MY WOLVERINES DID IT!!! WE FINALLY BEAT THAT O-WORD TEAM!!! GO BLUE AND FIRE HARBAUGH!!!
Now that I got that off my chest, it is time to get down to business. The 2021 regular season of college football is officially in the rear-view mirror, and we are now headed into conference championship week. But before we can get to this week’s action, let’s recap the best performers from Week 13 of college football.
For the remainder of these weekly stock report articles, we will only discuss players who boosted their stock, as many of the players who are trending down will likely consider returning to school if they have that opportunity. It is time to begin zeroing in on players who are trending up and more likely than not to actually declare for this year’s draft.
As of right now, the Steelers need, well, just about everything. Starters may be needed along the defensive line, the offensive line, at quarterback, at wide receiver, at linebacker, and in the secondary; and just about every other position is lacking depth. So at this point, nothing is off the table when it comes to the Steelers and the 2022 NFL Draft.
If you have thoughts on who improved their stock the most last week, please be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down below. But without further adieu, here are your biggest risers from Week 13 of college football.
John Metchie / WR / Alabama
The emergence of Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams has taken the spotlight off Metchie, who was once considered a mid first-round prospect. However, Metchie has been somewhat sporadic, coming in clutch as of late but failing to record a 100-yard game until the middle of October. Nonetheless, when Williams left the game due to a targeting penalty, Metchie came up big, grabbing 13 balls for 150 yards in Alabama’s quadruple overtime win against Auburn. Metchie does not have elite size, but his quickness, route-running ability, and reliable hands should make him a day two pick at the very least, even in a deep class of wide receivers.
Roger McCreary / CB / Auburn
This may seem counterintuitive when you consider that McCreary was the one covering Metchie for much of the contest, but despite Metchie’s solid production, McCreary forced Bryce Young to hold onto the ball much longer than he wanted to too often. His coverage on many routes was absolutely incredible, and his outstanding athleticism allowed him to blanket the speedy Alabama receivers in man coverage.
When you look at Metchie’s numbers, the first thing that comes to mind is that the opposing corner probably struggled to contain him. However, many of the catches McCreary gave up were either difficult catches by Metchie or well placed throws by Bryce Young. He finished with four passes defended, and he was a big reason why Auburn’s defense held up so well against Alabama’s potent offense. Derick Hall, who could potentially declare for the draft this year as well, had a phenomenal game in his own right, recording six tackles, three sacks, and three and a half tackles for loss. Keep an eye on both of these guys as we get closer to April.
Hassan Haskins / RB / Michigan
Haskins will forever be remembered in the storied Michigan/Ohio State rivalry as the guy who led Michigan to its first win against the despised Buckeyes in the Jim Harbaugh era, rushing the ball 28 times for 169 yards and 5 touchdowns on the day. Haskins is more of a bruiser than a speed guy, weighing in at about 220 pounds. He will never have top-end speed, but if he could add another 10-15 pounds for the NFL, he could be an intriguing power back. He has already proven his durability, rushing the ball over 25 times against Ohio State and Indiana and over 30 times against Penn State.
NFL Draft Scout is projecting Haskins to run a 4.52 in the 40, but I expect it to be in the mid to high 4.5 range. That said, if he can add more weight and compliment his running ability with some receiving production out of the backfield, he could be a draft day steal. A strong postseason could solidify him as a day two prospect.
Alec Pierce / WR / Cincinnati
Pierce is not the most glamorous wide receiver in the 2022 class, but his consistent production has moved him up draft boards a good bit, as he is now considered by many as a second or third round prospect. He does not have top-end speed, but at 6’3”, 205 pounds, Pierce can win the contested catches as good as anyone, and some of his catches against East Carolina last week reminded us of that.
East Carolina will not be mistaken for a powerhouse school, but their 2021 football team is actually quite solid, allowing only 231 passing yards per game. However, Pierce got the best of the Pirates, recording 136 yards and 1 touchdown on 8 receptions. It helps when Desmond Ridder is your quarterback, but Pierce and Ridder have developed a nice chemistry during their time at Cincinnati, and if they are going to make noise in the College Football Playoff, those two will need to connect often.
Andrew Vastardis / C / Michigan
Ohio State was gashed up the middle all day long against Michigan, and if not for Andrew Vastardis, that may not have been the case. Vastardis is a sixth-year senior who displayed his leadership and experience last week, showing true grit and toughness in short-yardage situations and anchoring well in pass protection.
One thing that stuck out to me on Saturday was his outstanding awareness, which is likely due to his experience. There was one instance when an Ohio State pass rusher jumped offsides, and instead of waiting for the quarterback to ask for the ball to be snapped, he snapped it immediately, allowing Michigan to get the play off and have an opportunity on a free play before the play could be whistled dead due to the flag. Vastardis does the little things well, and NFL teams are going to like that about him. He may not be selected high since he is a little older than the average prospect, but some team is going to find some serious value with Vastardis if he slips to day three.
Tomon Fox / EDGE / North Carolina
Fox is a new name for me (our UNC guru, Pittsblitz56, could probably give more insight), but after doing some research, this guy could potentially be a nice value pick if he falls to day three. Against archrival North Carolina State, Fox came in clutch with 6 tackles and 2.5 sacks, and let us not forget that the Wolfpack offensive line is no joke.
Fox and Chris Collins will often switch sides throughout the game, but left tackle Ikem Okwonu is a potential first-round draft prospect, and in the first half specifically, both Okwonu and right tackle Bryson Speas were worked by North Carolina’s front seven. Fox’s big sack at the end of the first half came against Speas rather than Okwonu, but he displayed good effort and relentlessness throughout the contest. He is another name to keep an eye on as a potential day-three depth piece.
Others who improved their stock:
Carson Strong / QB / Nevada
Jake Haener / QB / Fresno State
Daniel Faalele / OT / Minnesota
Jack Jones / CB / Arizona State
Tyler Badie / RB / Missouri
Breece Hall / RB / Iowa State
Keeanu Benton / DT / Wisconsin
There are a slew of good games on the schedule this championship weekend, none of which are bigger than Georgia vs. Alabama in the SEC championship game. Continue to watch Jordan Davis as a potential first-round option for the Steelers, but a couple other names to watch come in the secondary. Georgia safety Lewis Cine and Alabama safety John Battle are two players to watch, as the Steelers could be in need of safety help if Terrell Edmunds leaves in free agency.
I will obviously be focused on the Michigan vs. Iowa matchup Saturday night, and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum is one of the best center prospects in years. He is not an incredibly likely option for the Steelers, but in the event that the Steelers moved Kendrick Green to guard, Linderbaum has the potential be an elite center, which is something the Steelers have always prioritized. As for Michigan, keep an eye on linebacker Josh Ross. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Steelers linebackers, and Ross will have a big challenge trying to contain running back Tyler Goodson while also being asked to cover talented tight end Sam LaPorta on occasion.
Which prospects caught your eye during the final week of the regular season of college football? Could any of them be in play for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all thing NFL Draft!