Steeler Nation waited in torture on Thursday and Day 1 of the 2022 Draft waiting to see who the Steelers would select. After Kenny Pickett joined the black and gold, fans turned their attention closely to see who their AFC North rivals would select to improve their squad. Last year, Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman, Odafe Oweh and Greg Newsome II entered the fray the first day. Here are the guys the Steelers will see twice a year for a good while. Scouting analysis was provided by a team of BTSC staffers and fans called the BTSC Big Board Crew led by Andrew Wilbar.
Note: The Cleveland Browns do not have a first-round pick due to the trade for Deshaun Watson.
Round 1, Pick 14
Baltimore Ravens select S Kyle Hamilton - Notre Dame
The good news is that the Philadelphia Eagles flew ahead of Baltimore to select Jordan Davis. The bad news is that a potential All-Pro Safety will be wearing purple and black in Charm City.
6‘4“, 219 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 7, T 34, TFL 2, Int 3, PD 4
Necksnation: Hamilton is a generational talent who could become the highest-drafted safety since Jamal Adams. Despite the lack of positional value attributed towards safeties, Hamilton is worth spending a top-five pick on and should be a perennial pro-bowler in the NFL. He has great size for his position, measuring in the 99th and 92nd percentile in height and weight respectively, and he has good overall athleticism that gives him very high upside. He can be used in a myriad of ways, which will instantly make him highly valuable to an NFL defense, and he can make splash plays as well as routine ones with ease. Although he suffered a knee injury in the 2021 season, it isn’t an issue for him long term and he’s generally done a good job of staying on the field, playing 31 games in three seasons at Notre Dame. Hamilton could go as high as the second pick in the draft, with a likely floor of pick eight barring anything unforeseen, and he should make an NFL team very happy once he gets on the field.
Round 1, Pick 25
Baltimore Ravens select C Tyler Linderbaum - Iowa
The Ratbirds moved pack into the draft and then traded two spots down and picked a wrestler to man the center position for the Ravens.
6’3”, 291 lbs
Necksnation: Linderbaum is one of my favorite prospects in this upcoming class. Although it is unconventional to target a center with a premium pick, Linderbaum should be well worth the investment, and he seems poised to carve out a long and successful career as a pro. Linderbaum is the best center prospect we’ve seen in a while, and he has a legitimate chance to be the first center selected in the top 10 since 1968. Although he is undersized, he is more powerful than you would expect, and his strength is a major asset to his game. He is a former wrestler who once beat current All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs in a wrestling match. He even won a hay bale tossing contest, throwing a 60 lb bale of hay two feet higher than Wirfs. Linderbaum also has exceptional athleticism. He was a four sport athlete in high school which has translated well to football, and he reportedly ran the fastest 10-yard split ever for an offensive lineman. His technique is sound as well. He demonstrated the ability to get upfield and make big blocks with consistency, and although he is sometimes driven back initially, he does a great job to recover and hold his block. He possesses good range which aids him as a run and pass blocker, and his power at the point of attack makes him a mauler in the run game. Linderbaum played every snap of his college career at center, which could hurt his stock a bit, but for a team in need of a center, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Round 1, Pick 31
Cincinnati Bengals select S Daxton Hill - Michigan
Adding Hill to Jesse Bates at the safety position makes the defensive backfield even more formidable for the AFC champs.
6‘0“, 192 lbs
2021 Stats: GP 14, T 69, TFL 4.5, Sacks .5, Int 2, PD 8, FR 1
Noah E: If you are more of a casual fan or you don’t pay a ton of attention to the draft then you probably haven’t heard of Daxton Hill, but this guy is a baller. Hill is extremely versatile, he can play in the box, either safety spot or at slot corner, and do it at a high level. He’s physical and his ball skills are excellent, helping him to excel when he is tasked to cover slot receivers. He’s explosive and plays with a quick trigger which makes him aggressive in run support. Hill is disciplined in coverage and if a team were to want to make him a full-time corner he has the tools to do so. There are some major red flags though, the first being his knack for over pursuing. He needs to learn how to control his speed and if he can do that he will be a much better run defender. Something else that will definitely help him out in run support is wrapping up! It’s very important that he wraps up better at the next level because coaches are strict, and they know what they’re doing, so a problem like that could cost him a job. If he’s put in the right situation, the sky’s the limit.
Will Hamilton, Linderbaum and Hill be names in the Steelers-Bengals and Steelers-Ravens rivalry and victimize Pittsburgh for years to come or will they be just another victim of the black and gold? We will see.