As you may or may not know, I have a very strict “don’t give a darn” policy when it comes to the first few months of NFL Draft coverage.
I say “first few months” knowing full well that some folks never stop covering, studying and paying attention to the draft. But for the sake of argument, let’s say the average Steelers fan doesn’t start focusing on the next draft and its prospects until after Pittsburgh's season is over, which, on average, is about the middle of January. This is when talk of who the Steelers should take and what position they should focus on begins to ramp up. The same can be said for fan interest in mock drafts.
If that’s right after the Steelers season ends for most fans, you can add another 10 weeks or so for yours truly.
Yep, I don’t start paying attention to anything draft-related until late March or early April. This is when I begin to dig deep into the big boards, the individual positions, the mock drafts and the specific areas Pittsburgh might try to address with a premium pick.
This might not sound like much fun if you’re someone who really, really loves the draft, but for someone who enjoys himself some NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl hype and even a little break from football, it’s ideal.
It’s also fairly effective, at least when it comes to making educated guesses and having conversations about specific prospects.
For example, I know that Garrett Wilson is currently at or near the top of the list of receiver prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft. However, if not for a torn ACL suffered in the National Championship Game, Alabama’s Jameson Williams might be head-and-shoulders above any receiver in this year’s class. Instead, he’s ranked near the bottom of those projected to go in the first round and may not get drafted until a little later.
I have quickly fallen for Kyle Hamilton, the star safety from Notre Dame, but have come to realize that he’ll likely be selected way before Pittsburgh’s turn at 20...unless a bunch of teams skip over him because of his 4.59 40 time at the Combine.
Wouldn’t that be something?
That would be like the time Rod Woodson slid to the 10th spot in 1987. Of course, if Hamilton’s slow 40 time causes him to have a hard time transitioning to the next level as it did for Jarvis Jones after the Steelers selected him in 2013, well, that could be a problem.
I know Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Derek Stingley are two cornerbacks the Steelers will have no shot at drafting, while Washington’s Trent McDuffie and/or Clemson’s Andrew Booth could be there for the taking.
Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning may actually be there at 20, but even if he is, is he strictly a right tackle? Furthermore, does he fit the Steelers' blocking schemes? I don’t honestly know the answers to these questions, but I do know people are asking them.
How about Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum? At first, I thought he was just a folk hero who played a prestigious Steelers position—center—and had a cool name that Yinzers were drawn to. However, after studying Linderbaum, I was blown away by how well-thought-of he was in the collegiate ranks. That is until I realized that he may be overrated due to his short arms.
Now, I don’t know what to make of Linderbaum, but at least I know that much, which is way more than what I knew in March.
Oh well, I could go on and on about the things I’ve learned after finally beginning my research of the 2022 NFL Draft, but I believe I’ve given you just enough of an idea of what I know.
I believe that was my point.