After a week filled with games that came down to the wire, the NFL Draft landscape is beginning to take shape. Which standouts from this past week’s college football games could be in play for the Steelers? It is time to find out.
During the college football season, I will have weekly “stock reports,” breaking down everything that transpired in the previous week of college action. We will look at players at any position that either helped or hurt their stock based upon that week’s performance, but we will give a more extensive look at players that play a position the Steelers will be in need of next offseason. Those positions may fluctuate as the Steelers’ 2021 season unfolds and we learn more about what this team truly needs to address in the offseason.
As it stands right now, cornerback, guard, wide receiver, and quarterback seem to be the most likely needs. Thus, a noteworthy performance by a player at one of those positions is more likely to be recognized in these articles than an impressive showing by a player at a position the Steelers are already loaded at.
Here are the highest of highs and lowest of lows from the third full week of college action.
Drake London / WR / USC
London has been on a tear to begin the season, and he added to his impressive resume on Saturday, hauling in 13 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns against Washington State. London is a big, physical receiver who has been nearly unstoppable this season, consistently making difficult catches down the field. London’s stock is going through the roof, and I would not be surprised at all if he is one of the first receivers off the board next April.
Jaelyn Duncan / OT / Maryland
Duncan is not a household name yet, but do not be surprised if he gets selected inside the top fifty picks. On Saturday, Duncan was faced against one of the better defensive lineman in the Big Ten in Illinois pass rusher Owen Carney, and Duncan held up nicely throughout the contest. Carney was held to only one tackle, which was a sack that occurred after quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had already been in the pocket for over four seconds.
Duncan is an athletic tackle who is more a positional blocker than anything else. He is not extremely powerful, but he is a fluid mover that can get to the second level of the defense. Think of him as a more athletic version of what the Steelers got in Dan Moore, Jr. this year. If he can continue his stellar play, he will find himself shooting up draft boards.
DeMarvin Leal / DL / Texas A&M
If you pay attention to early mock drafts, Leal has consistently been projected as a first round pick. The versatile defensive lineman is backing up the hype with outstanding play on the field, recording one and a half sacks on Saturday against New Mexico. Leal is only 290 pounds, but he consistently displays tremendous quickness and power off the line of scrimmage. I am not sure if the Steelers will look at defensive linemen in the first round, but if Leal were to somehow fall to them, he would be difficult to pass up.
Nolan Smith / OLB / Georgia
It took Georgia a little time to wake up on Saturday, but once their front seven started making a bigger impact, it was all downhill for South Carolina. Nolan Smith may return for his senior season and forego the 2022 NFL Draft, but if he enters, he could become a hot commodity. Smith continued to impress against South Carolina, recording 8 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, and 1.5 sacks. He has shown tremendous growth this season, and I expect him to be a day two pick if he declares for the 2022 draft.
Others who improved their stock
Keshunn Abram / WR / Kent State (6 REC, 138 YDS, 1 TD)
Romeo Doubs / WR / Nevada (7 REC, 121 YDS)
Josh Johnson / WR / Tulsa (8 REC, 149 YDS, 1 TD)
Jayden Daniels / QB / Arizona State
Daniels is an intriguing quarterback that I still have high hopes for, but Saturday night was not his best performance. Daniels completed 21 of 29 pass attempts for 265 yards, but he did throw two interceptions. One of the interceptions was not his fault, but nonetheless, Daniels struggled to get comfortable in the pocket and make the tough throws. He will have a chance to get back on track this week, however, as Arizona State’s opponent, Colorado, is coming off a 30-0 defeat to Minnesota.
Chris Olave / WR / Ohio State
Ohio State has had its share of struggles in the passing game, but no receiver that is getting first round consideration should be recording zero catches in a game, especially when that game is against an inferior opponent. However, that is what happened to Olave against Tulsa. He was held silent throughout the entirety of the contest, and his strong start is no longer looking quite as impressive. He will have a chance to rebound against Akron on Saturday, but Drake London and several others are about to leapfrog him on draft boards.
Which prospects caught your eye in this past week’s action? Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!