Oh, yes, it’s super early to talk about the draft, but the bye-week can only give us so many things to discuss. Trades, the CB situation being a dumpster fire, Vontaze Burfict slander, and Le’Veon Bell, but one of the topics we should be talking about is the draft. By this point, it is pretty noticeable the Steelers badly need a CB, ILB, and EDGE. After those three needs, you can point to more minor needs perhaps at DL, RB, and S. Thus, we can scout some college players right now. I have gone through about a good 220 players at this point and have constructed a top 50 big board, which will be filled with some surprises. The Steelers will need to be looking hard at the defensive side of the ball, and good for them, there is a ton of talent there this year.
1. EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
He is an absolute menace on the line. I guess some people could kick him now that he withdrew from school to maintain himself, but it really is no use. This guy is an absolute freak and is probably better than his brother at this point. His pass rushing skills are near perfect, as he has a chop, rip, great explosion, wins leverage, and even shows bend. His run stopping skills are elite and he sheds blocks with ease. His hands are active and he is a super athlete. I really don’t see a reason why he would not be #1 on you big board.
2. IDL Ed Oliver, Houston
I don’t think people realize how freakish Oliver actually is. He has the range of a linebacker and the agility of one too. He is scary athlete and his explosion of the line is probably the best I have seen in a long time. I love how low he plays and that he bull rushes guys with ease. His pass rushing has only gotten
3. IDL Quinnen WIlliams
Yeah I am honestly sorry for anyone at the top that does not need a defensive linemen. This class is absolutely insane with how many great talents it has at the position and Williams is no different. I mean my goodness this guy has a better pass rushing arsenal than even Nick Bosa. He is below them because his block shedding is not as elite, but he takes on double teams routinely that he just manhandles. He is freak that breaks through them and then will destroy your QB. Great player that may fall a bit due to a saturated IDL class.
4. ILB Mack Wilson, Alabama
I know I am higher on anyone than I have seen on Wilson. I can see why, and he is certainly not a Roquan Smith but he sure is a ILB that reminds me of Shazier and Deion Jones. He is one of those ILBs that changes your defense. An athletic demon that has sideline-to-sideline range and is elite in coverage and at run defense in the second level. Best ILB in the class and it is not close.
5. CB Greedy Williams, LSU
I will get hate for having Williams above guys like Jeffery Simmons, but I can’t shake the physical attributes Williams shows consistently. Elite length and aggressive at the line of scrimmage, he is great. He uses his length fully to be one of the best at the trail technique I have scouted. He is Jalen Ramsey level good at it. His mirroring is elite and he has fluid hips. The only reason he would be lower is due to his tackling, but even that has improved this season. He is a bonafide #1 cornerback.
6. IDL Jeffery Simmons. Mississippi State
Probably the strongest DL of the entire bunch this year. An absolute menace as bull rusher and has some impressive explosion right off the snap. You want a top that guy that just never quits? Simmons is your guy. He never quits working and has a relentless motor that allows him to make some crazy plays in run defense. He has a ton of splash plays from a great pass rushing repertoire and it is only improving. He is a stud.
7. S Deionte Thompson. Alabama
He is an elite safety with some incredible coverage skills. He is the best safety in the class, but not in the country (Grant Delpit) and he has some incredible range. His eyes process the QB so well in zone and he has athletic ability out of this world. He is a stout run defender and is as sure of a tackler as you will. Incredibly aggressive in man, and never gets beaten deep. He reminds me a ton of Derwin James from last year.
8. EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
Hello to the EDGE prospect that is absolutely better than your favorite EDGE not named Nick Bosa. Polite has some of the best speed-to-power combination I have see and is absolutely explosive around the edge. He has an arsenal of pass rushing moves and routinely uses his active hands. Even better, he has incredible bend that might be the best in the class. Stock down on him to the Steelers, though, as he does not have much experience in coverage.
9. EDGE Clelin Ferrell. Clemson
Again with the crazy EDGE talent, but Ferrell is the most polished pass rusher outside of Bosa in this class. He has a rip, spin, and cross chop that he uses effectively all the time. He has incredible quickness of the line and uses that speed to become an effective bull rusher too. He is fantastic at holding the EDGE and the only reason I have him below Polite is because I would like to see his hands get more active.
10. WR DK Metcalf, Ole Miss
Rest in peace to Metcalf’s season, but this is a legit #1 receiver who is out of this world with athleticism. I have no idea how he is so good at releasing off the line but he can just make CBs look straight silly off of the line. His route running is so nuanced at this point that he breaks the ankles of defenders repeatedly and gets deep on them all the time. In contested catch situations, Metcalf goes and gets them. I mean this guy high points it with ease and then brings it in to run was is like at least 4.4, possibly better. Also, he does not drop balls. Only concern is that his route tree is not as expansive as you would like.
11. OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
This is a pretty crazy spot to put Williams because I really want to put him higher due to how freakish of an athlete he is and how easily he reaches the second level. His pass protection is great and he has some of the most fluid hips I have seen in a while. He has fantastic footwork that allows him to just bury people in run blocking. The biggest concern with him is his length, and it why I put him this low, but he is great.
12. IDL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
Davis is not at the level of the others in this class, but that does mean he is not great. He, like the rest of them, plays extremely low and has a variety of pass rushing moves that allow him to get straight through to the QB. He has incredible gap discipline and is a great run defender. The difference is simply does not have that first step. His is lackluster and his reaction has to improve for him to rise up the board more.
13. EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
Okay, he is not the great athlete that Bosa, Polite, and Ferrell, but he has incredible explosiveness and first step that allow him to win off the line alone. His bend is terrific and his hands are always active to capitalize off of it. He has implemented a rip-cross chop combo that works a ton and he plays extremely low. His athleticism is not great, so I worry about him a bit in space, but as an EDGE defender, he is elite.
14. EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
I am tired of hearing about Sweat’s size. I think size is so incredibly overrated as an evaluation tool in today’s NFL, and that is why I rate Sweat a lot higher than most. He has improved drastically as a pass rusher this year with his hands especially. He has started to lower his pad level and his run defense is elite. I mean it might be the best in the class. He knows how to use his speed-to-power better, and I would like to see him bull rush more, but he is a very good player.
15. IOL Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
What an absolute beast of a run blocker. Biadasz has some of the fleetest footwork in the class and reaches to the second level with ease. He finishes every play hard and takes out exactly who he needs. He is a great pulling linemen who should get more credentials for it than he does. He also has good punch at the line in pass protection, but I just wish he would be a bit more aggressive in pass pro. He seems a bit passive, but other than that his game is very strong.
16. CB Byron Murphy III, Washington
No Byron Murphy slander will be tolerated here. At this point, where I believe the Steelers will end up, Murphy is my ideal case. This is the type of CB that I love, not lengthy, but he so feisty. He is aggressive as heck at the line and while he is limited in press man, he uses his fluid hips and elite athleticism to have some great trail technique to not get beat deep. His zone coverage is disciplined and he makes big splash plays, and goes for them a bit too often, but he is aggressive. Absolutely fantastic in run support and tackles well, one of the few CBs to give it his all in this class.
17. IDL Gerald Willis III, Miami
Yeah, he is a freak athlete for sure. His explosion has improved as the entire season has gone on and his leverage is better than it has ever been. My favorite part of it all is how well he block sheds. The guy makes a ton of TFLs and it only helps that he does it in the form of sacks as well. His hands need to be more active and I would like for him to develop another pass rushing move, but he is really good.
18. OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Okay, Risner is not an elite athlete, but he is absolutely a sound technician. I mean you will not find many people that are as sound as Risner are right now. His punches are great, his pass sets allow him to be almost any pass rushing move, and he plays extremely low. He reaches to the second level with ease and opens up holes. The big reason he is not higher is because he simply is not a great athlete, but he is very, very good.
19. TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Absolutely unbelievable athlete that has shades of Travis Kelce. He is an absolute mismatch wherever he is at on the field and has extremely strong hands. His catch-in-traffic has improved steadily over the past season and he continues to be a monster. Has incredible YAC due to great balance. Route running is sharp and allows him to run out of more looks, and with it his athleticism becomes an absolute cheat code in the redzone. He is this low because there is work to be done on his blocking, but he is still impactful in that as well.
20. WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State
Perhaps the best route runner in this entire class, he is absolutely stupid fluid in the open field and has great quickness in and out of breaks that make DBs look silly. He has an extensive route tree and is great against press man. Even when he does not win off the release, he is fantastic at the catch point and wins lots of jump balls. His biggest weakness is that he needs to bulk up a bit and work on his body control. He sometimes loses sight of where he is and it costs him a catch.
21. CB Amani Oruwayje, Penn State
Oruwayje continues to impress me a man coverage defender. He is fantastic in press and uses his hands to maintain leverage. He in particular is not grabby and mirrors really well on the end. He knows how to make adjustments on the ball and has great ball skills as a whole. Even better, he is a run defender, and fits the Steelers CB mold extremely well. The interest will be there, I guarantee it.
22. IDL Rashan Gary, Michigan
Sure, Gary is extremely raw, but his quickness and explosion allow him to be this high. He is still stout in run defense and a great block shedder, but his pass rushing absolutely needs refinement. He plays a little too high for my liking, but with the cross chop being introduced into his game, I am all for him being a high pick.
23. WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
An absolute monster of a receiver, Butler is a big bodied freak that has not gotten enough attention among draft pundits right now. He is an absolute monster at the point of catch and can win just about every contested ball. His route running is more nuanced than people give him credit for and he has some scary good body control. Keep an eye on him, he is really good.
24. ILB Devin White, LSU
A raw processor is what White is, but he has some amazing sideline-to-sideline play that I love. He works his way through traffic really well and is a good coverage LB. His processing needs work and it is why he gets reached at the second level, but he flies all over the field and has really good angles for how athletic he is. Absolutely he is a possible Steelers target.
25. S Jaquon Johnson, Miami
An absolute physical terror at safety. Plays aggressive both when he tackles and in coverage. Presses at the line with impressive force and runs guys straight off of their routes. He is a natural born leader and has good zone discipline to add. He is always going to be a guy you play in the box due to his style of play, and he cannot play single-high, but that is okay when you are this tenacious in the box.
26. QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
I love Herbert because this guy can sling it, and when it does, he does with absolute precision. He absolutely needs to work on his processing both pre and post snap, but there is no doubt the arm talent is there. He makes something out of nothing so often and is likely the only surefire franchise QB in this draft, so teams are gonna wanna fight for him.
27. CB Lavert Hill, Michigan
You don’t need to tell me how much I love this guys swagger. Hill is physical and plays aggressively in man with some impressive ball skills to boot with it. He uses his hands and hips perfectly to use trail technique to perfection. The big knock on him is that he is simply not long, but I am willing to overlook that when you are as aggressive and talented as Hill is.
28. WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
This guy makes magic after the catch. He has a scary resemblance to Golden Tate and he truly is very nuanced in his route running as well. He uses his hands extremely well and even though he is only 5’11” he can go up and get catches in traffic. He is not great at contested catches and can be boxed out by more physical corners, which is the main knock on him.
29. OT Yodney Cajuste, West Virginia
Great frame that he uses fully to his advantage. He overpowers EDGE defenders and DL by winning the leverage battle often. Has great capability to reach the second level due to great footwork as a whole. The biggest trouble is his hand placement, which can get him in trouble with the officials. Has to get less grabby and get his hands inside.
30. S Taylor Rapp, Washington
An absolutely aggressive player in all facets. Great tackler who wraps up well and takes great angles. Great man coverage defender that can be put into the slot to cover the receiver with ease. His physicality has allowed him to cover TEs rather well. His hips are fluid as well. However, his lateral agility is a big question mark and I question if he can play in deep zones. Seems to be a strictly box defender, but he is elite at that.
31. WR JJ Arcega Whiteside, Stanford
Arcega Whiteside is an elite receiver who has a shot to be a #1 if he progresses correctly. His burst is insane and he can blow by corners to get deep in an instant. His length makes his catch radius huge and he is a jump ball monster. The only thing is he doesn’t jump for them. Ever. He is a fantastic red zone threat as his body control is elite. He needs to be a bit more nuanced in his route running, but he is smooth in and out of breaks.
32. CB Julian Love, Notre Dame
I really like Love despite him only being 5’11”. He is great is off-man and keeps his mirroring at a premium all the time. In zone, he has fantastic discipline and constantly makes plays on the ball. He is an aggressive press corner but needs to be stronger with his hands as it sometimes gets him burnt. That will be his one big issue, but he is very tenacious and feisty.
33. IOL, Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
Whew, what a nimble-footed offensive lineman. He should not be able to move as well as he does but he pulls beautifully and reaches the second level with ease often. His athleticism is one of his best traits and in pass protection he is strong enough to knock defenders straight off of their feet. He is only this low because he really needs to work on his pad level, which gets him beat at times.
34. RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
The #1 RB for all of you, Montgomery has an incredible combination of good hands, contact balance, and power. His speed and athleticism are not things to write home about, and he really does not have that great of burst in the second level, but he has incredible contact balance. His hands are great and he works out of the slot too. He is already an elite pass protector at RB.
35. WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
An absolute catch point and contested catch monster, Gandy-Golden is one of the most underrated prospects out there right now. At 6’4”, he has incredible burst and pops on the field as to how fast he is. He has great release skills and burns corners straight off of the line. He needs to develop a more intricate route tree which is why he is lower here, but he has improved as route runner. He has incredible body control that makes him a superb red zone threat.
36. EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
Allen is the most improved player in college football this season. He had leverage issues and showed nearly no arsenal of pass rush moves, but now he has a rip and cross chop combo as well as exceptional bend he has shown. His jump off the line has improved and he has combined that with solid speed-to-power usage to get a good bull rush. The only issue now is his hands, which have be more active. He needs to get more counters as well, but he is progressing well.
37. WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Harry is a fantastic jump ball receiver as well. He is a big target at 6’3” and will win just about every contested catch he is involved in. He wins outside leverage all the time and has incredible body control on the sideline. In addition, he is clearly a great athlete and an absolute YAC monster. He needs to become a more nuanced route runner and improve against press-man coverage to become elite.
38. RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis
An absolutely electric player out of the backfield, Henderson is an absolute speed demon. His burst is absolutely elite and is the best I have seen in this class. For being so small, his contact balance is elite as well. He needs to work on his vision, as he can miss big plays at times, but he does not bounce it outside out of instinct. He has soft hands and makes a ton of great catches from different positions out of the backfield.
39. S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Fantastic length coupled with aggressiveness and fluid hips means Thornhill rarely gets burnt deep. His zone discipline is great and he knows how to read the QB’s eyes extremely well. An absolute ballhawk who will be aggressive in his attempt at the splash play, he is a playmaker, point blank. He is not as quick laterally which means he struggles when working from the slot.
40. ILB Troy Dye, Oregon
One of the most insane athletes I have scouted during my time scouting, I am one of the highest on Dye that I have seen so far. He is a blur that has insane range and goes from sideline-to-sideline with ease. He fights at the point of attack and block sheds for tackles for loss. Has steadily improved as a coverage LB and has become above-average. Needs to trust his keys more, and will bite on play fakes. His reaction can be a tad slow too, which holds him back from being any higher.
41. TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
This man is a tank. Sternberger reminds me of Vance McDonald quite literally. He is a powerful man that has strong hands and makes a ton of catches in traffic. He runs a variety of routes with good success and knows how to find the soft spot well. He is a fluid blocker. Will just pulverize people for more YAC. He needs to work on body control and fluidity in his hips, but he continues to rise up my board.
42. RB Miles Sanders, Penn State
Perhaps the most elusive running back in the draft. Sanders is just so shifty. It makes him incredibly hard to bring down and his vision is fantastic as well. He has elite burst and lateral agility. His balance is elite as well and he is a great runner. He needs to improve on his hands, and he has shown to be a capable receiver but has not gone much out of the backfield.
43. TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
Creates separation with ease as he is an elite route runner and fluid in and out of breaks. Makes contested catches easily and makes adjustments along the sideline, thus having excellent body control. He is fast and has great burst, and works from the slot a ton. Has insane leaping ability that allow him to be a deadly red zone threat. He is this low due to his rather lackluster blocking skills, but he has flashed moments of brilliance.
44. EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
Some of the best hands of the edge has they incredibly active and great for counter moves. Has a plethora of pass rushing moves, including a club that he implemented at the start of this season. He wins based off of lateral agility and ability to win on the inside often. He does not show great bend which could be a downfall, but overall his pros show he will be a good pass rusher at the next level.
45. CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
Holy ball skills. Ya-Sin has some of the best ball skills in the draft among corners and with it, he has elite press man skills too. Great leverage corner and strong hands allow him to keep pace with just about any receiver. He high points the ball and gets INTs that way and will come up in run defense to help as well. He is a bit raw in zone coverage, but he has already shown solid discipline on film. He continues to climb up my board.
46. CB Kris Boyd, Texas
An absolutely great man coverage corner, his hands are great and his jams run receivers off their routes consistently. He is one of the best mirrorers in the class and keeps his leverage with square hips. Fantastic tackler and in run support as well, he gives it his all on every play. Has great ball skills but hands like Ike Taylor. His hips need to be more fluid, but he is competent in zone. Needs to get stronger, his jams are sometimes ineffective against bulkier frames.
47. IDL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
A fabulous first step that is coupled with impressive power. An absolute master at the bull rush and drives the OL back into the QB at times. Pad level is excellent and his chop and club have allowed him to get into the backfield more frequently this season. He is an athlete that can get into the backfield and make TFLs. He needs to get more splash plays as a whole. He has lots of good attributes but rarely makes the play for himself, but great gap discipline.
48. CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
Just oozes swagger. Trash talks often and is aggressive in the way he plays as well. Plays the mental game with receivers, but backs it up with strong jams at the line and being sticky in man coverage. Has fantastic mirroring skills at the line and rarely gets beat deep. He is not as long as you would like and has stiff hips. Zone coverage can thus be a concern due to the stiff change of direction.
49. WR Riley Ridley, Georgia
Brother of Falcons WR Calvin Ridley, Riley Ridley has many of the same strengths. He is an incredibly polished route runner and creates separation with ease. Has incredible lateral quickness and gets in and out of breaks with ease. His release has only improved has he rips through releases with ease and gets deep. Gets pressed in man too often and needs to find ways to create more YAC. However, is an excellent catch point receiver when he does not get separation.
50. IDL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Underrated sleeper prospect that has a fantastic first step that combines explosion with amazing leverage, thus allowing easy penetration and sacks. Has the power to get a bull rush and power guys straight back into the play. Incredible gap discipline that allows him to make plays against the run. Exceptional swim move that often wins straight off the line. Takes himself out of plays and can be a raw processor as a whole. Needs to work on more moves other than the swim, against top tier competition he gets stonewalled.
That is my top 50 big board, and I am sure there will be some gripes among the BTSC readership, in which case, you can take it up with me and I will discuss it thoroughly in the comments below. I am certain I left off a few guys that you expected to be on here, but as it stands now, I believe this to easily be the best big board for my evaluations.