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Steelers NFL Draft Preview: Rising offensive linemen the focus of Week 8

Taking a look at some key prospects playing in Week 8 of the college football season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 South Alabama at UCLA Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.

#14 Syracuse vs. #5 Clemson | Noon ET on ABC

Syracuse Spotlight: Matthew Bergeron — OT (6’5”, 322 lbs); Garrett Williams — CB (5’11”, 189 lbs)
Clemson Spotlight: Trenton Simpson — LB (6’3”, 240 lbs); K.J. Henry — EDGE (6’4”, 255 lbs)

Matthew Bergeron has been a standout on Syracuse’s line in the first half of the season, and he will get a great test on Saturday against a strong Clemson front. The offensive tackle class is extremely fluid as of now, considering the fact that the depth of the class looks more promising on certain weeks and less promising on others due to inconsistency. Bergeron is currently a Day 2 pick in my eyes, but the consistent will remain supreme. His week-to-week dependability could put him in the Round 1 conversation before long.

We have talked about Simpson before, but as much as I love his athleticism, he continues to rise on draft boards. At this point, the Steelers will have to spend their first-round pick on him if they want him. However, another guy to watch is K.J. Henry, who has had a nice season even though the stats do not back it up. He has not recorded a sack since Week 1, but his run defending has greatly improved, and he is still impacting plays as a pass rusher.

#9 UCLA vs. #10 Oregon | 3:30 on FOX

UCLA Spotlight: Raiqwon O’Neal — OT (6’4”, 305 lbs); Dorian Thompson-Robinson — QB (6’1”, 205 lbs)
Oregon Spotlight: Alex Forsyth — C (6’4”, 312 lbs); Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu — OT (6’6”, 315 lbs)

UCLA’s offensive line has had a big part in their success on the ground, but one player not mentioned too often in draft circles is Raiqwon O’Neal. He is not the greatest athlete, but he gets good leverage, plays disciplined, and doesn’t lunge. Dorian Thompson-Robinson may be a long shot to become a Steeler, but if the Steelers move Mason Rudolph in the coming days, it could create an opening for him in the quarterback room. When at his best, he is electrifying.

For Oregon, I am intrigued by what Alex Forsyth brings to the table. At 6’4”, 312 pounds, Forsyth is a solid athlete who brings a great combination of smarts and power. He is one of the best run-blocking offensive linemen in the PAC-12, and he fits perfectly in the middle of Oregon’s offensive line. Schematic versatility will be a question for him to answer during the pre-draft process.

#24 Mississippi State vs. #6 Alabama | 7:00 ET on ESPN

Mississippi State Spotlight: Emmanuel Forbes — CB (6’0”, 180 lbs); LaQuinston Sharp — C (6’3”, 305 lbs)
Alabama Spotlight: Jermaine Burton — WR (6’0”, 200 lbs); DJ Dale — DT (6’3”, 307 lbs)

For a Steelers team desperately in need of cornerback help, Emmanuel Forbes should be looked at incredibly closely versus the Tide on Saturday night. Forbes is yet to fill out his frame, as he is most definitely on the lean side. However, his game is solid in all facets. He possesses tremendous foot speed, displays phenomenal instincts, and gets good position at the line of scrimmage against bigger receivers.

For Alabama, I went in a different direction this week. Jermaine Burton was accused of hitting a couple Tennessee fans after losing to the Volunteers on Saturday, which puts his future availability in jeopardy. However, this does give us an opportunity to see where his draft stock lies. Burton is a Georgia transfer who is yet to have a breakout game in a Crimson Tide uniform, but he has impressive physical traits. He just needs to gain separation more consistently.

Which games and prospects are you watching in Week 8? Which prospects mentioned above intrigue you the most as a Steelers fan? Be sure to light up the comment section below throughout the day as you sit back and enjoy a phenomenal slate of games!