensive backs like they were standing still. Melton was a straight speedster back then. In the years since, he has become a good overall route runner and a player whose body control and athleticism allows him to compete for just about any ball thrown in his range. He can be a bit stiff at times, and he could struggle to separate against big, physical press corners in the NFL. But if teams want a home-run hitter with an exceptional work ethic, Melton is a great choice.

One more note: the Steelers have always valued players of high character, and Melton has it. When the son of one of the assistant coaches on our staff was diagnosed with leukemia, Melton, who was at Rutgers at the time, made a video for the boy, then sent him a signed pair of cleats and a football signed by the entire Rutgers team. He didn’t brag about his good deed on social media or make a public show of it. I only found out about it because my assistant coach told me. Melton did it because a young boy was sick and because the South Jersey football community is like a fraternity. They say character is defined by the things you do when no one is looking. If that’s true, Bo Melton is a young man whose character is exemplary.

As K.T. noted, Melton meshes his speed with precise route-running as well as veteran experience. In the fierce Big Ten, the wideout amassed over 600 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons and has played in 45 collegiate games. After a solid Senior Bowl showing, Melton’s stock improved, but there’s still some debate as to where the New Jersey native will be picked.

Melton isn’t just a track runner like Austin, especially given his boxier frame. Regardless, teams looking for a versatile option should angle towards Melton, who played 18.9% of his snaps in the slot and has some minor kick/punt return experience.

Top 10 Steelers Fits on the Board

#1. Tariq Woolen

Finding long, athletic corners is the stuff that general managers dream of.

Woolen does need to improve his tackling, as he missed over 21% of his tackles in both 2020 and 2021. At the same time, Woolen would grant the Steelers a young corner with rare size and speed that can learn behind Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace.

#2. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati (BTSC Rank: #127)

Some could argue that Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and DeMarvin Leal have all felt like picks of fate, that the Steelers have chosen players that fans had continuously mocked to the team.

Given that trend, Bryant very well may be next up.

Steelers fans have grown enamored with the 2021 Jim Thorpe winner. Bryant is already 23 and is not the most athletic, but his cover skills speak for themselves: his 61.1 passer rating allowed in 2021 was top 25 in the country among corners to play at least 300 snaps.

Pittsburgh sent its top personnel to watch Cincinnati prospects up close, including getting dinner with several Bearcats. Bryant was one of them; the interest and fit are undeniably there.

#3. Zach Tom, OT/OG, Wake Forest (#82)

Even after acquiring James Daniels and Mason Cole, the Steelers very well might want to add an offensive lineman in the draft. Who better than Tom, who has experience at left tackle and center?

In a recent interview I did, Sports Info Solutions’ Nathan Cooper mentioned Tom as a target for the Steelers, citing his reactivity, ability to pull and hand usage.

#4. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota (#91)

Faalele is truly a mammoth, situated at 6-foot-8 and nearly 385 pounds. Such a frame is nearly unparalleled, though Faalele isn’t the most nimble and performed below expectations at the Senior Bowl. Nonetheless, the ability to acquire a tackle of his stature to create competition with Dan Moore Jr. is quite appealing.

#5. Darrian Beavers, CB, Cincinnati

I’m continuing to place my bet on the Steelers taking at least one Cincy prospect. When watching tape on Sauce Gardner, Beavers certainly catches one’s eye, too. Beavers’ aggressive play style would unequivocally supply the Steelers with the downhill linebacking they lacked in 2021, and his coverage weaknesses could be offset with Myles Jack and Devin Bush.

#6. Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan (#139)

It’s flown somewhat under the radar in the build-up to the draft, but Pittsburgh would be wise to add a running back to ease the workload on Najee Harris. In 2021, Harris accounted for 74.6% of the Steelers’ rushes, higher than even Jonathan Taylor (66.5%) by a sizeable margin. Haskins was a key ingredient to Michigan’s stellar season, posting a gaudy 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns. Although not much of a receiver, Haskins is great at explosive rushes; his 36 rushes of 10+ yards were tied with Breece Hall and would add a dynamism to a Steelers RB room not known for chunk plays.

#7. Damone Clark, LB, LSU (#101)

Point blank, Clark could be one of the bigger steals in this year’s class. If not for his spinal cord fusion surgery that will sideline him for most, if not all, of 2022, Clark would probably have been taken in the second round. We saw the Ravens scoop up David Ojabo at #45, and the Steelers could follow suit with stopping Clark’s freefall. Clark’s 90.1 PFF tackling grade in 2021 was on par with first-round ‘backer Quay Walker.

#8. Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt (#111)

One Pitt Panther is great, so why not take two?

Mathis would be a similarly likeable pick, as the local DB also fills a pivotal position of need. A tad older at 23, Mathis has three years of starting seasons against top-notch ACC competition, and his 4.39 speed is a boon.

#9. Dane Belton, S, Iowa (#207)

Belton isn’t ranked super high on our board but is slotted as the best remaining safety, per Sports Info Solutions’ rankings. Only 21, Belton was a cog in a stingy Hawkeye defense and can play in the slot, box or at free safety. The Steelers never ended up signing Tyrann Mathieu — at least not yet — but Belton could be a fine consolation prize and a glimmering toy for Teryl Austin.

#10. Ty Chandler, RB, UNC (#179)

Chandler isn’t a running back garnering tremendous amounts of attention, largely due to his age — he’s nearly 24. However, when watching film on Sam Howell, Chandler’s 4.38 speed and tackle-breaking ability continually impress. Following in the footsteps of North Carolina backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter last year, Chandler would be a stupendous complement to Najee Harris.

While watching Sam Howell, UNC running back Ty Chandler caught my attention. Could be a mid-to-late-round target for the #Steelers.

Chandler has great wiggle, vision and burst and was a Second-Team All-ACC selection in 2021. At the same time, he'll be 24 in May. pic.twitter.com/ex3u53thNm

— Bradley Locker (@Bradley_Locker) March 26, 2022 Other Names to Watch

Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama (BTSC Rank: #136)

Noah: Jalyn Armour-Davis may not be as skilled as some of the other guys in this class but I believe that playing for Nick Saban is going to greatly benefit him. He has the length and athleticism to be a really good player. His instincts are great and he is excellent at tracking guys down to make the tackle. However, he’s pretty stiff and you’d like to see him get his hips around a little quicker. He also gives receivers too much room sometimes and overall needs to tighten up his coverage. Being just a one-year starter there are some concerns about his experience and if he’s ready for the NFL yet. Armour-Davis is certainly a project but the reward could definitely be worth a day 3 pick.

Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor (#263)

Ryland B.: When researching Barnes, his 4.23 second 40-time was the first thing that really caught my eye. Incredibly close to the combine record, Barnes shouldn’t have any issues running alongside NFL receivers. However, the NFL is much more than a track meet. Barnes has poor backpedal technique, often looking too stiff and upright. He also can react late, and while his athleticism generally makes up for it, there will be much less margin for error at the next level. Barnes isn’t the most physical and could improve his ball skills as well. He’s an incredibly raw prospect, but his elite athleticism and good effort on the field make him an intriguing late round option.

Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama (#284)

Andrew Wilbar: Jobe has been one of the more consistent corners in college football over the past couple years. However, he was unable to ever reach a special level in the three years he had a prominent role, and he seemed to take a step back in 2021 when put into the CB1 role. When it comes to Jobe as a prospect, his ball skills are not thoroughly impressive, but when he gets good position from the get-go, he knows how to get into passing lanes and swat away passes. Unfortunately, he seems to lack the athleticism to play heavy doses of man coverage. His instincts are also poor, leading one to believe that a transition to safety may be the best career move for him. That is the belief of Lance Zierlein, who wrote an interesting scouting report on Jobe. You can check it out here.

Dare Rosenthal, OT, Kentucky (#105)

Andrew Wilbar: Rosenthal weighed in about 30 pounds less than what he was listed at during the season, which makes his evaluation slightly more difficult. He looked like a player with a totally new profile at the combine, and I am not sure whether that should be considered a good thing or not. Rosenthal is a talented lineman who transferred from LSU and quickly became a leader on Kentucky’s offensive line. His lack of presence was felt in the team’s bowl game, as their backup looked quite incompetent compared to what people had been accustomed to seeing from Rosenthal. When watching him on tape, I liked how he always played through the whistle, and I loved his nasty attitude and demeanor. He plays like a bully, but with the amount of weight he lost between the 2021 season and the combine, I am not sure if he is going to be as effective with that style of play. He gets great forward movement as a run blocker, and he does a good job using his long arms to create leverage. His anchor needs a little work, but there are multiple things you can write home about when it comes to Rosenthal’s game. I would say that he is the biggest “wild card” of the offensive tackle class.

Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota (#106)

Andrew Wilbar: Mobility is the first thing that jumps out on tape with Waletzko. He does a good job getting to the second level of the defense, and he is above-average as a blocker downfield. Sometimes I feel as if he has a little too much zeal coming out of his stance because there are times where he will just overrun blocks; I mean, I am glad he has quickness off the snap, and I am glad he has fantastic mobility, but you don’t want to be overrunning blocks and getting to the second level too soon either. Nonetheless, he keeps his shoulders square, he has good hand placement, and he has some power in his hands. He does not have superior strength, but I think he will get stronger once he gets with a strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He also has shown an ability to pull, which only increases his value to NFL teams. I do have concerns about his level of competition, as he hardly faced NFL-talent-level players in college. That could be partially why he looked so dominant on tape. Nonetheless, he is a prospect that I would be more than willing to take a chance on if he falls to day three.

Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State (#118)

Necksnation: A year ago, Walker was projected to go in the top half of the first round, but his stock lowered considerably over the course of this past season. He was almost exclusively a left tackle at Penn State, playing all but two snaps at the position during his final two years of college. Walker certainly did look like a better prospect in 2020, but he was still able to put together some solid performances, including one against Michigan’s pass-rushing tandem of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. He has decent size, although he could benefit from gaining some weight between now and the start of the NFL season. He is a good athlete, which tends to be his calling card in pass protection as he frequently relies on his athleticism in favor of his power. As a result, he isn’t the most physical blocker, and although he’s solid in the run game, he could work on playing with more power and intensity. He does a very good job of getting off the line of scrimmage, and he has good burst and agility in general, which he uses to his advantage when moving upfield. Walker is a bit of a boom or bust prospect, and if a team is willing to take a gamble on the player that he looked like a year ago, he could end up being a steal on late-day 2/early day 3, but he does have a low floor.

Darrian Kinnard, OT/OG, Kentucky (#122)

Andrew Wilbar: Kinnard is a mountain of a man who brings high potential to the table. Although he played right tackle in college, I see him as a guard in the NFL, as quicker NFL edge rushers are going to constantly beat him on inside moves if he remains at tackle. When Kinnard latches onto a defensive lineman and gets good hand placement, he can control the rep, but does not blow people off the ball as often as you would expect a tackle his size to do. His footwork is also a bit sloppy for a tackle, which is one of the primary reasons why I think his best fit is at guard in the NFL, at least at his current weight. He is definitely more of a vertical mover than a lateral mover, and unless he drops some weight and improves his lateral quickness, he will need to go to a team that runs primarily man or gap concepts.

D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State (#120)

Andrew Wilbar: Jackson’s play speed and physicality is impressive when you watch him on tape. Despite his lack of elite size, Jackson has a nasty streak in him, delivering big hits on opposing ball-carriers consistently. I also came away impressed with Jackson’s ability to close holes quickly. The instincts to predict which hole the runner is going to go through is evident on tape as well, as he is quick to shoot gaps and plug holes in the run game. While I do have concerns about his change-of-direction skills and fluidity in coverage, I do like his ability as a blitzer. He is incredibly lethal on delayed blitzes, displaying fantastic closing speed. Size and agility are the potential downsides here, but once we get to day three, there will be plenty of teams who are willing to take a risk on him.

Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin (#150)

Jeremy Betz: Sanborn is the definition of a “tweener”, with no real defined place in a traditional defense. He plays faster than he runs and is a sideline-to-sideline missile who attacks ball-carriers with gusto. Many scouting reports on Sanborn talk about a smart, high-effort player with limited athleticism. A team drafting the Wisconsin product is hoping that competitive drive and quick-processing ability translate to a productive rotational ILB at the next level.

Nephi Sewell, LB, Utah (#374)

Ryland B.: Sewell would definitely be a popular pick for those who value football bloodlines. Nephi is one of four brothers to play college football, with his older sibling Penei being the 7th overall pick last year for Detroit. Listed at 6’0” and 228 lbs, Sewell is undersized for the position with good-not-great athleticism. He’s great in zone coverage, showing good awareness and excellent movement skills, looking as fluid as a DB at times. However, while he’s physical against the run, his lack of size and strength minimize his impact. His high character and coverage skills could make him an intriguing 7th round/UDFA pickup with the upside of a very good special teamer.

Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M (#125)

Ryland B.: Spiller is a productive SEC back with good production and athleticism. What’s not to like? He’s a tough runner with top-notch acceleration and decent long speed for his size. What stands out with Spiller is his excellent vision. He’s very smart and efficient in his cuts, being difficult to bring down behind the line of scrimmage and running with excellent angles in the open field. While not particularly shifty in the traditional sense, he is surprisingly hard to bring down due to his power, vision, and ability to change direction without losing much speed. As a pass-catcher, Spiller hasn’t seen a ton of action, but he has good hands and is a solid route-runner. He has enough tools to be a versatile weapon in most offenses. Easily one of the best running backs in the class, Spiller should be a good pick in the late first or early second round for a running back needy team.

Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame (#158)

NecksNation: Williams may be undersized, but he plays above his frame. The 21 year old displayed impressive versatility at Notre Dame, which should translate well to the NFL. However, his lack of size may preclude him from being a traditional “feature back” at the next level, which could hurt his draft stock. Williams experienced a slight regression from his sophomore to junior year, but he saw a slight uptick in his receiving production. He should prove to be a valuable asset in the passing game, between his receiving skills and his stellar pass protection. He was clocked at a 4.44 40 yard dash, and although that number should change shortly, he’s quite athletic and has impressive strength. I noticed that he had a bit of a tendency to get tripped up, but for the most part he was solid when it came to breaking tackles. Williams may not be an every down star back in the NFL, but he should be a solid all around contributor for whatever team drafts him.

Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida (#154)

Andrew Wilbar: Pierce may be one of the most underrated running back prospects. He has good speed, shiftiness, and contact balance. Pierce is not a bulldozer, but he does have some sneaky power, and he does a great job of withstanding serious contact. His lower body strength is evident on tape when you see him carrying a couple defenders and picking up an extra yard or two. He is at his best, however, when he can run laterally and use his agile, elusive style of running to make defenders miss. He also has incredibly good footwork, which allows him to stop on a dime and be nearly impossible to bring down one-on-one in the open field. While all this sounds enticing, we have not seen it consistently enough. He does not always do a great job of seeing the hole before it closes, and he does not have elite short-area quickness, which is most noticeable when he is running in between the tackles. There is definitely some upside with Pierce, but let’s see how consistent he is the week of the Senior Bowl.

Zamir White, RB, Georgia (#142)

Noah: White is a powerful runner with good lower body strength and leg drive. His combination of size, vision and burst will make him a solid backup with potential to be a full time starter. However, he’ll be 23 when the season starts, and while that’s not bad for a rookie, running backs tend to age a little quicker than other positions and he already has a lot of carries for his physical playstyle. That, along with his lack of long speed could limit his potential. If he’s put in a good situation, he could be successful very early in his career. I like him going to the Falcons a lot.

Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU (#128)

NecksNation: Allgeier’s combination of bulk and athleticism immediately stands out, which provides him with a high ceiling in the NFL. He supposedly ran a 4.4 40 yard dash, and although he doesn’t seem to play with that same speed, he is quite explosive when he gets going. He had an unusual 2019 season, when he spent time at both running back and linebacker, but ultimately settled on being a RB. It’s worked out for him ever since, tallying 2731 yards in 24 games over the past two seasons. Allgeier doesn’t have great agility, but he’s certainly capable of breaking tackles and he certainly is a big play threat, as he rattled off numerous big runs in his career at BYU. He isn’t a big factor in the receiving game, but his production on run plays more than compensates. He would certainly be considered a downhill runner, a trait that serves him well when breaking tackles and accelerating. Allgeier certainly has the potential to be a feature back at the next level, and should at least develop into a solid change of pace back for an NFL team.

Tyler Badie, RB, Mizzou (#191)

Andrew Wilbar: Don’t let the size fool you. Badie is a very durable back who was a true bell cow for the Tigers’ offense. Despite taking a beating in several big games down the stretch, he withheld the beating and recorded several huge performances down the stretch, accumulating 574 yards on 102 carries over the final three games. His low center of gravity allows him to withstand contact, and he has quick feet than allow him to make tacklers miss in the open field. However, I do not see him as an every-down back. He reminds me a lot of Devin Singletary coming out of college in that he is a small, durable running back who lacks the size or top-end speed to ever become anything special against NFL athletes. Nonetheless, he could absolutely be a nice number two running back in a system that allows him to run outside the tackles and make an impact as a receiver on third downs.

Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech (#137)

Andrew Wilbar: Some players just defy the limitations for certain positions. With Barno, he has defied the speed limitations of the traditional EDGE rusher. He ran an insane 4.36 in the 40 at the combine, but the crazier part is that he just about plays to that speed on tape. Unfortunately, there is not much here other than raw speed. He does not have the strength to successfully convert his speed to power on bull rushes, and his change-of-direction skills are merely average. Hand usage and pad level need a good bit of work as well. Overall, he is a boom-or-bust prospect who would be best suited for a team that will allow him to be just a rotational pass rusher until he builds up his strength.

Jesse Luketa, EDGE, Penn State (#140)

Andrew Wilbar: Luketa is one of my favorite day-three prospects in the draft. While his athletic testing was unbelievably poor, he put out impressive tape in 2021 for scouts to look at. The numbers are not going to jump off the page, but he began playing a snap at outside linebacker here and there as the season went on. He was primarily a middle linebacker at Penn State, but to me, it was as clear as day that he was playing out of position. When aligned at outside linebacker, he simply displayed a better feel for the game. He timed his jumps off the line of scrimmage almost perfectly, and he looked incredibly smooth coming around the edge, displaying a natural feel for rushing the passer. While his straight-line speed may not be elite, he has excellent closing speed, and he rarely misses a tackle once he closes on the ball-carrier. If the Steelers can grab him late on day three, it would be one of the best value picks in the entire draft.

Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon (#155)

Ryland B.: In a fairly deep safety class, McKinley’s 6 interception season might have flown under the radar. But the Oregon safety might be some great value for a team in the middle rounds, or even a surprise day 2 selection. What stands out regarding McKinley is his ball skills. He’s an elite ballhawk who can make acrobatic interceptions and undercut routes, while also possessing the type of football IQ where the football just seems to find him wherever he is on the field. He has good coverage skills overall with some versatility as a slot defender. Against the run, McKinley isn’t elite, but he’s an adequate tackler with good football smarts. The biggest knock on McKinley is his measurables. At 5’11” and 194 pounds he’s a bit short and undersized for the position. And although an adequate athlete at the college level, McKinley seemingly lacks the range of a great coverage safety in the NFL. Still, he has a fairly high floor and should be able to start early on in his NFL career.

Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo (#143)

Andrew Wilbar: Anderson is an athletic safety with a high ceiling, but adding more weight may help him when coming downhill to defend the run, as he lacks ideal functional strength for the position. Anderson has good closing speed, and he closes open throwing windows in a hurry, but he struggles to finish tackles against a vast majority of running backs and tight ends because of his lack of strength. Having a better understanding of tackling angles would help him as well. Nonetheless, his production and talent make him worthy of a mid-round selection. He will just need time to fully develop.

Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, USC (#166)

Andrew Wilbar: In case you were wondering, Pola-Mao is the cousin of Steelers legend Troy Polamalu. It is surprising that he has flown under the radar, as there is a ton of untapped potential here. He is a physical safety who is not afraid to lower his shoulder and blast opposing receivers and running backs. Do not let his physical play style fool you though, as he displays plenty of range in coverage as well. I just feel as if USC failed to put him in position to create splash plays in 2021, and I also feel as if he was playing out of position, aligning primarily at free safety for the Trojans. At 6’3”, I think the best scenario would be for him to add a few pounds and move to strong safety, where his physicality and blitzing ability would be utilized in a better way. Pola-Mao is more than likely not the next Troy, but he could be a nice toy for Teryl Austin in the secondary. If you would like to look into Pola-Mao’s game more extensively, check out this film breakdown by former BTSC contributor and current Pro Football Network analyst Nick Farabaugh.

Quentin Lake, S, UCLA (#172)

Andrew Wilbar: Quentin, the son of former Steeler Carnell Lake, was one of my day three sleepers in the 2021 draft class, but he decided to return to school in an attempt to improve his draft stock. He is primarily a free safety who brings solid athleticism and great instincts to the table. He has become much stronger against the run, and his tackling angles have also improved. He has also become unafraid to lower his shoulder, get dirty, and lower the boom on an opposing receiver. Overall, there is not much to complain about with Lake, especially when you consider that you will only be spending a late-round pick on him. Playing in a weak conference and playing games late at night may partially be why he is getting hyped so little, but don’t overthink it. Lake is a good football player who should definitely make an impact in the NFL, whether it be as a starter, backup, or special teamer. You can check out his full interview with Jeremy and me below.

Connor Heyward, FB/TE, Michigan State (#200)

Andrew Wilbar: The brother of Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, Connor is a fairly athletic fullback who can be used as a runner, blocker, and receiver. Heyward was used as a running back his first four seasons at Michigan State, but he willingly changed positions and played the role of an H-back. He is listed as a tight end on the Spartans’ website, but he will most definitely be considered a fullback headed into the NFL. Heyward is a good blocker who, much like his brother, displays great effort and toughness on every down. Just to give insight as to how versatile he is, Michigan State used him as a kick returner his first two seasons in Lansing as well as making him a rotational running back. As a blocker, Heyward plays to the whistle and beats his opponents with physicality. I wanted Ben Mason in last year’s draft, but if the Steelers decide to part ways with Derek Watt, perhaps Cam Heyward will be the next Steeler to have a family member join him on the team.

Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina (#108)

Jeremy Betz: Likely is the the epitome of today’s hybrid players at the TE position. He moves well, relying on speed, size, and fluidity to win down the field. Comps favorably to Noah Fant when he came out of Iowa, although Likely is a tad slower. Teams looking for a mismatch in the passing game could look to Likely on Day 2 of the Draft. He’s too big for corners and too fast for LBs, but he will likely (had to do it) struggle as a blocker at the next level and will need development in that area. Get him in an NFL weight room while maximizing his receiving talent early, and Likely could become a high-end playmaker relatively early in his career.

Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State (#93)

Necksnation: The first thing that jumps out about Kolar is his size. At 6’6’’ and 260 pounds, he certainly has the frame to succeed in the NFL. He had consistent production as a receiver at Iowa State from his sophomore to senior seasons, and is a capable blocker when he’s not catching passes. His hands are outstanding, and although he isn’t a great athlete, he has value as a red zone threat that he showcased throughout college. His drop rate of 3% makes him a very reliable option to a QB. Kolar is a pretty good blocker, but his height can cause him to lose leverage, which is something that could use work between now and when he makes his pro debut. He isn’t much of a threat after the catch, and he doesn’t create separation so easily, so he functions best when playing against zone and when he doesn’t have to gain many yards after the catch. Kolar projects as a day three pick who can be a decent red zone threat and reliable TE2 in the NFL.

Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin (#195)

Ryland B.: Want a high-floor tight end prospect who can block and be an impact in the red zone? Look no further than Ferguson. He’s not exactly the biggest tight end, and not the most athletic, but he carved out a nice career at Wisconsin for simply being good at football. He’s a great blocker who plays with aggression and excellent drive, even being deployed as a fullback at times. If I had one complaint it would be that he could improve in holding onto blocks a little bit longer, but Ferguson is one of the best blockers in this year’s tight end class. In the passing game he’s not a separator, but Ferguson has reliable hands and can make contested circus grabs. His primary usage as a blocker also made him find a lot of success catching roll-out passes out of play-action. Ferguson may never be a star at the NFL level, but he’ll be a rock-solid contributor, especially in the right offense.

Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M (#259)

Ryland B.: Wydermyer is a big-bodied, lanky, tight end in the mold of Kyle Pitts. He has good speed and is an incredibly smooth-athlete for his size. His burst and change of direction aren’t anything to write home about but more than adequate for the position. Wydermyer has good hands and should be a natural fit as a receiving tight end at the next level. As a blocker, Wydermyer isn’t exactly a natural, but he shows top-notch effort. Wydermyer shows that he wants to be a factor in the run game, so his blocking is something that could likely be improved at the next level, fully rounding out his game.

Grant Calcaterra, TE, SMU (#366)

Ryland B.: Calcaterra is an athletic receiving tight end who has had good college production. However, he has some injury issues and he lacks strength and form when it comes to blocking.

Grading the Steelers second round selection of George Pickens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Georgia WR George Pickens with the 52nd selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Great news, Steelers Nation. The 2022 NFL Draft is finally upon us. Every rabid football fans version of Christmas in April.

I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Georgia WR George Pickens with the 52nd selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

George Pickens has game changing potential. At 6'3" and 200 lbs., he is an impressive physical specimen. Pickens is blessed with superior long speed, running a 4.47 forty, to go along with an incredible catch radius due to his lanky frame. He excels at high pointing the football, thanks in part to his length and strong hands.

Pickens possesses an extra gear that allows him to separate late against coverage, especially on deep routes. He currently has a limited route tree, but his talent and work ethic suggest he has the potential to improve in that area. He displayed the necessary work ethic and toughness to return from an torn ACL ahead of schedule in 2021, although he never appeared to be close to 100% in his four games played.

Pickens needs work on his playing strength and technique, specifically his release off the line of scrimmage against press coverage. You can be sure that NFL caliber defensive backs will exploit this weakness to stop him before he gets started. This is inevitable, because if he is even he is leaving, due to the extra gear I mentioned earlier. Pickens doesn't offer much as a blocker, but that can be alleviated with improved functional strength. Make no mistake, Pickens plays the receiver position with bad intentions, even if that intensity isn't always evident in his run blocking.

Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers second round selection of George Pickens an initial draft grade of B+.

George Pickens is a exceptional deep threat with first round characteristics; size, speed, and a "my ball" mentality, that the Steelers were able to acquire with a second round selection. The Steelers entered the draft with a real need for a slot receiver and a deep threat. Pickens takes care of the latter. He will need time and hard work to improve on his aforementioned areas of weakness, but the talent to do just that is already there.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome George Pickens to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go, Steelers!

Steelers Press Conferences and video after picking George Pickens and DeMarvin Leal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 6:30am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their next two draft picks, and there is plenty to talk about.

The 2022 NFL Draft is officially underway, and on Friday, Rounds 2 and 3, the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed at their designated picks to make their selections. Listening to Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert earlier in the week, it was clear positions they wanted to address after the quarterbacks. Wide receiver and defensive line were certainly two of them.

And they weren’t wrong.

When the Steelers selected George Pickens, wide receiver out of the University of Georgia, they addressed a huge need at the position. On top of that, in Round 3 they selected DeMarvin Leal, defensive lineman out of Texas A&M.

Following the picks, different members of the Steelers’ coaching staff met with the media to talk about the picks, as well as some other video Steelers fans might enjoy watching. Coordinators Matta Canada and Teryl Austin were the two coaches to take to the microphones.

As always, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Matt Canada Press Conference

#LIVE: Round 2 Post-Pick Analysis & Press Conference https://t.co/RHZeFZv3Nn

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2022

Post Round 2 Breakdown

.@missi_matthews & @WilliamsonNFL talk about the @steelers selection of WR George Pickens in the second round. pic.twitter.com/04MOnUh0iX

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) April 30, 2022

Teryl Austin Press Conference

#LIVE: Round 3 Post-Pick Analysis & Press Conference https://t.co/pereWxjlt0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2022

Post Round 3 Breakdown

.@missi_matthews & @WilliamsonNFL talk about the @steelers third round pick of DE DeMarvin Leal. pic.twitter.com/dU27jBdENI

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) April 30, 2022

2022 NFL Draft Day 3: TV schedule, start time, more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 5:30am
Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All the information to watch or listen to Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft over a variety of platforms.

Day 1 & 2 of the 2022 NFL draft are now behind us. The Pittsburgh Steelers have stayed put and made their scheduled selections and addressed three positions many expected them to take. With four more scheduled picks, the Steelers still have a few positions they will likely add, but which order they go will depends on how the draft falls. Will the Steelers make a move to go get a player? Will they trade back to gain more picks? The only way we’re going to find out is to tune in.

So you don’t miss any of the action, listed below is the schedule for this year’s NFL draft, which rounds and picks will be drafted on Saturday, and the various place you can watch or listen to the draft.

Be sure to check out the DraftKings Sportsbook for all the latest odds.

2022 NFL Draft Schedule TV: ABC, NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes Online: Fubo (Click HERE to create a Fubo Account and stream the entire draft), Sling TV, YouTube TV, Direct TV stream, Hulu with live TV
ESPN app or ESPN+: Click HERE to watch LIVE! Radio (Nationally): SiriusXM, Westwood One, ESPN Radio
Radio (Locally): Steelers Nation Radio— Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com or on the Steelers Official Mobile App. Saturday, April 30, 2022

12 PM EST Rounds 4 through 7 (picks 106- 262)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing a live broadcast on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel following each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcast. Just like the first two days, there will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following each selection.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 04/30/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: The Steelers cross the “Pickett Line” to select a QB

The Steelers selected Pitt QB Kenny Pickett with their first-round choice in the 2022 NFL Draft. How about the perspective of a coach regarding the newest Steel City signal caller?Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The pros and cons of Kenny Pickett
  • and MUCH MORE!
Breaking News: The Steelers select Georgia WR George Pickens in Round 2

The Round 2 pick is in. The Steelers addressed the Wide Receiver position with the choice of George Pickens from Georgia with the 52nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. Join BTSC Editor Dave Schofield with immediate reaction to the pick.

BTSC Steelers 2022 Draft Roundtable: Welcome to Pittsburgh, George Pickens

After picking Kenny Pickett yesterday, there were so many possibilities for the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 52th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. When the time came around for the selection to be read at the podium, the player announced was WR George Pickens of Georgia. With help from some BTSC friends, Geoffrey Benedict, Andrew Wilbar and Shannon White break down the pick of Pickens on the latest episode of the BTSC Draft Roundtable.

Breaking News: The Steelers select DeMarvin Leal in Round 3

The Steelers Round 3 pick is in. The black and gold addressed the defensive line position with the choice of DT DeMarvin Leal from Texas A&M with the 84th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Join BTSC Editor Dave Schofield with immediate reaction to the pick.

BTSC Steelers 2022 Draft Roundtable: Welcome to Pittsburgh, DeMarvin Leal

After going heavy on offense, there were so many possibilities for the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 84th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. When the time came around for the selection to be read at the podium, the player announced was DT DeMarvin Leal of Texas A&M. With help from some BTSC friends, Matty Peverell, Andrew Wilbar, Jeremy Betz and Tony Defeo break down the pick of Leal on the latest episode of the BTSC Draft Roundtable.

The BTSC Steelers 2022 Day 2 Draft Wrap Up

The Steelers nabbed WR George Pickens of Georgia and DT DeMarvin Leal of Texas A&M in Rounds 2 and 3 respectively to go with QB Kenny Pickett. Join BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony as they wrap up the Steelers’ Day 2 efforts in the NFL Draft.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

DeMarvin Leal comes to the Steelers with a chip on his shoulder

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 10:30pm
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Day 2 pick for the Steelers has plenty of motivation fueling him to perform for the black and gold.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected DeMarvin Leal out of Texas A&M with their third round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, many fans all likely asked the same question...

“Who?!”

For those who follow the college game, they know Leal’s 2020 season had many believing after 2021 he would be a Top 10 draft pick. However, his 2021 season didn’t go as planned and he found his draft stock plummet.

Some say he was too much of a “tweener” not having the genuine build of a position, while others thought he would need to gain muscle to play more on the interior at the NFL level. Here is an overview of Leal as a player, per NFL.com:

Early entry defensive lineman who appears to be caught between “best fit” positions at this time. Leal possesses adequate rush skills and knows how to craft a rush plan, but a lack of suddenness and closing burst turns potential sacks into hurries without the help of a long pocket count. When the motor is cranked up, he can stack and slide past run blockers with efficiency and quickness. He didn’t put together the tape that was expected and disappointing reps against Evan Neal (Alabama) and Charles Cross (Mississippi State) could create concerns about his pro readiness. Most will see him as an even-front defender in some capacity, but playing 3-4 DE might be his best fit as a pro.

When Thursday’s first round came and went without Leal hearing his name called, he wasn’t too pleased. While this can be expected, Leal took to his Twitter account to make a very brief, but concise, message.

Lol I actually like this… y’all gonna pay

— DeMarvin Leal (@boimarv9) April 29, 2022

It wasn’t until Round 3 when Leal finally got a phone call telling him he was getting drafted, and the call was from Mike Tomlin. Below you can see video of Leal’s reaction of talking with Tomlin and having the weight of waiting to be selected finally off his shoulders.

Here’s DeMarvin Leal talking with Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin.
Steelers drafted him in 3rd round, 84th overall. #NFLDraft @boimarv9 @JudsonFootball @InstantReplaySA #GigEm pic.twitter.com/ubT3gjCIdq

— Larry Ramirez (@LRam2) April 30, 2022

Considering Leal is a Texas A&M alumni, he has two players on the current Steelers roster who know him well. Offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. and linebacker Buddy Johnson, both were drafted in the 2021 draft. When the pick was made, Johnson took to his verified Twitter account to tell Steelers fans the player they got was nothing short of a “steal”.

Wow! This is stealing https://t.co/JDtLWinnWS

— Buddy Johnson (@Foebg_1) April 30, 2022

Most would say there are reasons why players fall in the NFL Draft. Sometimes the reasons are medically driven, while others can be driven by off field issues. Why Leal fell to the Steelers in Round 3 isn’t completely known, but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was shocked he was still available when it was the team’s time to make their 3rd round pick.

Will Leal be a rotational piece on the outside in the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme? Or will he be more of an interior player, providing insurance in case Stephon Tuitt isn’t able to play in 2022? Only time will tell, but Leal brings a nice chip on his shoulder to Pittsburgh to use for motivation.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for Day 3 of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Knee Jerk Reactions to the Steelers taking DeMarvin Leal in Round 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 9:55pm
Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his initial and real time unadulterated reactions to the Steelers third selection of the 2022 NFL draft.

Knee-jerk Reactions are immediate responses to a situation without taking the time to analyze the situation. That’s something as sports fans that we typically do. Especially if you are a full blood Yinzer, or even just a part Yinzer. As is the custom, I compile my knee jerk thoughts and publish them immediately after each Steelers game. It’s my version of running my mouth first and apologizing later. So with that being said, I’m going to employ that philosophy here during the NFL Draft.

If you missed the Steelers Round 2 pick earlier, you can see it here:

  • And we’re back!
  • It seems like the trade craziness is going to keep rolling.
  • Looks like no quarterbacks in the second round. One total so far. And he’s in Pittsburgh.
  • The Browns are finally picking... in Round 3. And they go cornerback.
  • The third round pick in the Scho Bro Show mock draft went to Seattle 12 picks before the Steelers.
  • And the second quarterback finally goes, and it’s Desmond Ridder to the Falcons.
  • The Ravens grab defensive lineman Travis Jones at 76. I’m sure the Steelers fans are loving that.
  • This is why you don’t fall in love with prospects— too many end up wearing purple.
  • Five picks away, and I have no idea what direction the Steelers are going to go.
  • Nakobe Dean finally goes one pick ahead of the Steelers
  • Steelers are on the clock! Will they go defense?
  • DeMarvin Leal, defensive tackle from Texas A&M
  • This was a player who was mocked in the first round very early on but kept falling.
  • The Tennessee Titans traded up to take Malik Willis in the 3rd round. Finally the guy gets a home.
  • As for Leal, he’s a big dude with long arms. The Steelers will hopefully work their magic and turn him into a force in the middle!
  • That’s QB, WR, and DL so far. What will we see tomorrow?
  • Going to call it a night. Back tomorrow to cover rounds four through seven.

There you have it, my knee jerks. I’m going to sleep on these and see how how I feel about them in the morning, and then on to day three.

For more information on this pick, check out BTSC’s breaking news podcast below:

Draft Results: Steelers select DeMarvin Leal with 3rd Round pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 9:47pm
Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Texas A&M defender DeMarvin Leal with their 3rd Round pick in the 2022 draft.

Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring needs on their roster.

With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: quarterback, safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.

Friday night the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, so the need at quarterback was off the board. With their first pick on Day 2, the Steelers took George Pickens, wide receiver from Georgia, which took the pass catcher off the team need list.

On Day 2, Round 3, when the dust settled, the Steelers selected Texas A&M defender DeMarvin Leal, with their third pick in the draft.

The Steelers select DeMarvin Leal, defensive lineman out of Texans A&M

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) April 30, 2022

The move puts Leal with former Aggie teammates Dan Moore Jr. and Buddy Johnson who were selected in the 2021 draft. On top of this, he will a welcome addition to the Steelers’ defensive line which is getting long in the tooth, and a certain amount of uncertainty still swirling around Stephon Tuitt.

For those who want to know more about Pickens, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on the former Texas A&M defender:

Ryland B.: I can see the hype surrounding Leal’s play but I still have some concerns. He has a great combination of size and athleticism, and plays with good strength and power. But despite being a natural fit on the inside, he was used as an edge rusher in 2021, which showcased Leal’s versatility but may postpone his development as an interior defender. His athleticism was evident on the outside, but Leal lacks the requisite burst and bend necessary to play the position at the NFL. He also seems to play a bit high which may result in him losing the leverage battle at first in the pros. Despite some issues regarding his technique and position, Leal has plenty of football smarts. As already mentioned, he’s a versatile player, but also a sure tackler who is extremely effective and disciplined against the run. His pass-rush isn’t on the same level, but Leal plays with choppy hands and a good motor. In the end, Leal is a certain early-round prospect who may be a bit of a project, but he has elite upside as a defensive lineman.

For a scouting report on Pickens, here is an in-depth analysis per NFL.com:

Early entry defensive lineman who appears to be caught between “best fit” positions at this time. Leal possesses adequate rush skills and knows how to craft a rush plan, but a lack of suddenness and closing burst turns potential sacks into hurries without the help of a long pocket count. When the motor is cranked up, he can stack and slide past run blockers with efficiency and quickness. He didn’t put together the tape that was expected and disappointing reps against Evan Neal (Alabama) and Charles Cross (Mississippi State) could create concerns about his pro readiness. Most will see him as an even-front defender in some capacity, but playing 3-4 DE might be his best fit as a pro.

Strengths

  • Lands hands quickly with initial strike.
  • Hands and feet work well together.
  • Efficient in punching and sliding around the block at point of attack.
  • Treats staggered blocks in his direction like a bag drill.
  • Hips and shoulder-turn to entice whiffed blocks.
  • Uses one-arm press to lift and separate.
  • Rushes with a plan.
  • Ability to toggle between finesse and power.
  • Times counters according to blocker’s weight distribution.
  • Spin counter is quick and well-balanced.

Weaknesses

  • Lacks clear-cut position fit.
  • Below-average contain quickness and range as a DE.
  • Late getting lateral versus zone blocks.
  • Average knockback pop as interior defender.
  • Pass rush lacks suddenness to put blocker in a bind.
  • Disappointing acceleration as looper on tackle/end twists.
  • Gradual closing burst turns would-be sacks into hurries.

What do you think about the pick? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below:

For more information on the Steelers’ 3rd round pick of Leal, check out the Breaking News podcast in the player below:

NFL Draft: Round 3 Steelers news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 8:28pm
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Be sure to stay in tune with the Steelers for their Round 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft is HERE!! No more mock drafts. No more breakdowns. No more educated guesses. No more scenarios.

No, it is time to sit back and see who the Steelers select in Rounds 2-3, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have the one pick in each round.

If you need information on the upcoming event, here is some solid stuff for you below:

2022 NFL Draft Schedule TV: ABC, NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes Online: Fubo (Click HERE to create a Fubo Account and stream the entire draft), Sling TV, YouTube TV, Direct TV stream, Hulu with live TV
ESPN app or ESPN+: Click HERE to watch LIVE!
Radio (Nationally): SiriusXM, Westwood One, ESPN Radio
Radio (Locally): Steelers Nation Radio— Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com or on the Steelers Official Mobile App. Friday April 29, 2022

7 PM EST Rounds 2 & 3 (picks 33- 105)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing live broadcasts on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel Friday night for a recap and breakdown after each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcasts. There will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following each selection.

Saturday April 30, 2022

12 PM EST Rounds 4 through 7 (picks 106- 262)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing a live broadcast on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel following each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcast. Just like the first two days, there will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following each selection.

Steelers draft picks in each round:

Here are the selections the Steelers are scheduled to make in the 2022 draft:

Round 1

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 20 — Kenny Pickett, QB, University of Pittsburgh

Round 2

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 52

Round 3

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 84

Round 4

Pick No. 33 / Overall: 138 (Comp)

Round 5

No Pick

Round 6

Pick No. 30 / Overall: 208 (via KC)

Round 7

Pick No. 4 / Overall: 225 (via NYJ)

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 241

Knee Jerk Reactions to the Steelers taking George Pickens in Round 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 8:05pm
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his initial and real time unadulterated reactions to the second pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2022 NFL draft.

Knee-jerk Reactions are immediate responses to a situation without taking the time to analyze the situation. That’s something as sports fans that we typically do. Especially if you are a full blood Yinzer, or even just a part Yinzer. As is the custom, I compile my knee jerk thoughts and publish them immediately after each Steelers game. It’s my version of running my mouth first and apologizing later (or not at all). So with that being said, I’m going to employ that philosophy here during the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

  • And here we go with Night 2!
  • Bucs go defensive lineman. No surprise there
  • And the trades roll on! Green Bay trades up for... yet another receiver.
  • And yet another trade trade, this time between the Jets and Giants
  • And the first running back goes at pick 36
  • And now the Falcons trade up and the Giants move back again. That’s 12 trade in the top 38 picks.
  • Is anybody going to make their own pick in Round 2?
  • Andrew Wilbar is crying because the Vikings trade up to get CB Andrew Booth.
  • It took 10 minutes to actually announce the Vikings pick, so Andrew had even longer to cry.
  • Now the Browns are trading down despite it being their first pick. Or at least it was supposed to be.
  • Another defensive lineman off the board in Mathis. But there are a lot of options for the Steelers with 5 picks to go.
  • Even with some good names coming off the board, there are still a lot there.
  • And the Patriots trade up. My goodness!
  • The Steelers are on the clock! Wide receiver or defensive line?
  • And the pick in Georgia wide receiver George Pickens
  • Tall receiver who is the deep threat.
  • Pickett to Pickens? Some liked that idea yesterday.
  • It’s the Steelers. It’s a wide receiver. I trust them.
  • There will be some debate if he was the right receiver here, but it’s pretty much personal preference.
  • With Sky Moore going to KC, there’s gonna be a lot of eyes on Pickens.
  • The Steelers took a long look at Pickens at the Bulldog Pro Day.
  • Now it’s 30 more picks until the Steelers are scheduled to pick again.

There you have it, my knee jerks. Not a lot of time to process, as I am already looking on to round three and where the Steelers might go with their pick.

Check out more on this pick in the BTSC breaking news podcast:

Draft Results: Steelers select Georgia WR George Pickens with 2nd Round pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 7:55pm
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected WR George Pickens with their 2nd Round pick in the 2022 draft.

Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring needs on their roster.

With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: quarterback, safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.

Friday night the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, so the need at quarterback was off the board.

On Day 2, when the dust settled, the Steelers selected University of Georgia wide receiver George Pickens, with their second pick in the draft.

Steelers take George Pickens

— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) April 30, 2022

The move puts Pickens, who is coming off a national championship season with the Georgia Bulldogs, will be a welcome addition to the Steelers’ wide receiving corps who lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud in free agency.

For those who want to know more about Pickens, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on the former Bulldog:

Ryland B.: Pickens is a big, tall, and lanky receiver who the Steelers have shown some pre-draft interest in. He’s not the shiftiest guy in this class, but he’s a solid route runner with great long speed, making him a physical deep threat down the field. Pickens has natural hands, a wide catch radius, and great ball-tracking ability. Pickens has a nasty competitive streak as well. His biggest concern was an ACL injury, but Pickens was able to compete in the combine and ran an impressive 4.4 40-yard dash which quelled some of the concerns. He’s currently projected as a second-round pick, but Pickens has the potential to be an excellent boundary receiver.

For a scouting report on Pickens, here is an in-depth analysis per NFL.com:

Lanky perimeter wideout with exciting ball skills but in desperate need of additional play strength and a clean bill of health. Resilient to make it back so quickly after an ACL tear, but needs to show quick-cutting ability for route-running. Pickens possesses borderline elite ball skills with in-air adjustments, strong hands and an enormous catch radius. However, he fails to put defenders on his hip and command the catch space to make his work less cluttered. The routes need more polish and physicality but he has the athletic ability to become a viable target on all three levels as a likely Day 2 draft pick with a little wider gap between ceiling and floor than NFL teams might like.

Strengths

  • Battled back from spring ACL tear to play late in the 2021 season.
  • Off-hand and burst help defeat and overtake press.
  • Makes quick stop-and-turn on drive routes.
  • Creates throwing windows with suddenness at break points.
  • Feel for leveraging coverage away from the stem.
  • Plays with an appetite for the end zone.
  • Displays good focus in catching in a crowd.
  • Catches with sudden hands and elite catch radius.
  • Rises, extends and snatches throws way outside the frame.
  • Vice-grip hand strength rarely lets him down.

Weaknesses

  • Wiry frame lacks desired play strength.
  • Effectiveness can be diminished by physical press.
  • Must begin to fight back against route bullies.
  • Slight hitch getting in and out of stems.
  • Leaves coverage unstacked when he gets the early advantage.
  • Needs to learn to carve out and protect his catch space.
  • Allows trespassers to tilt 50/50 balls in their favor.
  • Has missed time due to injury, including the 2021 ACL tear.

What do you think about the pick? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below:

For more information on the Steelers pick of Pickens, check out the Breaking News podcast in the player below:

NFL Draft: Round 2 Steelers news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Be sure to stay in tune with the Steelers for their Round 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft is HERE!! No more mock drafts. No more breakdowns. No more educated guesses. No more scenarios.

No, it is time to sit back and see who the Steelers select in Rounds 2-3, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have the one pick in each round.

If you need information on the upcoming event, here is some solid stuff for you below:

2022 NFL Draft Schedule TV: ABC, NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes Online: Fubo (Click HERE to create a Fubo Account and stream the entire draft), Sling TV, YouTube TV, Direct TV stream, Hulu with live TV
ESPN app or ESPN+: Click HERE to watch LIVE!
Radio (Nationally): SiriusXM, Westwood One, ESPN Radio
Radio (Locally): Steelers Nation Radio— Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com or on the Steelers Official Mobile App. Friday April 29, 2022

7 PM EST Rounds 2 & 3 (picks 33- 105)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing live broadcasts on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel Friday night for a recap and breakdown after each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcasts. There will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following each selection.

Saturday April 30, 2022

12 PM EST Rounds 4 through 7 (picks 106- 262)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing a live broadcast on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel following each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcast. Just like the first two days, there will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following each selection.

Steelers draft picks in each round:

Here are the selections the Steelers are scheduled to make in the 2022 draft:

Round 1

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 20 — Kenny Pickett, QB, University of Pittsburgh

Round 2

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 52

Round 3

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 84

Round 4

Pick No. 33 / Overall: 138 (Comp)

Round 5

No Pick

Round 6

Pick No. 30 / Overall: 208 (via KC)

Round 7

Pick No. 4 / Overall: 225 (via NYJ)

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 241

Steelers reportedly tried to move up to No. 15 with the Texans to take Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 5:30pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Steelers lucked out by not having to move to get their guy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw the 2022 NFL Draft break just the right for them, as it pertains to quarterbacks available. When it was their turn to pick at No. 20, all quarterbacks remained available for the taking, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers didn’t think about moving up to get their guy.

According to Nick Caserio, via Brooks Kubena, the Steelers tried to move up to pick No. 15 with the Houston Texans, but Houston wasn’t willing to pass on prospects to make the trade.

Nick Caserio says the Texans had a chance to move from No. 15 to No. 20 (Steelers), but they were going to miss out on a group of players they liked and it made most sense to take the pick there.

— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) April 29, 2022

If this is true, the Steelers genuinely got lucky they were able to stay at No. 20 and still get the quarterback they wanted in Kenny Pickett.

Now, if the Steelers were looking to trade up for another prospect, a prospect not a quarterback, that might be a different story altogether. However, we, the fans, won’t know that unless it is made public by someone who was in either Houston’s or Pittsburgh’s war room during Round 1 of the draft.

The Steelers now move forward with their first round quarterback, hoping they found their next franchise quarterback. When will fans know the truth about whether Pickett fits the bill, or is just the start of a quarterback carousel in Pittsburgh? It might take some time, but Mike Tomlin has said there will be an open competition between Pickett, Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph this offseason.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday night and Saturday.

What we got right in the BTSC Staff Mock Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Mindy Small/Getty Images

Time to take a look back at what we got right, and wrong, in the annual BTSC Staff Mock Draft.

With the 2022 NFL Draft finally here, there were endless mocks and BTSC’s staff tried their hands at one as well nearly two weeks ago for unveiling on the BTSC Steelers Hangover. Quite a few things changed since the mock and trades were not a part of the exercise. In the end, a ton of fun was had and we only got one pick correct. I guess that’s why the teams make the picks and we report on it.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars - Dave Schofield

Mock Pick: Aidan Hutchinson - Michigan (No. 2 - Detroit)

Actual Pick: Travon Walker - Georgia (Jacksonville)

Although Travon Walker has emerged as a late possibility for the Jags, BTSC’s Editor adds a dominant pass rusher to the Jacksonville defense. The 6’7”, 260-pounder could still become the cornerstone of the Duval defense,

2) Detroit Lions - Jeremy Betz

Mock Pick: Kyle Hamilton - Notre Dame (No. 14 to Baltimore)

Actual Pick: Aidan Hutchinson - Michigan (Detroit)

Jeremy Betz: Really wanted to go Travon Walker, but DB is just too big a hole for the Coach Dan Campbell’s team to ignore.

Bryan Anthony Davis: Hamilton is an absolute playmaker. The 6’4” safety will keep offenses honest.

3) Houston Texans - Paul Yanchek

Mock Pick: Evan Neal - Alabama (No. 7 - New York Giants)

Actual Pick: Derek Stingley Jr. - LSU (Houston)

Paul Yanchek: Without a superstar QB (unless Davis Mills lights it up) the Texans will need a stud on the line to protect him and give him time.

Bryan Anthony Davis: The 6’8”, 337-pound Alabama tackle is massive, strong and accomplished against the best edge rushers in the NCAA. The real deal.

4) New York Jets - Tony Defeo

Mock Pick: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (No. 4 - New York Jets)

Actual Pick: Gardner (Jets)

The host of “The Steelers Friday Night Six Pack” and co-host of “The Steelers Hangover” At 6’3” and 190 pounds, Gardner brings the sauce to the Big Apple. He could be an elite corner for the Jets that ranked last in defense in 2021.

5) New York Giants - Chris Pugh

Mock Pick: Charles Cross - Mississippi State (No. 9 - Seattle)

Actual Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux - Oregon (New York Giants)

Chris Pugh: Nate Solder had a hefty contract and was released, so the Giants need a replacement at tackle for him. Charles Cross is a great choice. Don’t be shocked if this is offered to a team looking to trade up past Carolina and Atlanta in order to get a quarterback.

Bryan Anthony Davis: At 6’5” and 307 pounds, Cross is physical and strong. Probably the most complete OT in the draft.

6) Carolina Panthers - Michael Beck

Mock Pick: Malik Willis - Liberty (Not selected in Round 1)

Actual Pick: Ikem Ekwonu - North Carolina State (Carolina Panthers)

Michael Beck: They are the second most interested team in a quarterback and they take one first.

Bryan Anthony Davis: A true playmaker who can pass. He could be the future face of the NFL. The 6’1” athletic specimen may need time to develop though.

7) New York Giants (from Chicago Bears) - Kevin Tate

Mock Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux - Oregon (No. 5 - New York Giants)

Actual Pick: OT Evan Neal - Alabama (New York Giants)

The host of “We Run the North” penciled in a destructive 6’4” and 254 pound-pass rusher to revive a struggling defensive unit. Thibodeux is a perfect blend of explosiveness and power.

8) Atlanta Falcons - Joe Frost

Mock Pick: Ikem Ekwonu - North Carolina State (No. 6 - Carolina)

Actual Pick: Drake London - USC (Atlanta Falcons)

Joe Frost: I had wanted Cross here, but stupid Giants. Gotta protect that Mariota. He be fragile.

Bryan Anthony Davis: Even at 6’4” and 310 pounds, Ekwonu has quickness and could be an All-Pro LT anywhere he ends up.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) - Greg Benevent

Mock Pick: Jermaine Johnson II - Florida State (No. 26 - New York Jets)

Actual Pick: Charles Cross - Mississippi State (Seattle Seahawks)

The co-host of “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout” selected the Seminole for Seattle. JJ2 has a long 6’5” frame and is very quick at getting to the passer. He could be a guy to facilitate a rebuild of a once glorious defense.

10) New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks) - Marky Davison

Mock Pick: Jordan Davis - Georgia (No. 13 - Philadelphia)

Actual Pick: Garrett Wilson - Ohio State (New York Jets)

Mark Davison: Keeping with Tony D’s Hot Sauce pick. Let’s keep adding to the defense. Because let’s face it, the Jets offense is boring to watch. Robert Sallah will love the addition of “New Fridge” to the team. The dudes a unit. Let’s go J-E-T-S... Jets, Jets, Jets!

Bryan Anthony Davis: Davis, at 6’6” and 341 is both an irresistible force and an immovable object.

11) Washington Commanders - Bryan Anthony Davis

Mock Pick: Garrett Wilson - Ohio State (No. 10 - New York Jets)

Actual Pick: Trade with New Orleans Saints - Chris Olave - Ohio State (New Orleans Saints)

Bryan Anthony Davis: The 6-0, 183-pound Buckeye is wicked fast, acrobatic and joins a WR stable that, besides Terry McLaurin, is like a 70-year-old granny... fairly barren.

12) Minnesota Vikings - Andrew Wilbar

Mock Pick: Travon Walker - Georgia (No. 1 - Jacksonville)

Actual Pick: Trade with Detroit Lions - Jameson Williams - Alabama (Detroit Lions)

Andrew Wilbar: Minnesota did add Za’Darius Smith to the mix, but the value with Walker is just too good to pass up. He will not slide this far in the real draft, and it would not shock me if Jacksonville pulls the trigger on him #1 overall.

Jeremy Betz: Classic BPA.

13) Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) - Kyle Chrise

Mock Pick: Drake London - USC (No. 8 - Atlanta Falcons)

Actual Pick: Trade with Philadelphia - Jordan Davis - Georgia (Philadelphia Eagles)

The host of “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout” has seen plenty of London on the Left Coast. The 6-4, 219-pound Trojan could be the focal point of a passing attack in Houston with a player that evoke memories of Deandre Hopkins.

14A) Baltimore Ravens - Jeff Hartman

Mock Pick: Matt Araiza - San Diego State (Not Selected in Round 1), George Karlaftis - Purdue (No. 30 - Kansas City)

Actual Pick: Kyle Hamilton - Notre Dame (Baltimore Ravens)

Jeff Hartman: Just like my brother used to do in the early days of Fantasy Football by taking Sebastian Janikowski in the first round to make everyone mad, I’m taking a kicker at 14 no matter what

Jeff Hartman: I hate the Ravens, so I took a kicker.

Andrew Wilbar: Give them Matt Araiza. He and Justin Tucker can fight it out. Araiza could honestly beat him out on a good day

Jeff Hartman: Baltimore takes Matt Araiza, placekicker

Andrew Wilbar: Hey, if Janikowski went in Round 1, Araiza definitely deserves it

Bryan Anthony Davis: Oh Boy!

Jeff Hartman: Your mistake was giving me Baltimore

Andrew Wilbar: Is this what the Steelers draft war room is like on draft night?

Chris Pugh: If it is, the Steelers are in trouble

Mark Davison: I hope so, Andrew.

Chris Pugh: If the Ravens need/want a mulligan, I believe they would go George Karlaftis from Purdue here to fill their need for an edge rusher

Jeff Hartman: You could go with that too, LOL.

Bryan Anthony Davis: I’m fine with the humor of the pick

Jeff Hartman: But in all reality, it will mess up the entire board

Bryan Anthony Davis: We will do both, so Karlaftis is the B pick. I picked the wrong day to quit drinking.

14B) Baltimore Ravens - Jeff Hartman

Karlaftis would deepen and diversify the Ravens’ pass rush by providing a punishing presence up front.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins) - Big Bro Scho

Mock Pick: Derek Stingley Jr. - LSU (No. 3 - Houston)

Actual Pick: Trade with Houston - Kenyon Green - Texas A&M (Houston Texans)

The co-host of “The Scho Bro Show” gives Philly a potential lockdown corner with tremendous ball skills to a franchise that sorely needs one.

16) New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts through Philadelphia Eagles) - Geoffrey Benedict

Mock Pick: Kenny Pickett - Pitt (No. 20 - Pittsburgh Steelers)

Actual Pick: Trade with Washington - Jahan Dotson - Penn State (Washington Commanders)

Geoffrey Benedict: I’m going to steal Shannon White’s pick for New Orleans and draft Kenneth Shane Pickett out of the University of Pittsburgh with the 16th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Shannon White: Honestly, I was going to take him with the 19th pick for the Saints. Now I am not as certain. Dang you, GB!

Bryan Anthony Davis: Seriously, New Orleans could be the best spot for KP.

17) Los Angeles Chargers - Matty Peverell

Mock Pick: Devin Lloyd - Utah (No. 27 - Jacksonville Jaguars)

Actual Pick: Zion Johnson - Boston College (Los Angeles Chargers)

Matty Peverell: Sorry, I have been flying back from Singapore. My pick is Devin Lloyd, but I almost went with Tyler Linderbaum, so he wasn’t picked for the Steelers. I think for the Chargers these are quite likely given the depth at both positions/having Cory Linsely who is 32.

Bryan Anthony Davis: Singapore. I’m glad you escaped a caning.

Matty Peverell: Hahaha, it’s not that bad, BAD. It’s a good time there.

Bryan Anthony Davis: Lloyd can do it all. He’s a guy that can get to the quarterback as well as cover.

18) Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints) - Owen David

Mock Pick: Chris Olave - Ohio State (No. 11 - New Orleans Saints)

Actual Pick: Trade with Tennessee - Treylon Burks - Arkansas (Tennessee Titans)

The Voice from Across the Pond adds a precise route-runner with 4.39 second speed to the Eagles. The Olave can help fortify a passing attack no matter who is slinging the pig.

19) New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles) - Shannon White

Mock Pick: Jameson Williams - Alabama (No. 12 - Detroit Lions)

Actual Pick: Trevor Penning - Northern Iowa (New Orleans Saints)

Shannon White: With the 19th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and their second pick of this round, your New Orleans Saints select WR Jameson Williams from the Alabama Crimson Tide to pair with newly acquired Kenny Pickett in an effort to bring excitement back to the Bayou.

K.T. Smith: Smart pick, Shannon. If you didn’t take him, I was going to run his name up like I stole something.

Bryan Anthony Davis: I was hoping he would drop to the Steelers. Williams is a potential game-breaker even after suffering a torn ACL in the National Championship Game.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers - K.T. Smith

Mock Pick: Devonte Wyatt - Georgia (No. 28 - Green Bay Packers)

Actual Pick: Kenny Pickett - Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Dave Schofield: Come on K.T. Smith, I know you won’t let me down!

K.T. Smith: Which gets us to our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. There are no QBs worth taking here, nor, do I believe, are there any OTs. Bernhard Raimann and Trevor Penning are from non-Power 5 schools, and that’s not something Kevin Colbert does in Round 1. Tyler Linderbaum is tempting, but the Steelers are now fairly deep at G/C. Jameson Williams was a no-brainer at WR, but it’s a deep draft for receivers and we can get a good one later. They’re going to sign a safety in free agency, so that position is out. CB is another area to consider, but I don’t love Booth here. McDuffie from Washington is tempting but he’s not, in my opinion, the BPA, which is a luxury the Steelers can afford. So, without further delay…

With the 20th pick in this here draft, the Almighty Pittsburgh Steelers select DL Devonte Wyatt from Georgia, where they will turn him over to Brian Flores to slant, stunt and scheme the crap out of people. Let the havoc-wreaking commence…He’s a perfect scheme fit.

Dave Schofield: Yes!!!!!!!

K.T. Smith: He’s a perfect scheme fit. It reminds me of when they drafted Ryan Shazier. They already had Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams but Shazier’s athleticism was too tempting to pass up. I think Wyatt can do similar things for the DL.

Dave Schofield: That is also the pick Jeff and I made in the mock draft done by the SB Nation editors.

What did you think of Round 1 of the draft? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for Days 2 and 3 of the draft!

Know your new Steelers enemies after Day 1 of the 2022 Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

With the Steelers welcoming new players to hopefully strengthen their team, so will their chief rivals. Take a look at who the Steelers’ AFC North rivals added on Day One and who may haunt Pittsburgh in coming years.

Steeler Nation waited in torture on Thursday and Day 1 of the 2022 Draft waiting to see who the Steelers would select. After Kenny Pickett joined the black and gold, fans turned their attention closely to see who their AFC North rivals would select to improve their squad. Last year, Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman, Odafe Oweh and Greg Newsome II entered the fray the first day. Here are the guys the Steelers will see twice a year for a good while. Scouting analysis was provided by a team of BTSC staffers and fans called the BTSC Big Board Crew led by Andrew Wilbar.

Note: The Cleveland Browns do not have a first-round pick due to the trade for Deshaun Watson. Round 1, Pick 14 Baltimore Ravens select S Kyle Hamilton - Notre Dame

The good news is that the Philadelphia Eagles flew ahead of Baltimore to select Jordan Davis. The bad news is that a potential All-Pro Safety will be wearing purple and black in Charm City.

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

6‘4“, 219 lbs

2021 Stats: GP 7, T 34, TFL 2, Int 3, PD 4

Necksnation: Hamilton is a generational talent who could become the highest-drafted safety since Jamal Adams. Despite the lack of positional value attributed towards safeties, Hamilton is worth spending a top-five pick on and should be a perennial pro-bowler in the NFL. He has great size for his position, measuring in the 99th and 92nd percentile in height and weight respectively, and he has good overall athleticism that gives him very high upside. He can be used in a myriad of ways, which will instantly make him highly valuable to an NFL defense, and he can make splash plays as well as routine ones with ease. Although he suffered a knee injury in the 2021 season, it isn’t an issue for him long term and he’s generally done a good job of staying on the field, playing 31 games in three seasons at Notre Dame. Hamilton could go as high as the second pick in the draft, with a likely floor of pick eight barring anything unforeseen, and he should make an NFL team very happy once he gets on the field.

Round 1, Pick 25 Baltimore Ravens select C Tyler Linderbaum - Iowa

The Ratbirds moved pack into the draft and then traded two spots down and picked a wrestler to man the center position for the Ravens.

Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

6’3”, 291 lbs

Necksnation: Linderbaum is one of my favorite prospects in this upcoming class. Although it is unconventional to target a center with a premium pick, Linderbaum should be well worth the investment, and he seems poised to carve out a long and successful career as a pro. Linderbaum is the best center prospect we’ve seen in a while, and he has a legitimate chance to be the first center selected in the top 10 since 1968. Although he is undersized, he is more powerful than you would expect, and his strength is a major asset to his game. He is a former wrestler who once beat current All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs in a wrestling match. He even won a hay bale tossing contest, throwing a 60 lb bale of hay two feet higher than Wirfs. Linderbaum also has exceptional athleticism. He was a four sport athlete in high school which has translated well to football, and he reportedly ran the fastest 10-yard split ever for an offensive lineman. His technique is sound as well. He demonstrated the ability to get upfield and make big blocks with consistency, and although he is sometimes driven back initially, he does a great job to recover and hold his block. He possesses good range which aids him as a run and pass blocker, and his power at the point of attack makes him a mauler in the run game. Linderbaum played every snap of his college career at center, which could hurt his stock a bit, but for a team in need of a center, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Round 1, Pick 31 Cincinnati Bengals select S Daxton Hill - Michigan

Adding Hill to Jesse Bates at the safety position makes the defensive backfield even more formidable for the AFC champs.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

6‘0“, 192 lbs

2021 Stats: GP 14, T 69, TFL 4.5, Sacks .5, Int 2, PD 8, FR 1

Noah E: If you are more of a casual fan or you don’t pay a ton of attention to the draft then you probably haven’t heard of Daxton Hill, but this guy is a baller. Hill is extremely versatile, he can play in the box, either safety spot or at slot corner, and do it at a high level. He’s physical and his ball skills are excellent, helping him to excel when he is tasked to cover slot receivers. He’s explosive and plays with a quick trigger which makes him aggressive in run support. Hill is disciplined in coverage and if a team were to want to make him a full-time corner he has the tools to do so. There are some major red flags though, the first being his knack for over pursuing. He needs to learn how to control his speed and if he can do that he will be a much better run defender. Something else that will definitely help him out in run support is wrapping up! It’s very important that he wraps up better at the next level because coaches are strict, and they know what they’re doing, so a problem like that could cost him a job. If he’s put in the right situation, the sky’s the limit.

Will Hamilton, Linderbaum and Hill be names in the Steelers-Bengals and Steelers-Ravens rivalry and victimize Pittsburgh for years to come or will they be just another victim of the black and gold? We will see.

Updating the Steelers QB depth chart after Day 1 of the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 1:00pm
Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers needed to add players to the quarterback room, and they did so with their first pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

After drafting Kenny Pickett on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers currently have three quarterbacks on the roster. The projected depth chart at quarterback for the Steelers is as follows:

Quarterbacks
  1. Mitch Trubisky
  2. Mason Rudolph
  3. Kenny Pickett

As is typically the case, the newly drafted rookie does not land on the top of the list. The Steelers only had two quarterbacks coming into the 2022 NFL draft after the tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins earlier this month. Even with the addition of Pickett, the room is still emptier than what the Steelers would like for training camp, so when it’s all said and done Pickett may not be the last name of the list.

Going into OTAs and minicamp before the Steelers head to Latrobe in late July, I still have Mitch Trubisky as the number one guy on the depth chart. The Steelers brought him in as a free agent and I think he’ll be the first player under center when practice starts at St. Vincent College. Additionally, I have Mason Rudolph right behind him as he very well could be the player that takes that first snap simply because he’s been with the Steelers since 2018. But when it all shakes out, I think it will be Trubisky ahead of Rudolph when the first meaningful depth chart comes out.

As for 20th overall pick in Kenny Pickett, the realistic place for him to be on the depth chart at this time is in the third position. Even 11th overall pick in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger, was the Steelers third quarterback going into the season. An injury early in training camp to Charlie Batch popped Roethlisberger up to the number two spot, and when Tommy Maddox went down in Week 2, the rest was Steelers history. So even Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t expected to be on the field early in his rookie season.

Although Pickett will start off behind both Trubisky and Rudolph, it does not mean he has to stay there. Is there a chance Pickett could be the starter for the Steelers early in 2022? Absolutely. Is he going to be forced into the situation? By no means. In fact, unless Pickett comes out and dazzles everyone to be the Week 1 starter in September, I don’t even look for him to get a helmet on game day with the current quarterback room, barring an injury. If Pickett isn’t the starter, the Steelers are likely going to take the philosophy of having the veteran quarterback ready to step in mid-game if needs be instead of the rookie. Once again, this is assuming a healthy and unchanged, other than another addition, quarterback room.

While this is likely the Steelers depth chart at the moment, there are a lot of things that could change between now and September. Do you think this depth chart is accurate at this time? How do you think it could change as the offseason and season roll on? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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