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Stock Report: Stock which is rising, and falling, after the Kenny Pickett selection

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 12:00pm
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett is the new Steelers QB and First Round selection. What does his arrival mean for the Steelers?

There are many happy Steelers fans right now after the team made University of Pittsburgh quarterback (QB) Kenny Pickett the 20th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. There are also many befuddled fans who liked other options better.

Nevertheless, Pickett is the guy, and his selection has a domino effect on the rest of the organization. Let’s take a look at whose stock is up, and whose is falling, after the Steelers’ first pick.

Stock Up: Kenny Pickett

There could have been no better outcome for Pickett than to leave Las Vegas and go right back home to the Steel City. The NFL’s steadiest organization already boasts a top tier Defense and young talent on Offense to surround the former Panther, and offers a chance to compete with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph right away.

Other teams that could have been in on the talented passer couldn’t offer the kind of established environment that Pickett will have in Pittsburgh. His maturity and experience make him a threat to start from Day One. Perfect scenario for the 24-year-old.

Stock Down: Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph

Different reasons here, but both players’ stock has taken a hit after the selection of Pickett. For Trubisky, he is no longer the locked-and-loaded Day One starter that many viewed him as a day ago. The selection of any other QB probably wouldn’t have changed that perception, but now that status is up in the air.

For Rudolph, his spot on the team could even be in question at this point. Pickett is an immediate upgrade in mobility, decision making, pocket awareness, and accuracy, and, you could argue, makes Mason expendable. I still think he’ll be given an opportunity to prove he belongs with the other two guys, but for now, he’s probably headed to the store to pick up some extra antiperspirant.

Stock Up: Diontae Johnson

This comes from fellow BTSC contributor Geoffrey Benedict, but it makes a lot of sense. Kenny Pickett thrives as a quick strike passer on short and intermediate passes where Johnson thrives. I’ve mentioned that Trubisky and Pickett have similar play styles, and I think DJ fits better with either of those guys over a Malik Willis or Desmond Ridder who likes to push the ball down the field more. When the QB has to move outside the pocket and extend the play, Johnson’s shiftiness makes it hard for defenders to stay with him, and Pickett has that ability in spades.

In a league where Wide Receivers are cashing in, Diontae Johnson has to be excited at the opportunity to show his value as an outstanding route runner with lightning agility. He has a great chance to do so with Pickett behind center.

Stock Up: Offensive Line

We’ve talked ad nauseam as Steelers fans about the poor play from the Offensive Line (OL) in 2021 and how it needs to be much better for the Offense to make progress. It didn’t help that 2021 Ben Roethlisberger was so limited from a mobility standpoint. It’s pretty safe to say that won’t be an issue in 2022 with either Trubisky or Pickett taking snaps.

Pickett showed incredible ability at Pitt last season to navigate the pocket and work the perimeter of the field with his legs. That takes a load of pressure off of the OL to have to hold blocks for forever or risk your statuesque 38-year-old QB’s health. With a more athletic passer at the helm, the line should be able to utilize it’s youth and athleticism better, while play action schemes and bootlegs create space and time for the QB to operate.

Stock Down: Andrew Wilbar

If you think about our friend here at the site, and my fellow podcaster on the Steelers Draft Fix, please send him many happy thoughts and “Get Well” cards. The Steelers selection of Pickett over Willis will leave a scar for eternity unless a 7th Lombardi is added in the next 5 years. It will be difficult, but with a little help from all of us, we can help him get through this troubling time. We’re here for you, Andrew. We’re here for you.

Day 2 Mock Draft: Updated mock has Steelers getting a weapon for Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 11:00am
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers got their quarterback in Round 1, what do Rounds 2 and 3 have in store for the black and gold?

I can officially say I am at a loss of words. Last night was probably the craziest first round of a draft in the history of the event, and we are far from over. With so much that has changed in the past 24 hours, it is time for a revised mock draft.

From the unexpected trades of A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown to the surprise picks scattered throughout the first round, last night was simply unforgettable. The biggest surprise to many Steelers fans, however, was the decision the team made to draft Kenny Pickett over the more talented option in Malik Willis. His locality likely played a major role in the team’s ability to keep it under wraps.

After hitting on the first three picks in my 5.0 mock draft, It all went downhill from there. While there is no way to predict the madness similar to what happened last night, we do have a better idea of how NFL teams feel about their needs. I expect there to be movement early on, as there are still three quarterbacks that teams could ideally trade up for.

Tonight, I expect the Steelers to take a strong look at cornerback and wide receiver early on, especially if we see a run on those positions in the early portions of the round.

If you have any thoughts on who the Steelers should look at in rounds two and three of the draft, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Round 2

33. Buccaneers- Perrion Winfrey | DL | Oklahoma
34. Dolphins- Nakobe Dean | ILB | Georgia
35. Titans- Arnold Ebiketie | EDGE | Penn State
36. Giants- Skyy Moore | WR | Western Michigan
37. Texans- Malik Willis | QB | Liberty
38. Jets- Cameron Jurgens | C | Nebraska
39. Bears- Christian Watson | WR | North Dakota State
40. Seahawks- Matt Corral | QB | Ole Miss
41. Seahawks- Travis Jones | DT | Connecticut
42. Colts- Nicholas Petit-Frere | OT | Ohio State
43. Falcons- Breece Hall | RB | Iowa State
44. Browns- David Ojabo | EDGE | Michigan
45. Ravens- John Metchie III | WR | Alabama
46. Lions- Troy Andersen | ILB | Montana State
47. Commanders- Jaquan Brisker | S | Penn State
48. Bears- Joshua Ezeudu | G | North Carolina
49. Saints- Andrew Booth, Jr. | CB | Clemson
50. Chiefs- George Pickens | WR | Georgia
51. Eagles- Roger McCreary | CB | Auburn

52. Steelers- Wan’Dale Robinson | WR | Kentucky

If the Steelers are looking for a versatile weapon who fits what Matt Canada is wanting to do on offense, look no further than Robinson, who can align as a slot receiver, boundary receiver, or even running back. Here is Robinson’s scouting report from the BTSC Big Board.

Necksnation: Robinson certainly looked impressive during his junior season after transferring to Kentucky, but there are concerns about how he will translate to the NFL. The first thing that jumps out about Robinson is his size, or lack thereof. Not only is he 5’8” and 178 lbs, but he has the shortest arms of any receiver to enter the draft since 1999 by nearly half an inch per arm. The good news is, he did test very well at the combine from an athletic standpoint, and for the most part it shows up on his tape. I would consider him to be a guy who is “quicker than he is fast.” In open field, he was frequently able to make defenders miss and gain lots of yards after the catch because of it, which resulted in a lot of big plays. Additionally, he is a smooth and quick route runner, frequently able to create separation and find holes in the defense. However, for a guy who relies so much on his athleticism, Robinson gets run down from behind more often than he should. He did run a good 40 yard dash, but there were numerous instances in his tape where he could have scored but didn’t because he was unable to maintain his top speed throughout the play. It is a bit of a concern, and it makes you wonder how he’ll fare against NFL defensive backs if he’s getting chased down by college defenders, but his speed should improve a bit as he transitions to the pros, and hopefully it won’t be an issue for him. Robinson is also more than willing to take hits over the middle and survive hits to make tough catches. This is definitely a strength to his game, but you can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to take those same hits in the NFL with his small frame. Despite these concerns, Robinson’s natural quickness and ability to get open should make him serviceable at the next level. He’ll almost certainly never be a WR1, but he could be a solid WR2 with the ability to line up in the backfield (he had 134 total carries across his two seasons in Nebraska before transferring). He could also have value as a returner, an area where he wasn’t used often in college, but it seems like a natural fit for his skillset. At the end of the day, Robinson will likely never carry an NFL team’s passing offense, but he should provide some burst and versatility to a team, and should be able to carve out a decent career in that type of role.

53. Packers- Alec Pierce | WR | Cincinnati
54. Patriots- Kyler Gordon | CB | Washington
55. Cardinals- Myjai Sanders | EDGE | Cincinnati
56. Cowboys- Chad Muma | ILB | Wyoming
57. Bills- Kenneth Walker III | RB | Michigan State
58. Falcons- Desmond Ridder | QB | Cincinnati
59. Packers- Abraham Lucas | OT | Washington
60. Buccaneers- Trey McBride | TE | Colorado State
61. 49ers- Dylan Parham | G | Memphis
62. Chiefs- Jalen Pitre | S | Baylor
63. Bengals- Greg Dulcich | TE | UCLA
64. Broncos- Bernard Raimann | OT | Central Michigan

Round 3

65. Jaguars- David Bell | WR | Purdue
66. Vikings- D’Angelo Malone | EDGE | Western Kentucky
67. Giants- Alontae Taylor | CB | Tennessee
68. Texans- Tariq Woolen | CB/S | UTSA
69. Titans- Christian Harris | LB | Alabama
70. Jaguars- Channing Tindall | ILB | Georgia
71. Bears- Drake Jackson | EDGE | USC
72. Seahawks- Leo Chenal | LB | Wisconsin
73. Colts- Calvin Austin III | WR | Memphis
74. Falcons- Khalil Shakir | WR | Boise State
75. Broncos- Brandon Smith | ILB | Penn State
76. Ravens- Marcus Jones | CB | Houston
77. Vikings- Zyon McCollum | CB | Sam Houston State
78. Browns- DeMarvin Leal | DT | Texas A&M
79. Chargers- Jalen Tolbert | WR | South Carolina
80. Texans- Logan Hall | DL | Houston
81. Giants- Jamaree Salyer | G | Georgia
82. Falcons- Zach Tom | OT | Wake Forest
83. Eagles- Darrian Beavers | ILB | Cincinnati

84. Steelers- Decobie Durant | CB | South Carolina State

The Steelers typically prefer to find players from either a Power Five conference or the MAC, but we have seen the Steelers look into prospects at this school before, specifically 2016 draft pick Javon Hargrave. Durant is a fluid athlete whose upside could make him a worthwhile selection late on day two or early day three as a nickel corner. Here is his scouting report from the BTSC Big Board.

Andrew Wilbar: Durant brings an intriguing blend of ball skills and instincts at the cornerback position. Measuring in at only 5’10”, 180 pounds at the combine, Durant is almost certainly going to be a nickel corner at the next level. His hip fluidity and speed are both evident on tape, and his ability to close on the ball quickly is what got him in position to grab several of his interceptions during his four-year career with the Bulldogs. He has limited experience coming on the blitz but has shown potential in that area, although there is no production to back that claim. The concern lies in that he gives too much leeway to receivers on underneath routes, allowing them to create yardage after the catch if they turn upfield quick enough. Level of competition is another valid concern scouts will have, but if he can tighten up his spacing in coverage, I think he possesses starting upside at nickel corner.

85. Patriots- Romeo Doubs | WR | Nevada,
86. Raiders- Daniel Faalele | OT | Minnesota
87. Cardinals- James Cook | RB | Georgia
88. Cowboys- Tyquan Thornton | WR | Baylor
89. Bills- Bo Melton | WR | Rutgers
90. Titans- Velus Jones, Jr. | WR | Tennessee
91. Buccaneers- Isaiah Spiller | RB | Texas A&M
92. Packers- Jelani Woods | TE | Virginia
93. 49ers- Martin Emerson | CB | Mississippi State
94. Patriots- Joshua Paschal | DL | Kentucky
95. Bengals- Phidarian Mathis | DT | Alabama
96. Broncos- Charlie Kolar | TE | Iowa State
97. Lions- Cameron Taylor-Britt | CB | Nebraska
98. Commanders- Brian Robinson, Jr. | RB | Alabama
99. Browns- Matthew Butler | DT | Tennessee
100. Cardinals- Cameron Thomas | DL | San Diego State
101. Jaguars- Ed Ingram | G | LSU
102. Dolphins- Kellen Diesch | OT | Arizona State
103. Chiefs- Damarri Mathis | CB/S | Pittsburgh
104. Rams- Jordan Stout | P | Penn State
105. 49ers- Dominique Robinson | EDGE | Miami (Ohio)

Who do you expect the Steelers to draft tonight? Who is your dream pick? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the Steelers’ draft choices.

NFL Draft: Best of the rest entering Day 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Where could the Steelers turn in Rounds 2 and 3 after landing Kenny Pickett at No. 20?

Safe to say that the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft didn’t disappoint.

Five defensive players to get things started, marking just the second time in NFL history that such a trend has occurred. A.J. Brown and Hollywood Brown on the move. Seven individual trade-ups, many of which featured receivers being taken in the middle of the round.

And, of course, the Steelers shocking everyone and taking the only quarterback thus far: hometown stud Kenny Pickett.

With Pickett already on board, who are some other prospects the Steelers could favor on Day 2, which starts at 7 p.m. ET Friday? Which superstars somehow fell out of the first round and are still up for grabs?

Using rankings and scouting reports from our assiduous Behind the Steel Curtain big board, let’s break it all down for Rounds 2 and 3.

Top Overall 10 Prospects Remaining
  1. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (BTSC Rank: #5)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-0 1/2, 212 lbs

Andrew Wilbar’s Breakdown: In my summer breakdown on Willis, I talked about how special Willis had the chance to be, and I still stand by those comments. Every. Single. Bit. The numbers are not the prettiest, and having multiple 3 interception games is not something any quarterback wants on their résumé. However, Willis likely had the worst offensive line in the country, and it was on full display every single week. Willis was constantly running for his life before he had an opportunity to go through his progressions and make accurate reads. At the end of the day, not much has changed about my opinion of him. He is still an incredibly talented quarterback with a big arm and outstanding arm, but he needs to sit for a year. Sitting and watching on the sidelines will allow him to see the speed of the NFL game and the complexity of NFL coverages before having to face them himself. It will do wonders for his development. Footwork needs improvement, but that is a fixable issue. If a team is all in on Willis and willing to be patient, he could become one of the brightest young stars in the league.

Well, this is awkward.

We at BTSC were major fans of Willis, who was viewed as the best quarterback option in the 2022 class. Things shook out exactly as the Steelers wanted: no need to trade up, and the pick of the litter at #20. Rather than gambling on Willis’ dynamic dual-threat ability and howitzer of an arm, the team opted for Pickett, whom they got a more intimate look at and who has a higher floor.

For most experts, Willis isn’t ranked this high. For example, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Willis slotted at #32; Sports Info Solutions had pegged Willis at #42. Regardless, most figured Willis had as good a chance as any gunslinger to be selected in the top 32 picks.

It seems nearly a guarantee that the Liberty star will be taken by Pick 64. Fits include the Titans (#35), Seahawks (#40, #41), Colts (#42) and Falcons (#43). It’s hard to imagine Willis sliding beyond his native Atlanta.

2. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (#12)

Junior, 6-foot-0, 194 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown on Booth, I talked about his standout play in limited action in 2020. With Derion Kendrick transferring to Georgia, Booth became the face of Clemson’s secondary in 2021, and he lived up to the billing. While 3 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, and 1 interception may not seem like insane stats for 10 games, he was consistently sound in coverage, bumping receivers off their route at the line of scrimmage and blanketing them downfield one-on-one. From an athletic standpoint, Booth is right up there with Derek Stingley and Ahmad Gardner. He has the size, the speed, the instincts, and the agility requisite from a press man corner. While turnover production is still a work in progress, he has not exactly had a ton of prime opportunities to force them. He is still developing his zone coverage skills, but Booth has the potential to become a top-tier corner in the NFL if drafted by the right team.

The majority of analysts had Booth as a first-rounder, if not the third-best corner in the class behind Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner. Having started on a ferocious Clemson defense as the team’s best corner for two seasons, Booth has the blue-chip pedigree to compete with anyone. He’s particularly excellent at getting his nose to the football, coming up and laying the boom on players.

However, the fact that the CB wasn’t taken in R1 is probably an indictment of his medicals. Booth did not partake in the Combine in early March due to a quad injury. It was then announced that Booth underwent sports hernia surgery; this is on top of dealing with a concussion and hamstring during the 2021 season.

Which team will eventually snag the sliding Booth? It could very well be the Steelers (more on that below). Other suitors include the Buccaneers (#33), Vikings (#34), Giants (#36), Seahawks (#40, #41), Ravens (#45) and Lions (#46). It shouldn’t be long before Booth hears his name called on Friday; this feels eerily similar to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in 2021.

3. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State (#21)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 208 lbs

Ryland B.: What are the Steelers missing most in their wide receiver core? I think the top two answers would be speed and toughness. And Watson has both in spades. The 6’4” receiver ran an elite 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine at 208 pounds, and it shows on tape. Watson consistently showed the ability to take the top off of defenses and simply run past opposing defensive backs. But Watson is also one of the best-blocking receivers in this year’s draft. He has good strength, great effort, and even a pancake or two on tape. For a bigger receiver, Watson’s agility is impressive. He’s a smooth athlete who is surprisingly shifty in the open field, finding success on jet sweeps as well as on kick returns. His route running could be a bit more sudden, and his route tree was fairly limited at NDSU, but neither seem to be major concerns – and Watson certainly has the physical tools to excel in these areas. He has good hands and ball-tracking ability for the most part, although he has struggled in contested catches and concentration before although he showed great improvement last year. The biggest knock on Watson would be his level of competition at NDSU, and it seems fair that the FCS receiver may have a steep learning curve at the next level. But a 4.36 is a 4.36 at any level of football, and Watson remains my favorite round 2 target for the Steelers.

The gamut was truly run on receivers tonight, with Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Jahan Dotson and Treylon Burks all being taken in the top 18. However, no wideout was picked in the latter 14 selections, with the Packers and Ravens among the teams to eschew the position.

Watson, too, should be swooped rather quickly on Friday. The NDSU product’s 4.36-speed and 38.5” vertical are enticing enough, even if his route-running needs polishing. Such traits should draw the ogles of teams like the Texans (#37), Bears (#39), Colts, Browns (#44), Ravens and Chiefs (#50).

#4. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (#24)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-3, 211 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ridder’s best attributes are his arm strength and athleticism. He puts good velocity on all his passes, whether they be short, intermediate, or deep. His accuracy can be really good at times and really bad at other times. He has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers, although that issue was not as bad in 2021 as it was in years previous. He did not turn the ball over as much in 2020, and ball placement was a big reason why. Much like we talked about with Zach Wilson this past season, Ridder can effectively deliver the ball from many different arm angles, which allows him to make the most difficult throws with ease. There is a lot of upside with Ridder as a passer, but he is also lethal as a runner, as evidenced by his 2,000 plus rushing yards during his collegiate career. The other primary concern with Ridder, accuracy being the other one, is patience. Too often you will see Ridder tuck it and run if he does not like his first read, and it has cost Cincinnati some big plays that could have been had downfield. You can check out my summer breakdown of Ridder here.

Given that Pickett was the only quarterback nabbed in Round 1, Ridder will presumably be selected subsequent to Willis. Even then, his masterful 26-0 home record, footwork, processing and pocket presence are appealing, even if his accuracy and mechanics need work.

Ridder projects similar to Pickett: a high-IQ, gamer quarterback with immense competitiveness. At the same time, both lack “special” physical traits.

It felt plausible that a team could trade with the Vikings at #32 to select Ridder, as such a spot has become a quarterback haven in recent years. At this rate, the Titans, Seahawks, Colts, Falcons, Lions and Saints are all matches, but a team such as the Panthers could definitely trade up for the Senior Bowl participant.

#5: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (#25)

Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-5, 250 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ojabo was not a key part of Michigan’s pass rush until 2021 when Ojabo emerged opposite Aidan Hutchinson with 11 sacks and 5 forced fumbles from the beginning of the season through the Big Ten Championship Game. In my personal opinion, Ojabo has a higher ceiling than Hutchinson. He has better speed, better bend, and more explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. At 6’5”, 250 pounds, Ojabo has ideal length and size to handle the edge, and I would expect him to get closer to the neighborhood of 260 pounds before he plays his first NFL game. While I think he could succeed in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, his best fit is in a 3-4 where he can get out of his stance quickly and beat the tackle around the edge with his speed. Some fans worry that he was the beneficiary of Hutchinson’s greatness, but Ojabo was often lined up against the opposing team’s better tackle and still made a major impact. Michigan moved him around to make Hutchinson’s job easier, but he still produced against the tougher assignments, and that is something that will not go unnoticed by NFL teams. Unfortunately, Ojabo suffered a torn achilles during his pro-day workout, making his draft status much more murky. If he happens to drop to day two, however, he could be the steal of the draft.

If not for his unfortunate Pro Day injury, Ojabo probably would have been a first-rounder in this year’s draft. Even with his ailment, there was thought that the Michigan product would be taken in the top 32 in order to provide him with a “redshirt” year given the fifth-year option on a contract.

As Andrew noted, Ojabo’s production was off the charts at the end of 2021, securing at least two hurries in five of his final six games, including the Big Ten Championship. Ojabo gels well with the Buccaneers, Texans, Jets (#38), Bears, Seahawks, Falcons, Saints (#49), Packers (#53) and Patriots (#54).

#6. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State (#26)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 250 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: I love my bendy EDGE rushers, and Ebiketie’s bend is one of the first things that stand out on tape. He combines that bend with excellent hand usage coming around the edge, making it difficult for opposing tackles to latch onto him and engage in a block. Ebiketie is also a transfer from Temple, so I would be remiss not to mention the toughness he displays on a weekly basis. If he can refine his technique a little and consistently finish prime sack opportunities, we could be looking at one of the most explosive pass rushers in the league.

Ebiketie’s stock had been building steam in recent weeks; some figured he could sneak into the first, but no such luck. The former Temple transfer is potentially the best pure EDGE left on the board considering Ojabo’s health.

All teams mentioned for Ojabo should have their eyes locked onto Ebiketie. In fact, the former Nittany Lion might be one of the first five picks in Round 2.

#7. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan (#27)

Junior, 5-foot-10, 195 lbs

Shannon White: Moore is a local product, having played high school football for Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. Moore was listed as an athlete when he joined the Western Michigan football program, and had never played wide receiver before. That makes his incredible growth at the position even more impressive. The Broncos play in the MAC conference, a conference from which the Steelers have successfully found more than a few talented prospects.Moore officially measured in at 5’10” and 195 sturdy lbs. He has superior quickness, start-stop ability, and an almost instant acceleration. This allows him to easily gain consistent separation off the line of scrimmage, and his run after the catch ability makes him a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the football. Moore runs crisp routes, and can run the complete route tree. He has solid hands, and the toughness to work the middle of the field. If you can’t tell by now, I am completely infatuated with Moore’s potential within the Steelers’ offense.

Moore seemed poised to be picked in the first, but he and Pickens will have to wait a day to hug Commissioner Goodell. Having run a 4.41 40-yard dash, Moore provides burst and deep-threat speed.

Moore has inextricable links to the Steelers, having grown up in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. However, Pittsburgh will likely compete with Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Cleveland and Kansas City to take the Western Michigan wideout.

#8. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (#28)

Junior, 5-foot-11, 229 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Dean is a bit undersized at 5’11”, 229 pounds, and he will definitely need to add more weight, but you cannot help but love what he did in 2021. From the beginning of the season through the SEC championship game, Dean recorded 61 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions, flying from sideline to sideline and wearing many hats for the Georgia defense. He would have run a fast 40 if he had been able to participate in the combine, but speed is not the only thing Dean brings to the table. Despite his size, Dean takes good tackling angles and displays a nice form and posture when going in to make a tackle. He is also an effective blitzer, displaying good instincts as well as the closing speed needed to turn a pressure into a sack. He just lacks the bulk to prevent bigger ball-carriers from shaking him off. Size is something teams will need to factor in, but Dean has all the tools you want.

As Andrew mentioned, there is some concern about Dean’s size, as well as the idea of taking a linebacker in the first round. Then again, Dean was the heart and soul of Georgia’s historic defense — which witnessed five players being taken on Thursday — and this scenario could have been an example of group overthink.

Count ESPN’s Mina Kimes among those to back the ‘Dawg ‘backer. Dean could find himself with the Titans, Giants, Texans, Jets and Eagles (#51).

#9. Travis Jones, DL, Connecticut (#29)

Senior, 6-foot-4, 325 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is one of the biggest small-school sleepers in this year’s draft. Based on how well he moves on tape, you would not believe that he is 330 pounds by just watching him. He plays with active hands, and he does a great job shedding blocks, even when double-teamed. He also displays excellent quickness out of his stance, getting upfield in a hurry and forcing the quarterback to escape the pocket. One of the more underrated parts of his game is his good hand placement. He consistently lays his hands on opposing linemen at a perfect pressure point, making it difficult for linemen to stay balanced and engage in a block. The main concern with him is that he has not been tested against major competition outside of a game here and there. If he has a strong Senior Bowl and combine performance, he could work his way into the top 50 picks.

Make that six straight picks on our big board to still be available entering Day 2.

Andrew outlined that Jones participated down in Mobile, and the showing undoubtedly boosted his stock. Jones joins Houston’s Logan Hall, Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey and Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis as top DL options for teams still looking to beef up their defensive lines.

The Bucs at #33 make sense, as Ndamukong Suh remains unsigned. If Todd Bowles & Co. pass on Jones, keep an eye on the Texans, Jets, Bears, Falcons, Ravens, Cardinals (#55) and Bengals (#63).

#10. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (#35)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 261 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Mafe is still relatively new to the game of football, and that is evident when you watch his tape. There are a lot of technical issues, from pad level, to hand usage, to leverage. Nonetheless, his athleticism is outstanding. When his hand placement is consistently good and he is breaking away from opposing linemen, watch out, because he can run down just about anyone in the backfield. While he could fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, he does not always look natural in a standup position. Thus, I think his best fit long-term is as a 4-3 defensive end. It will take time for Mafe to reach his full potential, but if he can reach that potential at some point, he will be an extremely dangerous pass rusher.

Mafe seeks to become the third straight Golden Gopher to be picked in the first two rounds, joining Rashod Bateman (2021, 1st) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (2020, 2nd). The edge rusher also posted a solid Senior Bowl week, leaving some thinking the Chiefs could nab him; KC opted instead for fellow Big Ten West pass-rusher George Karlaftis.

Having posted a 4.53 40 and a 38” vertical jump, Mafe is in greater than the 90th percentile for both measurements. Such athleticism should entice the squads already looking at Ojabo and Ebiketie.

Top 10 Steelers Fits on the Board

#1. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Genuinely, I thought there was a chance the Steelers would trade back into the first with Booth still on the board. Pittsburgh has a very close relationship with Dabo Swinney and Clemson, and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin paid a meticulous look at the Tigers during their mid-March pro day.

Booth fits exactly what the Steelers are looking for: a young, athletic, physical young corner that can learn behind Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace before ultimately molding into a premier CB. If Booth is somehow still available at #52, Pittsburgh should be sprinting in the pick. If not, I think a trade up for Booth would be an outstanding move.

#2. George Pickens, WR, Georgia (BTSC Rank: #49)

Wow, would this be a lot of fun.

The Steelers have been infamous for their “diva” receivers in recent memory, and Pickens does have similar attributes. It appears that his slide is largely due to his willingness to be coached.

At the same time, if there’s anyone I’d trust to harness Pickens’ elite combination of toughness, ball skills and physicality, it’s Mike Tomlin.

Get Pickens, and this draft class looks infinitely more optimistic.

#3. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

We know the Steelers love their local connections: just ask Kenny Pickett! Why not double down with the speedy, tough Moore?

Fundamentally, the Steelers need receivers — quite possibly multiple in this draft. With either Mitch Trubisky or Pickett under center, just Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Anthony Miller/Miles Boykin/Gunner Olszewski is far from sufficient. Moore can help take the edge off of defenses and is physical enough to work over the middle of the field, with 40% of his routes having been slants or hitches.

#4. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan (#61)

There was speculation that Raimann could be taken in the first, but he’s instantly the best tackle left with Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross, Trevor Penning and Tyler Smith gone. Despite signing Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year deal, an upgrade for the Steelers at either tackle position is not out of play, especially given 2022 being a major litmus test for 2021 fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr. Raimann would be tough to pass up.

#5. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

If Dean somehow remains on the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock, it would only be right to pick the Georgia star.

Pittsburgh sent the house to UGA’s Pro Day, including new senior defensive assistant Brian Flores. While smaller, Dean could easily prove to be a long-term defensive communicator alongside Myles Jack, who has struggled when wearing the green dot.

I’m especially in favor of drafting an ILB given that Pittsburgh is yet to make a decision on Devin Bush’s fifth-year option. At worst, selecting Dean gives Bush more incentive and, if Bush bounces back, creates one of the most formidable front sevens in the NFL.

#6. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn (#40)

Despite having 28 7/8” arms, McCreary makes up for a lack of size with spectacular patience and reaction time, plus solid ball skills. At the same time, McCreary lacks elite closing speed and can give up ground as receivers hit the stem of their routes; this was particularly apparent watching McCreary against new Commander Jahan Dotson. Nonetheless, McCreary’s three years of starting against fierce SEC competition and 89.9 PFF grade, which ranked first among all FBS corners, make him an intriguing pick.

#7. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin (#68)

Chenal put many of the qualms about his athleticism to bed by running a 4.53 40 during the Combine and is the epitome of a thumping, downhill linebacker — something Pittsburgh sorely lacked in 2021. Why not pair Chenal with fellow Badger T.J. Watt to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks and running backs?

#8. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (#42)

If not for a torn ACL against Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship, Metchie could have slipped into Round 1. The receiver is physical with good hands and excellent route-running; it also seemed he had a knack for clutch catches, including this game-winner in Jordan-Hare Stadium in which he ran a whip route to perfection.

#9. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State (#46)

The only reason I put Brisker this low is that the Steelers don’t exactly need a safety, having both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds under contract. Then again, Edmunds signed just a one-year deal for under $3 million, and Fitzpatrick is due for an extension in the near future. Possessing Brisker would provide tremendous insurance at the position and could allow Austin/Tomlin/Flores to have some fun in different sub-packages to really throw off quarterbacks.

#10. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati (#56)

Pierce, too, is a late riser. While Steelers fans long had visions of pairing Ridder and Pierce in the pro ranks, the best Pittsburgh can do at this point is take the latter.

With his 6-foot-3 frame, above-average hands and 4.41 speed, Pierce should be a playmaker in the league for a long time. He especially fits the Steelers given his ability to play in the slot. While not a true “Y” receiver, Pierce lined up in the slot on 14% of his passes in 2021.

Other Names to Watch

Marcus Jones, CB, Houston (BTSC Rank: #55)

Andrew Wilbar: Size will most definitely limit Jones to the slot in the NFL, but his closing speed and feistiness make him an interesting day two pick, regardless of his size. Versatility is the other big part of his game, as he can play a little free safety as well as return kicks and punts. I also love how smoothly Jones can flip his hips in coverage. His footwork is clean, and his backpedal looks incredibly natural. He has not provided much value as a blitzer thus far into his playing career, recording zero sacks in four seasons; however, his ability to make plays on the ball was on full display in 2021, as he recorded 5 interceptions and 13 passes defended in 11 games. If you are looking for an NFL comparison, look no further than former Steeler Mike Hilton, at least from an athletic standpoint. Hilton is definitely a better blitzer than Jones is, but Jones has the upper hand when it comes to ability in coverage. He is still raw and learning the nuances of the position, but the upside is through the roof if he is developed properly.

Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA (#79)

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.

Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati (#127)

Noah: Coby Bryant was the definition of lockdown this year for the Bearcats. He may not have had the career that his teammate Sauce Gardner did, but he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for a reason. Bryant displays good footwork and his 9 interceptions in 4 years are evidence of his ball skills. He’s a smart player and has good athleticism despite being a tad slow at times. Bryant does a good job of watching the feet and not biting on fakes. He does have relatively short arms creating some inconsistency when wrapping up. Due to his lack of quickness Bryant has struggled when he’s covering routes that force him to move laterally across the field. He has the mental toughness and physical tools to be a very good player, but he needs to put it all together. He has the potential to be the steal of the draft if he can clean up some of the holes in his game.

Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington (#62)

Ryland B.: Washington has turned into a defensive back factory over the past few years, and Gordon, along with teammate Trent McDuffie, should further that trend. Gordon is a big, physical corner with good athleticism. He’s a very smooth mover with a great backpedal in bail technique, where he played the most. Gordon’s reaction time and quickness is pretty solid and he’s a willing run defender and high-effort player. He has special teams experience as well. Gordon is a good option for a team in need of a solid outside corner.

Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska (#95)

Andrew Wilbar: Talk about a guy who consistently got in passing lanes and broke up passes in 2021. Taylor-Britt, despite decent athleticism, is probably best suited as a zone corner, as his instincts and fluidity would give him the upper hand. If he wants to make it as a zone corner, however, he must take better tackling angles. At Nebraska, he struggled to bring down opposing receivers after the catch due to that issue, and it is not an issue that will simply subside in the NFL. He has good straight-line speed, but his start-and-stop quickness when mirroring a receiver in man coverage leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, I like Taylor-Britt’s chances of developing into a start if put in the right situation. He just has several technical issues that developed into bad habits at the collegiate level. If he can break those habits, he will become a solid CB2.

Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt (#111)

Andrew Wilbar: Mathis is an aggressive corner who is a little handsy at times. In fact, I remember the TV analyst of the Pitt/Clemson game mentioning that, when talking to people at Pitt, he realized the importance of officiating relative to the team’s success. He was apparently told that the way the refs officiate the game is huge for them, largely due to the aggressive style they play. There are times when Mathis may have gotten away with a little bit of grabbing, but overall, he has good awareness in man coverage, and he knows when to turn around and make a play on the ball. He is also plenty athletic, displaying the size, speed, and versatility to play both corner and safety at a high level. He is still somewhat raw technically, but if you want a guy in the middle rounds who has the tools to develop into a star corner, Mathis is your guy.

Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama (#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.

Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis (#74)

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.

Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky (#94)

Necksnation: Robinson certainly looked impressive during his junior season after transferring to Kentucky, but there are concerns about how he will translate to the NFL. The first thing that jumps out about Robinson is his size, or lack thereof. Not only is he 5’8” and 178 lbs, but he has the shortest arms of any receiver to enter the draft since 1999 by nearly half an inch per arm. The good news is, he did test very well at the combine from an athletic standpoint, and for the most part it shows up on his tape. I would consider him to be a guy who is “quicker than he is fast.” In open field, he was frequently able to make defenders miss and gain lots of yards after the catch because of it, which resulted in a lot of big plays. Additionally, he is a smooth and quick route runner, frequently able to create separation and find holes in the defense. However, for a guy who relies so much on his athleticism, Robinson gets run down from behind more often than he should. He did run a good 40 yard dash, but there were numerous instances in his tape where he could have scored but didn’t because he was unable to maintain his top speed throughout the play. It is a bit of a concern, and it makes you wonder how he’ll fare against NFL defensive backs if he’s getting chased down by college defenders, but his speed should improve a bit as he transitions to the pros, and hopefully it won’t be an issue for him. Robinson is also more than willing to take hits over the middle and survive hits to make tough catches. This is definitely a strength to his game, but you can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to take those same hits in the NFL with his small frame. Despite these concerns, Robinson’s natural quickness and ability to get open should make him serviceable at the next level. He’ll almost certainly never be a WR1, but he could be a solid WR2 with the ability to line up in the backfield (he had 134 total carries across his two seasons in Nebraska before transferring). He could also have value as a returner, an area where he wasn’t used often in college, but it seems like a natural fit for his skillset. At the end of the day, Robinson will likely never carry an NFL team’s passing offense, but he should provide some burst and versatility to a team, and should be able to carve out a decent career in that type of role.

Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor (#83)

Andrew Wilbar: The most exciting thing about Thornton is his fantastic straight-line speed, especially when you combine that with his 6’3” frame. Typically, receivers who run below 4.3 in the 40 are undersized receivers who are limited to the slot. This is not the case with Thornton, however. He still needs to add weight to his slender frame, but he is a surprisingly physical receiver who does not shy away from contested catch opportunities. Not only does he get a quick release off the line of scrimmage, but he will also become more effective getting off press coverage at the line once he adds a little more muscle. There is definitely some rawness with Thornton, and there may be a little bit of projection here, but you cannot teach 6’3” and 4.28 speed.

Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson (#153)

Necksnation: Ross had an incredible freshman season, but injuries have derailed his career ever since. However, if he can stay healthy and reach the potential that he showed as a freshman, he could become a star in the NFL. Ross certainly has the size to succeed at the next level, and although he doesn’t have incredible speed, he provides a decent amount of chunk plays. You won’t see him making too many 70 yard receptions, but he does a nice job on intermediate plays to pick up 15-20 yards for his team. His diverse route tree allows him to gain separation in a myriad of ways, especially on short to intermediate routes. Additionally, he does a nice job of gaining a few extra yards after the catch, and he is more than capable of breaking some tackles in the process. He can also juke out defenders when necessary, although it isn’t necessarily his ideal way of getting by defenders, but it’s certainly an ability that he possesses. His ball skills are elite, and he makes plenty of difficult catches downfield and in the end zone. He did have some concentration drops, but overall, his hands are a strength of his game, and they really benefit him when he’s making contested catches. Ross has a lot of traits that could make him a WR1 in the NFL, but he will need a good amount of coaching to get back to where he was pre injury. That said, it is worth wondering if he is injury prone. He broke his foot in 2021, but more importantly, it was discovered that he had a congenital fusion in his spine, which could have stopped him from ever playing again. He is healthy now, but whatever team that drafts him should do so with the awareness that he may have limited durability. But if he’s able to stay on the field and live up to the hype of his freshman season, he could wind up as a major steal on Day 2, and he’s worth taking a gamble on sometime in the middle of round 3.

David Bell, WR, Purdue (#104)

Necksnation: Bell doesn’t possess the speed and athleticism that is becoming more and more common in today’s receivers. However, what he lacks in quickness he makes up for with physicality and contested catch ability. His production at Purdue was excellent, recording 2946 yards and 21 touchdowns in 29 games. Additionally, although he had the occasional concentration drop, he was generally one of the most sure handed receivers in the country, posting an outstanding 68% catch rate as a junior. That number would be good for a guy who primarily works underneath, but Bell runs routes over the entire field as an outside receiver. While Bell isn’t particularly agile, his routes are better than you’d expect for someone with his athletic profile, and his diverse route tree gives him some versatility. He does struggle to consistently gain separation, but luckily for him, his ability to make contested catches is his best trait. He does a fantastic job of high pointing the ball, and his impressive hands and ball skills make coming down with 50-50 balls look easy. He is a physical receiver who is willing to make tough catches over the middle, and although he isn’t a huge threat after the catch, he still produces a decent number of chunk plays by making difficult catches downfield. Bell’s stock has declined a bit over the last few months, which is largely due to his poor testing at the combine. His production and route tree make him seem like a fairly pro ready option, which is impressive for someone who won’t turn 21 until December, but his lack of athleticism may limit his upside. However, receivers like Keenan Allen have proven that you don’t need to be a speed burner to succeed in the NFL, and Bell could develop into a similar type of player at the next level.

Danny Gray, WR, SMU (#128)

Ryland B.: Yet another receiver who ran in the 4.3 range at the NFL combine, Gray could be a possible speed threat option for the Steelers in the middle rounds. He was more often than not the fastest guy on the field, and it really shows. Gray’s speed and change of direction really stand out on tape, and he’s a menace with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think there’d be even more touchdowns on tape if he didn’t deal with so many underthrows on deep routes. Gray has a tall, lanky frame and often struggled with more physical corners. He has a good release but would often get jammed in press, or struggle to separate in more physical coverage. Gray has good hands but has a bit of a habit to body catch, although he does have some good contested catches on tape. Overall, there’s some great potential with Gray, who could really succeed as a deep threat on the next level.

Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (#72)

Andrew Wilbar: Despite tremendous talent, Petit-Frere struggled at times during the 2021 season, largely due to inconsistent footwork and technique. These issues were worse in 2020 when playing on the right side, and I think this illuminates the fact that he is a better fit at left tackle in the NFL. He is not as strong as his profile may indicate either, as he gets moved off his base and pushed back toward the quarterback too often. He also struggles to contain inside moves. Penn State’s Jesse Luketa made him look absolutely foolish on one specific rep that stood out, but there were other instances that were not quite as obvious as well. Although there may be a lot of issues with his game, he brings enticing upside due to his fluidity and mobility. He is a boom-or-bust option on day two.

Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State (#75)

Ryland B.: Lucas has some definite issues in his game, but he’s an intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. His floor is fairly high thanks to his above-average technique. He plays with quick feet, and good reaction time and hand usage. He’s not an athletic freak but is a good mover with ideal size for the position. But despite his size at over six and a half feet and 319 pounds, he gets driven back far too much. His overall strength and anchoring ability needs a lot of work, and while Lucas will likely hold his own against speed rushers at the next level, bull-rushes will prove a major problem. That being said, Lucas definitely has the frame to gain some strength and an NFL weight room might greatly improve his strength. I see him as a mid-round pick with some starting upside.

Zach Tom, OL/OT, Wake Forest (#82)

Noah: Zach Tom scored a 99 which was the highest among all offensive tackles at the combine. He plays with a solid pad level and uses his lower body strength to keep defenders from getting to the quarterback. He has good grip strength and hand placement that really benefits him against stronger pass rushers. Tom uses his natural strength to his advantage in the run game but there’s definitely a lot to be desired as a run blocker. His size and overall skill set makes him better suited to be a guard at the pro level, but he has experience as a guard and the versatility to do it.

Daniel Faalele, OT/OL, Minnesota (#91)

Andrew Wilbar: I was a big fan of Faalele before he decided to return to school for the 2021 season, but some of his issues were exposed on a consistent basis over the past year, both during the season as well as during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Any 6’9”, 380-pound lineman who moves as well as Faalele does is going to draw intrigue, and rightfully so. He is a powerful individual who simply moves defenders in the run game, and it is difficult to move him off his base in pass protection. However, he had serious issues in college with twitchier edge rushers who could get low coming around the edge, and I am not sure how much can be done about that. When you are that size, quick pass rushers who can get low are going to give you fits. I think in Faalele’s scenario, the best thing would be to work on improving his footwork to the absolute best it can get. He cannot change the fact that he is 6’9”, but he can minimize the cons of being that size with better technique. He has the potential to be a dominant right tackle in the NFL, but he is very boom-or-bust.

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.

Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming (#54)

Shannon White: [Muma] is a fundamentally sound tackler, displaying superior technique. He is extremely instinctual, from his first step and flawless angles to the ball carrier against the run, and the almost effortless depth he achieves in pass coverage. He has good size for the position at 6’3” and 245 lbs, which allows him to take on blockers and consistently disengage to make the tackle. He shows good burst and easy acceleration when blitzing the QB. Muma is a third generation athlete, as both his father and grandfather played football at Wyoming. He was a defensive back in high school, which helps explain his coverage instincts. He reportedly has excellent leadership skills, and knows how to command a defensive huddle. Another coach on the field, he could be seen throughout Senior Bowl week instructing other defenders with their assignments. Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers defense in 2021, and the potential impact his substantial abilities could bring to the equation, this BTSC writer believes that Chad Muma would be a perfect fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati (#60)

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.

Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State (#69)

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.

Damone Clark, LB, LSU (#101)

Andrew Wilbar: Clark had an incredible statistical year in 2021, finally living up to his billing as a strong athlete. At 6’2 ½”, 239 pounds, he ran a 4.57 in the 40, had a 36.5 inch vertical, and a 7.12 in the 3-cone. Those are solid numbers across the board, but things have not gone well for Clark since. It was announced at the end of March that he is undergoing spinal fusion surgery, which is something that could provide chronic issues down the line. On the other hand, this concern lowers his price, making him a potential day three steal. If he can avoid any long-term spinal issues, he could be the future at BUCK linebacker for the Steelers. It would allow Devin Bush to roam free while Clark helps in run support and occasional blitzing. Injuries of that nature are always dangerous, but he is a nice schematic fit for a team like Pittsburgh.

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.

Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (#164)

Skyfire322: Sanders is explosive off the line, and while he’s not the fastest, he can get in the backfield and doesn’t give up pursuit. His hand speed and bull rush are second to none and is an excellent pass rusher. He does have the length necessary to create some separation off the line. However, his lower body strength isn’t the greatest, especially when double-teamed, so this could be an issue against a top-tier offensive line. He also tends to wrap up, which may hurt against more elusive runners, but teams can most certainly address these issues. Overall, while his numbers dropped in his senior season, his technique, football IQ, and ability to play both sides of the ball worked in his favor.

5 Winners and 3 Losers after the Steelers pick of Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their man, and it is time to take a look at some winners and losers after Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who rarely finds themselves befuddled during the course of an NFL Draft. The 2022 NFL Draft was no different. When the Steelers’ pick came up at No. 20, they wasted little time making their pick.

University of Pittsburgh, QB, Kenny Pickett.

Immediately, from the moment the pick was made, a ripple effect took place throughout the Steelers organization. Some will benefit from the pick, while others will be on the losing side of the selection.

This is where the winners and losers column comes into play. I go through who could be labeled as ‘winners’ after the pick of Pickett, and those who could be labeled ‘losers’.

Let’s get down to it...

Winners

Kenny Pickett
Why: The fact Pickett is staying close to where he has called home the past five years is a positive. The fact he was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft has to have the former Pitt Panther riding high. Pickett will stay where he is comfortable, but now is when the pressure really starts for the Heisman finalist. Nonetheless, every player who is drafted in the first round is an automatic winner at this point.

Matt Canada
Why: I think it is safe to say the Steelers have given Canada every opportunity to get his offense in place, and to be successful. The additions along the offensive line in free agency, the selection of Najee Harris in the 2021 draft and now Pickett being the top pick in 2022. If Canada’s offense doesn’t work now, the blame can’t be shouldered on anyone other than the person putting the players in the right place to succeed. Still, Canada has to be thrilled to have Pickett as his future quarterback in his scheme.

Diontae Johnson
Why: During Round 1 of the draft the BTSC staff were watching the selection process together via Zoom, and after Pickett was the pick Geoffrey Benedict said how this pick really benefits Diontae Johnson. He said a quarterback like Malik Willis would not have been the best bet for Johnson, but Pickett could provide the wide receiver a quarterback who is both willing, and capable, of pumping him the football like Ben Roethlisberger did for a long time.

Kevin Colbert
Why: This is Colbert’s last go around with the Steelers as the active General Manager (GM), and he went down with a big swing. Did he hit a home run? Did he swing and miss? We might not know for a while, but he sure went down swinging. I give him credit. He wanted to leave Mike Tomlin, and the next GM, with the next quarterback.

Mock Drafters
Why: Just like last year, Pickett has been mocked to the Steelers for a large majority of the offseason, and it is always nice to see those crazy mock drafters get a pick or two right once in a while. Figured I’d throw them a bone.

Losers

Mitch Trubisky
Why: So put yourself in Mitch Trubisky’s shoes for a minute. You’re brought in on the first possible day of free agency and you think you have a new lease on life as the Steelers’ quarterback. Fast forward a month, or so, later, and now the team you thought you’d be leading for the foreseeable future just spent a first round pick on a quarterback. Not ideal, and you have to wonder if Trubisky isn’t viewing any time he gets in Pittsburgh as nothing more than a tryout for another future team at this point in his career.

Mason Rudolph
Why: Last year the Steelers signed Rudolph to a one-year extension as an insurance policy. Rudolph wisely took the deal, but likely never thought he’d end up potentially being dropped to QB3 on the depth chart. This isn’t to suggest Rudolph can’t win a quarterback competition, but at the same time he has an uphill battle ahead of him. Fans are wondering if the Steelers will dangle Rudolph via trade, and that seems to be far fetched with only three quarterbacks on the current depth chart.

Malik Willis
Why: Willis has been predicted to go anywhere from the Top 10 to pick No. 32, but no one projected Willis to still be without a team after Day 1. Willis is a dynamic player, but also a project. The Steelers could have taken Willis if they liked him, but they took Pickett with the “higher floor” as Colbert said in his post-draft press conference.

For a more in-depth breakdown of the Winners and Losers, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below:

All you need to know about the Steelers’ top pick, Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 8:50am
Photo by Logan Whitton/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pitt QB Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Here is all the coverage on their Day 1 pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a bold, and strong, statement in the 2022 NFL Draft by selecting Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round. With the 20th pick, the Steelers took Pickett 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’ve been putting off for quite a while now. That would be having some sort of plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger. Pickett was the top quarterback taken in the draft, and while many pundits thought the pick was a reach, if the Steelers found their next franchise quarterback I doubt they care what the “experts” think about the selection.

Pickett was the first quarterback taken in the first round since the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (OH) in the 2004 NFL Draft.

With that said, be sure to check out all of our coverage on the University of Pittsburgh quarterback 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 Days 2 and 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Grading the Steelers first round selection of Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 8:00am
Photo by Logan Whitton/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Pittsburgh Panthers QB Kenny Pickett with the 20th 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. This is uncharted waters for many younger Steelers fans. For the first time in almost two decades, the Steelers will be on the clock when their first round selection rolls around with some real uncertainty at the quarterback position. It is sure to be both an exciting and unsettling experience.

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 quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th selection of the 2022 NFL Draft. The fact that a quarterback was their first-round selection came as no real surprise to any Steelers fan who have been paying attention during the pre-draft process. General manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin never even tried to hide the fact they were doing their due diligence searching the 2022 quarterback draft class for potentially their next franchise guy.

What did come as a huge surprise for many was the signal caller that the Steelers eventually settled on. There seemed to be a burgeoning love affair blossoming between Liberty quarterback Malik Willis and the Steelers decision makers. In the end, the Steelers went with the player they knew best from this group of quarterback prospects.

Kenny Pickett will be 24 years old prior to the start of training camp. He is the most pro-ready quarterback in this class, in no small part due to his age and corresponding maturity.

Pickett stands 6'3" and weighs 220 lbs., giving him prototypical size for the position. He possesses solid athleticism and mobility, but his best attributes are from the neck up. Let's call it moxie, for lack of a better word.

Pickett has excellent vision and anticipation, allowing him to process through his progressions consistently. Kevin Colbert mentioned accuracy as a focal point for him in any quarterback evaluation, and Pickett has the best accuracy in this class in my opinion. Although Pickett doesn't have elite arm strength, he possesses more than enough arm talent to make the full spectrum of throws at the NFL level especially when you factor in the aforementioned accuracy, anticipation, and under discussed "touch" on his his throws.

There have been ample discussions about Pickett's less-than-ideal hand size for an NFL passer, but the Steelers obviously weren't concerned in the slightest about his tiny mitts. The Steelers apparently were more impressed by his competitiveness, and impacted by his impressive growth as both a player and leader for the Panthers, culminating with a magical senior season that saw him lead his team to an ACC Championship.

Pickett was a first-team All American, ACC Player of the Year, and he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. His incredible season saw him finish third in the 2021 Heisman Trophy voting. Equally as impressive to all of his personal accomplishments and accolades was the leadership he displayed in accumulating them. I truly believe that the Steelers valued that attribute more than most, especially for an unusually youthful Steelers roster on offense.

Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers first round selection of Kenny Pickett an initial draft grade of B+.

Pickett was projected to be taken in the first round, actually earlier than the 20th selection according to most projections. The Steelers confirmed that they have zero interest in a rebuilding period, or finishing towards the bottom of the AFC North. They remain committed to competing for the division, and determined to find their next quarterback capable of leading them there. Hopefully Kenny Pickett is that man.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the Kenny Pickett 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 Kenny Pickett to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!

Steelers Press Conferences and Video after selecting Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 7:00am
Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their top draft pick, and it’s Kenny Pickett out of Pitt.

The 2022 NFL Draft is officially underway, and on Thursday, Round 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed at pick No. 20 to make their selection. Listening to Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert earlier in the week, it didn’t seem as if the Steelers would have their choice in quarterbacks in this draft class.

Boy were they wrong.

When the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett, quarterback out of the University of Pittsburgh, they had every other quarterback available to them. In fact, there was still a massive amount of talent on the board at other positions as well.

Nonetheless, the Steelers knew who they wanted, and they didn’t waste much time making the call. After the pick, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert met with the media to talk about the pick, as well as some other video Steelers fans might enjoy watching.

As always, 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 2022 NFL Draft.

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert Press Conference

#LIVE: GM Kevin Colbert & Coach Tomlin speak to the media following the selection of QB Kenny Pickett. https://t.co/cACBMeKrIw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022

Breakdown of the Kenny Pickett selection

.@missi_matthews & @WilliamsonNFL talk about the @steelers selection of @kennypickett10. pic.twitter.com/CeVTez4Mpw

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) April 29, 2022

The phone call from Mike Tomlin to Kenny Pickett

The call that made @kennypickett10 a Pittsburgh Steeler pic.twitter.com/vfFEgf8qF7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022

Steelers, both current and former, react to the Round 1 pick of Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers made their pick for Round 1 of the NFL Draft, and people responded on Twitter.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and there were plenty of reactions regarding the pick on social media following the team’s decision.

After such a huge event like the NFL Draft, players, both current and former, certainly pay attention to what is going on with the team. After Pickett’s name was called by Franco Harris in Las Vegas, several current players, and some former, took to Twitter to talk about the selection.

Below you’ll see what some are saying about the pick. Keep in mind this story will be updated as more players, and the Steelers organization, post to social media as the three day draft process continues.

Let’s get to the tweets...

pic.twitter.com/0NfkUsJW5X

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) April 29, 2022

By the way your nickname is @BurgerKing hands from now on. I’m jk excited to get to work with you

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) April 29, 2022

Boom @steelers

— Bruce Gradkowski (@bgradkowski5) April 29, 2022

“Two things I trust in life God and the Pittsburgh Steelers.”@Ike_SwagginU #Steelers #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/FJ2LfbBPL9

— Nick Lenzi (@nlenzi) April 29, 2022

https://twitter.com/steelers/status/1519867958281052161?s=20&t=P_uMSdfyIUyzNjZyWvQgfw

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, @francoharrishof announced the pick of @kennypickett10.

#NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/RxgCIBr6YZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022

"It's a dream come true." @kennypickett10 pic.twitter.com/G9CqChGItQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022

The call that made @kennypickett10 a Pittsburgh Steeler pic.twitter.com/vfFEgf8qF7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2022

2022 NFL Draft Day 2: TV schedule, start time, more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 5:30am
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

All the information to watch or listen to Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft over a variety of platforms.

Day 1 of the 2022 NFL draft is in the books. The Pittsburgh Steelers went in the direction many expected in terms of position, but maybe not the player they thought they would take. With all the quarterbacks still available at pick 20, the Steelers chose Kenny Pickett as the top player at the position.

Surprisingly, there are several draft picks who some thought would not be available when the Steelers selected at 20 but are still on the board for Round 2. 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 will be drafted when, 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. 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.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/29/2022 - 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 website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest four 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.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: We Mock Ourselves

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the hottest and most toxic takes on Steelers social media. This week, the mock wars are full of fear and loathing. We’ll break down the results of 269 Mock Drafts and tell you what the data says about the Steelers pick. Plus, the legacy of Duck Hodges.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

Breaking News: The Steelers select Pitt Quarterback Kenny Pickett in Round 1

Finally! The pick is in. The Steelers addressed the quarterback position with the choice of Kenny Pickett from the Pittsburgh Panthers with the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Join BTSC Editor Dave Schofield with immediate reaction to the pick.

BTSC Steelers Draft Roundtable: Welcome to Pittsburgh, Kenny Pickett

There were so many possibilities for the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 20th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. When the time came around for the selection to be read at the podium, the player announced was Pitt’s own Kenny Pickett. With help from some BTSC friends, Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down the pick of Pickett on the latest episode of the BTSC Draft Roundtable.

Let’s Ride Friday: The Steelers taking Kenny Pickett was the ultimate ‘inside job’

The Steelers knowledge of Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and subsequent selection of the neighborhood QB may just be the ultimate “inside job”. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with Jeff Hartman. Join BTSC’s Senior Editor for this and more on the Friday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Reaction to the Steelers’ selection of Kenny Pickett
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Watch Kenny Pickett react to being the Steelers top draft pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 11:01pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers new quarterback was surrounded by family and friends at his home when he got the news he was Pittsburgh’s No. 1 overall draft pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers shocked many in their fan base, and across the NFL landscape, when they selected University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

As the draft went on, with numerous trades happening on the way to pick No. 20, the Steelers stayed put and wanted to see what would happen with the quarterbacks on the board.

Of course, everyone knew the prospects which could be the top option for the Steelers. Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder and Kenny Pickett were the biggest names of note, but most assumed Willis would be the pick if he and Pickett were available.

As the board unfolded, all quarterbacks were available when it was the Steelers’ turn to make their selection.

It was this tweet and video, by Johnny McGonigal, which tipped the hand before the pick was announced that Pickett was the Steelers selection. Take a look at the video below.

Kenny Pickett is a Pittsburgh Steeler

The moment he gets the call and finds out he’s being selected with the 20th overall pick in the #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Zk38Gi2Ey9

— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) April 29, 2022

The celebration continued with Terrible Towels and chants of “He’s staying home!”, obviously talking about how Pickett will return to Pittsburgh where he spent five years in college.

They had Terrible Towels ready. They had Mike Tomlin on the phone. And they chanted: “HE’S STAYING HOME” pic.twitter.com/bm8gLers4l

— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) April 29, 2022

Finally, the announcement on the television with Pickett wearing the black and gold for the first time in his young professional career.

Kenny Pickett’s #NFLDraft party reaction to the announcement that he’s a Pittsburgh Steeler pic.twitter.com/HTnZXDBnGb

— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) April 29, 2022

Will Pickett turn out to be the next Steelers’ franchise quarterback? That has yet to be seen, but the one thing which won’t change is the massive amount of pressure on Pickett’s shoulders as he moves from Pitt to the professional ranks.

Let us know what you thought about the Pickett selection 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 NFL Draft.

Knee Jerk Reactions to the Steelers taking Kenny Pickett in Round 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 9:50pm
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his initial and real time unadulterated reactions to the first round of the NFL draft in anticipation of the Steelers pick.

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 apologizing at all). So with that being said, I’m going to employ that philosophy here during the NFL Draft.

  • As per usual Roger Goodell enters to a lot of boos.
  • The Jags ate well, Jaggy, but they are on the clock.
  • Travon Walker is the pick, not a huge surprise, as he vaulted to the top the past couple of days.
  • Lions grab Aiden Hutchinson with pick 2. A couple of edge rushers to start things off.
  • Stingley Jr. at number 3, a bit of a surprise there. Thought that would have been Sauce.
  • Defense is the name of the game, as Sauce Gardner makes it 4 straight.
  • Defense again! Another edge rusher!
  • The first offensive player finally comes off the board, as Ekwonu at tackle goes at 6.
  • Back to back tackles now.....interesting.
  • Falcons make it three offensive players in a row, with WR London. They did need a receiver.
  • Fourth offensive player in a row, and third tackle.
  • Jets add a WR, so the top 10 went 5 defense and then 5 offense. Weird.
  • Washington trades back and the Saints are up to 11. Saints grab WR Olave, and the Scho Bro mock draft pick is off the board.
  • Lions move up to 12, and grab a WR. Here is the WR run.
  • This is setting up to be an interesting pick for the Steelers, as there are a bunch possibilities.
  • Eagles trade up in front of Baltimore and grab Jordan Davis......Geoffrey Benedict got his wish and kept Davis out of Baltimore. This also ended 7 offensive players in a row chosen.
  • Ravens grab safety Kyle Hamilton.....doesn't matter, I still hate Wang Harbaugh.
  • Another offensive lineman at 15.
  • The Washington I Have No Idea Their Name Now's pick a WR. Still no QB's off the board
  • Chargers go OL....starting to get nervous about the Steelers pick.
  • Eagles trade for A.J. Brown and send pick 18 to the Titans. Definitely been a lot of wheeling and dealing so far.
  • Ends up being a strange swap as the Titans grab a WR after trading one away for the pick.
  • Saints grab a tackle at 19.
  • Steelers on the clock and can have their pick of any QB if they want one.
  • Steelers take Pickett. This will cause some uproar within Steelers Nation, but you could actually say that about any pick they make.
  • I think the Steelers were able to keep how much they liked Pickett quiet because they share the same facility with the Panthers. Everyone thought they loved Willis, but they were able to hide that they actually liked Pickett more.
  • Initial thoughts from some of the other BTSC writers is that Kenny Pickett will be a nice fit for Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth.
  • The good thing is the Steelers did not trade up to get a quarterback, whether you like the selection or not.

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

For more information on the pick, check out the breaking news podcast below:

Draft Results: Steelers select Kenny Pickett with 1st round pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 9:42pm
Photo by Logan Whitton/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with their 1st round pick in the 2022 draft.

Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs that 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 need on their roster.

With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: 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.

When the dust settled, the Steelers have selected University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, with their first pick in the draft.

Kenny Pickett is a Pittsburgh Steeler

The moment he gets the call and finds out he’s being selected with the 20th overall pick in the #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Zk38Gi2Ey9

— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) April 29, 2022

The move puts Pickett, who is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class, in a familiar spot as the Pitt Panthers and the Steelers share a facility on the southside of Pittsburgh.

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

Andrew Wilbar: I have been a big fan of Pickett’s ever since he stepped foot on campus at Pitt. I stood up for him when fans were disgruntled with the offense, and before he decided to return to school for 2021, I was a big proponent of taking a late-round flier on him. I was not surprised when he had his breakout season in 2021, but he has risen too high on the national draft boards for my liking. Pickett is a very solid quarterback who has a decent arm and sneaky good athleticism, but he is older than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he does not have an incredibly high ceiling as a pro. The biggest issue, especially for teams that play in cold weather, will be his incredibly small hands. Pickett participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, but he struggled badly in practices when it was raining. There is no denying that he lost his accuracy and struggled to push the ball downfield when the weather got rough. Rumor has it that his hands are right around eight inches, which would be historically small, but we will have to wait for the official measurement at the combine. Pickett’s accuracy improved by leaps and bounds this season, but he sometimes struggled to get off his first read and get through his progressions before the pressure got to him. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins when it comes to his ability to roll out to his weak side, and his delivery and arm strength remind me of a Derek Carr or an Andy Dalton. The big question will be, “Is he capable of anything greater than that?”. That is what teams are going to have to determine over the next few months when it comes to Pickett and how high he should be taken.

For another view of what Pickett brings to the Steelers, here is a draft profile from NFL.com:

Pickett has five years of game experience and four years of starting experience for Pitt. He’s a fairly toolsy pocket passer with good mobility. He operated in a passing scheme featuring vertical concepts that created big-play opportunities but left food on the plate when he failed to play chess against the back-end of the coverage. Pickett works with average anticipation but drives the ball with good velocity, which should help him shine in pre-draft passing drills. Pickett’s touch and placement need work, but his accuracy stats were damaged by an inordinate amount of drops throughout his career. The top indicator for future success or failure will likely rest in a team’s ability to build Pickett’s trust, poise and discipline from the pocket. He can make all the throws, but he’ll only be able to execute against disguised fronts and NFL pressure if he’s willing to hang in and win with his eyes first. He carries a boom/bust label, but the 2021 tape and productivity showed off his potential to become a good starter in time.

Strengths

  • Broke Dan Marino’s Pitt passing records.
  • Comes from athletic family and bloodlines.
  • Has good size and all the physical tools needed as a pro.
  • Jaw-dropping improvement across the board from 2020.
  • TD-INT ratio went from 13:9 in 2020 to 42:7 in 2021.
  • Passing scheme required full-field reads.
  • Good recognition and decisions on combo-route throws to all levels.
  • Potential to get better at recalibrating reads with more work.
  • Worked with improved anticipation and tight spiral throwing into windows.
  • Velocity to stay ahead of closing coverage.
  • Arm strength to push deep outs without a problem.
  • Able to extend the play and win on the move with his arm.
  • Arm talent to make off-platform throws.
  • Elusiveness to escape a free runner and scramble for yards.

Weaknesses

  • Some scarring from previous protection issues.
  • Nervous feet and poise can get the best of him despite clean pockets.
  • Drifts outside pocket rather than climbing to scan.
  • Feet don’t always follow his eyes when throwing.
  • Poor placement and touch added to drop issues.
  • Finesse throws into buckets are below average.
  • Better timing would prevent contested catches.
  • Can improve at making leading throws.
  • Doesn’t throw with much of an expedited release.
  • Needs to take the incompletion instead of the sack.

But what do you think about the selection? Let us know your thoughts in the poll below!

For more information on the Steelers taking Pickett at No. 20 overall, check out the Breaking News podcast below:

NFL Draft: Day 1 Steelers news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 6:45pm
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Be sure to stay in tune with the Steelers for their Day 1 pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Day 1 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 Round 1, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have the 20th overall pick.

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. Thursday April 28, 2022

8 PM EST Round 1 (picks 1-32)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing a live broadcast on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel following the Steelers first selection. 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 the selection.

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

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

Tracking the Steelers 2022 NFL Draft Picks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 6:15pm
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL Draft is here and underway! Keep tabs of the Steelers draft picks as the event continues!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the three day grind that is the 2022 NFL Draft, and it is at this time when fans are usually scrambling for vital information. Information like:

  • When do the Steelers draft in this round?
  • How many picks to the Steelers have overall?
  • Who have the Steelers taken so far?

This was why the NFL Draft Pick Tracker was developed. Throughout the three day event we will be updating who the Steelers have drafted, a brief bio on the player, and any news and information which is necessary right here. If the Steelers trade into the 5th Round, where the Steelers don’t currently have a pick, we’ll have the news right here.

In the meantime, below are the Steelers’ picks, per round. This will be updated after every pick has taken place.

Round 1

Pick No. 20 / Overall: 20 —

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 —

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2022 NFL Draft and the rest of free agency.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

Back to the Future: The case for Steelers drafting a top running back in 2022 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 4:30pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

After using their top pick at running back last year, would grabbing the same position early a second-straight year be a wise decision?

It is highly unlikely that the Steelers use a high value draft pick – in the first three rounds — on a running back after successfully taking Najee Harris in the first round last year. But the question is, should they?

The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger puts the team into a position it hasn’t been in for decades. Those with long memories, the old among us, remember the long drought that was endured after the retirement of Terry Bradshaw. The slew of mediocre to awful quarterbacks taking the helm between the Blonde Bomber and Big Ben stagnated the development of Steelers teams that had all the other ingredients to contend for the title, except for the quarterback.

When the Steelers did contend in those lean years, it was because of a strong defense and a strong running back. Now, it is possible that Mitch Trubisky finds himself worthy of his high draft capital and ascends as the Bears once hoped, or that the Steelers pick one of those top quarterback choices in this year’s draft and they perform over the mediocre value that the draftniks and scouts seem to attach to this year’s crop.

All possible, but all unlikely.

Therefore, the Steelers could seemingly arrive back in a mid-1990’s time machine, but this time with T.J. Watt instead of Greg Lloyd, and Najee Harris starring in the Jerome Bettis role.

Those 1990s to early 2000s teams leaned heavily on the running game. Expect the Steelers to try to do the same thing with Najee Harris. And, that’s great, because you have got to love what Harris brings to the table, everything from great attitude and strong running to fantastic pass catching skills.

But, behind Harris it is barren. The drop off from Harris to his backups is drastic. And with no prime Ben Roethlisberger to wing the ball down the field, losing Harris and relying on Trubisky to carry the team is scary. He screams game manager. As mentioned above, it is possible everything clicks for him. Even still, the Steelers want to run the ball more.

That has been their stated goal for years now.

If you followed the Steelers teams of Bettis lore back in the day, you will know they ran him a lot. So much so, that you often recall him getting banged up and worn down by the end of the year. One promising playoff run ended because of Jerome’s groin. Of course his groin hurt – it was carrying the whole offense for 16 weeks.

Even in more recent times, the same “worn-out” fates occurred with James Conner and Le’veon Bell in the playoffs, or before.

Which brings us to Mike Tomlin. One of the first things I remember about Tomlin is him telling the media that he would run Willie Parker until his wheels fell off.

Guess what? Willie Parker’s wheels granted him his wish— they promptly fell off.

It is known that Tomlin likes to lean on one back, whether that be Willie Parker, Le’veon Bell, James Conner, or Najee Harris. If you play fantasy football, everyone knows the massive workload the Steelers give their backs is without question and is desired in the fantasy community. When drafted, Tomlin said he’d lean heavily on Harris.

Again, the man doesn’t lie— his workload was epic. Fantasy managers like this, but reality football teams should not.

The critique of drafting a top running back this year is obvious. Taking a running back when you have Najee Harris would waste draft capital on a team with many needs. Plus, running backs of Najee’s pedigree often don’t like sharing the load, and sometimes that can cause locker room issues if they draft a talent like a Breece Hall.

Perhaps, though, he might appreciate it. Ricky Williams quit football because Dave Wannstedt ran him into the ground, and Deebo Samuel is also balking at his heavy workload, as well. That said, I doubt the Steelers spend a high pick on a Hall, Kenneth Walker, or one of the other high prospects.

But it would not be unwise.

Because here is a crystal ball prediction: Mitch Trubisky will turn the Steelers into the teams of the nineties as I described above. He will be mediocre and the Steelers will attempt to run heavily with Najee Harris and rely on a strong defense. Tomlin will run Najee’s wheels off again (luckily, he made it through last season) because that’s his M.O., and the Steelers will turn to Benny Snail…er, I mean Snell.

Or, someone equivalent.

From what the draft experts project, the top running backs should fall to the second and third rounds. The season is now an arduous 17 weeks, so it is even more grueling on the running back position than in Bettis’ days. It’s an injury-prone position regardless of workload. Just ask the 2021 Baltimore Ravens. Having a dynamic duo to share the load wouldn’t be a bad idea. Even with a talented quarterback at the helm, the rigors of an NFL season giving Harris 90 percent of the carries— not to mention receptions— is foolhardy.

Drafting a top tiered running back this year would be shocking, but I’ve seen this story play out before and maybe they should consider it.

The 2022 draft class could be as bad as the horrid 2016 class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The talent level of this class is starting to get scary low.

The 2022 NFL Draft is just hours away, but for the first time in a very long time the draft has not been more unpredictable. That has less to do with the secretiveness of NFL teams, but more to do with the level of talent in this year‘s pool of players. Heck, the draft is missing all its usual headliners: There is no consensus No. 1 overall pick, there is no consensus future franchise quarterback, and the hype on these players is lower than what it has been in years.

Some NFL teams have fewer than 15 players with first-round grades in this week's draft. So who could be some of the surprises of Round 1? Here are seven names to watch: https://t.co/nuMteJtpJh

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 26, 2022

Way back in the 2016 NFL Draft fans faced a very similar situation. From the quarterbacks to the lack of high in talent, it was a very similar class. The Steelers of course walked away with Artie Burns and Sean Davis with their first two picks, and it did take some time to recover from those misses. However, the Steelers were not the only team that whiffed on their selections. When re-drafting this class the name that would more than likely goes first overall is that of now Buffalo Bills wide receivers Stefon Diggs. While Diggs is a great player, he is nowhere near the best wide receiver in football.

With a class like this one, it will require some impressive scouting and player development to pull anything major out of this class. Especially with the Steelers now selecting 20th overall they may have to get creative with who they select at the spot. In a normal draft year the 20th overall pick should still net you a Pro Bowl caliber player, and really that level of ceiling should be available well into the second round of the draft. In this 2022 class however, it feels like we are missing the top tier of player altogether.

This does not mean the Pittsburgh Steelers will walk away from the draft with nothing. Like any class there will be game changing players, but it is almost more likely that person does not come on Day 1 of the draft, like in regular years. Winning a draft class that is as devoid of talent as this one could set your team on a extremely positive trajectory and point you toward future championship aspirations.

It is also a major positive the Steelers were able to round out their roster throughout free agency. This is certainly not the draft class to draft based on position. In weaker years, like this one, you have to continuously take the best player in your mind available and develop them to become a future player for your team. Reaching on talent in 2022 will give you nothing but busts. However, I do anticipate the big boards of general managers will look a whole heck of a lot different than what we are getting from media and fans alike.

But what do you think? Is this the weakest draft class we have seen since 2016? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The coldest Steelers takes leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 2:30pm
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

What were some of the worst NFL Draft takes involving the Steelers this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft is finally here, and if you are like me following the trends, rumors and reports can be exhausting. What might be the most exhausting aspect of the draft process are the endless hot takes which fly from scouts and media outlets alike.

This got us at SB Nation, and BTSC, thinking about what were some of the worst, or cold, takes of this past offseason. To help out I recruited the help of some of our writers, and asked them which cold take they thought was the worst of the offseason.

Below you’ll see what they feel was the worst take of the draft season, and some information on why it was deemed to be a bad take.

Let’s get down to business...

Andrew Wilbar: Trading up for someone not named Malik Willis

My thoughts: This draft is deep at a lot of positions, and most would assume the Steelers aren’t going to need to trade up for anyone who isn’t a quarterback. Nonetheless, the take Wilbar despises the most is the team trading up for someone not named Malik Willis.

It should be noted not everyone agrees with Wilbar’s analysis...

Dave Schofield: Trading up for a quarterback not named Malik Willis. Sorry, but if somebody like Kyle Hamilton falls out of the Top 10, they should think about going up to get that guy. Screw the QBs.

My thoughts: As Dave points out, there is talent which makes sense for the Steelers to explore trading up for in the draft. He uses the example of Hamilton, the safety out of Notre Dame, potentially falling and the Steelers going up to get him.

Bradley Locker: Taking an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round doesn’t really address the major positions of need. Not a fan unless someone marquee (e.g. Jordan Davis, Charles Cross) falls.

My thoughts: Taking a needs based approach, and not best player available (BPA) could have the Steelers over-drafting a specific player. This all comes down to philosophy to the overall approach of the draft. Team need or BPA. It comes down to personal preference, but the Steelers addressing most of their needs via free agency has opened the door for BPA to be followed in this upcoming draft.

Jeremy Betz: I just really don’t like the idea of moving up into the top 10 for a QB. Also I don’t necessarily think it’s viable.

My thoughts: Jeremy is much more specific, as it pertains to the Steelers trading up. He goes as far as suggesting the Steelers moving into the Top 10, something they did in 2019 to get Devin Bush Jr., isn’t worth it for a quarterback. I tend to agree, and people who believe the Steelers would try to somehow move from pick No. 20 to the Top 10 might be a bit off with their analysis.

Dave Schofield: Trading back more than once.

My thoughts: This might be the coldest take of them all, as it pertains to the Steelers. Could the Steelers trade back in the draft? Absolutely, but it’s only happened once in the Kevin Colbert era. Colbert and Mike Tomlin outlined what it takes for them to trade back, and you then understand why it has happened so few times. The Steelers trading back could absolutely happen, but doing it more than once seems a bit outlandish.

What do you think? What was the coldest NFL Draft take this offseason? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Big Board: Top 250 Rankings, Scouting Reports for every prospect

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 1:30pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Here are our final 2022 NFL Draft top 250 rankings, with scouting reports for each prospect!

Your ultimate draft guide is here, ladies and gentleman! After months of film-watching, evaluating, and writing, the BTSC Big Board crew is back for the final time during the 2022 draft cycle. This time, we are bringing to you our extensive top 250 players big board, which includes a scouting report for each prospect we ranked.

We highly recommend bookmarking this article for easy accessibility during the draft. When your team selects a player you are unfamiliar with, we hope this board will be an educational tool for you to use on draft weekend.

We also have a PDF of my top 400 player rankings, which are the same rankings we use to assemble the big board. You can access and print the PDF below. As the draft moves along, it is a great list to have by your side, as you will then be able to keep track of the best players available more easily. Click the link below to view and print.

Andrew’s Printable 2022 NFL Draft Top 400 Rankings

The idea of this board originated not long after the departure of long-time BTSC member, DropTheHammer, who is now at Steelers Depot. It did not take long for me and several others to feel the void left by his departure, as it was a great way to begin good, meaty draft conversation. After communicating with Pittsblitz56 and Ryland here at the site, I began to think about how this board could be put together. With the help of Ryland and several other volunteers, we got the ball rolling and started going position by position, ranking every noteworthy prospect in the draft. This year, several more volunteers stepped up and helped us with the board, which helped make a board this long and this extensive a reality.

With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to give a special thank-you to all the contributors that helped this year. Being a college student, I do not have the time to write up scouting reports for every prospect, and I certainly do not have the time to look up the stats for every player. I hope you will take a moment and appreciate the work of the people I am about to mention, because without them, this would not have been possible.

Ryland was the first person on board with this idea last year, and for two years now, he has been writing outstanding scouting reports for the board while also filling in wherever needed. This year, he took on the task of running the new big board discussion articles entitled, “Should the Steelers select a ____ in the 2022 NFL Draft?”. We did one for every position, and he was the one who set those articles up.

Most of you know SNW as one of the site moderators, but he had a huge role in the big board this year, assembling the stats and measurables for every prospect. Much of this final board was formatted by him as well, which was a huge time-saver for me. Necksnation, Noah_E., and skyfire322 are all fans from BTSC who willingly pitched in and helped us with some scouting reports, and DoomzoneFF helped us in the department of proofreading.

Lastly, I would like to thank staff writers Shannon White, K.T. Smith (CHISAP), and Jeremy Betz for writing up scouting reports on some of their favorite draft prospects.

If you can make it through 45,000+ words and get to the comment section, make sure you give these hard-working men a shout-out for all they did to make this possible. As the organizer of this board, I deeply appreciate their dedication to not just this board, but to this website in general.

If you have any final thoughts on these rankings and scouting reports, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans, let’s get to the big board!

2022 BTSC Top 250 Big Board 1. Aidan Hutchinson | Michigan | EDGE
6‘-6”, 265 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 62, TFL 16.5, S 14, PD 3, FR 1, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Kavon Thibodeaux had been my number one EDGE rusher all summer and all season, but Aidan Hutchinson’s dominance this year is just too much to ignore. While I think Thibodeaux still has the higher overall ceiling, Hutchinson has a much safer floor. He is a good athlete who thrives by converting speed to power to finish plays in the backfield. His non-stop motor and effort on every down make him a difficult matchup for any tackle, and he only gets better as the game goes on. I also love Hutchinson’s hand usage. He has extremely strong and active hands that give opposing tackles fits when they leave their chests exposed. If I were Jacksonville’s GM, I would take him with the first pick.

2. Ikem Ekwonu | North Carolina State | OT
6‘-4“, 320 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ekwonu played extremely well in 2021 at left tackle, but where will he play in the NFL? He is a nasty hitter who will play through the whistle and drive you to the ground, but he lacks the finesse to be an NFL tackle. He does not have great awareness either, as too often he underestimates the speed or quickness of an edge rusher and gives him too much room to work with. Other times he leaves his chest exposed and allows power rushers to either push him back and collapse the pocket or knock him off balance and beat him to the inside. He just uses his athleticism better at guard. At guard, the consequences of being sluggish out of your stance are not as hurtful, and his ability to drive defenders backward will help open more running lanes for a team that wants to run in between the tackles. There is a decent amount of upside here, but will he last at tackle in the NFL? The more I watch, the more I believe he will, but there is still a little risk involved.

3. Evan Neal | Alabama | OT
6‘-7“, 360 lbs

Necksnation: Widely projected to be the first overall pick, there’s a lot to like about Evan Neal, but I’m not entirely convinced that he’s worthy of the top selection. At 6’7’’ and 360 lbs, he has a huge frame that will help him transition well to the NFL. Neal is a true mauler in the run game, and he’s a good pass blocker as well, allowing only 4 sacks across 1073 snaps at tackle over the past two years. Neal’s versatility is impressive, as he played left tackle in 2021, right tackle in 2020, and left guard in 2019. He seems to fit best at RT in the long term, but he is certainly capable of playing on the other side of the line and even occasionally sliding inside to guard. His balance isn’t great, but he does a nice job of getting back on track and holding his block after initially getting beat off the line. He was sometimes beaten by speedy edge rushers, and his mobility could use a little work, but overall he’s a solid athlete who has good straight-line speed and short burst. He’s a powerful player and he uses his hands well, which allows him to dominate as a run blocker and at the point of attack. He sometimes struggled a little to pick up on blitzes, but this isn’t a big concern for me, and it’s an area that should improve once he is able to zero in on playing one position for multiple years at a time. Although he’s undeniably a top talent in this class, I’m not as high on him as most. Neal should be a plug-and-play starter from day one who will have a pretty successful career in the NFL as an above-average but not superstar tackle.

4. Ahmad Gardner | Cincinnati | CB
6‘-2“, 188 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 40, TFL 5, S 3, Int 3, PD 4.

Necksnation: Not only does Sauce Gardner have one of the best nicknames in this year’s draft, he could be the best defensive player from the class when it’s all said and done. Gardner is a physical corner, and he will gladly do whatever is asked of him on the football field. He possesses great length and athleticism, and these physical traits show up on his tape, where he showed the ability to clamp receivers in press as well as track them step for step in man. That said, he may be even better in zone, where his great instincts and aggressive nature pay off. His stats are ridiculous: in 33 games played at Cincinnati, he didn’t allow a single touchdown, and he’s given up one reception in the red zone since 2019. Because he was so dominant, he was rarely targeted, but he made a decent amount of plays on the ball with limited opportunities, registering three interceptions in every season that he played at Cincinnati. In addition, Gardner displays great competitive toughness when defending the run. He is an enthusiastic and aggressive tackler, and he made a number of highlight reel plays in run defense in 2021, including 5 TFL. Gardner has everything that you could ask for in a cornerback prospect, and he should hear his name called in the top 10 on draft night, where he’ll make an NFL team’s fanbase very happy.

5. Malik Willis | Liberty | QB
6’-1”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 207, A 339, Pct 61.1, Yds 2857, TD 27, Int 12, RA 197, Yds 878, TD 13.

Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown on Willis, I talked about how special Willis had the chance to be, and I still stand by those comments. Every. Single. Bit. The numbers are not the prettiest, and having multiple 3 interception games is not something any quarterback wants on their résumé. However, Willis likely had the worst offensive line in the country, and it was on full display every single week. Willis was constantly running for his life before he had an opportunity to go through his progressions and make accurate reads. At the end of the day, not much has changed about my opinion of him. He is still an incredibly talented quarterback with a big arm and outstanding arm, but he needs to sit for a year. Sitting and watching on the sidelines will allow him to see the speed of the NFL game and the complexity of NFL coverages before having to face them himself. It will do wonders for his development. Footwork needs improvement, but that is a fixable issue. If a team is all in on Willis and willing to be patient, he could become one of the brightest young stars in the league.

6. Charles Cross | Mississippi State | OT |
6‘-5“, 290 lbs

Necksnation: With Ikem Ekwonu potentially playing guard in the NFL, Cross might be my pick to end up as the most successful tackle from this draft class. Although he’s slightly undersized, he is an excellent athlete, which gives him a high ceiling. Cross isn’t versatile from a positional standpoint, as he played all but four of his snaps at LT in college, but he’s able to hold up very well in both pass and run sets. In particular, he really thrives in pass protection, allowing only 16 pressures and 2 sacks across 719 pass-blocking snaps in 2021. His natural athleticism makes him difficult to get by on the edge, as he is adept at mirroring pass rushers to avoid being beaten by speed. That said, he isn’t the most powerful player, so he is sometimes beaten by bull rushes, but he is athletic enough to catch up to the defender and keep his QB clean. As a run blocker, Cross’s explosive first step immediately helps him take control at the point of attack, where he is able to use his hands and footwork to win the rep. His balance allows him to maintain good leverage throughout a play and hold his blocks for extended periods of time, which could help him out if he is asked to protect a young QB. Although he may not immediately be a star, Cross seems fairly pro-ready and should have a highly productive career at the next level and could become a perennial All-Pro after a few years in the league.

7. Travon Walker | Georgia | EDGE
6‘-5”, 275 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 33, TFL 7.5, S 6, INT 0, PD 2, FR 1, FF 0.

Jeremy Betz: ‘Tweener’? DE or OLB? Doesn’t matter. Walker is a physical marvel of power, speed, and tenacity. On tape, he shows a variety of effective pass-rush maneuvers, along with tremendous length and heavy hands. Depending on the scheme of his selector, Walker may be asked to flex out as a stand-up rusher off the edge, but teams who run a base 4-3 Defense may be the best fit for the UGA star. At the combine, Walker’s workout drew rave reviews from scouts and team brass in attendance. You saw insane speed and quickness, which translates well to tracking down QBs and beating athletic OTs off the LOS. 2021 was truly a breakout year for Walker, and his ability to play multiple roles along the DL will raise his stock and his ceiling in the eyes of NFL decision-makers. Travon Walker could end up being the best defensive player overall in this draft, let alone the best EDGE rusher.

8. Derek Stingley, Jr. | LSU | CB
6‘-1“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 3, T 8, TFL 3.5, S 0, Int 0, PD 0, FF 1.
2019 stats: GP 15, T 38, TFL 1, S 0, Int 6, PD 15, FR 1.

Necksnation: If you only look at Stingley’s freshman season, he’d seem like a lock to be taken in the top 5, but things haven’t gone quite as smoothly for him since then. It started in 2020, where he missed three games and saw his production decline a bit from his outstanding 2019 campaign. Then, he suffered a Lisfranc injury three weeks into the season, and didn’t return for the rest of the year. As a result, his draft stock has been volatile throughout the past few months, but he seems to be trending in the right direction as we get closer to draft day. The team that takes him will do so with the hope that he becomes the player he looked like in 2019, and if he does, he’ll look like a steal. And even though he hasn’t looked quite as good since that season, there’s still a lot to like about Stingley. His ball skills are fantastic, and even when he isn’t hauling in interceptions, he often finds ways to make plays on the ball. He allowed an impressive completion percentage of 39.2 across 125 targets at LSU, and he hauled in a whopping 6 interceptions as a freshman. Additionally, Stingley won’t turn 21 until June, making him one of the younger players in the class. Between his age, athleticism (9.2 RAS score), and production ceiling, Stingley has incredible potential, and despite his recent decline in production and injury history, he is absolutely worth gambling on in the top 15.

9. Kayvon Thibodeaux | Oregon | EDGE
6‘-5”, 250 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 49, TFL 12, S 7, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Thibodeaux is a freak of nature, simply put. He has the length, speed, bend, and strength that every coach salivates over. The only new concern is that he has not exactly produced in the big games. While he recorded a combined 6 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles against Fresno State, California, Washington State, and UCLA, he only recorded one sack in the two meetings against Utah. In the condensed 2020 season, Thibodeaux made big plays defending the run but struggled to turn pressures into sacks, recording only three sacks in seven games. This does not take away from his insane athleticism, but his lack of production in big games may be worrisome for some teams. I would still take him inside the top ten, but teams who have met with him and have concerns about his love for the game may be more hesitant to do so.

10. Jordan Davis | Georgia | DL
6’-6”, 340 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14,T 32,TFL 5, Sacks 2, PD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Much like center, nose tackles do not go inside the top half of the first round unless they are one of a kind, but Davis may be the best nose tackle we’ve seen since Vince Wilfork. Standing at 6’6”, 340 pounds, Davis moves like linemen 50 pounds smaller than him. He gets out of his stance surprisingly quick, and he uses his long arms and superb strength to push offensive linemen back and make the pocket collapse. You don’t often hear about nose tackles being able to split gaps and get up field, but Davis is one of the rare few who can. Interior linemen that are inferior in length struggle to gain leverage on Davis, and if you don’t double him, he will split either A-gap and get to the quarterback. As a run defender, he is everything you would expect him to be. He is a sound tackler while also staying low despite his height. I also love Davis’ ability to disengage. He displays tremendous hand placement, and he has instincts to know where the running back is going and when he needs to disengage from the blocker. Taking a nose tackle in the first round may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is one of the safest picks in the entire draft.

11. Jameson Williams | Alabama | 6‘-2“, 189 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 11
2021 stats: GP 15, Rec 79, Yds 1572, TD 15.

Andrew Wilbar: Coming into the season, most draft nuts, including myself, were focused more on John Metchie than Williams, but Williams’ 21.3 yards per reception, 15 touchdowns, and 1,445 receiving yards during the regular season made him the primary focus as the season went on. Williams is an Ohio State transfer who dominated when given the opportunity at Alabama. His big-play ability is evidenced by his yards per catch, but I think we take for granted his ability to create separation with his elite speed. There are times when you see Williams running a go-route, and it looks as if there was a blown defensive assignment. Then you see a different camera angle, and there is a defender accounting for him, but he has been left in the dust. Williams was just so much faster than a lot of his competition, and his 6’2” frame allows him to take nice, long strides and increase the amount of separation. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a torn ACL in the National Championship Game, causing his stock to drop toward the mid to late first round. Nonetheless, if he can make a full recovery, he will be a dangerous receiver in the NFL as soon as 2023.

12. Andrew Booth, Jr. | Clemson | CB
6‘-0“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 37, TFL 3, S 0, Int 3, PD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown on Booth, I talked about his standout play in limited action in 2020. With Derion Kendrick transferring to Georgia, Booth became the face of Clemson’s secondary in 2021, and he lived up to the billing. While 3 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, and 1 interception may not seem like insane stats for 10 games, he was consistently sound in coverage, bumping receivers off their route at the line of scrimmage and blanketing them downfield one-on-one. From an athletic standpoint, Booth is right up there with Derek Stingley and Ahmad Gardner. He has the size, the speed, the instincts, and the agility requisite from a press man corner. While turnover production is still a work in progress, he has not exactly had a ton of prime opportunities to force them. He is still developing his zone coverage skills, but Booth has the potential to become a top-tier corner in the NFL if drafted by the right team.

13. Jermaine Johnson | Florida State | EDGE
6‘-5”, 260 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 70, TFL 17.5, S 11.5, INT 0, PD 2, FR 1, FF 2.

Ryland B.: Johnson is a solid-all-around edge rusher with great size for a 3-4 OLB. He has good athleticism and overall strength, although I’d like to see him be more consistent when converting speed to power. He’s a disciplined run defender and pass-rusher with solid hand usage. Johnson plays with great effort which is evident through his production, along with being a good tackler. Johnson isn’t a “built in a lab” type prospect like Thibodeaux, but overall he’s one of the safer picks in this EDGE class who could be an excellent NFL starter.

14. Drake London | USC | WR
6‘-5“, 210 lbs
2021 stats: GP 8, Rec 88, Yds 1084, TD 7.

Necksnation: London is a bit tough for me to evaluate. Although I didn’t find his film to be as impressive as some of the other top receivers in this class, his production, and advanced stats are fantastic. He’s excellent at jump balls, and with his size, it’s something that should translate to the next level. His physical measurables are great across the board, and he should test well at his pro-day workout. Additionally, he is deceptively good at running after the catch. He isn’t really a home run threat after the catch, but he consistently does a nice job of gaining a few extra yards before going down, and those yards account for a considerable portion of his overall production. As a route runner, he won’t take the top off a defense, but he’s decently shifty and gets more separation than you’d expect for a guy of his size. His ball skills are his best trait, and while I’d like to see him become a little more elusive in open field, he is more than capable of creating big plays through making contested catches downfield. In addition, although you’d like to see him cut down on concentration drops a bit, he’s a monster when it comes to making difficult catches. London should make an instant impact as a safety blanket, but he absolutely has the potential to become a good WR1 in the mold of Mike Evans or Michael Thomas.

15. Garrett Wilson | Ohio State | WR
6‘-0“, 188 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 70, Yds 1058, TD 12.

Jeremy Betz: Wilson is an electric playmaker and excels vs single coverage as a shifty route runner with exceptional quickness. His uber fast 40 time at the NFL Combine only confirmed what you see on tape: a speedy, do it all athlete at the WR position. Wilson could stand to add some bulk to his frame at the NFL level to improve his ability to beat press coverage and stronger DBs. However, he shows fantastic strength at the catch point, and snatches the ball out of the air with strong, sure hands. I don’t think Wilson is a true burner, but he has the ability to get behind the defense and stretch the field vertically on the outside. He projects as an X or Z receiver at the next level, where his quickness and decisive route-running will help him create separation and get open.

16. Kyle Hamilton | Notre Dame | S
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.

17. Daxton Hill | Michigan | S
6‘-0“, 192 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 69,TFL 4.5, Sacks .5, Int 2, PD 8, FR 1.

Noah: 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 overpursuing. 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.

18. Tyler Smith | Tulsa | OT/G
6-‘5, 324” lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Smith is a talented lineman with good athleticism, but his game is incredibly sloppy at this point. He has poor hand placement, he leaves his chest exposed too much, and he really struggles with the long, slender edge rushers who can get low and change directions quickly. At the end of the day, I want to love Smith so badly, yet he lacks the nimbleness to hold up against quicker pass rushers despite his straight-line athleticism. If he can improve his footwork in pass protection, there is still hope for him to develop into a great tackle, but his physicality and run-blocking ability may make him a better fit at guard heading into the NFL. I honestly think he has All-Pro potential on the interior.

19. Trevor Penning | Northern Iowa | OT
6‘-7“, 321 lbs

Ryland B.: Watching Penning’s tape, it’s easy to see why so many people like him. He’s a big lineman with excellent strength and a strong anchor. And more than anything, he has a disposition made for the trenches. He takes out his aggression on defenders, driving through the whistle with plenty of pancakes on tape. He’s a good athlete who can pull and move to the second level with ease, although I’d like to see his lateral mobility and general agility improve. He can be a bit lumbering and can lunge, with his balance not being a major issue but something that he will need to improve. His technique and hand placement are good but can be a little sloppy as well. I see his best fit on the right side rather than the left. Despite some complaints, Penning is definitely one of better lineman in this class, although he doesn’t exactly scream first-round pick.

20. Zion Johnson | Boston College | G
6’-3”, 316 lbs

Ryland B.: Johnson is a guard with good size and above-average athleticism to go along with his nasty demeanor. He is at his best in the run game when he can use his physical attributes and effort to drive defenders out of running lanes. He’s found a lot of success as a pulling guard. In pass protection, he’s athletic enough but can be a little lacking in awareness. His hands can be a little slow and he can play stiffly at times, but overall Johnson plays with great strength and leverage. There’s a few issues here and there to clean up, but Johnson has more than enough athleticism, strength, and general polish to be a starting guard his rookie year.

21. Christian Watson | North Dakota State | WR
6‘-5“, 208 lbs
2021 stats: GP 15, Rec 43, Yds 801, TD 7.

Ryland B.: What are the Steelers missing most in their wide receiver core? I think the top two answers would be speed and toughness. And Watson has both in spades. The 6’4” receiver ran an elite 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine at 208 pounds, and it shows on tape. Watson consistently showed the ability to take the top off of defenses and simply run past opposing defensive backs. But Watson is also one of the best-blocking receivers in this year’s draft. He has good strength, great effort, and even a pancake or two on tape. For a bigger receiver, Watson’s agility is impressive. He’s a smooth athlete who is surprisingly shifty in the open field, finding success on jet sweeps as well as on kick returns. His route running could be a bit more sudden, and his route tree was fairly limited at NDSU, but neither seem to be major concerns – and Watson certainly has the physical tools to excel in these areas. He has good hands and ball-tracking ability for the most part, although he has struggled in contested catches and concentration before although he showed great improvement last year. The biggest knock on Watson would be his level of competition at NDSU, and it seems fair that the FCS receiver may have a steep learning curve at the next level. But a 4.36 is a 4.36 at any level of football, and Watson remains my favorite round 2 target for the Steelers.

22. Devin Lloyd | Utah | ILB
6‘-3”, 235 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 111, TFL 22, S 7, Int 4, PD 6, FR 1, FF 1.

Necksnation: Lloyd, a fifth year junior, has the makings of a quality linebacker at the next level. Although he doesn’t really have the frame of a true downhill run defender, he is certainly capable of playing like one, and with his recent improvement as a pass defender, he looks like a pretty complete prospect. He brings good athleticism to the table, and could develop into a productive sideline to sideline, three down linebacker. Additionally, Lloyd made a good amount of splash plays during his time at Utah. He intercepted four passes in 2021, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and he made a whopping 22 tackles for loss, which was second most in the country. Lloyd seems like a lock to be selected in the first round, and he projects as a somewhat versatile three down linebacker in the NFL. He should be treated with a bit of caution due to his age (23.5 years old), but if he can continue to improve as a pass rusher and make splash plays happen, he has the potential to become a star as a pro.

23. Jahan Dotson | Penn State | WR
5‘-11“, 184 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 91, Yds 1182, TD 13.

Necksnation: Dotson may be undersized, but he’s certainly a tough player, consistently demonstrating that he is willing to take hits over the middle. That said, he may want to add some more weight onto his frame before taking the field as a pro. At only 178 lbs, his size could be of some concern when he’s getting blasted by NFL defenders. However, there’s a lot to like about Dotson. His hands just might be his best attribute, as he made a number of highlight-reel catches at Penn State, and he rarely struggled with drops. Dotson does a great job to gain separation, and his natural smoothness translates into his abilities after the catch, where he is able to make defenders miss in open field and outrun them to create big plays. At the combine, he tested well for the most part, but his 3-cone drill time ranked in the 9th percentile, which is lower than you’d like for a small, shifty player. He does appear to fall under the category of “faster than he is quick’’, but he looks shifty enough on the field that this should be problematic for him. While Dotson doesn’t have any outstanding physical traits, he seems to have the requisite toughness to succeed in the NFL, and although his size may preclude him from being a true WR1, he certainly has the talent to be a quality receiver.

24. Desmond Ridder | Cincinnati | QB
6’-4”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 251, A 387, Pct 64.9, Yds 3334, TD 30, Int 8, RA 110, Yds 355, TD 6.

Andrew Wilbar: Ridder’s best attributes are his arm strength and athleticism. He puts good velocity on all his passes, whether they be short, intermediate, or deep. His accuracy can be really good at times and really bad at other times. He has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers, although that issue was not as bad in 2021 as it was in years previous. He did not turn the ball over as much in 2020, and ball placement was a big reason why. Much like we talked about with Zach Wilson this past season, Ridder can effectively deliver the ball from many different arm angles, which allows him to make the most difficult throws with ease. There is a lot of upside with Ridder as a passer, but he is also lethal as a runner, as evidenced by his 2,000 plus rushing yards during his collegiate career. The other primary concern with Ridder, accuracy being the other one, is patience. Too often you will see Ridder tuck it and run if he does not like his first read, and it has cost Cincinnati some big plays that could have been had downfield. You can check out my summer breakdown of Ridder here.

25. David Ojabo | Michigan | EDGE
6‘-5”, 250 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 35, TFL 12, S 11, INT 0, PD 3, FR 1, FF 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Ojabo was not a key part of Michigan’s pass rush until 2021 when Ojabo emerged opposite Aidan Hutchinson with 11 sacks and 5 forced fumbles from the beginning of the season through the Big Ten Championship Game. In my personal opinion, Ojabo has a higher ceiling than Hutchinson. He has better speed, better bend, and more explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. At 6’5”, 250 pounds, Ojabo has ideal length and size to handle the edge, and I would expect him to get closer to the neighborhood of 260 pounds before he plays his first NFL game. While I think he could succeed in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, his best fit is in a 3-4 where he can get out of his stance quickly and beat the tackle around the edge with his speed. Some fans worry that he was the beneficiary of Hutchinson’s greatness, but Ojabo was often lined up against the opposing team’s better tackle and still made a major impact. Michigan moved him around to make Hutchinson’s job easier, but he still produced against the tougher assignments, and that is something that will not go unnoticed by NFL teams. Unfortunately, Ojabo suffered a torn achilles during his pro-day workout, making his draft status much more murky. If he happens to drop to day two, however, he could be the steal of the draft.

26. Arnold Ebiketie | Penn State | EDGE
6‘-3”, 253 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 62, TFL 18, S 9.5, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: I love my bendy EDGE rushers, and Ebiketie’s bend is one of the first things that stand out on tape. He combines that bend with excellent hand usage coming around the edge, making it difficult for opposing tackles to latch onto him and engage in a block. Ebiketie is also a transfer from Temple, so I would be remiss not to mention the toughness he displays on a weekly basis. If he can refine his technique a little and consistently finish prime sack opportunities, we could be looking at one of the most explosive pass rushers in the league.

27. Skyy Moore | Western Michigan | WR
5‘-10“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 95, Yds 1292, TD 10.

Shannon White: Moore is a local product, having played high school football for Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. Moore was listed as an athlete when he joined the Western Michigan football program, and had never played wide receiver before. That makes his incredible growth at the position even more impressive. The Broncos play in the MAC conference, a conference from which the Steelers have successfully found more than a few talented prospects.Moore officially measured in at 5’10” and 195 sturdy lbs. He has superior quickness, start-stop ability, and an almost instant acceleration. This allows him to easily gain consistent separation off the line of scrimmage, and his run after the catch ability makes him a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the football. Moore runs crisp routes, and can run the complete route tree. He has solid hands, and the toughness to work the middle of the field. If you can’t tell by now, I am completely infatuated with Moore’s potential within the Steelers’ offense.

28. Nakobe Dean | Georgia | ILB
5‘-11”, 229 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, T 72, TFL 10.5, S 6, Int 2, PD 5, FR 0, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Dean is a bit undersized at 5’11”, 229 pounds, and he will definitely need to add more weight, but you cannot help but love what he did in 2021. From the beginning of the season through the SEC championship game, Dean recorded 61 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions, flying from sideline to sideline and wearing many hats for the Georgia defense. He would have run a fast 40 if he had been able to participate in the combine, but speed is not the only thing Dean brings to the table. Despite his size, Dean takes good tackling angles and displays a nice form and posture when going in to make a tackle. He is also an effective blitzer, displaying good instincts as well as the closing speed needed to turn a pressure into a sack. He just lacks the bulk to prevent bigger ball-carriers from shaking him off. Size is something teams will need to factor in, but Dean has all the tools you want.

29. Travis Jones | Connecticut | DT
6’-5”, 333 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11,T 48,TFL 7.5, Sacks 4.5.

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is one of the biggest small-school sleepers in this year’s draft. Based on how well he moves on tape, you would not believe that he is 330 pounds by just watching him. He plays with active hands, and he does a great job shedding blocks, even when double-teamed. He also displays excellent quickness out of his stance, getting upfield in a hurry and forcing the quarterback to escape the pocket. One of the more underrated parts of his game is his good hand placement. He consistently lays his hands on opposing linemen at a perfect pressure point, making it difficult for linemen to stay balanced and engage in a block. The main concern with him is that he has not been tested against major competition outside of a game here and there. If he has a strong Senior Bowl and combine performance, he could work his way into the top 50 picks.

30. Kenny Pickett | Pittsburgh | QB
6’-3”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 334, A 497, Pct 67.2, Yds 4319, TD 42, Int 7, RA 98, Yds 233, TD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: I have been a big fan of Pickett’s ever since he stepped foot on campus at Pitt. I stood up for him when fans were disgruntled with the offense, and before he decided to return to school for 2021, I was a big proponent of taking a late-round flier on him. I was not surprised when he had his breakout season in 2021, but he has risen too high on the national draft boards for my liking. Pickett is a very solid quarterback who has a decent arm and sneaky good athleticism, but he is older than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he does not have an incredibly high ceiling as a pro. The biggest issue, especially for teams that play in cold weather, will be his incredibly small hands. Pickett participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, but he struggled badly in practices when it was raining. There is no denying that he lost his accuracy and struggled to push the ball downfield when the weather got rough. Rumor has it that his hands are right around eight inches, which would be historically small, but we will have to wait for the official measurement at the combine. Pickett’s accuracy improved by leaps and bounds this season, but he sometimes struggled to get off his first read and get through his progressions before the pressure got to him. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins when it comes to his ability to roll out to his weak side, and his delivery and arm strength remind me of a Derek Carr or an Andy Dalton. The big question will be, “Is he capable of anything greater than that?”. That is what teams are going to have to determine over the next few months when it comes to Pickett and how high he should be taken.

31. Quay Walker | Georgia | QB
6‘-4”, 240 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, T 65, TFL 5.5, S 1.5, Int 0, PD 3, FR 1, FF 0.

Andrew Wilbar: Walker is an incredibly gifted linebacker who has the potential to become a pro-bowl caliber player as soon as year two. He is still raw and inexperienced in zone coverage, and it is occasionally evident on tape, as he will sometimes lose awareness of where he is relative to the zone he is assigned to. On the bright side, I love his ability to close on the ball quickly, thanks to his phenomenal straight-line speed. His change-of-direction skills are solid, but his backpedal can be sloppy at times when dropping into coverage. Fortunately, all of Walker’s issues are fixable with good coaching. He is starting to gain first-round buzz, and I do not see him slipping outside the top 50 picks.

32. Chris Olave | Ohio State | WR
6‘-1“, 189 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 65, Yds 936, TD 13.

Jeremy Betz: When you turn on the tape, Chris Olave is one of the smoothest movers you’ll find. He also plays extremely fast, even more so than former Ohio State teammate, Garrett Wilson, despite running a slightly slower 40 than Wilson at the Combine. Olave was used mostly as a vertical threat in college, where he made an absurd number of big plays, especially in big moments. His fluidity and athleticism should allow him to do more in the NFL, and I would expect Olave to become one of the most dynamic young receivers in the league in a short amount of time. There is a realistic chance he could be available when the Steelers pick at the end of Round 1. Olave could be a versatile game-changer for Pittsburgh if they should decide to address WR on Day 1.

33. Treylon Burks | Arkansas | WR
6‘-3“, 225 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 66, Yds 1104, TD 11.

Noah: Burks has been one of the most talked-about prospects throughout the draft process but especially post-combine. He was supposed to be a guy that’s 6’4” with a 40 time in the low 4.4’s but instead, he’s 6’2”, running a 4.55. However, his tape tells a completely different story. He is a monster after the catch despite a lackluster 40 time, and he catches everything. His catch radius is one of the biggest I’ve seen and he does a great job tracking the ball through the air. He knows how to beat press coverage and has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense. There are definitely concerns when it comes to route running. It’s sloppy at times and he needs to have more burst out of his breaks. The slower than expected 40 time has steered people away from Burks and I can see why. But to me, a guy that catches everything and has his RAC ability is a major threat to opposing defenses. There’s a chance that he falls out of the first round and if he does, he is going to be a steal for whoever takes him.

34. Trent McDuffie | Washington | CB
5‘-11“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 35, TFL 4, S 1, Int 0, PD 6.

Ryland B.: McDuffie lacks the length of the other top corners in this class, but there’s still a lot to like. He has good speed for the position (4.44 40 time) and great agility. McDuffie has a smooth backpedal into coverage, incredibly quick feet, and can flip his hips well. The Washington corner is a quick reactor and very aware in zone coverage, which is his strength, but he still looked incredibly tight in man coverage. What surprised me is how active McDuffie is in the run game. He takes on blocks, isn’t afraid to make tackles, and is quick to diagnose run plays and sprint over to the action. He was even occasionally used to blitz gaps with varying success. McDuffies lack of great size, as well as production, worries me about his fit on the outside in the NFL. But his technique, physicality, and athleticism give McDuffie elite potential in the slot.

35. Boye Mafe | Minnesota | EDGE
6‘-4”, 265 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 34, TFL 10, S 7, INT 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Mafe is still relatively new to the game of football, and that is evident when you watch his tape. There are a lot of technical issues, from pad level, to hand usage, to leverage. Nonetheless, his athleticism is outstanding. When his hand placement is consistently good and he is breaking away from opposing linemen, watch out, because he can run down just about anyone in the backfield. While he could fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, he does not always look natural in a standup position. Thus, I think his best fit long-term is as a 4-3 defensive end. It will take time for Mafe to reach his full potential, but if he can reach that potential at some point, he will be an extremely dangerous pass rusher.

36. Kenyon Green | Texas A&M | G
6’-4”, 325 lbs

Necksnation: Green’s positional versatility immediately makes him an intriguing prospect to NFL teams, as he started games in college at every position except center. Since guards aren’t taken with high picks very often, this could wind up being an asset for him as we get closer to the draft. That said, he looked best at guard from what I saw of him, and although he is capable of playing tackle, he should be expected to align at guard for the team that drafts him. Green moves very well for someone of his size. He is a road grader in the run game, where he was able to use his size as an advantage but also looked fluid in pass protection. Green has a nice blend of athleticism and power that helps him make blocks at the point of attack. Additionally, he has a great first step and uses his hands very well as a pass blocker, and it shows up in his stats, as he allowed three pressures across the final seven games of 2021. Green should be a plug and play starter at guard with the potential to develop into a star at the next level, and he should hear his name called in the first round come April.

37. Kenneth Walker III | Michigan State | RB
5’-10”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 264, Yds 1646, Ave 6.2, TD 18, Rec 13, Yds 89, Ave 6.8, TD 1

Andrew Wilbar: Walker came out of nowhere in 2021. One of the many transfers at Michigan State, Walker was expected to be part of a committee deployed by the Spartan coaching staff, but after rushing for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns in the season opener against Northwestern, it was clear that Walker would be their bell cow moving forward. Now, after registering 1,646 rushing yards, a 6.2 yards per carry average, and 18 rushing touchdowns, he is in the running to become the first running back off the board this April. Walker runs with a low center of gravity and good power. Not only does he hit the hole hard, but his impressive footwork allows him to stop on a dime and redirect himself coming out of an open hole. Walker does not have the greatest speed and will probably not test well enough to move into the first round, but a team in need of an early-down back will find themselves a gem on day two.

38. Troy Andersen | Montana State | ILB
6‘-4”, 235 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, T 147, TFL 14, S 2, Int 2, PD 7, FR 1, FF 0.

Andrew Wilbar: Andersen is one of the most intriguing small-school prospects in the 2022 draft class. I have some concerns as to how well he will be able to disengage from NFL linemen and tight ends, but overall, his tape is impressive, albeit against poor competition. He is surprisingly fluid in coverage, and he has sideline-to-sideline speed, as evidenced by his 4.41 40 time. His solid build allows him to bring down the biggest of running backs in the open field, but he would do himself a favor by taking better tackling angles on a more consistent basis. Nonetheless, he should easily be a second-round pick and potentially a top 50 pick.

39. George Karlaftis | Purdue | EDGE
6‘-4”, 275 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 39, TFL 10, S 4.5, INT 0, PD 4, FR 1, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Karlaftis is another player who I have rated lower than most boards, partially due to other players rising and partially due to his lack of production in big games. George is a true disrupter, but he is not a true finisher, as he only accounted for 4.5 sacks in 12 games this season. He is a pass rusher that wins with power, but he has also displayed the ability to get small and split gaps to get to the quarterback. He has a quick first step out of his stance, and he never slows down or gives up in the middle of a play. As a run defender, Karlaftis did a great job setting the edge for the Boilermakers, and he successfully creates penetration when he gets good hand placement. My only real concern is his big-game production, as he recorded just one sack and three tackles for loss in the Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State games combined. He is definitely better suited for a 4-3 defense, but if he can find a way to add more weight, a 3-4 team may be able to kick him inside on passing downs and get some value out of him.

40. Roger McCreary | Auburn | CB
6‘-0“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 49, TFL 2, S 1, Int 2, PD 14, FR 1.

Ryland B.: McCreary had to go up against some incredibly talented receivers in the SEC, and he largely held his own. He’s a good athlete for the position, with enough long speed to keep up with most receivers and decent reactive quickness. He looked the best in man coverage, where his athleticism and physicality really shone, but he’s a solid zone defender as well. Part of me wonders if that physicality could be an issue at the next level, as some of McCreary’s technique could be called a hold at the next level. He can be just a little too grabby. Overall though, there’s a lot to like about McCreary, whose impressive effort, physicality, ball skills, and general athleticism should certainly make him worth a pick in the first few rounds of the draft.

41. Tyler Linderbaum | Iowa | C
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.

42. John Metchie III | Alabama | WR
6‘-0“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 96, Yds 1142, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Metchie’s late-season ACL tear is a cause for concern, but if he can heal completely there is a lot to like about the Alabama receiver. He has good size and speed, but also excellent agility, especially for a receiver with his frame. Route-running is probably Metchie’s best trait, and receivers that specialize in separation generally project well as NFL receivers. His route tree and versatility are another strength; Metchie isn’t afraid to go over the middle, can be a deep threat, and is deadly after the catch and on sweeps. He’s also as tough as nails and a willing blocker. But with as many WR1 traits as Metchie has, there’s a reason why he’s generally seen as a round 2 target. The issue is his hands. Metchie doesn’t drop the easy catches, but he’s not good in contested catches, and he’s not a great hands-catcher either. He doesn’t make the acrobatic grabs a top-tier receiver would make, and there are a few too many drops on tape. Still, there’s a lot of potential that Metchie has as a high-end WR2, and his biggest issue is largely fixable.

43. Kaiir Elam | Florida | CB
6‘-2“, 196 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 29, TFL 1.5, S 0, Int 1, PD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Elam is a lengthy cornerback who possesses solid athleticism and tremendous instincts. Primarily a zone corner, Elam displays solid situational awareness and fantastic start-and-stop quickness. This ability to change direction on a dime allows him to break on the ball quickly in zone and to match up well against twitchy, undersized receivers in man. Although he seems to be most comfortable in zone, he has proven that he has the necessary athleticism to play doses of man coverage as well. The downside? He sometimes loses awareness of where his zone is, dropping back too far and giving the receiver too much room to work with underneath. As you all are well aware by now, I prefer man corners over zone corners, which is why I am not the biggest Elam fan. However, the upside is high if he is put in a position to make plays on the ball.

44. Jalen Pitre | Baylor | S
6‘-0“, 197 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 75,TFL 18.5, Sacks 3.5, Int 2, PD 7, FR 3, FF 3.

Necksnation: Pitre is a versatile defender who excels as a tackler and run defender but can also make nice contributions as a pass defender. Although he is undersized for the position, he is certainly a physical player, and he plays with good speed and agility. Pitre is a sideline to sideline player, and he is a bit of a nontraditional safety in that he often plays closer to the box. He has decent ball skills, as he was able to make four interceptions over the past two seasons, but it isn’t a major part of his skillset. He did a good job for the most part in pass coverage, and although he isn’t a source of a ton of splash plays, he quietly gets the job done to keep opposing pass catches in check. Tackling is a strength of his, but due to his aggressive nature, he sometimes overpursues ball carriers and misses tackles that he should make. He forced three fumbles in 2021, and he should be able to force some turnovers like that in the NFL. Pitre projects as a second-round pick who should be a quality starting strong safety at the next level.

45. Devonte Wyatt | Georgia | DT
6’-5”, 315 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13,T 39,TFL 7, Sacks 2.5, PD 1, FR 1 FF 2

Andrew Wilbar: His quickness out his stance, combined with a quick first step, makes it incredibly challenging on the interior of an offensive line to keep him from splitting the A-gap and getting into the backfield to make a play. A major concern fans should have is that he was not as stout against the run on snaps when Jordan Davis was not on the field next to him. He also struggles to beat interior linemen that can anchor. He is a good athlete, but he is not as strong as people perceive him to be. I noticed this in the SEC Championship game against Alabama specifically, as his lack of strength often forced him to go on the outside shoulder of the guard when playing in a 1-tech position. He could be a phenomenal 3-technique in the NFL, but he is not a great fit in a traditional 3-4 defense.

46. Jaquan Brisker | Penn State | S
6‘-1“, 204 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 63,TFL 6, Int 2, PD 5, FR 1.

Skyfire322: Jaquan Brisker, a Pittsburgh native, was an integral part and a leader in Penn State’s 4-3 defense. He is well-known for both his versatility and athleticism, but he also has a great football IQ. He is excellent at following the quarterback’s eyes but can stare down too long and bite on the play-action. Brisker is also an intimidating presence on the field who plays violent but within the rules. He’s good in deep coverage, isn’t handsy, and relies on his length for breakups, but he can leave too much space and while he is fast, can be burned by more speedy receivers. His play in the box is second to none. He can easily be relied upon in short-yardage situations and slice through the line to get into the backfield. While he has issues, such as less than desirable recovery speed, playing with wide hips, and taking bad angles, these are minor and can be tweaked. Brisker’s versatility will fit into almost any NFL defensive scheme and will likely be a week-one starter. Don’t be surprised to see him taken in the mid to late first round.

47. Dylan Parham | Memphis | G
6’-3”, 285 lbs

Noah: Dylan Parham might not be human. He’s only 285 but he’s built like a tank and his movement is very fluid for a guy his size. He has a very thick frame and overpowers most defensive lineman. He has very good hand placement as well as grip strength. Parham moves to the second level with ease. He has shown the ability to win in pass protection and as a run blocker and is someone that I would love the Steelers to draft if they get the chance. Overall he’s an athletic specimen that is going to make whichever team that drafts him very happy.

48. Lewis Cine | Georgia | Safety
6‘-1”, 200 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, T 73,TFL 2, Sacks 0, Int 1, PD 9.

Ryland B.: The energy that Cine plays with is simply infectious. He doesn’t have elite size but he packs quite the punch near the line of scrimmage. He’s a hard-hitting safety who excels in run support and plays with excellent effort. He’s a good athlete but not the greatest in coverage, not always looking the most instinctual or confident when defending the pass. He has shown flashes of greatness in that area, and some improvement in ball skills could go a long way in helping Cine become a more versatile safety. But despite his great attitude and skill in run support, his tackling form can be a little sloppy at times as he can prioritize the big hit a little too much. Still, he’s a fearless run defender and blitzer who might be a good fit at strong safety or sub-package linebacker (though size is an issue) in the right scheme. Cine is a bit of a tweener, which dampens the first-round hype I’ve seen for him, but if he can improve his coverage ability, he has the athleticism and want-to in run-support to be a top-tier NFL safety.

49. George Pickens | Georgia | WR
6‘-3“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 4, Rec 5, Yds 107, TD 0.
2020 stats: GP 8, Rec 36, Yds 513, TD 6.
2019 stats: GP 12, Rec 49, Yds 727, TD 8.

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.

50. Cole Strange | Chattanooga | C/G
6’-6”, 301 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, 9 at LG, 2 at LT

Andrew Wilbar: Strange was somewhat of an unknown until the Senior Bowl, but he was one of the biggest risers in Mobile thanks to his strong performances in practice against some of the nation’s best defensive linemen. What I like about Strange the most is his mobility. He can pull effortlessly, and he is extremely quick getting to the second level of the defense. Strange also has a nasty streak in him, playing through the whistle and turning one-on-one battles into wrestling matches from time to time. The only concerns I have are size and pad level. He lacks the “sand in the pants” to anchor in pass protection, and he sometimes plays a little high as a run defender. However, both of those issues can easily be fixed. I would not at all be surprised to see him selected on day two.

51. Carson Strong | Nevada | QB
6’-4”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, C 367, A 523, Pct 70.2, Yds 4186, TD 36, Int 8, RA 51, Yds -201, TD 0.

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.

52. Sam Howell | North Carolina | QB
6’-1”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, C 217, A 347, Pct 62.5, Yds 3056, TD 24, Int 9, RA 183, Yds 828, TD 11.

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.

53. Breece Hall | Iowa State | RB
6’-1”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 253, Yds 1472, Ave 5.8, TD 20, Rec 36, Yds 302, Ave 8.4, TD 3.

Noah: After 1,700 total yards and 20+ touchdowns in 2020, Breece Hall was widely regarded as the best running back in the 2022 draft cycle. Hall quietly had another 1,700 yard and 20 touchdown season in 2021 and could very easily be the first running back taken on draft night. He has incredible vision, patience and his burst when he finds the hole is phenomenal. His ability to break tackles both in short yardage situations and in the open field make him very versatile and reminds me a lot of Le’Veon Bell a few years ago. He isn’t quite the receiver that Bell was, but just get the ball in his hands and there is home run potential on every play. Hall is the complete package as a runner, but he isn’t a great blocker and sometimes will sort of give up on the play when he could be looking to block for his quarterback. If he can just clean that up, he could be an all-pro level running back in no time.

54. Chad Muma | Wyoming | ILB
6‘-3”, 242 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, T 142, TFL 8, S 1.5, Int 3, PD 0, FR 1, FF 0.

Shannon White: [Muma] is a fundamentally sound tackler, displaying superior technique. He is extremely instinctual, from his first step and flawless angles to the ball carrier against the run, and the almost effortless depth he achieves in pass coverage. He has good size for the position at 6’3” and 245 lbs, which allows him to take on blockers and consistently disengage to make the tackle. He shows good burst and easy acceleration when blitzing the QB. Muma is a third generation athlete, as both his father and grandfather played football at Wyoming. He was a defensive back in high school, which helps explain his coverage instincts. He reportedly has excellent leadership skills, and knows how to command a defensive huddle. Another coach on the field, he could be seen throughout Senior Bowl week instructing other defenders with their assignments. Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers defense in 2021, and the potential impact his substantial abilities could bring to the equation, this BTSC writer believes that Chad Muma would be a perfect fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

55. Marcus Jones | Houston | CB
5‘-8“, 185 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 47, TFL 1, S 0, Int 5, PD 13, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Size will most definitely limit Jones to the slot in the NFL, but his closing speed and feistiness make him an interesting day two pick, regardless of his size. Versatility is the other big part of his game, as he can play a little free safety as well as return kicks and punts. I also love how smoothly Jones can flip his hips in coverage. His footwork is clean, and his backpedal looks incredibly natural. He has not provided much value as a blitzer thus far into his playing career, recording zero sacks in four seasons; however, his ability to make plays on the ball was on full display in 2021, as he recorded 5 interceptions and 13 passes defended in 11 games. If you are looking for an NFL comparison, look no further than former Steeler Mike Hilton, at least from an athletic standpoint. Hilton is definitely a better blitzer than Jones is, but Jones has the upper hand when it comes to ability in coverage. He is still raw and learning the nuances of the position, but the upside is through the roof if he is developed properly.

56. Alec Pierce | Cincinnati | WR
6‘-3“, 213 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 52, Yds 884, TD 8.

Noah: Pierce isn’t the most complete receiver in this class, but there’s a lot to like. He wins with athleticism, and his ability to come down with contested catches is off the charts. He’s able to consistently get open from both the outside and the slot. His route tree is pretty limited but he’s very sudden out of his break and has the makings of a prototypical “Z” receiver in the NFL. He has got phenomenal hands, his catch radius is huge and he’ll haul in anything thrown his way. However, Pierce is probably going to have a hard time creating separation at the next level and he is not a threat after the catch. Pierce is one of my favorite under-the-radar prospects in this draft but the lack of separation and RAC ability is going to cause him to fall.

57. Perrion Winfrey | Oklahoma | DL
6’-4”, 292 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11,T 23,TFL 11, Sacks 5.5, FF 1.

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.

58. DeMarvin Leal | Texas A&M | DL
6’-4”, 290 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11,T 58,TFL 12.5, Sacks 8.5, PD 2.

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.

59. Phidarian Mathis | Alabama | DT
6’-4”, 312 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14,T 53,TFL 10.5, Sacks 9, PD 2, FR 2, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Mathis is built like an excellent defensive tackle, and he plays like one as well. He’s big, strong, and converts speed to power excellently, occasionally deploying a Cam Heyward-esque straight arm to push defenders out of the way. He’s a high-effort player with great burst and power, and once he gets a head of steam his bull-rush is lethal. Against the run, Mathis plays with good technique, but what worries me is how much of a straight-line athlete he is. He’ll blow through offensive lines but sometimes go right by the running back. If he can improve when it comes to disengaging blocks and reacting laterally, he could be an excellent three-down defender.

60. Darrian Beavers | Cincinnati | LB
6‘-3”, 242 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 98, TFL 11, S 4, Int 1, PD 1, FR 2, FF 2.

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.

61. Bernard Raimann | Central Michigan | OT
6‘-7“, 305 lbs

Noah: I think it’s safe to say that Raimann is OT5 which doesn’t seem all that impressive, but this is an extremely strong offensive tackle class. He’s athletic and great out of his stance, allowing him to counteract speed rushers and turn them away from the quarterback. He’s got great footwork and uses his lower body strength to propel himself into defenders and knock them off balance. Raimann plays aggressively and through the whistle on every play. He isn’t the greatest run blocker but he does a good job at getting upfield and taking on linebackers. His hand placement is somewhat inconsistent and his grip strength is lacking. He likely falls into the second round simply because of the amount of offensive line talent in this draft. If I’m Seattle and he’s still sitting there at 41, I would be extremely excited at the idea of adding him to that roster.

62. Kyler Gordon | Washington | CB
6‘-0“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 45, TFL 2, S 0, Int 2, PD 7, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Washington has turned into a defensive back factory over the past few years, and Gordon, along with teammate Trent McDuffie, should further that trend. Gordon is a big, physical corner with good athleticism. He’s a very smooth mover with a great backpedal in bail technique, where he played the most. Gordon’s reaction time and quickness is pretty solid and he’s a willing run defender and high-effort player. He has special teams experience as well. Gordon is a good option for a team in need of a solid outside corner.

63. Matt Corral | Ole Miss | QB
6’-1”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 260, A 384, Pct 67.7, Yds 3343, TD 20, Int 5, RA 152, Yds 614, TD 19.

Necksnation: Corral is one of the more intriguing prospects in this class to me. Despite his smaller frame, he has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL thanks to his natural arm talent and mobility. Although he regressed in most statistical categories from 2021 to 2020, he looked like a better and more refined passer as a senior. Corral suffered an ankle sprain in the Sugar Bowl, but no long-term damage was done, and he should be fine for his rookie season. He certainly has sufficient mobility, although for the most part, he doesn’t rely on his scrambling abilities too much. He did have a game with 30 carries for 195 yards, but that was an outlier as that was the only game in 2021 where he had over 15 carries. He has great arm strength and accuracy, and he was able to trim his interceptions down by nearly one per game in 2021. Corral demonstrated nice touch on his intermediate and deep throws, and did an especially good job of hitting his receivers in stride on deep balls. I noticed improvement in progressions throughout his senior season, which should help him translate well to the NFL. He executed the read option and play action concepts nicely at Ole Miss, and in today’s NFL, those will be valuable skills for him. Corral is one of my favorite QBs in this draft, and he seems to have the best combination of upside and safety. He projects as a mid-first round pick to a QB needy team who could develop into a star at the next level.

64. Trey McBride | Colorado State | TE
6‘-4“, 260 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Rec 90, Yds 1121, TD 1.

Necksnation: McBride projects to be the top tight end in a class that is weak at the top but generally pretty deep. He isn’t fantastic in any one area, but he has a solid all-around skill set that should translate nicely to the next level. The 22 year old had a great statistical season in 2021, doubling his previous career high in yards and receptions while boosting his stock considerably. His hands are good, and he is able to make some more difficult catches. Additionally, he has made some nice plays after the catch and has established himself as a big play threat. As a blocker, he isn’t a mauler but usually gets the job done when called upon. He moves well and is a good but not exceptional athlete, and has a solid combination of size and athleticism. McBride should be a mid second round pick with a safe floor but a lower ceiling who could be a capable TE1 for an NFL team.

65. Khalil Shakir | Boise State | WR
6‘-0“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 77, Yds 1117, TD 7.

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.

66. DeAngelo Malone | Western Kentucky | EDGE
6‘-4”, 240 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 94, TFL 17.5, S 8, INT 0, PD 4, FR 0, FF 4.

Noah: Since becoming a starter Malone has been a standout player for the Hilltoppers. He has 34 sacks in his career (32.5 coming in the last 4) which is the most all-time at Western Kentucky, as well as two C-USA Defensive Player of the Year awards. He has the stats, he has the accolades but does the tape back it up? The answer is yes. Malone has just about everything you look for in a pass rusher. He’s explosive off the line and his movement is sudden. He’s got good bend helping him to get around the edge and his chop is magnificent. His quickness and his ability to pop the football free are very valuable skills that will help him out at the next level. He does need to have a better plan when getting after the quarterback because he won’t be able to win as frequently without it. He hasn’t shown that he can beat linemen with power yet and they are much stronger at the NFL level, so adding some muscle to his frame will do him good. This defensive line class is ridiculously talented and very deep, wherever Malone ends up getting taken it’s probably not high enough.

67. Drake Jackson | USC | EDGE
6‘-4”, 250 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 37, TFL 8, S 5, INT 1, PD 1, FR 1, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Jackson is a fairly athletic pass rusher with some intriguing potential. He has a strong upper half but his game still lacks the power and drive you’d expect from someone his size. He has a good first step and some nice speed around the edge, but he relies more on his quickness than hand usage. He’s not a very disciplined defender either and doesn’t anchor against the run well. Jackson projects as a developmental pass-rusher at the next level.

68. Leo Chenal | Wisconsin | ILB
6‘-2”, 255 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 115, TFL 18.5, S 8, Int 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 2.

Noah: The NFL is built on athletic, sideline-to-sideline linebackers that can cover any position that is asked of them and Chenal isn’t exactly that type of player. However, I think he will fit in very well. Chenal is thickly built and is hard to move. He’s a hard hitter and his ability as a run-stuffer is superb. He stops runners in their tracks and while it’s not his best trait, he’s not bad in zone coverage. He’s limited in man coverage and you would like to see him change direction a little better. His effectiveness as a blitzer and a run stopper will make him impactful as a rookie, but a year as a backup would do him good. I think will be the perfect complement to the uber-athletic, rangy linebackers that dominate the league today. If he were to fall to 84 I would love us to pick him up, he would be extremely similar to Vince Williams from that stifling 2020 defense.

69. Brandon Smith | Penn State | ILB
6‘-3”, 239 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 81, TFL 9, S 2, Int 0, PD 5, FR 0, FF 1.

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.

70. Logan Hall | Houston | DL
6‘-6”, 260 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 47, TFL 13, S 6, INT 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.

Ryland B.: Hall is an extremely versatile defender with experience as both an EDGE rusher and interior defensive lineman. He’s extremely athletic for an IDL, with good strength, agility, and technique as well. Surprisingly, he has the quickness you’d expect from an EDGE rusher although he lacks the ideal build (and bend) for the position. Overall, Hall’s versatility and athleticism make him a really intriguing prospect, but the issue lies in whether or not he’ll be a tweener at the NFL level. He lacks the ideal size for an NFL interior lineman but is a little too big for EDGE. It’ll be interesting to see where he fits.

71. James Cook | Georgia | RB
5’-11”, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, Att 107, Yds 651, Ave 6.1, TD 7, Rec 25, Yds 269, Ave 10.8, TD 4.

Andrew Wilbar: Cook has not been the workhorse back for Georgia, but from the outside looking in, it seems as if he was underused during his time at Georgia. Perhaps it is due to not being a great pass protector at this point. Whatever the case may be, Cook never remained Georgia’s bell cow running back for any length of time. The brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, James is an explosive runner who plays bigger than his size may indicate. He is listed at only 190 pounds, but he runs hard and with a purpose. Receiving skills are superb. Catching the ball comes natural to Cook, and he can run a route out of the backfield, in the slot, or on the outside. Put him wherever you want, and he can produce in a receiver’s role. In my opinion, he is not a very good pass protector at this point, and his development in that area will likely determine whether he can be a three-down back in the NFL. Nonetheless, there is a ton of upside with Cook in the middle rounds.

72. Nicholas Petit-Frere | Ohio State | OT
6‘-5“, 315 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Despite tremendous talent, Petit-Frere struggled at times during the 2021 season, largely due to inconsistent footwork and technique. These issues were worse in 2020 when playing on the right side, and I think this illuminates the fact that he is a better fit at left tackle in the NFL. He is not as strong as his profile may indicate either, as he gets moved off his base and pushed back toward the quarterback too often. He also struggles to contain inside moves. Penn State’s Jesse Luketa made him look absolutely foolish on one specific rep that stood out, but there were other instances that were not quite as obvious as well. Although there may be a lot of issues with his game, he brings enticing upside due to his fluidity and mobility. He is a boom-or-bust option on day two.

73. Cameron Jurgens | Nebraska | C
6’-3”, 290 lbs

Ryland B.: Jurgens is a slightly undersized center, but he’s a sound technician. He plays with admirable effort and tries to drive his defender into the ground each play. As a former tight end, he has quick feet and above-athleticism. His strength is a bit of a concern, especially given his size, but not a major worry. Jurgens does have a tendency to lunge though, which could be an issue at the next level. He’s definitely a draftable prospect, although I feel his ceiling is limited.

74. Calvin Austin III | Memphis | WR
5‘-9“, 162 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 74, Yds 1149, TD 8.

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.

75. Abraham Lucas | Washington State | OT
6‘-7“, 319 lbs

Ryland B.: Lucas has some definite issues in his game, but he’s an intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. His floor is fairly high thanks to his above-average technique. He plays with quick feet, and good reaction time and hand usage. He’s not an athletic freak but is a good mover with ideal size for the position. But despite his size at over six and a half feet and 319 pounds, he gets driven back far too much. His overall strength and anchoring ability needs a lot of work, and while Lucas will likely hold his own against speed rushers at the next level, bull-rushes will prove a major problem. That being said, Lucas definitely has the frame to gain some strength and an NFL weight room might greatly improve his strength. I see him as a mid-round pick with some starting upside.

76. Jerome Ford | Cincinnati | RB
5’-11”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 215, Yds 1315, Ave 6.1, TD 19, Rec 21, Yds 220, Ave 10.5, TD 1.

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.

77. Jalen Tolbert | South Alabama | WR
6‘-3“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 82, Yds 1474, TD 8.

Necksnation: After enjoying a breakout year in 2020, Tolbert inserted himself firmly into the Day 2 conversation with another stellar season in 2021. He tested well at the combine to go along with a great statistical season, albeit against weak competition. Although his breaks aren’t the cleanest, Tolbert is a relatively smooth route runner who usually finds ways to get open. It’s an area that could use a bit of work, especially since he’ll be going up against much better defenders in the NFL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he still did a decent job of gaining separation. His ball skills and hands are very good, which help him come down with a lot of contested catches. He may not be a particularly big receiver, but he’s generally sure handed, and provides a safety blanket for his QB. Additionally, Tolbert is quite good after the catch. He doesn’t quite have burner speed, but he does a decent job of making defenders miss and accelerating to pick up some extra yards. He has an intriguing skillset that gives him solid upside, and he showed that he can handle a large target share at South Alabama, where he was the only viable receiving option. That won’t be the case for him in the NFL, but he should be a decent contributor from day one, and if he receives proper coaching, Tolbert has the potential to become a legitimate WR1.

78. Channing Tindall | Georgia | ILB
6‘-2”, 230 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, T 67, TFL 7.5, S 5.5, Int 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 1.

Shannon White: Quay Walker is an athletic run stopper, blessed with both speed and length. He is an exceptional tackler, rarely failing to bring down the ball carrier. Although Walker has solid straight line speed, he isn’t exceptionally quick. This limits him in coverage, which may result in him being more of a two down player in the NFL. He has struggled at times to disengage from blockers, mainly due to his longer legs and high center of gravity. Even with those legitimate concerns, interest in Walker has peaked around the league in recent weeks. The heightened awareness figures to drive up his projected round, thus decreasing his draft value. Channing Tindall appears to be the type of Buck linebacker the Steelers should be looking for. He also possesses good quickness and lateral movement. This allows him to be solid in coverage, with probable improvement with more experience. His speed and mobility causes him to resemble a strong safety on occasion. Tindall also has heavy hands, which he utilizes to consistently disengage from blockers. He converts speed to power easily, allowing him to play stronger than his average size would suggest possible. His explosiveness and closing speed makes him an effective pass rusher. I believe that Channing Tindall could be a great value project for the Steelers in a middle round. A future reliable starter, and maybe much more.

79. Tariq Woolen | UTSA | CB
6‘-4“, 205 lbs
2021 stats: GP 9, T 25, TFL 2.5, S 0, Int 1, PD 5.

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.

80. Bo Melton | Rutgers | WR
5‘-11“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 55, Yds 618, TD 3.

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.

81. Jamaree Salyer | Georgia | G
6’-4”, 325 lbs

Noah: In the conference championship game against Alabama, Salyer was at LT and had to go up against Will Anderson, but he held his own. However his game is much more suited for one of the guard spots. Salyer is a big dude and has a lot of power in his punch. He uses his strength to knock guys off balance and win in pass protection. He’s also a good run blocker, again using his upper body strength to move guys out of the way and create holes. He does have some balance issues and could definitely lose a little bit around his belly. Salyer isn’t very mobile either and he seemingly gives up on plays sometimes when he should be looking to help his teammates. He’ll give whatever team that drafts him a solid depth piece on the o-line with potential to be a starter down the line.

82. Zach Tom | Wake Forest | OT
6‘-5“, 295 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 182

Noah: I talked earlier about Bernard Raimann’s athleticism, and he scored a 96 on the Next Gen Stats athleticism chart. Zach Tom scored a 99 which was the highest among all offensive tackles at the combine. He plays with a solid pad level and uses his lower body strength to keep defenders from getting to the quarterback. He has good grip strength and hand placement that really benefits him against stronger pass rushers. Tom uses his natural strength to his advantage in the run game but there’s definitely a lot to be desired as a run blocker. His size and overall skill set makes him better suited to be a guard at the pro level, but he has experience as a guard and the versatility to do it.

83. Tyquan Thornton | Baylor | WR
6‘-3“, 182 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 62, Yds 948, TD 10.

Andrew Wilbar: The most exciting thing about Thornton is his fantastic straight-line speed, especially when you combine that with his 6’3” frame. Typically, receivers who run below 4.3 in the 40 are undersized receivers who are limited to the slot. This is not the case with Thornton, however. He still needs to add weight to his slender frame, but he is a surprisingly physical receiver who does not shy away from contested catch opportunities. Not only does he get a quick release off the line of scrimmage, but he will also become more effective getting off press coverage at the line once he adds a little more muscle. There is definitely some rawness with Thornton, and there may be a little bit of projection here, but you cannot teach 6’3” and 4.28 speed.

84. Bailey Zappe | Western Kentucky | QB
6’-1”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 476, A 687, Pct 69.3, Yds 5967, TD 62, Int 11, RA 51, Yds 17, TD 3.

Ryland B.: Zappe is a small-school star who put up video game-like numbers while at Western Kentucky. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he succeeded with pinpoint accuracy, even on his throws farther down the field. His decision-making is largely solid as well, and he puts good velocity on his throws, fitting passes into smaller windows downfield. Zappe possesses adequate athleticism and pocket awareness, being able to step up in the pocket to make throws and scramble away from defenders, although he’s definitely not an extremely mobile quarterback. He’s lacking in ideal size but has plenty of poise, and his production in 2021, which set several college football records, more than speaks for itself. The biggest worry with Zappe is the lower level of competition that he played against at WKU, and whether or not he has the athleticism to make that jump to a higher level of football. Zappe looked a little out of his league at the Senior Bowl, but it’s hard to judge a prospect based on one game, especially when Zappe was acclimating to a pro-style offense for the first time. If he can catch up to the speed of the NFL game, Zappe seems to have the potential to be a very solid backup in the pros – but his 62 touchdowns and 5967 passing yards in 2021 seem to indicate his ceiling might be slightly higher.

85. Brandon Smith | Penn State | ILB
6‘-3”, 239 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 81, TFL 9, S 2, Int 0, PD 5, FR 0, FF 1.

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.

86. Joshua Ezeudu | North Carolina | G
6’-4”, 325 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: North Carolina’s offensive line took a dive this past season, but in 2020, Ezeudu was lights out. While not an extremely quick mover, Ezeudu has displayed an ability to pull and have success doing so. He doesn’t have the strongest base, and he is sometimes a little slow out of his stance, causing him to face an uphill battle when it comes to gaining leverage on opposing defensive linemen. When he gets his momentum going in the right direction, he has the power necessary to move defenders off the ball. Unfortunately, the tape was just so inconsistent, and we did not see his best this past year. Going solely off what I saw of him from 2020, I would have considered giving him a second-round grade. However, after an up-and-down 2021, I do not see him as anything more than a mid day three prospect. I would like to see the Steelers bring in a guy like Ezeudu if he goes undrafted, simply because of the starter upside he brings. That said, it would still be risky to invest hefty draft capital in him.

87. Alontae Taylor | Tennessee | CB
6‘-0“, 193 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 60, TFL 1, S 0, Int 2, PD 6, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Taylor’s 40 time was one of the most pleasant surprises at the combine, as his speed looked suspect on tape. At the Senior Bowl, though, Tennessee teammate Velus Jones, Jr. dominated him in reps, burning him over the top and beating him deep on multiple occasions. Despite his sub-4.4 40 time, I still have concerns about his ability to play a high volume of man coverage, as his inability to get good position against receivers at the line of scrimmage should be concerning. In a defense that plays a lot of cover 2 and cover 3, Taylor could certainly find a starting role, but he will not be a fit for everyone.

88. Cameron Thomas | San Diego State | EDGE
6‘-5”, 270 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 71, TFL 20.5, S 10.5, INT 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 1.

Noah: The first thing you notice when you turn on the tape is his motor. Thomas is always working to get to the quarterback. He has violent hands and weak blocks won’t work on him. His versatility allows him to rush from a multitude of spots but finding him a permanent spot will be tough. Thomas has the hand quickness and physical tools to rush off the edge. However, I think he’ll fit better as an interior lineman, rushing from a 3 point stance. His inability to anchor or properly set an edge will limit him on the outside and I think his size will benefit him as a 3-tech. I don’t think he’ll have a very big impact early on in his career but in the right situation, he could flourish.

89. Brian Robinson, Jr. | Alabama | RB
6’-1”, 228 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 248, Yds 1268, Ave 5.1, TD 14, Rec 32, Yds 268, Ave 8.4, TD 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Robinson could be the next great NFL running back out of Alabama, who seemingly develops NFL-caliber running backs year in and year out. Speed and instincts are becoming more vitally important by the year in the NFL, and Robinson displayed both of those qualities when healthy last season. For a running back Robinson’s size, he does a great job slipping defenders in the open field. He has impressive contact balance, good hands as a receiver, and great awareness in pass protection. He does run a little high at times, but that is nothing new with Alabama running backs. That was an issue for Najee Harris coming out (it still is), and it was an issue for Derrick Henry as well. However, when you are good enough in every other facet of the game, an issue such as that can be overlooked. Robinson has all the tools to become a great NFL running back, but consistency and durability will be the two big questions for him to answer between now and the draft.

90. Daniel Faalele | Minnesota OT/G
6‘-9“, 380 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: I was a big fan of Faalele before he decided to return to school for the 2021 season, but some of his issues were exposed on a consistent basis over the past year, both during the season as well as during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Any 6’9”, 380-pound lineman who moves as well as Faalele does is going to draw intrigue, and rightfully so. He is a powerful individual who simply moves defenders in the run game, and it is difficult to move him off his base in pass protection. However, he had serious issues in college with twitchier edge rushers who could get low coming around the edge, and I am not sure how much can be done about that. When you are that size, quick pass rushers who can get low are going to give you fits. I think in Faalele’s scenario, the best thing would be to work on improving his footwork to the absolute best it can get. He cannot change the fact that he is 6’9”, but he can minimize the cons of being that size with better technique. He has the potential to be a dominant right tackle in the NFL, but he is very boom-or-bust.

91. Daniel Faalele | Minnesota | OT
6‘-9“, 380 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: I was a big fan of Faalele before he decided to return to school for the 2021 season, but some of his issues were exposed on a consistent basis over the past year, both during the season as well as during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Any 6’9”, 380-pound lineman who moves as well as Faalele does is going to draw intrigue, and rightfully so. He is a powerful individual who simply moves defenders in the run game, and it is difficult to move him off his base in pass protection. However, he had serious issues in college with twitchier edge rushers who could get low coming around the edge, and I am not sure how much can be done about that. When you are that size, quick pass rushers who can get low are going to give you fits. I think in Faalele’s scenario, the best thing would be to work on improving his footwork to the absolute best it can get. He cannot change the fact that he is 6’9”, but he can minimize the cons of being that size with better technique. He has the potential to be a dominant right tackle in the NFL, but he is very boom-or-bust.

92. Greg Dulcich | UCLA | TE
6‘-3“, 245 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, Rec 42, Yds 725, TD 5.

Ryland B.: The first thing that stands out about Dulcich is his great football demeanor. He isn’t the greatest athlete but he’s a tough catcher, a feisty route-runner, and a willing blocker. This can backfire, as Dulcich can often be too eager to make a block and miss badly. He’s fairly explosive but not overly fast, and his change of direction isn’t great, making him a below-average separator. However, he has good hands and can make physical catches, and his full-speed route running can still make him a difficult player to cover for less physical defenders. His lack of above-average size and athleticism limit his ceiling, but Dulcich has what it takes to be a solid TE2 at the NFL level.

93. Charlie Kolar | Iowa State | TE
6‘-6“, 260 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Rec 62, Yds 756, TD 6.

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.

94. Wan’Dale Robinson | Kentucky | WR
5‘-11“, 185 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 104, Yds 1334, TD 7.

Necksnation: Robinson certainly looked impressive during his junior season after transferring to Kentucky, but there are concerns about how he will translate to the NFL. The first thing that jumps out about Robinson is his size, or lack thereof. Not only is he 5’8” and 178 lbs, but he has the shortest arms of any receiver to enter the draft since 1999 by nearly half an inch per arm. The good news is, he did test very well at the combine from an athletic standpoint, and for the most part it shows up on his tape. I would consider him to be a guy who is “quicker than he is fast.” In open field, he was frequently able to make defenders miss and gain lots of yards after the catch because of it, which resulted in a lot of big plays. Additionally, he is a smooth and quick route runner, frequently able to create separation and find holes in the defense. However, for a guy who relies so much on his athleticism, Robinson gets run down from behind more often than he should. He did run a good 40 yard dash, but there were numerous instances in his tape where he could have scored but didn’t because he was unable to maintain his top speed throughout the play. It is a bit of a concern, and it makes you wonder how he’ll fare against NFL defensive backs if he’s getting chased down by college defenders, but his speed should improve a bit as he transitions to the pros, and hopefully it won’t be an issue for him. Robinson is also more than willing to take hits over the middle and survive hits to make tough catches. This is definitely a strength to his game, but you can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to take those same hits in the NFL with his small frame. Despite these concerns, Robinson’s natural quickness and ability to get open should make him serviceable at the next level. He’ll almost certainly never be a WR1, but he could be a solid WR2 with the ability to line up in the backfield (he had 134 total carries across his two seasons in Nebraska before transferring). He could also have value as a returner, an area where he wasn’t used often in college, but it seems like a natural fit for his skillset. At the end of the day, Robinson will likely never carry an NFL team’s passing offense, but he should provide some burst and versatility to a team, and should be able to carve out a decent career in that type of role.

95. Cameron Taylor-Britt | Nebraska | CB
6‘-0“, 197 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 51, TFL 3, S 1, Int 1, PD 11.

Andrew Wilbar: Talk about a guy who consistently got in passing lanes and broke up passes in 2021. Taylor-Britt, despite decent athleticism, is probably best suited as a zone corner, as his instincts and fluidity would give him the upper hand. If he wants to make it as a zone corner, however, he must take better tackling angles. At Nebraska, he struggled to bring down opposing receivers after the catch due to that issue, and it is not an issue that will simply subside in the NFL. He has good straight-line speed, but his start-and-stop quickness when mirroring a receiver in man coverage leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, I like Taylor-Britt’s chances of developing into a start if put in the right situation. He just has several technical issues that developed into bad habits at the collegiate level. If he can break those habits, he will become a solid CB2.

96. Matthew Butler | Tennessee | DT
6’-4”, 295 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13,T 47,TFL 8.5, Sacks 5, FF 1.

Noah: Butler has a relentless motor and he fights to get to the QB throughout the play. He fires off the line very quickly allowing him to disrupt plays in the backfield. Fans are focused more than ever on sacks and if guys can rush the passer, but he plays a big impact as a run defender, plugging up gaps and filling holes. He doesn’t quite have the size or power to be a traditional nose tackle but I think he fits in perfectly as a 3-4 defensive end. Butler doesn’t have very many holes in his game and overall he’s just a solid player that with the right opportunity, could be an every down contributor.

97. Nick Cross | Maryland | Safety
6‘-1“, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 66,TFL 3.5, Sacks 3, Int 3, PD 2. FF 2.

Noah: Cross was outstanding this year even if the stat sheet doesn’t exactly show it. I believe if he was at a bigger school like Bama or Ohio State he would be much higher on draft boards than he is right now. He was the fastest safety at the combine, running a 4.34 and that speed is apparent on film. His range is crazy and he’s also a ridiculously smart player making him a potential game-changer on defense. His play recognition is off the charts and it’s on display during this play. Cross is the deep safety and he gets to the ball quicker than everyone because of his IQ and his closing speed. I’ve seen him projected as high as the second round, and as low as a 4th round guy so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes come draft time.

98. Romeo Doubs | Nevada | WR
6‘-2“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 80, Yds 1109, TD 11.

Andrew Wilbar: Doubs is an interesting case. He had an incredibly strong connection with Carson Strong, but he has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his collegiate career, and he is currently recovering from a knee injury. Because of this, he was unable to do any athletic testing at the scouting combine in March. On tape, I see a guy who not only has a nice combination of length and speed, but also runs more precise routes than most receivers his size. When he is at his best, I see some Julio Jones in his game, but he is relatively ineffective when he fails to concentrate. A lack of concentration has led to a drop here and there, but those mistakes are few and far between. Overall, there is not much to complain about with Doubs other than the injury concerns. He has added a few pounds and filled out his lanky 6’2” frame, which will hopefully help him sustain more hits at the NFL level. He will be a nice value pick for a team early on day three.

99. Velus Jones, Jr. | Tennessee | WR
6‘-0“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 23, Yds 628, TD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is built almost like a running back. As he possesses a strong base as well as an ability to break tackles in the open field. While the number of receptions may seem on the low side, the way he was used did not allow him to receive much volume. His efficiency as a deep threat was quite impressive, though. He displayed his explosiveness at both the Senior Bowl and the Combine, although there were a couple easy passes that he dropped. His route-running is not incredibly refined either; however, he can create yards in space, and he can torch defenders over the top. If he can master those two areas of his game, his other deficiencies will not be as big a concern.

100. Sean Rhyan | UCLA | G/T
6’-5”, 320 lbs

Ryland B.: Rhyan is a big lineman with a stocky frame. He plays with a lot of strength and a powerful punch. As could be expected, he’s excellent in the run game, where he shows off his power, athleticism, and effort. In pass protection, he’s surprisingly fluid and plays with quick hands and good balance. He’s decent in space, and despite playing as a tackle at UCLA last year, I agree that his best fit is on the inside in the NFL. He will certainly have some versatility, though. My biggest concern is arm length, as Rhyan can get easily locked out by lankier pass rushers. Again, a move to the inside should mainly nullify this issue. Rhyan has a lot of NFL traits, and he could be a major steal if he lasts until the middle rounds.

101. Damone Clark | LSU | ILB
6‘-3”, 245 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 135, TFL 15, S 5.5, Int 1, PD 3, FR 1, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Clark had an incredible statistical year in 2021, finally living up to his billing as a strong athlete. At 6’2 ½”, 239 pounds, he ran a 4.57 in the 40, had a 36.5 inch vertical, and a 7.12 in the 3-cone. Those are solid numbers across the board, but things have not gone well for Clark since. It was announced at the end of March that he is undergoing spinal fusion surgery, which is something that could provide chronic issues down the line. On the other hand, this concern lowers his price, making him a potential day three steal. If he can avoid any long-term spinal issues, he could be the future at BUCK linebacker for the Steelers. It would allow Devin Bush to roam free while Clark helps in run support and occasional blitzing. Injuries of that nature are always dangerous, but he is a nice schematic fit for a team like Pittsburgh.

102. Kyle Phillips | UCLA | WR
5‘-11“, 177 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 59, Yds 739, TD 10.

Skyfire322: Phillips was a dual-threat WR and punt returner for the Bruins. While he didn’t have a highlight reel that you see from top college WRs, he most certainly holds his own. He’s very shifty and thrives in the slot position. However, that seems to be the only role he’ll be able to play as he lacks the quickness and length to stretch the field. While he can create decent separation, Phillips also has difficulty with contested catches primarily due to his size. Ball-handling skills are phenomenal both as a WR and punt returner, which scouts should consider. I believe he could be a diamond in the rough, potentially being drafted in the 3rd or 4th round.

103. Dominique Robinson | Miami (OH) | EDGE
6‘-4”, 252 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 28, TFL 8.5, S 4.5, INT 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.

Necksnation: A former receiver, Robinson has the physical tools to be a solid edge rusher in the NFL. Although he didn’t put up great stats at Miami Ohio, he tested well at the combine, and had a strong performance against linemen from bigger schools at the Senior Bowl. His athleticism is what gives him a fairly high ceiling, but his production in college was lackluster, registering only 6.5 sacks in 27 games. Robinson isn’t a powerful player, and his weight is in the 17th percentile, so he would benefit from some time in the weight room before the start of the NFL season. He sometimes wins matchups with speed off the edge, but it makes him a bit of a one trick pony, and it doesn’t really translate to consistent success. He isn’t very polished, but there’s potential for him to be a late round steal. He would make a solid day 3 pick for a team willing to take a gamble on an athletic pass rusher.

104. David Bell | Purdue | WR
6‘-2“, 205 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, Rec 93, Yds 1286, TD 6.

Necksnation: Bell doesn’t possess the speed and athleticism that is becoming more and more common in today’s receivers. However, what he lacks in quickness he makes up for with physicality and contested catch ability. His production at Purdue was excellent, recording 2946 yards and 21 touchdowns in 29 games. Additionally, although he had the occasional concentration drop, he was generally one of the most sure handed receivers in the country, posting an outstanding 68% catch rate as a junior. That number would be good for a guy who primarily works underneath, but Bell runs routes over the entire field as an outside receiver. While Bell isn’t particularly agile, his routes are better than you’d expect for someone with his athletic profile, and his diverse route tree gives him some versatility. He does struggle to consistently gain separation, but luckily for him, his ability to make contested catches is his best trait. He does a fantastic job of high pointing the ball, and his impressive hands and ball skills make coming down with 50-50 balls look easy. He is a physical receiver who is willing to make tough catches over the middle, and although he isn’t a huge threat after the catch, he still produces a decent number of chunk plays by making difficult catches downfield. Bell’s stock has declined a bit over the last few months, which is largely due to his poor testing at the combine. His production and route tree make him seem like a fairly pro ready option, which is impressive for someone who won’t turn 21 until December, but his lack of athleticism may limit his upside. However, receivers like Keenan Allen have proven that you don’t need to be a speed burner to succeed in the NFL, and Bell could develop into a similar type of player at the next level.

105. Dare Rosenthal | Kentucky | OT
6‘-7“, 298 lbs

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.

106. Matt Waletzko | North Dakota | OT
6‘-7“, 305 lbs

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.

107. Daniel Bellinger | San Diego State | TE
6‘-6“, 255 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, Rec 31, Yds 357, TD 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Bellinger is an intriguing day three option with two-way upside. However, there are a lot of minor details in his game that need to be refined. Although he displays natural hands and good awareness as a pass catcher, he doesn’t create great separation late in the route. His routes are far from crisp at the cut, but he seems to have the awareness and understanding to know when his quarterback needs to get rid of the ball, as he generally gets his head around in time to make an attempt to bring in a pass headed in his direction. As a blocker, Bellinger is patient but smart. He waits for the defender to get close enough to him to make contact without lunging, and he has proven to play with a consistent pad level. With solid athletic testing, he could be a late riser.

108. Isaiah Likely | Coastal Carolina | TE
6‘-4“, 240 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Rec 59, Yds 912, TD 12.

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.

109. Jelani Woods | Virginia | TE
6‘-7“, 275 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, Rec 44, Yds 598, TD 8.

Andrew Wilbar: Woods has a similar, but slightly more impressive, profile to Steelers tight end Zach Gentry when he was coming out of Michigan. Like Gentry, Woods is a former quarterback who changed positions and is still learning the position. His big frame allows him to box defenders out and haul in contested catches in the red zone. Unfortunately, he also shares similarities with Gentry when it comes to consistency. There are too many easy catches that he fails to bring in, and his technique is poor as a blocker, although he has shown improvement in that area. There is definitely some upside here, but considering his low floor, I would not consider him any earlier than the fifth or sixth round.

110. Cade Otton | Washington | TE
6‘-5“, 250 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 8, Rec 28, Yds 250, TD 1.

Ryland B.: Otton doesn’t have any overly flashy attributes, but he’s quite solid across the board. He has NFL size, adequate athleticism, and plenty of versatility. In the run game he’s a solid blocker who uses his size and strength well. As a pass-catcher he’s not much of a route-runner but has good hands and can make some more difficult catches. He could have some solid value in the middle to late rounds.

111. Damarri Mathis | Pittsburgh | CB
5‘-11“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 43, TFL 0, S 0, Int 2, PD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Mathis is an aggressive corner who is a little handsy at times. In fact, I remember the TV analyst of the Pitt/Clemson game mentioning that, when talking to people at Pitt, he realized the importance of officiating relative to the team’s success. He was apparently told that the way the refs officiate the game is huge for them, largely due to the aggressive style they play. There are times when Mathis may have gotten away with a little bit of grabbing, but overall, he has good awareness in man coverage, and he knows when to turn around and make a play on the ball. He is also plenty athletic, displaying the size, speed, and versatility to play both corner and safety at a high level. He is still somewhat raw technically, but if you want a guy in the middle rounds who has the tools to develop into a star corner, Mathis is your guy.

112. Adam Anderson | Georgia | EDGE
6‘-5”, 230 lbs
2021 stats: GP 7, T 32, TFL 5.5, S 5.5, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.

Andrew Wilbar: If not for off-field concerns, Anderson would be a top-50 pick hands down. His frame is on the lighter side, but he is quick, bendy, feisty, and instinctual. I expect him to add additional weight once he gets with a strength-and-conditioning program in the NFL, which should ease concerns about functional strength. The problem lies in his character, or lack thereof. In November of 2021, Georgia suspended Anderson after he was accused of rape. He was released on bond not long after, but a second allegation quickly followed. If his legal situation clears up and he stays clean from here on out, he could be a tremendous steal on day three, but it is a major risk to invest high draft capital in him.

113. Martin Emerson | Mississippi State | CB
6‘-0“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 49, TFL 3, S 0, Int 0, PD 3.

Noah: Emerson has gone under the radar during the entire draft process. He’s a lengthy corner and he has great footwork. He flips his hips well and has good patience, so you won’t see him over pursue very often. He does a good job mirroring receivers in man coverage and has good discipline in zone. There are some big red flags though, especially when it comes to ball skills. While Emerson was a great cover corner during his time at Mississippi State, he only has 1 career interception, and his inability to track the ball shows. His long speed is good enough but he lacks good change of direction, which could potentially limit him in his ability to cover certain routes like quick outs and zigs. There’s a lot to like but there are also things that could steer a team away. He may not be a first round guy but he hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves.

114. Zyon McCollum | Sam Houston State | CB
6‘-4“, 220 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 50, TFL 2, S 0, Int 3, PD 5.

Necksnation: McCollum had a solid career at Sam Houston State, and is one of the most athletically gifted players in the class, but he looks like a substantial project right now. He is certainly a playmaker, as he registered 13 interceptions and a whopping 54 pass breakups in 56 games in college, but it’s worth noting that he played against mediocre competition in the FCS. He spent most of his time on the field as an outside corner, and that’s where he’ll likely play in the NFL, although he’ll need a good amount of development. A certain area of improvement for him is his tackling, where he was inconsistent and missed many attempts as a result of poor form. He is aggressive and willing to do dirty work, but he needs to work on his technique in order to be a viable tackler. He plays decently well in press, which suits his aggressive play style well, but he did get burnt a few times. Zone appears to be where he plays best, as he has good instincts and is able to use his athleticism to make plays on the ball. Overall, McCollum has fantastic athleticism, and has a perfect 10 Relative Athletic Score, but has plenty of work to do if he wants to succeed in the NFL. However, his upside is absolutely worth taking a gamble on, and I won’t be surprised if he is selected in the fourth or fifth round.

115. Pierre Strong, Jr. | South Dakota State | RB
5’-11”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, Att 240, Yds 1686, Ave 7.0, TD 18, Rec 22, Yds 150, Ave 6.8, TD 0.

Andrew Wilbar: Strong is sometimes compared to Saints running back Alvin Kamara from a physical standpoint. His size is not overly impressive, but he has nice contact balance and good speed in the open field. Do not let his size fool you though, as he has enough power to run over defenders as well. Strong is also a dependable receiver out of the backfield who can be a mismatch for linebackers covering him, especially when you consider his speed and quickness. His ability to make a sharp cut and immediately turn upfield is as good as any other back’s in this class, and it is impossible to ignore when you watch him play. Could that be what sets him apart and makes him a diamond in the rough? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to like about Strong’s game. The biggest concern for NFL teams will likely be his low level of competition, but I cannot think of much else that NFL teams could complain about. There is risk involved with every FCS prospect, but I like Strong’s chances.

116. Isaac Taylor-Stuart | USC | CB
6‘-2“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 39, TFL 0, S 0, Int 1, PD 3.

Andrew Wilbar: Taylor-Stuart is an aggressive press-man corner who has the size and speed to become a dominant outside corner. I do, however, have a few minor concerns with his game. He can run stride for stride with just about any receiver in man coverage, but when he is on an island by himself, he lacks eye discipline, which causes him to look back toward the ball. If the ball happens to already be in the air, he will panic and grab the receiver to make sure he doesn’t get burned at the last moment. This lack of confidence in coverage led to some crucial pass interference penalties at the collegiate level, but it seems to be a fixable issue once he gains more confidence as a corner. The other issue I am worried about is his performance against bigger wide receivers. One of the games I watched of him was against Stanford, whose top two wide receivers are both 6’4” or taller. He got pushed around at the line of scrimmage too often, and he struggled to get good position at the beginning of the route. This is a little concerning from a 6’2”, 200-pound corner who is big enough to hold his own on the outside, although part of the issue may be due to him playing on the back of his heels too much. Taylor-Stuart looks the part of an NFL cornerback, but there are still some inconsistencies he will need to work through at the beginning of his career.

117. Jack Jones | Arizona State | CB
5‘-10“, 175 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 41, TFL 2.5, S 1, Int 3, PD 6, FF 3.

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.

118. Rasheed Walker | Penn State | OT
6‘-6“, 320 lbs

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.

119. Spencer Burford | UTSA | OT/G
6’-5”, 295 lbs

Noah: Burford’s physical traits are the first thing you notice when you turn on the tape. He has good athleticism, displaying the ability to pull as well as get up to the second level. He’s a true mauler in the run game and uses a thick upper body to completely move guys out of the way. He’s ability as a pass protector is alright but not a strength and I would be careful not to throw him into the fire too quickly. This offensive tackle class is extremely deep and while Burford may not be a starting-caliber player yet, if he goes to the right situation he could definitely find himself being an impact player somewhere down the line.

120. D’Marco Jackson | Appalachian State | ILB
6‘-1”, 230 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 119, TFL 20, S 6, Int 1, PD 5, FR 0, FF 1.

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.

121. Joshua Paschal | Kentucky | DL/EDGE
6‘-3”, 278 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 52, TFL 15, S 5, INT 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: If your team is looking for a base 4-3 defensive end who can kick inside on passing downs, Paschal may be your guy. I have him quite a bit lower than most boards due to his inability to finish as a pass rusher, but there is no denying the physicality and athleticism Paschal plays with. For someone his size, Paschal has uncanny quickness out of his stance, and his ability to get small and split gaps is rather impressive. I just do not see a ton of upside overall. Not only does he lack great closing speed, but his change-of-direction skills are also underwhelming. For a 4-3 team, he could provide some value on day three, but I do not see where he would fit with the Steelers.

122. Darian Kinnard | Kentucky | OT/G
6’-5”, 345 lbs

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.

123. Tyrese Robinson | Oklahoma | G
6’-3”, 324 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: SLEEPER ALERT! Robinson is a powerful lineman who was dominant as a run blocker in 2019 and dominant as a pass protector in 2020, allowing only two sacks in over 400 snaps. That was good enough for PFF to reward him with the team’s highest pass-blocking grade. 2019 was really when I fell in love with him as a prospect, though. Robinson proved to be an absolutely punishing run blocker, keeping his pads square, using his length to create good leverage, and finishing all his blocks. While he played guard for most of his career, Oklahoma’s coaching staff decided to move him to tackle in 2021, and he was not quite as dominant after the position change. He wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but he would occasionally get beat on inside moves due to his lack of lateral agility and mobility. Robinson is most definitely not a tackle in the NFL, but he is a fantastic guard who I consider one of the most underrated players in the 2022 draft class.

124. Jerreth Sterns | Western Kentucky | WR
5‘-9“, 195 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, Rec 150, Yds 1902, TD 17.

Ryland B.: If you did a double-take when you saw Sterns’ 2021 stat line, you won’t be the only one. Playing in a potent WKU offense with star QB Bailey Zappe, Sterns put up season numbers that look like many college receivers’ career totals. Despite not being invited to the combine, Sterns ran a 4.4 40 at his pro day, and it shows up on tape. He’s incredibly explosive and obviously productive. Sterns showcases great athleticism and acceleration, often outrunning entire defenses on his many big plays in 2021. He’s a natural hands catcher who picks the ball out of the air with ease. However, his smaller size prevents him from making the more acrobatic and contested grabs. He isn’t incredibly physical either and paired with his lower level of competition in college it’s fair to say Stern’s incredible production may not translate well to the NFL level. Still, Sterns has proven himself to be a quality playmaker with good athleticism, and he should find a role of some sort in an NFL offense.

125. Isaiah Spiller | Texas A&M | RB
6’-1”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 179, Yds 1011, Ave 5.6, TD 6, Rec 25, Yds 189, Ave 25, TD 1.

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.

126. Isaiah Weston | Northern Iowa | WR
6‘-4“, 210 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 37, Yds 883, TD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Weston is an athletic specimen who has been linked to the Steelers in draft conversations this spring. At 6’3 ½”, 215 pounds, Weston raised eyebrows during his combine performance, recording a 4.42 40, 40” vertical, and 135” broad jump, and 20 bench reps. As a player on the field, the first thing that stands out about Isaiah is his ability to create big plays down the field. His 23.9 yards per catch in 2021 backs up this claim, and his nearly 900 receiving yards despite inconsistent quarterback play is telling as to how big a difference he can be to an offense. I would like to see a little better field awareness on catches near the sideline, but for a late-round pick, the combination of athleticism and production makes him worth a flier. If the Steelers decide to grab Weston late on day three, the selection would have my support.

127. Coby Bryant | Cincinnati | CB
5‘-11“, 198 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 44, TFL 1.5, S 0, Int 2, PD 11, FF 2.

Noah: Coby Bryant was the definition of lockdown this year for the Bearcats. He may not have had the career that his teammate Sauce Gardner did, but he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for a reason. Bryant displays good footwork and his 9 interceptions in 4 years are evidence of his ball skills. He’s a smart player and has good athleticism despite being a tad slow at times. Bryant does a good job of watching the feet and not biting on fakes. He does have relatively short arms creating some inconsistency when wrapping up. Due to his lack of quickness Bryant has struggled when he’s covering routes that force him to move laterally across the field. He has the mental toughness and physical tools to be a very good player, but he needs to put it all together. He has the potential to be the steal of the draft if he can clean up some of the holes in his game.

128. Danny Gray | SMU | WR
6‘-1“, 180 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, Rec 49, Yds 803, TD 9.

Ryland B.: Yet another receiver who ran in the 4.3 range at the NFL combine, Gray could be a possible speed threat option for the Steelers in the middle rounds. He was more often than not the fastest guy on the field, and it really shows. Gray’s speed and change of direction really stand out on tape, and he’s a menace with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think there’d be even more touchdowns on tape if he didn’t deal with so many underthrows on deep routes. Gray has a tall, lanky frame and often struggled with more physical corners. He has a good release but would often get jammed in press, or struggle to separate in more physical coverage. Gray has good hands but has a bit of a habit to body catch, although he does have some good contested catches on tape. Overall, there’s some great potential with Gray, who could really succeed as a deep threat on the next level.

129. Chris Hinton | Michigan | DT
6’-4”, 310 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13,T 32,TFL 1, Sacks 1, PD 2, FR 2.

Andrew Wilbar: In order to allow your edge rushers to simply go after the quarterback, you need interior linemen who can stop the run. Hinton will not get the same publicity that David Ojabo or Aidan Hutchinson will, but he had a major role in their success last season. Hinton plays with a good pad level and takes up a good amount of space in the middle. What I appreciate most about him, however, is the fact that he is a hustler. His motor is always running at 100%, and he never gives you anything less than his best. He will not wow you as a pass rusher, but he always runs toward the play. Wherever the ball carrier is, he is going to be in pursuit once he disengages from his block. There is not a ton of upside with Hinton, but if you want reliability in run defense, he is your guy.

130. Kellen Diesch | Arizona State | OT
6‘-7“, 300 lbs

Ryland B.: Diesch is a fairly athletic tackle with a lanky frame. He has long arms but his hand usage is not choppy and slow. He doesn’t possess great strength and can get driven back, rarely imposing his will in the run game. He’s an adequate mover with quick feet and good mobility. I don’t see much starter potential here, but Diesch has enough athleticism and technique to find a backup role.

131. Brian Asamoah I| Oklahoma | ILB
6‘-1”, 228 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 80, TFL 3.5, S 1, Int 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 2.

Necksnation: Asamoah may be undersized, but his athleticism and pass coverage ability make him an appealing draft prospect. He had a great combine, and he plays up to his speed as a sideline to sideline linebacker. Despite his smaller frame, he is an aggressive tackler, which sometimes leads to missed tackles. These inconsistencies can be fixed, but as of now, it is cause for concern. However, he thrives in pass coverage, frequently demonstrating the ability to cover running backs and execute his assignments well in zone. Although he doesn’t get many interceptions, he will almost always get the job done, and it’s usually a good thing when you don’t notice a linebacker much in pass defense. Additionally, as a smart player who plays with noticeable intensity and competitiveness, Asamoah has the potential to become the “quarterback” of an NFL defense. However, he won’t be a true three down linebacker until he improves as a run defender, but he could develop into a quality player if he does.

132. Zachary Thomas | San Diego St. | OT
6’-5”, 300 lbs

Ryland B.: Thomas is fun to watch. He’s a road-grading blocker in the run game who plays through the whistle with a lot of pancakes on tape. Once he gets his hands on the defender it’s generally over. He can play with a bit too much of a forward lean, and lacks great footwork and awareness in pass protection. However, his aggressiveness and dominance in the run game certainly makes him a draftable prospect, and he has the athletic tools to further round out his game at the next level.

133. Tariq Carpenter | LB/S | Georgia Tech | Safety
6‘-4”, 225 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 65,TFL 1, Sacks 0, Int 0, PD 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Carpenter is a defensive back who has added weight and converted to a hybrid linebacker. Weighing in at 230 pounds at his pro day, Carpenter looks the part of a modern-day linebacker, but it would definitely be wise to add more weight if he wants to commit to a full-time linebacker role. From an athletic standpoint, he checks every box, as evidenced by his impressive pro-day numbers. Not only did he run a 4.52 in the 40, but he also jumped out of the gym, recording a 39” vertical and a 136” broad jump. At the Senior Bowl, the first things that popped out to me were his loose hips and overall field awareness. In zone coverage, he does a good job recognizing where he is on the field relative to where the nearest receiver is, and in man coverage, his change-of-direction skills are good enough to keep up with most running backs, receivers, and tight ends. He is an intriguing name to watch late on day two or early on day three.

134. Malcolm Rodriquez | Oklahoma State | ILB
5‘-11”, 225 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 129, TFL 16, S 3, Int 1, PD 4, FR 2, FF 4.

Noah: Before I watched Rodriquez’s tape I had no expectations but I came out thoroughly impressed. His 4.52 40 yard dash and 39.5 inch vertical speak for themselves because he is incredibly athletic on film. He moves very well and will shut down the middle of the field in zone coverage. Rodriquez has a high football IQ, knowing what gap to fill in run support and being able to recognize blocking schemes. He can defeat blocks, allowing him to be effective as a blitzer whether it’s off the edge or up in the middle. He’s a good tackler and wraps up well but his lack of length shows in his ability to tackle in the open field. His tape is great and he filled up the stat sheet while at Oklahoma State but being as undersized as he is will cause him to fall further than he probably should.

135. Nik Bonitto | Oklahoma | EDGE
6’-3”, 240 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 39, TFL 15, S 7, INT 0, PD 1, FR 2, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Bonnitto is quickly becoming one of my favorite under-the-radar players in this year’s draft. He’s slightly undersized, sure, but he more than makes up for it with his impressive quickness and closing speed. He’s an incredibly slippery pass-rusher who can shoot through gaps in an instant, and his hand usage is quick and effective – although due to his lack of size I am slightly worried about how his game will compare against good NFL offensive tackles. He’s an absolute terror when left unblocked, sifting through traffic excellently when in pursuit. He’s a high-effort player but a little underwhelming as a run defender at the line of scrimmage due to his lack of great strength. There’s a chance he could succeed best in a hybrid role or sorts between off-ball linebacker and pass-rusher, as Bonnitto excels in space, has some coverage ability, and can rush from both the inside and outside.

136. Jalyn Armour-Davis | Alabama | CB
6‘-1“, 192 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 32, TFL 1, S 0, Int 3, PD 4.

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.

137. Amare Barno | Virginia Tech | EDGE
6‘-6”, 245 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 35, TFL 5.5, S 3.5, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.

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.

138. Master Teague | Ohio State | RB
5’-11”, 226 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 7, Att 66, Yds 348, Ave 5.3, TD 4, Rec 2, Yds 12, Ave 6.0, TD 0.

Jeremy Betz: Teague makes his hay as a powerful, downhill runner with attitude. He has a Michael Turner vibe and style, preferring to use his powerful lower body and quick feet to hit the hole and push the pile. He’s got decent speed (you’ll probably see him run in the 4.5-4.6 range in Indianapolis) but that’s not his calling card. On tape, you see a runner who relies on the blocking scheme to find the hole, and he’s not going to create much outside of the play design. He doesn’t have much experience as a receiver out of the backfield (11 career catches at OSU). His biggest strength is ball security with 0 fumbles on 323 career carries, and a 5.5 yd per rush average is solid for a mostly rotational player in college. Teague’s name will probably get called on day 3 of the draft, and whatever team turns in the card will get a fresh-legged, powerhouse back ready to prove himself. It’ll be interesting to see if he can do it.

139. Hassan Haskins | Michigan | RB
6’-1”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, Att 270, Yds 1327, Ave 4.9, TD 20, Rec 18, Yds 131, Ave 7.3, TD 0.

Noah: Hassan Haskins stock could not be higher coming off of a 5 touchdown domination over Ohio State to give the Wolverines their first win over the Buckeyes since 2011. He runs with power and uses his lower body strength to run through guys and fight for every yard he can get. He regularly lowers his shoulder to run through guys and he has a great stiff arm that helps him to pick up those extra yards. Haskins isn’t a very refined runner though and has benefited from Michigan’s power run scheme. With a lack of receiving work out of the backfield, I would expect him to be a solid rotational guy at the next level but not a 3 down back.

140. Jesse Luketa | Penn State | EDGE
6‘-3”, 251 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 61, TFL 8.5, S .5, INT 1, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.

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.

141. Keaontay Ingram | USC | RB
6’-0”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10, Att 156, Yds 911, Ave 5.8, TD 5, Rec 22, Yds 154, Ave 7.0, TD 0.

Andrew Wilbar: If there is a mid-round running back in this draft that could emerge as the best back from this class, it’s Ingram. Ingram could have entered the 2021 NFL Draft but decided to transfer to USC for his fifth-year senior season. From an athletic standpoint, people will fall in love with this guy. There is a good chance he runs a sub 4.4 in the 40 at the combine, but he is so much more than just a speed back. Listed at 215 pounds, Ingram runs with purpose and power, and I think he will add more weight in the NFL and become a true bruiser at the running back position. He also has good patience as a runner, allowing a hole to open up before he makes his move. Ball security was a bit of an issue during his time at Texas, but he seemed to sure that issue up, only fumbling once during the 2021 season. The only other concern most people have is that Ingram was never extremely involved as a pass-catcher. Part of that could be because he was not always a full-time back at Texas, but he never eclipsed 250 receiving yards in a single season in college. Personally, I believe that this past season’s receiving numbers are due to USC’s offensive line. Their line struggled mightily in pass protection for a good chunk of the year, and Ingram was often forced to stay in the backfield and help protect the quarterback rather than running routes and getting receiving opportunities. If he can display upside as a receiver at the combine, this guy could shoot up draft boards in a hurry.

142. Zamir White | Georgia | RB
6’-0”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, Att 147, Yds 772, Ave 5.3, TD 10, Rec 9, Yds 75, Ave 8.3, TD 0.

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.

143. Tycen Anderson | Toledo | Safety
6’-2”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10, T 44,TFL 2, Sacks 1, Int 0, PD 2, FF 1.

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.

144. Decobie Durant | South Carolina St. | CB
5‘-11“, 175 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 35, TFL 4, S 0, Int 3, PD 12, FR 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Durant brings an intriguing blend of ball skills and instincts at the cornerback position. Measuring in at only 5’10”, 180 pounds at the combine, Durant is almost certainly going to be a nickel corner at the next level. His hip fluidity and speed are both evident on tape, and his ability to close on the ball quickly is what got him in position to grab several of his interceptions during his four-year career with the Bulldogs. He has limited experience coming on the blitz but has shown potential in that area, although there is no production to back that claim. The concern lies in that he gives too much leeway to receivers on underneath routes, allowing them to create yardage after the catch if they turn upfield quick enough. Level of competition is another valid concern scouts will have, but if he can tighten up his spacing in coverage, I think he possesses starting upside at nickel corner.

145. Matt Araiza | San Diego St. | P
6’-2”, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, P 79, Ave 51.2, Xpm 45, % 100, FGM 18, % 64.3.

Ryland B.: With the exception of long snapping, Araiza is a walking special teams unit. The Sand Diego State standout has displayed elite ability as a punter, kicker, kickoff specialist, and the athletic ability to fake punts and willingness to defend returns. Likely possessing the strongest leg in college football, Araiza has managed to hit 80 yard punts, 50+ yard field goals, and show good directional ability and hang time. His accuracy somewhat regressed when it comes to field goals in 2021, but Araiza’s through-the-roof potential projects him as high as round 3. He has the floor of a very, very good punter and the ceiling of someone who can cover two roster spots with a high level of play.

146. Kerby Joseph | Illinois | Safety
6‘-1”, 190 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 57,TFL 1, Sacks 1, Int 5, PD 2.

Jeremy Betz: In a deep Free Safety class, Joseph doesn’t necessarily stand out as a physical specimen or an outstanding athlete. His anticipation and vision though are solid, and he provides plenty of tools for coaches to work with as a deep defender. He’s a solid open-field tackler and special-teamer and his ball skills are great, however, he’s not a great asset in run support, often getting swept away by physical blockers or waiting for other defenders to make the initial contact. Scouts will like his ability to anticipate where the play is going and attack the ball, and coaches will be tasked with improving his in-game physicality.

147. Joshua Williams | Fayetteville State | CB
6‘-3“, 197 lbs
2021 stats: GP 9, T 31, TFL 0, S 0, Int 3, PD 6.

Andrew Wilbar: Williams was largely an unknown commodity just a few short months ago. However, after an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, the Williams bandwagon began to gain steam. Now, he is likely a mid-round pick who could have the opportunity to start early in his career. His lack of speed will limit him to primarily zone concepts, but I love the energy he plays with. You can tell that he is passionate about the game just by how he carries himself on the field. Not only does Williams have the ball skills scouts love, but his fluidity and instincts partially make up for his lack of speed. I would not consider him a corner with CB1 upside, but if he is allowed to play a heavy dose of cover-3, he could become a reliable CB2.

148. Samori Toure | Nebraska | WR
6‘-3“, 193 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 46, Yds 898, TD 5.

Ryland B.: Toure was an elite FCS receiver before transferring to Nebraska for his final season. Despite the higher level of competition, he still put up good numbers for a college wideout. Toure has good size and is a natural athlete. While not a freak of nature, he has good long speed, acceleration, and effortless change of direction. He has good hands and is an impressive blocker as well. He’s not a polished route-runner but the potential is certainly there. He got open a good number of times on tape but was either overthrown or not even seen by the quarterback. Toure could surprise as a pro.

149. Sam Williams | Ole Miss | EDGE
6‘-4”, 265 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 57, TFL 15, S 12.5, INT 0, PD 1, FR 1, FF 4.

Noah: We talk a lot about playing through the whistle when it comes to the guys in the trenches and Williams is the perfect example of that. His motor is relentless and the tenacity that he plays with is phenomenal. He’s a very interesting prospect though. He ran a 4.46 at the combine yet his game speed looks lackluster and you can tell that tackles don’t really respect the outside. He’s got very strong hands though and consistently pushes guys back, disrupting the pocket. He’s not going to be a 2 point stance, “beat you off the snap” type of guy but he has the skills to be a high-level pass rusher. However, he is not good against the run. He fails to set a good edge and misses tackles more than you would like to see. You can see the potential though and I like the idea of a team using a day 3 pick on him if they think they can develop him as a run stopper.

150. Jack Sanborn | Wisconsin | ILB
6‘-2”, 236 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, T 89, TFL 16, S 5, Int 0, PD 0, FR 1, FF 0.

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.

151. Braxton Jones | Southern Utah | OT
6‘-7“, 310 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is a polarizing prospect and one of the most frustrating players to evaluate. There are times he displays pure dominance while other instances he is a complete train-wreck. Braxton had a prime opportunity to display his talents in the Senior Bowl game, but he failed to do so, allowing two sacks and looking discombobulated against stiffer competition. I am afraid this makes the concerns about his level of competition valid. In terms of raw athleticism, Jones has all the tools you look for. He is long, fluid, and powerful, but he does not display his power consistently enough to thrill you when watching him. Jones is a player I so desperately want to love, but he needs to go to a team with an experienced offensive line coach that can develop projects.

152. Andrew Stueber | Michigan | OT
6‘-7“, 338 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Stueber was a stalwart at offensive tackle for Michigan, and he should be considered one of the most underrated players in this group of offensive tackles. While some project him to move inside to guard, I think his best fit would be as a right tackle in a power running scheme. The only thing that could hinder him from succeeding at tackle is his footwork. His feet can be incredibly slow and out of sync with the rest of his body. However, he gets good leverage as a run defender, and his sturdy frame keeps him from getting tossed around in pass protection. He has the talent to become a starter in time.

153. Braxton Jones | Southern Utah | OT
6‘-7“, 310 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is a polarizing prospect and one of the most frustrating players to evaluate. There are times he displays pure dominance while other instances he is a complete train-wreck. Braxton had a prime opportunity to display his talents in the Senior Bowl game, but he failed to do so, allowing two sacks and looking discombobulated against stiffer competition. I am afraid this makes the concerns about his level of competition valid. In terms of raw athleticism, Jones has all the tools you look for. He is long, fluid, and powerful, but he does not display his power consistently enough to thrill you when watching him. Jones is a player I so desperately want to love, but he needs to go to a team with an experienced offensive line coach that can develop projects.

154. Andrew Stueber | Michigan | OT
6‘-7“, 338 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Stueber was a stalwart at offensive tackle for Michigan, and he should be considered one of the most underrated players in this group of offensive tackles. While some project him to move inside to guard, I think his best fit would be as a right tackle in a power running scheme. The only thing that could hinder him from succeeding at tackle is his footwork. His feet can be incredibly slow and out of sync with the rest of his body. However, he gets good leverage as a run defender, and his sturdy frame keeps him from getting tossed around in pass protection. He has the talent to become a starter in time.

155. Verone McKinley | Oregon | Safety
5‘-11”, 194 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 77,TFL 1, Sacks 0, Int 6, PD 6, FF 1.

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.

156. Max Mitchell | Louisiana | OT
6‘-6“, 297 lbs

Necksnation: In recent years, Louisiana has produced a couple of quality linemen in Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson, and Mitchell could join them as a productive player in the NFL. He is a little on the lighter side, but it’s not a big concern for him as his size is adequate overall. Playing mostly RT, Mitchell only allowed 5 sacks across 1112 pass-blocking snaps over the course of three years and had an outstanding pressure allowed rate of 2.1%. He is rather fluid in pass protection, demonstrating good mobility and footwork, and he is able to mirror defenders with consistency. He occasionally struggles against speed off the edge, but he has the ability to balance himself again and salvage the rep. His power at the point of attack is a strength as well, and it helps him hold up well as a run blocker. Additionally, his length (34-inch arms) and hand technique benefit him out both as a run and pass blocker. He could work on improving his strength, as he isn’t a super physical player and it’s the biggest question mark about his game. Mitchell is strongest in pass protection and should be able to play either tackle position at the next level. I like his potential as a sleeper and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he developed into a quality starter. The mid to late third round seems like a good spot for him to be selected.

157. Jeremy Ruckert | Ohio State | TE
6‘-5“, 252 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, Rec 26, Yds 309, TD 3.

Noah: When it comes to blocking, Ruckert is the best there is. He plays a big impact in the run game and consistently gets downfield to create space for whoever has the ball. Despite the lack of production that he had while at Ohio State, he is a solid receiver. He’s a very smart player that has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense. He is good in contested catch situations and gives whoever is throwing to him a vertical threat. Ruckert won’t wow you with his athleticism and isn’t gonna fly past guys for 70 yard touchdowns but he’s a reliable target that can make a big impact as a blocker.

158. Kyren Williams | Notre Dame | RB
5’-9”, 195 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 204, Yds 995, Ave 4.9, TD 14, Rec 42, Yds 359, Ave 8.5, TD 3.

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.

159. JT Woods | Baylor | Safety
6‘-2”, 193 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 57,TFL 4.5, Sacks 0, Int 6, PD 2, FR 1.

Jeremy Betz: Woods is an exciting prospect with plenty of length and speed to handle the back end as a traditional FS. Woods creates plenty of havoc and splash plays with fantastic ball skills and return ability (9 INTs 2020-2021). He is often too aggressive and takes too many risks when in single coverage, relying on his speed to make up for unpolished instincts. In all he’s a late Day 2 prospect with upside, providing he can learn to balance aggression with patience and continue to rack up the takeaways.

160. Neil Farrell, Jr. | LSU | DT
6’4”, 319 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 45, TFL 9.5, Sacks 2.0, PD 2

Andrew Wilbar: I did not get familiarized with Farrell until recently, but there are definitely some intriguing traits in his game. He plays a little high in the run game, but that can be fixed with NFL coaching. I do like his upper-body strength and his ability to extend his arms and gain leverage on opposing linemen; however, he is not the most nimble athlete and will sometimes pass up a running back or quarterback in the backfield due to his inability to change direction quickly. While I do believe he is coming into the league relatively raw for a fifth-year senior, I also think he is a good straight-line athlete who has a decent amount of upside. He has the frame to add weight and play the nose in the NFL, but he seemed most comfortable when lined up as a 3-technique at LSU. That is likely what his best role is entering the NFL.

161. Kingsley Enagbare | South Carolina | DL/EDGE
6‘-4”, 265 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 43, TFL 7, S 4.5, INT 0, PD 2, FR 1, FF 1.

Skyfire322: Kingsley (JJ) Enagbare is a unique specimen. At 6’4” and 265 lbs, he has the body of a DL but can show a linebacker’s closing speed, making him very impactful, particularly in passing situations. He’s solid, has a great point of attack, and has a good dip and rip technique. While Enagbare knows how to get to the ball, he can be a little too hesitant at times. He also plays quite vertically and can sometimes rely solely on his strength to gain leverage instead of technique. Teams may take his hip surgery into account while scouting him, but given a chance, he could potentially be a good fit as a DL/EDGE hybrid.

162. Lucas Krull | Pittsburgh | TE
6‘-6“, 260 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Rec 38, Yds 451, TD 6.

Jeremy Betz: After a solid 2021 season, Krull joins a list of mid-level TE talents with plenty of room to grow. Krull’s best attribute is the usage of his size to box out defenders and highpoint the football. Not a speed guy, so NFL teams will probably want to see him develop as a Red Zone threat and blocking specialist in 2 TE formations. Krull’s lack of bend and general stiffness at the point of attack hurt his stock, but if a coach can help him convert his size into power at the line of scrimmage, he may become a solid 2nd TE for a team with an entrenched starter.

163. Rachaad White | Arizona State | RB
6’-2”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, Att 182, Yds 1000, Ave 5.5, TD 15, Rec 43, Yds 456, Ave 10.6, TD 1.

NecksNation: White was a bit of a senior season breakout in 2021, even though he was incredibly efficient in 2020 (10.0 yards per carry, 18.9 yards per catch). He saw his draft stock rise dramatically as he totaled an even 1000 yards on the ground and developed into one of the best receiving backs in the country. His size and athletic traits help him create mismatches as a pass catcher, which should help him appeal to NFL teams on draft day. He’s not quite as heavy as you might expect from someone of his height, but it shouldn’t be much of an issue for him. Pass blocking isn’t really his forte, but it isn’t much of a weakness of his either. He’s not particularly proficient when it comes to breaking tackles, and has sometimes been prone to allowing shoestring tackles, which is something he’ll need to work on. White projects as a third down/receiving back in the NFL and an early to mid Day 3 pick on draft day.

164. Myjai Sanders | Cincinnati | EDGE
6‘-5”, 258 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 41, TFL 7.5, S 2.5, INT 0, PD 5, FR 1, FF 0.

Skyfire322: Sanders is explosive off the line, and while he’s not the fastest, he can get in the backfield and doesn’t give up pursuit. His hand speed and bull rush are second to none and is an excellent pass rusher. He does have the length necessary to create some separation off the line. However, his lower body strength isn’t the greatest, especially when double-teamed, so this could be an issue against a top-tier offensive line. He also tends to wrap up, which may hurt against more elusive runners, but teams can most certainly address these issues. Overall, while his numbers dropped in his senior season, his technique, football IQ, and ability to play both sides of the ball worked in his favor.

165. Matt Henningsen | Wisconsin | DL
6’-3”, 291 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 34, TFL 6, S 3.5, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.

Noah: As the stat sheet suggests, Henningsen is a pretty underwhelming player. He’s surprisingly quick off the line and he has good hand placement but he cannot win with power. Occasionally he will slip into the backfield but more often than not he is taken completely out of the play by opposing lineman because of his inability to shed blocks. I’m not an NFL scout, but to me, he seems virtually undraftable.

166. Isaiah Pola-Mao | USC | Safety
6‘-4”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 57,TFL 1, Sacks 0, Int 0, PD 1, FR 1.

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.

167. Jashaun Corbin | Florida State | RB
6’-0”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 143, Yds 887, Ave 6.2, TD 7, Rec 25, Yds 144, Ave 5.8, TD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Corbin is a talented running back who will likely shoot up draft boards this spring. After transferring from Texas A&M, Corbin became the main back for the Seminoles for the past two seasons when healthy. Florida State’s offensive line was far from spectacular, but he was still able to average 6.2 yards per carry this season. He will show effort as a blocker, but he does not always show a great understanding of his assignments, having an occasional miss in pass protection. Corbin is a compactly built runner who displays great short-area burst and a low pad level when carrying the football. I also like Corbin’s leg drive in short yardage situations. He keeps the legs churning after contact and can will his way to a first down. He has a second gear of speed to break away from defenders as well. Unfortunately, he has not become too involved in the passing game, averaging less than two receptions per game in his four years of college ball. While some of Corbin’s injuries have not caused him to miss time, he has dealt with some sort of injury every year of college, and as a running back, that is something that could haunt not only draft stock, but an NFL career. If he can pass the medicals in Indy, though, he has a chance to be a day two pick.

168. Eiyoma Uwazurike | Iowa St. | DT
6’-6” 320 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 42, TFL 12, S 9, INT 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.

Noah: Uwazurike is weirdly inconsistent. When I was watching his film I noticed that on some plays he would simply move guys out of the way, like if you were picking on your younger brother, and then on other plays he is just getting bullied by the offensive line. There’s a lot to like about his game, whether it be his upper body strength and his ability to control the line of scrimmage or his high motor that doesn’t stop until the whistle blows. Uwazurike is also a very good tackler and just an overall animal on the defensive line. If he can just be more consistent and clean up his game a little bit, he has the potential to be a really, really good player.

169. Kevin Austin Jr. | Notre Dame | WR
6’-2”, 215 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 48, Yds 888, TD 7.

Skyfire322: Austin has an excellent ability to separate himself. Once there’s an open field, it’s almost a given you’ll see him break a 20-30 yard catch easily, mainly because of his explosiveness. He knows how to track the ball due to his frame and could be a nightmare for the secondary. However, he seems to play a bit stiff and often uses his body to catch, meaning he doesn’t fully utilize the great length to his advantage. One big concern is multiple surgeries on his left foot, which caused him to miss quite a bit of time. While his physical traits and draft results show one thing, I believe he will be a developmental receiver and will get the call in the draft’s later rounds.

170. Ben Brown | Ole Miss | G/C
6’-5”, 315 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Versatility is one of the greatest assets that would come along with drafting Brown. He lettered in football, basketball, power lifting, and track in high school, and he signed with Ole Miss while being ranked the number one tackle prospect coming out of the state of Mississippi in 2017. By the time Brown was ready to get significant playing time, he had learned how to play at guard. In fact, only two other freshmen in all of college football started every game at right guard like Brown did. Due to injuries and a reshuffling of the offensive line, he was moved to center for a portion of 2019 before moving there full-time in 2020, giving up zero sacks or pressures in 432 dropbacks. Part of that could be due to Ole Miss’ air raid system that gets the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly, but nonetheless, Brown has proven to be a consistent presence in pass protection. He is not an elite athlete, and he is not the most physical run blocker, but he has the length, instincts, and lower-body strength to succeed at any of the three spots along the interior line.

171. Thayer Munford | Ohio State | OL
6’-6”, 321 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Munford is built like a tackle but projected by many as a guard in the NFL. Personally, I still like his prospects as a tackle if he can learn to not play over his feet so much. When moved inside to guard in 2021, he flashed reps of dominance but did not look like a natural fit at the position. He did not move as fluidly in his pass sets, and his pad level would occasionally be too high as a run blocker. In both 2019 and 2020, I felt as if his length, upper-body strength, and knowledge of leverage and angles made him a nice fit as a left tackle. Because his trunk isn’t the strongest, he can get knocked off balance if he doesn’t get good hand placement on the opposing lineman early in the rep. He cannot allow his chest to be exposed as much as it was in college, but I am not quite as concerned about that issue, considering it is a relatively easy fix when he trains with NFL coaches. I ranked him with the guards as opposed to the tackles primarily because guard is where he is most often projected. However, I believe his ceiling is higher if he can move back to the outside.

172. Quentin Lake | UCLA | Safety
6‘-1”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10, T 53,TFL 2, Sacks 0, Int 3, PD 6.

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.

173. Isaiah Thomas | Oklahoma | EDGE
6‘-5”, 266 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 38, TFL 10.5, S 7, INT 0, PD 3, FR 1, FF 3.

Andrew Wilbar: Thomas has done a good job filling out his lengthy frame, weighing in at over 265 pounds. He is likely a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, as he has become more comfortable playing with his hand in the dirt. His ability to create leverage by using his long arms correctly has tremendously aided in his ability to create consistent penetration. However, he lacks lower body strength and can get pushed off the ball rather easily at times. He also plays too upright as a run defender, and he struggles to disengage from offensive linemen on occasion. He has the tools to develop into a decent starter in the future, but he is far from a finished product.

174. Eric Johnson | Missouri St. | DT
6’-5”, 298 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 43, TFL 6.5, S 1.5, INT 0, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Johnson is an athletic and powerful defensive line prospect. However, despite flashes of potential he needs work in nearly every technical aspect of his game. His leverage is poor, his hands inconsistent, and his footwork lacking. His lower level of competition is a concern as well. But there’s plenty of athletic potential to make him worth a late round selection or UDFA pickup.

175. Chase Lucas | Arizona State | CB
6‘-0“, 185 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 34, TFL 1, S 0, Int 0, PD 6.

Andrew Wilbar: I am not the biggest fan of Lucas, but he is a name that seems to be soaring up on draft boards. He has not recorded an interception since 2019, but he has become more consistent in coverage overall, displaying requisite athleticism and awareness for the position. Lucas has experience playing on the outside, but in the NFL, I do not think he has the size to hold up long-term. If he can take advantage of more errant throws by the quarterback by turning them into interceptions, he could make his presence felt as a slot corner for years to come.

176. Glen Logan | LSU | DT
6’-3”, 339 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 6,T 10,TFL 1.5, Sacks 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Glen Logan brings some intrigue on day three. He lacked consistency as a pass rusher, but there are times when you watch him on tape and think that he could potentially become a 3-down nose tackle. He has suffered some foot injuries, however, and foot injuries can be a nagging issue for big linemen. Those injuries cost him a handful of games throughout his collegiate career. He does not close on ball-carriers quickly, but he takes up a good chunk of space in the middle of the defense, and he has a bit of untapped potential. He is worth a day three pick but nothing more.

177. Tariq Carpenter | Georgia Tech | LB/S
6‘-4”, 225 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 65, TFL 1, S 0, Int 0, PD 2, FR 0, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Much like D’Marco Jackson, I have been impressed with Carpenter’s ability to get to the ball quickly and make good tackles. A safety who has converted into more of a hybrid linebacker, Carpenter brings a nice combination of length and speed, running a 4.52 in the 40 at his pro day at nearly 6’3”, 230 pounds. Many people believe that Carpenter was not utilized well and put in a position to create many splash plays at Georgia Tech, which partially explains his lack of big-time production. Tenacity as a tackler and every-down effort are two traits I especially like about Carpenter, because it indicates that the guy is a dedicated player who loves the game. He is still a little rough around the edges, and he is still learning the linebacker position, but in the right system, he could be a nice versatile piece for the defense.

178. Darrell Baker, Jr. | Georgia Southern | CB
6‘-1“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 9, T 32, TFL 2, S 0, Int 0, PD 8, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Baker is relatively new to the position, but he looks the part of an NFL cornerback. Not only does he have adequate size, but at his pro day, he recorded a 4.43 in the 40, a 41 ½” vertical, a 135” broad jump, and a 7.07 in the 3-cone drill. The athleticism is off the charts, and it is evident when you watch him on the field. He has incredible explosiveness in hips, and his fluidity when moving laterally is second to none for someone as new to the position as he is. The turnover production has not yet arrived, but Baker does have the ability to create splash plays, having played receiver in high school. Jeremy and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the Steelers Draft Fix, and we both came away impressed with his confidence and demeanor. You can check out the full interview below.
2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: CB Darrell Baker, Jr.

179. Ty Chandler | North Carolina | RB
6’-0”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 182, Yds 1092, Ave 6.0, TD 13, Rec 15, Yds 216, Ave 14.4, TD 1.

Ryland B.: Chandler has good size, speed, and production, but is lacking when it comes to overall vision and play strength. He’s an experienced return man as well.

180. Noah Elliss | Idaho | DT
6’-4”, 367 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10,T 46,TFL 6.5, Sacks 1, PD 3, FR 1.

Andrew Wilbar: The size speaks for itself. Unfortunately, it portrays a mixed message. Elliss is a true 2-gap defender who will be used exclusively as a nose tackle playing right over the center. He is not the greatest lateral mover, and dropping some weight needs to be a priority in his rookie year. There comes a point where a player can be too big and unable to reach his full potential because of it. We have seen flashes of his power and his ability to create push on the interior as a pass rusher, but he will never be anything more than a space-eater if he remains in the 370 pound range. Space-eaters have a role, but it definitely limits Elliss’ ceiling if nothing changes with his weight.

181. Alex Wright | UAB | EDGE
6‘-7”, 270 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 45, TFL 7.5, S 6, INT 0, PD 3, FR 0, FF 2.

Noah: Level of competition is talked about a lot when it comes to these mid-major prospects and personally, I take it with a grain of salt. However, when a prospect is consistently struggling against mid-major schools, it is a little concerning. His quick feet and agility allow him to get into the backfield and disrupt plays at times but he isn’t consistent. His technique needs a lot of work and he just doesn’t have the explosion that you see from higher level prospects. He got bullied by opposing offensive linemen time and time again, once they got their hands on him it was over. Wright’s size looks appealing on paper but he needs to add muscle to his frame if he wants to compete at the NFL level. The traits are there but the lack of production and bad technique makes him a very risky pick.

182. Gregory Junior | Ouachita Baptist | CB
6‘-0“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 46, TFL 3, S 0, Int 0, PD 7.

Andrew Wilbar: Junior is a good athlete who provided lockdown coverage capabilities on low-level college ball. At 5 ‘11 7/10”, 203, Junior recorded a 4.46 40, 18 bench reps, 39.5” vertical, 4.17 short shuttle, and 6.97 in the 3-cone drill. He has the versatility to play inside or out, and when it’s all said and done, he may actually be best suited for an outside role. He has some feistiness in him, has active hands at the LOS, and bumps receivers off their route. I would like to see him take better tackling angles, but he looks the part of an NFL corner. The only issue is that his success came against poor competition.

183. Sincere McCormick | UTSA | RB
5’-9”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 299, Yds 1479, Ave 4.9, TD 15, Rec 22, Yds 184, Ave 8.4, TD 0.

Ryland B.: McCormick is a talented running back whose biggest downsides are out of his control. At 5’9” and 205 pounds, he’s solidly built but undersized for the position. And while he’s certainly been productive while at UTSA, he hasn’t exactly been facing SEC defenses. Putting those worries aside, it’s not hard to see why McCormick is considered a sleeper in this year’s class. He runs with an attitude, and despite his size he has impressive contact balance, quick feet, and power. McCormick can accelerate quickly, and while he’s not exactly the fastest back in this class, he’s no stranger to long runs due to his north-south running style and decisiveness. He’s not afraid of contact either and constantly gains extra yardage. McCormick has the talent and attitude to be an NFL starter, but it’ll be paramount for him to adapt to the professional level of the game.

184. Tyrion Davis-Price | LSU | RB
6’-1”, 232 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 211, Yds 1003, Ave 4.8, TD 6, Rec 10, Yds 64, Ave 6.4, TD 6.

Noah: Davis-Price is a 220+ pound battering ram with a 4.48 40 time. His vision is spectacular and he is not afraid to run you over. He has an impressive mix of power, speed and agility. However, he has less than 200 yards receiving in his three year career so his ability to be a 3 down back is a big question mark. Davis-Price had some ball security issues during his time at LSU but, if he can clean that up I think his ceiling is through the roof.

185. Luiji Vilain | Wake Forest | EDGE
6’-4” 252 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 34, TFL 9, S 8, INT 0, PD 1, FR 1, FF 2.

Ryland B.: Vilain is an athletic rotational pass-rusher who tested well at his pro day. He’s a twitchy pass-rusher with a lot of intriguing physical traits, but there’s a lot of rawness to his game. His football IQ is still developing and his hand-usage leaves a lot to be desired. Still, athletic EDGEs are in high demand so a team might take a late round flier on Vilain.

186. Lecitus Smith | Virginia Tech | G
6’-3”, 315 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Smith is one of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft. Based on raw athletic talent, he has more upside than any guard in this class. He displays tremendous burst out of his stance as a run defender, coming out with active, heavy hands and pure power. Smith is also very mobile, as he, on the tape I watched of him, was nearly flawless when asked to pull. His short-area quickness is off the charts for a 320-pound lineman, and his lateral movement is so fluid and graceful for someone that big. Unlike many of the guards we will get into in the later rounds, Smith has a stable trunk that helps him withstand bull rushes in pass protection. What makes him an intriguing option for the Steelers is that he is very experienced in both inside and outside zone concepts, which seems to be the way the Steelers’ philosophy is trending. Minor technique issues along with the slightest bit of stiffness in his stance may keep him from being a major difference maker early on in year one, but by year two, I fully expect him to be a stable starter at left guard for whichever team pulls the trigger on him.

187. Cordale Flott | LSU | CB
6‘-1“, 165 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 40, TFL 1, S 0, Int 1, PD 3, FF 1.

Noah: I had never heard of Cordale Flott until just a few days ago, but his tape surprised me. Physically, he’s your prototypical boundary corner, tall, fast with long arms, but his skill set doesn’t exactly reflect that. His footwork is a thing of beauty and his movement is very fluid. His hip mobility is some of the best I’ve seen and he makes up ground quickly, in part because he is so light on his feet. At LSU’s pro day he ran a 4.4 flat and that speed shows on tape. In addition to all of this, Flott is willing to take on blockers and is impressive as a run defender. His frame is a bit slender and he tends to have a bit of a quick trigger, over responding to route fakes. He’s never going to be a true number 1 shutdown corner, but in my eyes, he is the perfect slot guy and in the right situation he could flourish.

188. Zachary Carter | Florida | DL
6’-4”, 285 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12,T 31,TFL 11.5, Sacks 7.5, PD 2, FF 1.

NecksNation: Carter may not end up playing defensive tackle in the NFL, as his skillset may be better suited to the edge rusher position. The redshirt senior had his best season in 2021, which capped off a stellar three year run with the Gators. Carter’s greatest strength may be his versatility, and he could have a solid career as a professional solely for that reason, even if his play falters at the next level. He showed decent but unspectacular explosiveness off the line, but he has solid lateral quickness and has a powerful style of play that may translate well to the next level. Carter displays impressive length and is a serviceable run defender, although there is still plenty of room for improvement in that regard. In addition, he is a smart player and appears to play with a good amount of effort, both of which are traits that could help prolong his professional career. He projects as a late day 2/early day 3 pick with a decent floor who could eventually carve out a decent role in an NFL defense.

189. E.J. Perry | Brown | QB
6’-2”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10, C 296, A 445, Pct 66.5, Yds 3034, TD 23, Int 14, RA 111, Yds 402, TD 7.

Andrew Wilbar: Perry is a former four-star athlete who brings plenty of upside as a dual-threat quarterback. Not only does he have the mobility to move around in the pocket, but he also has the quickness to make things happen as a runner in the open field. After transferring from Boston College to Brown, Perry set an Ivy League record with 3,678 yards of total offense in one season. His ball placement and accuracy outside the hashes are surprisingly good, but he needs to do a better job of reading the middle linebacker when throwing across the middle. I would also like to see him show more patience in the pocket and not throw as many passes off his back foot. Nonetheless, there is a decent amount of athletic upside with Brown, and I would consider him a worthwhile pickup if he is still available in the fifth or sixth round.

190. Jordan Stout | Penn St. | P
6’-3” 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, P 67, % 46, Xpm 34, % 94.4, Fgm 16, % 69.6

Skyfire322: Jordan Stout played an integral role in the Nittany Lions special teams. While Stout handled kicking duties at Penn State, he thrived as a punter. So much so that he was a Ray Guy finalist. His long hang time, low return rate, and ability to keep the ball out of the endzone make him an extraordinary player. While that’s all well and good, he does have difficulty with directional punts, which is something you don’t like to see in the NFL. He won’t be drafted as a K, as he had a subpar conversion rate of just 69%, so expect to see him used solely for his punting ability. This is a low-risk, high-reward punter who will have a successful NFL career.

191. Tyler Badie | Missouri | RB
5’-9”, 194 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 268, Yds 1612, Ave 6.0, TD 14, Rec 54, Yds 330, Ave 6.1, TD 4.

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.

192. Ed Ingram | LSU | G
6’-3”, 315 lbs

Ryland B.: Ingram is a fairly athletic guard with decent size. He plays with good and quick footwork and solid leverage. His hand-usage is refined and powerful. He’s aware and effective in pass protection and can anchor. He’s above-average in the run game both when clearing lanes straight ahead and pulling in space. He has a good mentality and will block his defender until the whistle. With a good resume at the SEC level, Ingram’s requisite athleticism and high floor seem to make him a safe pick and future starter. But some off-the-field issues at LSU, which have since been dismissed, could be a potential red flag that drops his stock.

193. Matt Allen | Michigan State | C
6’-3”, 315 Lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Allen is not the most athletic guard, but he plays with great effort and an always-running motor. He is far from graceful moving laterally, and he is a bit choppy in his stance, but he maintains a low pad level, and he is strong against the bull rush. Despite his athletic limitations, he was asked to pull frequently at Michigan State. Surprisingly, he had success doing so, displaying his understanding of leverage and pressure points. When it comes to the pessimistic side of things, Allen lunges too often when he gets to the second level of the defense rather than trying to engage with a linebacker and move him off the ball. This issue allows the defender to simply sidestep or go around Allen and bring down the ball carrier. Overall, I actually like Allen as a late round pick, but his upside is limited to a low-end starter or nice depth piece.

194. Cole Kelley | Southeast Louisiana | QB
6’-7” 260 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 406, A 552, Pct 73.6, Yds 5124, TD 44, Int 10, RA 161, Yds 491, TD 16.

SNW: This guy’s numbers jump off the page for a QB this year. They fit all of the criteria you might want with one exception. Yards, check, completion percentage, check, TD to INTs, double check, competition level… well, nope. I also suspect at his size he’s not a running type of QB the Steelers have said they are interested in, His 3 yds/carry support that. UDFA pick up to fill out the practice squad looks to be his best hope.

195. Jake Ferguson | Wisconsin | TE
6‘-5“, 244 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Rec 46, Yds 450, TD 3.

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.

196. DaRon Bland | Fresno State | CB
6‘-1“, 202 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 45, TFL 1, S 0, Int 2, PD 5, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Bland is a very physical corner with good athleticism. What really stood out to me was his effort in the run game and ferocity when taking on blocks and in pursuit. There’s still some technical aspects that need to be worked on in that area but there’s a lot to like about Bland in run support. In coverage, Bland shows good speed and solid awareness in zone. However, he can be a little too grabby. He didn’t exactly have the highest level of competition in college, either.

197. Cam’Ron Harris | Miami | RB
5’-10”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 7, Att 71, Yds 409, Ave 5.8, TD 5, Rec 11, Yds 119, Ave 10.8, TD 1.

Ryland B.: Cam’Ron Harris is a compact running back with solid athleticism. He’s displayed good burst and speed at the college level, although it’s nothing to write home about. More worrisome is his tendency to push runs outside or move backwards or horizontally on failed rushes. He has the acceleration at times to succeed in this, but it will be much harder at the NFL level. He can make defenders miss in the open field and usually is powerful enough to gain some yards after contact, although he usually tries to go around, or over, would-be tacklers to varying levels of success. He’s willing in pass protection although sometimes overpowered, also possessing good hands in the passing game although he’s not much of a route-runner. Coming off of a season-ending injury which may hinder his draft stock, Harris likely won’t be the highest or safest pick, but he has some potential to be a solid back at the pro level.

198. Chris Paul | Tulsa | OT/G
6’-4”, 331 Lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Not to be confused with the basketball player, Chris Paul is an intriguing and versatile lineman who has surprising potential. The first game I turned on of Paul’s (not the basketball player) was against Ohio State in 2021, when Paul was playing right tackle. I expected it to be much worse, as Paul actually did a nice job of containing Ohio State EDGE rusher Tyreke Smith, especially in pass protection. Overall, Paul’s footwork is not the greatest, nor is his technique refined, but he has a nice combination of mobility and power. If he is going to remain at tackle, he will need to drop a couple pounds in effort to improve his change-of-direction quickness. I think he likely holds on to his current weight and slides back to guard in the NFL, but having experience at both guard spots as well as right tackle is going to be considered a plus by NFL scouts.

199. Abram Smith | Baylor | RB
5’-11”, 221 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, Att 257, Yds 1601, Ave 6.2, TD 12, Rec 13, Yds 75, Ave 5.8, TD 0

Jeremy Betz: Smith broke out in 2021 putting together a 2nd-Team All Big 12 performance showcasing his impressive blend of power and speed for the Bears. When you watch the tape, Smith’s contact balance and vision stand out, and as a 1-year starter, he has very little tread on the tires and plenty of room for growth. Dallas’s Tony Pollard is a similar style runner, and Smith could find himself in a similar role early in his NFL career if given the opportunity. An area Smith will need to show improvement in is as a pass-catcher. If he can show development in that area, his stock will continue to rise. Projecting his draft range is difficult in a good RB class, but when clubs turn on the tape, they’ll find an explosive runner with great vision and the ability to turn any touch into a big play.

200. Connor Heyward | Michigan State | FB
6’-0”, 230 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 1, Yds 7, Ave 7.0, TD 0, Rec 35, Yds 326, Ave 9.3, TD 2.

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.

201. Jalen Nailor | Michigan State | WR
6‘-0“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 9, Rec 37, Yds 695, TD 6.

Ryland B.: In a receiver class as fast as this one, Nailor’s 4.5 40 time may not seem as speedy as it is. But in a deep class of field-stretching receivers, Nailor shouldn’t be left out of the picture. He’s an accomplished deep threat in his own right, with speed to torch most college corners but also great stop-start ability. Unsurprisingly, he’s a great route-runner, but he is guilty of occasionally rounding off his cuts. Nailor displays good physicality, although he isn’t exactly the biggest on the field and has struggled with injuries in the past. Nailor has good hands overall and has flashes of great contested catch ability, although I’d like to see him be more consistent when it comes to tracking the ball. He definitely has some upside in this loaded receiver class.

202. Emeka Emezie | North Carolina State | WR
6‘-3“, 220 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 60, Yds 802, TD 6.

Andrew Wilbar: Emezie is a strong-handed receiver who provides the most value as a 50/50 ball specialist. He lacks that second gear of speed to separate, but when you are as good as he is with no room to work with, it is not as big an issue. Another concern, though, is his inability to run sharp routes. His route-tree is incredibly limited, and he struggles to cut back quickly toward the ball on in-breaking routes. Still, as a one-trick pony in the later rounds, Emezie could carve out a nice role for himself as a red-zone threat.

203. Mykael Wright | Oregon | CB
5’-11”, 182 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, T 65, TFL 4, S 4, Int 1, PD 4, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Wright is an athletic yet undersized cornerback. He’s very feisty and physical in coverage with the ability to make a play on the ball. He has very good speed and quickness and found some success as a returner for Oregon. Wright’s biggest issue is his lack of size, and he will have a harder time with stronger and taller receivers at the NFL level. However, his competitiveness is not an issue. Wright could be a very good option as a special teamer and potential slot corner.

204. Akayleb Evans | Missouri | CB
6‘-2“, 188 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 28, TFL 1, S 0, Int 1, PD 6, FF 2.

Jeremy Betz: You want size? Check. You want athleticism and fluidity? Check. You want experience? That’s all you’re missing with Evans, one of the best athletes in this class. Elite length helps him stick to receivers in man coverage and he has great range when working in zone. An incomplete player, but one with a lot of upside as an early Day 3 pick, Akayleb Evans has the kind of potential that gets scouting departments and coaches excited.

205. Mario Goodrich | Clemson | CB
6‘-0“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 42, TFL 0, S 0, Int 2, PD 15, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Goodrich is not a guy I see ever becoming a number one corner, but in a system that uses primarily zone concepts, he could develop into a solid number two corner. He possesses the instincts necessary to break on the ball quickly and get into passing lanes, and he is not afraid to get physical with receivers down the field. However, he weighed in at a slight 176 pounds at the combine, which brings up concerns about how durable he will be as a boundary corner. The other issue that limits his ceiling is his lack of elite ball skills. He will never be a corner who racks up interceptions, and the team that drafts him will need to go in with that expectation. Nonetheless, he provides enough upside to warrant a day-three selection.

206. Owen Carney, Jr. | Illinois | DL/ EDGE
6’-3”, 265 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 44, TFL 7.5, S 6, INT 0., PD 0, FR 1, FF 0.

Ryland B.: Carney is an oversized OLB who may fit best in more of a DE role at the next level. He has a bit of a lumbering first step but converts speed to power well with a solid bull rush. He’s a disciplined defender when it comes to his rushing lanes but I’d like to see him have a few more pass-rushing moves.

207. Dane Belton | Iowa | S
6‘-1”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 46,TFL 3, Sacks 0, Int 5, PD 7.

Ryland B.: Belton is a physical box safety with good size. He’s not the greatest athlete but at the very least should be a solid special teamer in the NFL.

208. Markquese Bell | Florida A & M | S
6’-3”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 95,TFL 6.5, Sacks 2, Int 1, PD 1, FF 5.

Ryland B.: Bell is a physical, athletic box safety who isn’t afraid of the big hit. He’s still developing in terms of coverage but has the tools to do so. An off-field issue led to him leaving Maryland to Florida A&M, which could be a red flag.

209. Bryan Cook | Cincinnati | S
6’-1”, 208 lbs

2021 Stats: GP 14, T 57,TFL 5, Sacks 1, Int 2, PD 9.
Skyfire322: Bryan Cook played an integral role in Cincinnati’s stout defense in 2021. While he can play in centerfield, Cook was and should be primarily used as a SS. When you look at his tape, the first thing you’ll see is his incredible strength. He is not afraid to hit, and his ability to read and react at the LOS, particularly in rush support, is very eye-catching. However, Cook does play with very tight hips, and while his reaction time is fast, he can get turned around on fake routes. Long-term speed is also a concern, as Cook will easily get burned by speedy receivers. With his football IQ and discipline, most of these issues can easily be addressed. With his talent, I fully expect to see him selected in the 4th round.

210. Elis Brooks | Penn State | ILB
6‘-1”, 235 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 100, TFL 3.5, S 1, Int 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.

Skyfire322: Ellis Brooks, a one-year starter, was primarily used as a MIKE linebacker at Penn State. However, he does have some attributes that you want to see in an ILB. Brooks plays with very high energy, has good awareness, and is good between the tackles in run and pass coverages. While he’s shifty and has fast footwork, he can get burned with one move and is very inconsistent moving from sideline to sideline. However, the biggest issue that he faces is the inability to wrap up, which in today’s NFL is something that you cannot overlook. The energy and athleticism are there, but he will need to play in the right scheme to play to his full potential.

211. Marcel Dabo | Germany | CB
6’-0”, 208 lbs
2021 stats: GP ?, T 28, TFL ?, S ?, Int 1, PD ?.

Andrew Wilbar: Dabo is a draft prospect from Germany who displays eye-popping athleticism. When given a chance to display his abilities at his pro day, Dabo ran a 4.48 in the 40, jumped 40 inches in the vertical, and leaped 128 inches in the broad jump. At 6’0”, 190 pounds, Dabo has the size to be a boundary corner. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, and he has incredibly smooth hips. I believe that those two traits give him tremendous upside at the next level in the department of splash plays. There will definitely be a learning curve, but as a late-round draft pick, Dabo will give you more upside than just about any other available option you will have.

212. Isaih Pacheco | Rutgers | RB
5’-11”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP: 12 , Att: 167 , Yds: 647 , Ave: 3.9 , TD: 5 , Rec: 13 , Yds: 25 , Ave: 1.9 , TD, 0.

KT Smith (CHISAP): I first became aware of Isaiah Pacheco when, as a freshman, he quarterbacked his high school team, Vineland (NJ) High, to a victory over the team I coach at Ocean City. We led, 13-12, with about 6:00 remaining when Vineland got the football. They drove 74 yards in 10 plays, 9 of which were runs by Pacheco, and scored with :24 remaining to beat us. He was just 14 years old at the time but already the best player on the field. He ran angry. We couldn’t stop him.

Pacheco is now 21. He still runs angry. His style epitomizes the profile of a one-cut, downhill runner. He’s not huge at 5’11-215 but he plays bigger than his size indicates. He amassed 2,442 yards and 18 touchdowns while getting more than 100 carries in four consecutive seasons at Rutgers. His college numbers suffer some from the fact he played for a rebuilding program, but he did show he can be effective against high-level competition. Pacheco had 20 carries for 107 yards against national semi-finalist Michigan and their elite defense this past season. As a sophomore, he garnered 102 yards against 10th ranked Penn State.

Pacheco’s intangibles are excellent. He was a team captain at Rutgers and has notable leadership qualities. His passion for football is in part born of tragedy, as he lost both his brother and his sister a year apart when he was in high school. He has remarked that he plays to honor them, and that their memory serves as his inspiration. Pacheco does not project as an every-down back but could make a team as a change-of-pace runner who is a good receiver out of the backfield. He is best-suited for a zone-heavy scheme (like Pittsburgh’s), and would be an interesting consideration as a late-round pick who could provide depth to a team’s running back room.

213. Jaquarii Roberson | Wake Forest | WR
6‘-1“, 182 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 71, Yds 1078, TD 8.

Ryland B.: Roberson is a tall and lanky receiver with good speed and quickness. He’s an agile and aggressive route-runner who makes good cuts and has a solid release. He lacks top-tier long speed but is fast enough to be a threat down the field. Roberson seems to have good hands but fails in terms of being a physical catcher in contested scenarios or against tighter coverage. There’s potential here to be a poor-man’s Diontae Johnson of sorts, although Roberson lacks the requisite physicality to be more well-rounded.

214. Marquis Hayes | Oklahoma | G
6’-5”, 324 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: The first thing that sticks out about Hayes is his long arms. When those 35 ½” arms are fully extended, defensive linemen with a weaker base can be knocked off balance or at least pushed back to a point where they have no leverage. While not the most athletic guard in the class, Hayes has solid recovery quickness as well as respectable lateral mobility. The biggest concern lies in his first-step quickness. He isn’t extremely quick off the snap, and he gets beat off the line of scrimmage too often, which has led to badly losing a handful of reps. His success really hinges on how quick he gets out of his stance from snap to snap; when he can get his hands on the defender before the defender can get hands on him, he simply stones people in pass protection. He is also a bit stiff in his stance, causing him to lack ideal change-of-direction quickness. Despite his lack of elite athleticism, his best fit may come in a zone-blocking scheme where his length and lateral mobility can be put on full display.

215. Dareke Young | Lenoir-Rhyne | WR
6‘-3“, 220 lbs
2021 stats: GP 5, Rec 25, Yds 303, TD 4.

Andrew Wilbar: Young is one of many small-school receivers in this class that possess intriguing size and athleticism. Young was productive in the five games he played in, but the sample size is relatively small, especially for a small-school prospect who is already struggling to prove his legitimacy. One thing I do like about Young is his willingness to do the dirty work, as he is unafraid to come across the formation as a decoy and simply block. He was used often on jet sweeps in college and had success in that role, leading me to believe that his best fit would come in an offense that uses a lot of pre-snap motion. If he can learn to create better separation late in his routes, he could develop into a

216. Sterling Weatherford |Miami of Ohio | Safety
6‘-4“, 221 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 66,TFL 2, Sacks 1, Int 2, PD 4.

Noah: It’s hard to tell exactly how Weatherford is going to fit in at the next level. He’s good in run support, flying to the ball and he wraps up well. He also uses his range and quickness when he’s in a deep zone to take away downfield throws. He is a tough player, willing to go through blocks and playing through the whistle. However, there are plenty of areas he needs to improve on. Weatherford has got to do a better job at reading the quarterback. Four interceptions in four years is alright but I think because of his range, he could have put up some fantastic numbers if he read the quarterback better. While he is very good as a run defender, his play recognition is subpar and sometimes makes him late to the play. This is a relatively deep safety class in my opinion and I think Weatherford would be viewed higher in previous years.

217. T.J. Carter | TCU | CB
5‘-11“, 193 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 63, TFL 0, S 0, Int 1, PD 1.

Andrew Wilbar: Carter is a Memphis transfer who may have been selected higher if he had entered the draft last year. He struggled to make a huge impact with TCU, and he followed it up with disappointing numbers at the combine. For someone who had so much success as a freshman and sophomore, it was disappointing to see the drop-off in production, although part of the problem could be due to a season-ending injury he sustained back in 2019. At TCU, Carter saw most of his playing time at safety, but I think his best chance to have success will come by moving back to cornerback. However, he may be best suited at nickel rather than the outside, as ability to defend the run at a high level combined with his physicality in coverage makes him a more logical fit inside. Inconsistency and poor athletic testing will cause him to fall to the later rounds of the draft, but if used properly, he has the potential to become a nice depth corner.

218. Tyler Goodson | Iowa | RB
5’-10”, 199 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Att 256, Yds 1151, Ave 4.5, TD 6, Rec 31, Yds 247, Ave 8.0, TD 1.

Ryland B.: What Goodson lacks in size he makes up for in straight line speed. The versatile back plays with excellent speed and acceleration to go along with a decent arsenal of moves to make defenders miss. When he can get some momentum Goodson has surprising power for a 199-lb back, although he’s far from a short-yardage specialist. However, his build, athleticism, and hands have made him a viable weapon in the receiving game out of both the backfield and slot. Goodson has clearly benefited from top-tier offensive line play while at Iowa, which may lead some to question just how impressive his vision and production really are, but I think he’s more than proven that he can make an impact at the next level. If Goodson’s 40-time is as impressive as it looks on the field, he might be drafted surprisingly early.

219. Ryan Van Denmark | Connecticut | OT
6’-7”, 304 lbs

Ryland B.: Denmark is a decently athletic tackle who lacks ideal play strength. He’s good out of his stance but lacks great range and movement skills. His small school competition is a concern as well.

220. Tre Avery | Rutgers | CB
5‘-11“, 190 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 37, TFL 1.5, S 0, Int 1, PD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Tre Avery is an intriguing slot option late in the draft. Measuring in at nearly 5 ‘10 1/2”, 181 pounds, Avery recorded a 4.45 in the 40, 16 bench reps, a 38” vertical, a 4.01 in the short shuttle, and a 6.76 in the 3-cone drill at his pro day. His arm length is under that 30-inch threshold, but he’s going to be playing almost exclusively in the slot, so I do not see that as a deal-breaker. His best game may have been in Rutgers’ loss to Michigan, as he recorded two passes defended while displaying ability in both man and zone concepts. He does lack awareness at times, and it is visible on the field specifically on in-breaking routes by the opposing receiver. He anticipates the deep ball too often and often fails to adjust quick enough to make up for his misread. Nonetheless, I would consider a talent like Avery more than worth a selection late on day three.

221. Devin Harper | Oklahoma St. | ILB
6’-0”, 235 lbs
2021 stats: GP 14, T 95, TFL 11, S 6, INT 0., PD 1, FR 2, FF 1.

Skyfire322: Devin Harper is an athletic specimen who possesses excellent speed and strength. He was primarily used as a special teamer until his senior year, where he was a week 1 starter and named as a team captain by his teammates. Harper has a great motor, is always playing until the whistle, and can get into the backfield. Due to his speed, he was also used in coverage. While athletic, he has inconsistent footwork and can get burned by speedy and shifty wideouts and TEs. His tackling ability also needs some work, as he relies too much on athleticism rather than technique.

222. Tyreke Smith | Ohio State | EDGE
6‘-3”, 260 lbs
2021 stats: GP 10, T 26, TFL 5, S 3, INT 0, PD 2, FR 0, FF 1.

Jeremy Betz: Smith is an athletic prospect with good length and an incredible motor. Despite lacking refined talent as a rusher, he consistently provided pressure for the Buckeyes as a relentless 4-3 edge defender. He is a very fluid mover with great short area quickness and enough speed to set the edge even when ball-carriers attempt to bounce outside. Although he doesn’t have the upside of some of his peers in this class, Smith can provide a solid rotational rush early on while he develops his repertoire of pass-rush moves and improves as a run defender. He shouldn’t be asked to drop into coverage very often, and projects most comfortably as a traditional 4-3 DE.

223. Dawson Deaton | Texas Tech | C
6’-6”, 310 lbs

Noah: Deaton has a thick upper half and uses it to his advantage. His raw strength allows him to be a brick wall in pass sets and bully guys in the run game. He isn’t the most mobile guy in the world but he moves to the second level well. Deaton doesn’t get beat on power alone but more creative defensive tackles will be able to get past him. I would say there’s definitely more pros than cons in his game but he has potential if he’s in a good situation.

224. D’Eriq King | Miami | QB
5’-11”, 195 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 3, C 81, A 122, Pct 66.4, Yds 767, TD 3, Int 4, RA 40, Yds 96, TD 0.
2020 Stats: GP 11, C 211, A 329, Pct 64.1, Yds 2686, TD 23, Int 5, RA 130, Yds 538, TD 0.

Andrew Wilbar: King is an incredibly polarizing prospect with an incredible ceiling. When you see him at his best, he is Kyler Murray 2.0. Unfortunately, his floor is as low as it can get. King’s 2021 season ended early due to a shoulder injury, and the medicals will likely determine whether or not he gets drafted. The offensive lines at both Houston and Miami did not give him the greatest protection, but while that should be put into account when evaluating him, he still made a lot of poor decisions with the football without excuse. His interception numbers are not overly high, but he threw too many high-risk throws. Decision-making is something the team he goes to will need to focus on while attempting to develop him. His stature does not work in his favor either, but if he falls to the sixth or seventh round, I would consider it more than worth the risk to draft him. He has too much talent and athleticism to simply ignore.

225. Cordell Volson | North Dakota State | OT
6’-6”, 319 lbs

SNW: Opinions are all over the place for Volson., I’ve read he’s anywhere from 1st day to day 3 prospect. He played nearly all of his time on the right side, mostly RT but making AP first team All-American his Jr and Sr year, plus 2nd team his sophomore year. The biggest drawback I see as a Steelers prospect is that he’s a sixth-year senior and from a small school, which could move him down the board.

226. D’Anthony Bell | West Florida | Safety
6‘-2”, 205 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 61,TFL 1, Sacks 0, Int 2, PD 5, FF 2.

Andrew Wilbar: Bell is an intriguing athlete who has never really been tested against real competition at the collegiate level. This was proven at his pro day when he recorded an impressive 4.51 in the 40, 6.93 in the 3-cone drill, a 36” vertical, and a 129” broad jump. Despite the lack of competition, nobody can take away his collegiate experience. He has spent time at four different colleges in the span of six seasons, and his success has been recognized nationally, making Second Team All-Jayhawk Conference in 2019 and receiving the AFCA First Team All-American honors in 2021. He is the typical player one would draft in the sixth or seventh round and gamble on athletic traits, as we do not know how his game will translate to the pros.

227. Reggie Roberson, Jr. | SMU | WR
6‘-0“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, Rec 51, Yds 625, TD 6.

Ryland B.: Roberson is another speedy SMU receiver in this year’s draft. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career, which has hurt both his draft stock and production. Still, he’s a dangerous deep threat and return man with good quickness although he’s not quite as agile as his teammate Danny Gray. Robertson isn’t the contested, physical catch type, but he has excellent hands and ball-tracking. It remains unclear if Robertson is completely healthy at this point in career, which makes drafting him both a major risk but also a move with the potential to pay off dividends if Robertson’s tape can look anything like it did during some SMU games.

228. JoJo Domann | Nebraska | ILB
6‘-1”, 230 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 10, T 71, TFL 9, S 2, Int 2, PD 3, FR 0, FF 2.

Jeremy Betz: Domann is a converted S with real coverage ability and instincts. At Nebraska, he played all over the defense, and you can see his intellectual advantage from that in the way he plays. Not the fastest player (4.6 in the 40) or most athletic prospect, but he makes up for it with quick reaction time and terrific anticipation. Domann is best utilized as a TE eraser and coverage LB on possession downs. He doesn’t provide much as a run defender, although he is a willing tackler when given the opportunity. For Pittsburgh, he could fill a similar role as current Steeler and also a converted S, Marcus Allen.

229. Terrel Bernard | Baylor | LB
6‘-1”, 222 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, T 103, TFL 12.5, S 7.5, Int 0, PD 4, FR 0, FF 0.

Ryland B.: Bernard may be undersized, but he’s an athletic, instinctual player with solid functional strength. He’s a reliable tackler who sifts through traffic well with good closing speed. He’s smart and quick in coverage as well. Bernard converts speed to power fairly well, but at 222 pounds he’s not a thumper and really struggles when disengaging from blocks. However, there’s plenty to like about his game, and at the very least I see Bernard as a quality special teamer in the NFL with the upside to be a solid rotational linebacker.

230. Tyshaun James | Central Connecticut | WR
6‘-3“, 210 lbs
2021 stats: GP 13, Rec 56, Yds 978, TD 9.

Andrew Wilbar: If you want someone with physicality at the point of attack, above-average athleticism, and impressive production, James may be your guy. Playing at Central Connecticut will not do a prospect any favors when it comes to draft stock ahead of the draft, but James checks a lot of boxes. Measuring in at 6 ‘2”, 214 pounds at his pro day, James recorded a 4.49 40, 22 bench reps, 37 ½” vertical, 131” broad jump, and 7.07 3-cone drill. James is an impressive receiver when it comes to making contested catches. He uses his body to box defenders out, and he does a great job of high-pointing the ball. James lacks the versatility of many of these other late-round receivers we are discussing, but if given the chance, he could provide solid depth as a boundary receiver for an NFL team.

231. Josh Babicz | North Dakota State | TE
6‘-6“, 255 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 15, Rec 12, Yds 254, TD 4.

Andrew Wilbar: Babicz is a transfer from Jacksonville State who grew up not too far from where I currently attend college. As a prospect, Babicz does a nice job finding the soft spots against zone defenses, and his impressive size makes it extremely difficult for a defensive back to cover him one-on-one. He was not used heavily in North Dakota State’s passing game in 2021, but he has displayed some receiving ability since his transfer. Perhaps he is one of those players who never get many opportunities at the collegiate level but shine in the pros. North Dakota State has certainly had past success when it comes to developing NFL-caliber tight ends. However, all we can go by are the flashes of ability he has displayed both as a receiver and as a blocker, but being such a small sample size, it is hard to get a real feel for what his NFL outlook is.

232. Kennedy Brooks | Oklahoma | RB
5’-11”, 215 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 197, Yds 1249, Ave 6.3, TD 13, Rec 10, Yds 77, Ave 7.7, TD 0.

Andrew Wilbar: Brooks came out of high school with a patient, Le’Veon Bell-type running style, but during his time at Oklahoma, he became more of a downhill, north-and-south runner. While I was high on him early in his career, I have been somewhat underwhelmed when watching his tape. He doesn’t fight through contact as well as I had expected, and he has not provided any production as a receiver out of the backfield. On the bright side, he tends to play well when his team needs him the most. Three of his best four games of the season came against Texas, Oklahoma State, and Oregon, as he rushed for a combined 498 yards in those three games alone. Brooks has a good feel for finding the hole, and he has the speed to make things happen when he breaks loose, but Oklahoma was teaching him to run with more power and less patience, and I think that actually hurt him as a player. I don’t think he is a true power back. That, in my personal opinion, is why he needs to get back to that patient running style that made him so highly touted coming out of high school. If he can develop into that Le’Veon-style runner, he could make it in the right system.

233. Faion Hicks | Wisconsin | CB
5‘-10“, 192 lbs
2021 stats: GP 11, T 28, TFL 0, S 0, Int 0, PD 8.

Andrew Wilbar: Hicks does not bring much to the table when it comes to creating turnovers, but he is a schematically versatile corner who likely projects best as a slot corner at the next level. In man coverage, Hicks displays good aggression while maintaining enough discipline to avoid constant penalties. Another way teams may try using Hicks is as a kick returner. If he can provide value on special teams early on, I expect an NFL team to take a chance on him and let him hang around for a couple years. Age is working against him, however, as he is already 24 years old. Although Hicks will never be an elite corner, he has a chance to make contributions in year one as a nickel corner and special teamer. I expect him to be taken somewhere in the middle of day three.

234. Bryant Koback | Toledo | RB
6’-0”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, Att 208, Yds 1407, Ave 6.8, TD 15, Rec 30, Yds 338, Ave 11.3, TD 3.

Andrew Wilbar: Koback’s impressive 120 yard performance in Toledo’s near-upset of Notre Dame put him on the NFL Draft radar for many fans who were previously unaware of him. Koback isn’t the most powerful back, and he will definitely need to add weight moving forward, but he displays decent speed in the open field. As a receiver, he displays good awareness and an understanding of his assignment. Rarely does he make a mental mistake, run the wrong route out of the backfield, or line up in the wrong spot. He stays focused on the task at hand, and that is something that NFL coaches will love about him. The issue with Koback is that much of his production came when he was running through wide open holes and not having to create yardage on his own. Nonetheless, if he tests well at either the combine or his pro day, he will put himself in a prime position to be taken at some point on day three.

235. Brandon Peters | Illinois | QB
6’-5”, 220 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 9, C 91, A 170, Pct 53.5, Yds 1170, TD 7, Int 4, RA 38, Yds 0, TD 0.

Andrew Wilbar: Peters transferred from Michigan after being in a crowded quarterback room, and he showed flashes of potential during his time at Illinois. The former four-star recruit possesses solid arm strength and good mobility, and he displays good toughness, displaying the size as well as the willingness to withstand a beating inside the pocket. I have also been impressed with the velocity on Peters’ throws to all levels of the field. He will need to improve his touch on shorter passes and quicken his delivery, but overall, I believe that Peters is one of the few late-round sleepers at the quarterback position. He has the upside of an average starting quarterback but will likely be a solid backup in the NFL when it is all said and done.

236. Bamidele Olaseni | Utah | OT
6‘-8“, 330 lbs

Ryland B.: Olaseni is a massive tackle who will likely move to guard at the next level. He’s at his best in the run game where he can use his size and strength to his advantage, but he really struggles in space. He’s a slow-mover with little agility who was constantly beat around the edge in pass protection and had a few too many misses in the run game. His technique can be sloppy at times as well. Even if he moves to guard, I don’t see Olaseni as having a ton of upside at the NFL level.

237. Micah McFadden | Indiana | ILB
6‘-2”, 232 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 77, TFL 15.5, S 6.5, Int 0, PD 3, FR 1, FF 1.

Andrew Wilbar: While McFadden provides sufficient athleticism as a coverage linebacker, he is going to make his dough as a run defender. McFadden displays decent blitzing ability as well, but the two things that stand out about his game are his instincts as a gap-shooter and his consistency as a tackler. If you want a comparison, think of a slightly more athletic Robert Spillane. He is not the biggest or the fastest, but he holds his own as a run defender and makes the occasional pass breakup in coverage. McFadden has more length and speed than Spillane did, but their play styles are quite similar. McFadden may not have the upside to make it as a starter in the NFL, but he will make a huge impact in the snaps he sees, thanks to his communication skills and special teams value.

238. Zakoby McClain | Auburn | ILB
6‘-0”, 219 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, T 95, TFL 8, S 2, Int 0, PD 6, FR 0, FF 0.

Andrew Wilbar: What I love about McClain is that he plays bigger than his size. He is only listed at about 220 pounds, but he can deliver a hit as good as anyone. Not only does he display good closing speed as a pass rusher, but he also does a great job dropping into zone coverage and making accurate reads. He is also battle-tested, as he was forced to deal with the death of his brother who was shot in the head and killed before Zakoby got to college. He has been through a lot as a person, but he seems to have overcome those difficulties and used them as motivation to be a better player. He gets pushed around by a good amount of lineman due to his lack of overall size and strength, and he will certainly have to add some weight at the next level, but there is still a lot to like about McClain’s game. He could provide a team with decent value at some point on day three.

239. Jayden Peevy | Texas A & M | DT
6’-6”, 295 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11, T 43, TFL 7, S 2, Int 1, PD 3, FR 0, FF 1.

Ryland B.: Peevy is a well-sized defensive lineman but he lacks the ideal power for the position. Although I think part of this might be due to scheme, Peevy didn’t make a lot of impact as a pass-rusher either. Still, he’s fairly athletic and a high-effort defender.

240. Kaleb Eleby | Western Michigan | QB
6’-1”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 230, A 363, Pct 63.4, Yds 3277, TD 23, Int 6, RA 87, Yds 64, TD 6.

Jeremy Betz: Talk about an interesting study. Eleby is an electric, but raw talent whose success is largely based on his athleticism. The Broncos offense ran a heavy RPO system that forced LBs and Safeties to follow the ball and allowed for a lot of open 1st read receivers. Quick decision-making, a live arm, and smooth mobility are some of his best traits. When you watch the tape, the ball comes out of his hand with zip and accuracy across short and midrange passes. He tends to float the deep ball and is often left scrambling if his first read isn’t there. The concerns with Eleby include inconsistent footwork and throwing motion as well, making him a developmental prospect with athletic upside. Watching his film will leave you thinking, “mini Cam Newton,” but he will require patient development at the next level. He is probably a mid Day 3 pick.

241. Tyler Vrabel | Boston College | OT
6‘-5“, 307 lbs

Ryland B.: Tyler Vrabel, the son of Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, is a technically sound and versatile lineman as expected. He doesn’t have elite size, strength, or athleticism, but he has a powerful upper half and a good initial punch. He has good footwork and hand usage as well. He does have a bit of tendency to put his head down and lunge which will need to be fixed. Vrabel’s lack of a high ceiling will limit his potential, but he has the makings of a well-rounded swing tackle who has what it takes to be a solid starter at some point in his career.

242. Vederian Lowe | Illinois | OT
6‘-6“, 320 lbs

Skyfire322: Lowe, a five-year starter, has the physical traits teams like to see; build length, athleticism, and the ability to recover. Lowe also shows above-average strength, especially in run blocking situations. While those are all great to see, he is inconsistent and can be a bit slow, which can hurt in pass protection. For every one good snap, there seem to be two bad snaps. He tends to push instead of engage and gives up on the second level. Lowe’s technical issues are coachable but will need quite some time to develop.

243. Christopher Allen | Alabama | EDGE
6‘-4”, 252 lbs
2020 stats: GP 11, T 37, TFL 13, S 6, INT 0, PD 0, FR 1, FF 2.

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.

244. Smoke Monday | Auburn | Safety
6‘-3”, 199 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 13, T 63,TFL 9, Sacks 2, Int 1, PD 5.

Ryland B.: Besides being in contention for the best name in football, Smoke Monday is an athletic, physical safety with some NFL upside. He’s a big-hitter, a sound tackler, and a solid contributor on special teams. In coverage, he has decent athleticism and can take on assignments with running backs and tight ends. Despite his physicality, I did feel like there were a few plays on his tape that were lacking effort. Monday looks to fit best as a box safety in the next level, although his size may be a bit of an issue when playing close to the line of scrimmage in the NFL.

245. Chasen Hines | LSU | G
6’-3”, 349 Lbs

Ryland B.: Hines is an extremely stocky guard with powerful hand-usage. He can lunge a bit, with balance and footwork being a bit of an issue, but his size at 349 pounds allows him to anchor well and create plenty of leverage in the run game. He has a solid football IQ and can pick up blitzes and stunts well in pass protection. His athleticism is fairly impressive for his size and he has good strength. Hines possesses starting potential although it will be interesting to see how his weaknesses translate to the NFL level.

246. Tony Adams | Illinois | CB
6‘-0“, 200 lbs
2021 stats: GP 12, T 63, TFL 3.5, S 1, Int 1, PD 5.

Andrew Wilbar: Last year, Illinois produced a solid late-round prospect in Nate Hobbs, who started in nine games for the Las Vegas Raiders last season. Perhaps a trend is beginning, because the Illini have yet another intriguing day-three prospect at corner: Tony Adams. At 5 ‘11 ½”, 203, Adams impressed scouts with a 4.47 40, 4.06 short shuttle, 6.98 3-cone drill, 41 ½” vertical, and 130” broad jump at his pro day. Adams needs to do a better job of forcing receivers to the outside when in press man, but overall, his game is pretty clean. The downside is that most of his production came against weaker opponents, leading one to believe that he may not be a true difference maker when it matters most. Nonetheless, if you like to bet on upside in the later rounds like I do, Adams is someone to keep an eye on.

247. Alec Lindstrom | Boston College | C
6’3”, 294 lbs

Ryland B.: Lindstrom is a smart, technically sound center with a limited ceiling. He only weighs 294 pounds and doesn’t play with a ton of strength. He doesn’t play with great burst either, leading him often being beat off the line of scrimmage and driven back. Still, the scouting report isn’t all bad. Lindstrom has had a long and decorated career at Boston College, where he has played with smarts, quick feet, and good hand placement. When he gets a bit of momentum he can be impactful in the run game, and despite struggling against bull-rushes, he is able to hold his own in most pass-protecting scenarios. He plays to the whistle as well. At this point, it’s difficult to project Lindstrom as much more than a decent backup, but he has a solid floor.

248. Ifeanyi Maijeh | Rutgers | DL
6’-2”,280 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 11,T 19,TFL 3, Sacks 1.5, PD 2, FR 2, FF 1.

Noah: Maijeh is someone that doesn’t exactly scare you with his stature but he is very strong and frequently moves lineman backwards. He’s got quick hands and good upper body strength allowing him to disrupt plays. His career has been riddled with injuries which, along with being undersized, could steer some teams away from him on draft night. He’s a prospect that hasn’t gotten a lot of buzz and it would be surprising to see him go before Day 3. He has some potential to be a big contributor, but I wouldn’t bet on him being anything more than just a depth piece.

249. Luke Fortner | Kentucky | C
6’-6”, 300 lbs

Ryland B.: Fortner has shown some impressive athleticism to go along with solid strength while at Kentucky. He’s still developing in terms of technique and could probably add a few pounds, but he may have some starting potential.

250. Zonovan Knight | North Carolina State | RB
5’-11”, 210 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 12, Att 140, Yds 753, Ave 5.4, TD 3, Rec 21, Yds 156, Ave 7.4, TD 0.

Ryland B.: Zonovan “Bam” Knight is not just one of the best running backs in this class, but he might be one of the best special teamers as well. The NC State back led the FBS in kickoff return average in the 2021 season, with an impressive 34 yard average. He has a total of three return touchdowns on his resume, of which two went for 100 yards. But Knight is similarly impressive at his listed position. His production was slightly down in 2021, possibly due to a shoulder surgery that took up much of his offseason, but he still put up respectable numbers. He possesses good vision and a solid overall athletic profile with excellent burst. Knight lacks the ideal size for the position, but it’s far from a worry – he runs with more than enough power, quick feet, and shiftiness to run around, and sometimes through, would-be tacklers. This attitude carries into his pass protection, where he’s certainly willing but not always the most effective. It’s unclear yet if Knight has what it takes to be an NFL starter, but I think he has the baseline of skills and special teams versatility to be a safe pick for a team in need of some talented depth at the position.

What needs to happen for the Steelers to go from competitive to contenders?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 12:30pm

| AP

Looking at the Steelers roster before the draft, what needs to happen in Pittsburgh for the team to go from Competitive to true Contender?

Many fans and experts alike agree the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are not ready to truly compete with the powerhouse teams of the AFC.

Out is the franchise quarterback (QB) of 18 years, replaced by a former first round draft pick widely labeled a bust in Mitch Trubisky. Surrounding him is a young, inexperienced offensive line and a talented, but equally young, skill position group.

On the other side of the ball, questions linger about the health of Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu along the defensive line, while the secondary has a lot of new faces, especially at cornerback. Not to mention the struggles at linebacker where Devin Bush will be expected to have a strong bounce back season another year removed from a torn ACL.

With so many questions across the board, I got to thinking about what could change the perspective of this team from “Wanna be” to serious contender in a strong AFC. The following statements are in no particular order, but in my opinion each one needs to happen for this team to come together and make that leap. So without further ado...

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be contenders in 2022 if

...Mitchell Trubisky becomes the Steelers’ version of Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill wasn’t a terrible QB during his Miami tenure. Many of the issues which led to his unassuming 42-46-0 record as a Dolphin had nothing to do with him. Bad coaching and a talent-poor roster didn’t provide the former 1st Round pick a great environment for proper development. Sound familiar?

Enter Trubisky, the Chicago Bears castoff, ready to prove he can be more than an over-drafted career backup. Believers will point to a steady organization and talented, young cast of skill position players as reasons to believe he can become a solid starting talent. Doubters will bring up poor accuracy and decision-making skills as an indicator that maybe he can’t get to that level.

For the Steelers to really take the next step on Offense from the largely ineffective units of the last couple years, “Mitchburgh” will need to show he can be an efficient game manager with the ability to make plays in critical situations. If he can do that, this team takes on a whole new identity.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be contenders in 2022 if

...Chase Claypool becomes a dominant force at wide receiver.

This scenario, when combined with the first, could make the offense a Top 10 unit. Hear me out. Najee Harris will be the engine driving the offensive train for Pittsburgh, opening up the passing game with teams committed to limiting the young stud back. If “Mapletron” truly breaks out in 2022, his athleticism and physical dominance could trigger a massive upgrade across the board for Matt Canada’s attack.

Imagine Claypool dominating defenders in the intermediate portion of the field and creating tons of open space for Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth to feast underneath. It’s definitely a plausible outcome and would change the way we feel about this team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be contenders in 2022 if

...Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu return to full strength.

Lets’ face it, we missed these guys a lot in 2021, with the defense being a virtual sieve for opposing rushing attacks. Mike Tomlin has been vague on Tuitt’s status, but I am under the impression they expect him to be a part of this team in ‘22. His return could ignite the whole front seven, joining Cam Heyward as the best 1-2 punch at defensive tackle in the league.

For Alualu, it has been highly encouraging to see him working out with teammates and prepping for a healthy return to the field. His run-stuffing ability was sorely missed last year. He’s a little older and probably a little out of football shape, but as the offseason progresses, his availability brings viability back to a front seven which prides itself on dominating in the trenches.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be contenders in 2022 if

...the defense returns to a Top 5 unit in points allowed.

This is absolutely key. The lynchpin of the entire 2022 season. For all the talk about Trubisky and Claypool above, the Steelers best method of contention would be to have a truly dominant defense which takes the pressure off of a young offense to carry the load.

2019 was the last time the Steelers defense placed in the Top 5 in points allowed per game. They almost made the playoffs that year, despite only scoring an average of 18.1 points per game on offense. That defense was game-changing. 2022’s version needs to be the same. The 2022 version of the Steelers offense should be a good deal better than that moribund 2019 unit, and combining that with a top scoring Defense would make this team a true contender in an offensive-driven conference.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be contenders in 2022 if

...Najee Harris averages 4.5 yds/carry behind an improved offensive line.

My final piece to the puzzle to take Pittsburgh to the next level is a sizable jump in efficiency from the young superstar running back. This is really a two-part “if” because it was apparent to any knowledgeable fan the bulk of the problem lay with the ineffectiveness of the offensive line (OL). That group just could not create any consistent openings for Harris and was constantly getting pushed around by even average defensive lines.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s system will ultimately be judged on how efficient the running game becomes, and how that affects the other aspects of the offense. I’ve already mentioned how Harris could impact the passing game with defenses keying on him, giving more space for Trubisky and company to attack. If the OL can create a more consistent push, Harris will do the rest. An increase in efficiency in this area will absolutely change the offense, thus changing the trajectory of the whole team.

It’s going to be an uphill climb to contention for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022, but they don’t have to be the same as everybody else to be a true contender. I believe they can win with elite Defense that shuts down the potent attacks of their conference rivals. Pair that with a more efficient offense, and this group could make some noise come fall.

As always, let us know your comments and critiques in the comment section below. I am excited to see what this team can do in 2022. Can they be a legit title contender? It all boils down to a few ifs.

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