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2022 NFL Draft: Best of the rest entering Day 2

Where could the Steelers turn in Rounds 2 and 3 after landing Kenny Pickett at No. 20?

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Safe to say that the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft didn’t disappoint.

Five defensive players to get things started, marking just the second time in NFL history that such a trend has occurred. A.J. Brown and Hollywood Brown on the move. Seven individual trade-ups, many of which featured receivers being taken in the middle of the round.

And, of course, the Steelers shocking everyone and taking the only quarterback thus far: hometown stud Kenny Pickett.

With Pickett already on board, who are some other prospects the Steelers could favor on Day 2, which starts at 7 p.m. ET Friday? Which superstars somehow fell out of the first round and are still up for grabs?

Using rankings and scouting reports from our assiduous Behind the Steel Curtain big board, let’s break it all down for Rounds 2 and 3.

Top Overall 10 Prospects Remaining

  1. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (BTSC Rank: #5)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-0 1/2, 212 lbs

Andrew Wilbar’s Breakdown: In my summer breakdown on Willis, I talked about how special Willis had the chance to be, and I still stand by those comments. Every. Single. Bit. The numbers are not the prettiest, and having multiple 3 interception games is not something any quarterback wants on their résumé. However, Willis likely had the worst offensive line in the country, and it was on full display every single week. Willis was constantly running for his life before he had an opportunity to go through his progressions and make accurate reads. At the end of the day, not much has changed about my opinion of him. He is still an incredibly talented quarterback with a big arm and outstanding arm, but he needs to sit for a year. Sitting and watching on the sidelines will allow him to see the speed of the NFL game and the complexity of NFL coverages before having to face them himself. It will do wonders for his development. Footwork needs improvement, but that is a fixable issue. If a team is all in on Willis and willing to be patient, he could become one of the brightest young stars in the league.

Well, this is awkward.

We at BTSC were major fans of Willis, who was viewed as the best quarterback option in the 2022 class. Things shook out exactly as the Steelers wanted: no need to trade up, and the pick of the litter at #20. Rather than gambling on Willis’ dynamic dual-threat ability and howitzer of an arm, the team opted for Pickett, whom they got a more intimate look at and who has a higher floor.

For most experts, Willis isn’t ranked this high. For example, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Willis slotted at #32; Sports Info Solutions had pegged Willis at #42. Regardless, most figured Willis had as good a chance as any gunslinger to be selected in the top 32 picks.

It seems nearly a guarantee that the Liberty star will be taken by Pick 64. Fits include the Titans (#35), Seahawks (#40, #41), Colts (#42) and Falcons (#43). It’s hard to imagine Willis sliding beyond his native Atlanta.

2. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (#12)

Junior, 6-foot-0, 194 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown on Booth, I talked about his standout play in limited action in 2020. With Derion Kendrick transferring to Georgia, Booth became the face of Clemson’s secondary in 2021, and he lived up to the billing. While 3 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, and 1 interception may not seem like insane stats for 10 games, he was consistently sound in coverage, bumping receivers off their route at the line of scrimmage and blanketing them downfield one-on-one. From an athletic standpoint, Booth is right up there with Derek Stingley and Ahmad Gardner. He has the size, the speed, the instincts, and the agility requisite from a press man corner. While turnover production is still a work in progress, he has not exactly had a ton of prime opportunities to force them. He is still developing his zone coverage skills, but Booth has the potential to become a top-tier corner in the NFL if drafted by the right team.

The majority of analysts had Booth as a first-rounder, if not the third-best corner in the class behind Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner. Having started on a ferocious Clemson defense as the team’s best corner for two seasons, Booth has the blue-chip pedigree to compete with anyone. He’s particularly excellent at getting his nose to the football, coming up and laying the boom on players.

However, the fact that the CB wasn’t taken in R1 is probably an indictment of his medicals. Booth did not partake in the Combine in early March due to a quad injury. It was then announced that Booth underwent sports hernia surgery; this is on top of dealing with a concussion and hamstring during the 2021 season.

Which team will eventually snag the sliding Booth? It could very well be the Steelers (more on that below). Other suitors include the Buccaneers (#33), Vikings (#34), Giants (#36), Seahawks (#40, #41), Ravens (#45) and Lions (#46). It shouldn’t be long before Booth hears his name called on Friday; this feels eerily similar to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in 2021.

3. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State (#21)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 208 lbs

Ryland B.: What are the Steelers missing most in their wide receiver core? I think the top two answers would be speed and toughness. And Watson has both in spades. The 6’4” receiver ran an elite 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine at 208 pounds, and it shows on tape. Watson consistently showed the ability to take the top off of defenses and simply run past opposing defensive backs. But Watson is also one of the best-blocking receivers in this year’s draft. He has good strength, great effort, and even a pancake or two on tape. For a bigger receiver, Watson’s agility is impressive. He’s a smooth athlete who is surprisingly shifty in the open field, finding success on jet sweeps as well as on kick returns. His route running could be a bit more sudden, and his route tree was fairly limited at NDSU, but neither seem to be major concerns – and Watson certainly has the physical tools to excel in these areas. He has good hands and ball-tracking ability for the most part, although he has struggled in contested catches and concentration before although he showed great improvement last year. The biggest knock on Watson would be his level of competition at NDSU, and it seems fair that the FCS receiver may have a steep learning curve at the next level. But a 4.36 is a 4.36 at any level of football, and Watson remains my favorite round 2 target for the Steelers.

The gamut was truly run on receivers tonight, with Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Jahan Dotson and Treylon Burks all being taken in the top 18. However, no wideout was picked in the latter 14 selections, with the Packers and Ravens among the teams to eschew the position.

Watson, too, should be swooped rather quickly on Friday. The NDSU product’s 4.36-speed and 38.5” vertical are enticing enough, even if his route-running needs polishing. Such traits should draw the ogles of teams like the Texans (#37), Bears (#39), Colts, Browns (#44), Ravens and Chiefs (#50).

#4. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (#24)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-3, 211 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ridder’s best attributes are his arm strength and athleticism. He puts good velocity on all his passes, whether they be short, intermediate, or deep. His accuracy can be really good at times and really bad at other times. He has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers, although that issue was not as bad in 2021 as it was in years previous. He did not turn the ball over as much in 2020, and ball placement was a big reason why. Much like we talked about with Zach Wilson this past season, Ridder can effectively deliver the ball from many different arm angles, which allows him to make the most difficult throws with ease. There is a lot of upside with Ridder as a passer, but he is also lethal as a runner, as evidenced by his 2,000 plus rushing yards during his collegiate career. The other primary concern with Ridder, accuracy being the other one, is patience. Too often you will see Ridder tuck it and run if he does not like his first read, and it has cost Cincinnati some big plays that could have been had downfield. You can check out my summer breakdown of Ridder here.

Given that Pickett was the only quarterback nabbed in Round 1, Ridder will presumably be selected subsequent to Willis. Even then, his masterful 26-0 home record, footwork, processing and pocket presence are appealing, even if his accuracy and mechanics need work.

Ridder projects similar to Pickett: a high-IQ, gamer quarterback with immense competitiveness. At the same time, both lack “special” physical traits.

It felt plausible that a team could trade with the Vikings at #32 to select Ridder, as such a spot has become a quarterback haven in recent years. At this rate, the Titans, Seahawks, Colts, Falcons, Lions and Saints are all matches, but a team such as the Panthers could definitely trade up for the Senior Bowl participant.

#5: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (#25)

Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-5, 250 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Ojabo was not a key part of Michigan’s pass rush until 2021 when Ojabo emerged opposite Aidan Hutchinson with 11 sacks and 5 forced fumbles from the beginning of the season through the Big Ten Championship Game. In my personal opinion, Ojabo has a higher ceiling than Hutchinson. He has better speed, better bend, and more explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. At 6’5”, 250 pounds, Ojabo has ideal length and size to handle the edge, and I would expect him to get closer to the neighborhood of 260 pounds before he plays his first NFL game. While I think he could succeed in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, his best fit is in a 3-4 where he can get out of his stance quickly and beat the tackle around the edge with his speed. Some fans worry that he was the beneficiary of Hutchinson’s greatness, but Ojabo was often lined up against the opposing team’s better tackle and still made a major impact. Michigan moved him around to make Hutchinson’s job easier, but he still produced against the tougher assignments, and that is something that will not go unnoticed by NFL teams. Unfortunately, Ojabo suffered a torn achilles during his pro-day workout, making his draft status much more murky. If he happens to drop to day two, however, he could be the steal of the draft.

If not for his unfortunate Pro Day injury, Ojabo probably would have been a first-rounder in this year’s draft. Even with his ailment, there was thought that the Michigan product would be taken in the top 32 in order to provide him with a “redshirt” year given the fifth-year option on a contract.

As Andrew noted, Ojabo’s production was off the charts at the end of 2021, securing at least two hurries in five of his final six games, including the Big Ten Championship. Ojabo gels well with the Buccaneers, Texans, Jets (#38), Bears, Seahawks, Falcons, Saints (#49), Packers (#53) and Patriots (#54).

#6. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State (#26)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 250 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: I love my bendy EDGE rushers, and Ebiketie’s bend is one of the first things that stand out on tape. He combines that bend with excellent hand usage coming around the edge, making it difficult for opposing tackles to latch onto him and engage in a block. Ebiketie is also a transfer from Temple, so I would be remiss not to mention the toughness he displays on a weekly basis. If he can refine his technique a little and consistently finish prime sack opportunities, we could be looking at one of the most explosive pass rushers in the league.

Ebiketie’s stock had been building steam in recent weeks; some figured he could sneak into the first, but no such luck. The former Temple transfer is potentially the best pure EDGE left on the board considering Ojabo’s health.

All teams mentioned for Ojabo should have their eyes locked onto Ebiketie. In fact, the former Nittany Lion might be one of the first five picks in Round 2.

#7. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan (#27)

Junior, 5-foot-10, 195 lbs

Shannon White: Moore is a local product, having played high school football for Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. Moore was listed as an athlete when he joined the Western Michigan football program, and had never played wide receiver before. That makes his incredible growth at the position even more impressive. The Broncos play in the MAC conference, a conference from which the Steelers have successfully found more than a few talented prospects.Moore officially measured in at 5’10” and 195 sturdy lbs. He has superior quickness, start-stop ability, and an almost instant acceleration. This allows him to easily gain consistent separation off the line of scrimmage, and his run after the catch ability makes him a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the football. Moore runs crisp routes, and can run the complete route tree. He has solid hands, and the toughness to work the middle of the field. If you can’t tell by now, I am completely infatuated with Moore’s potential within the Steelers’ offense.

Moore seemed poised to be picked in the first, but he and Pickens will have to wait a day to hug Commissioner Goodell. Having run a 4.41 40-yard dash, Moore provides burst and deep-threat speed.

Moore has inextricable links to the Steelers, having grown up in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. However, Pittsburgh will likely compete with Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Cleveland and Kansas City to take the Western Michigan wideout.

#8. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (#28)

Junior, 5-foot-11, 229 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Dean is a bit undersized at 5’11”, 229 pounds, and he will definitely need to add more weight, but you cannot help but love what he did in 2021. From the beginning of the season through the SEC championship game, Dean recorded 61 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions, flying from sideline to sideline and wearing many hats for the Georgia defense. He would have run a fast 40 if he had been able to participate in the combine, but speed is not the only thing Dean brings to the table. Despite his size, Dean takes good tackling angles and displays a nice form and posture when going in to make a tackle. He is also an effective blitzer, displaying good instincts as well as the closing speed needed to turn a pressure into a sack. He just lacks the bulk to prevent bigger ball-carriers from shaking him off. Size is something teams will need to factor in, but Dean has all the tools you want.

As Andrew mentioned, there is some concern about Dean’s size, as well as the idea of taking a linebacker in the first round. Then again, Dean was the heart and soul of Georgia’s historic defense — which witnessed five players being taken on Thursday — and this scenario could have been an example of group overthink.

Count ESPN’s Mina Kimes among those to back the ‘Dawg ‘backer. Dean could find himself with the Titans, Giants, Texans, Jets and Eagles (#51).

#9. Travis Jones, DL, Connecticut (#29)

Senior, 6-foot-4, 325 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is one of the biggest small-school sleepers in this year’s draft. Based on how well he moves on tape, you would not believe that he is 330 pounds by just watching him. He plays with active hands, and he does a great job shedding blocks, even when double-teamed. He also displays excellent quickness out of his stance, getting upfield in a hurry and forcing the quarterback to escape the pocket. One of the more underrated parts of his game is his good hand placement. He consistently lays his hands on opposing linemen at a perfect pressure point, making it difficult for linemen to stay balanced and engage in a block. The main concern with him is that he has not been tested against major competition outside of a game here and there. If he has a strong Senior Bowl and combine performance, he could work his way into the top 50 picks.

Make that six straight picks on our big board to still be available entering Day 2.

Andrew outlined that Jones participated down in Mobile, and the showing undoubtedly boosted his stock. Jones joins Houston’s Logan Hall, Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey and Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis as top DL options for teams still looking to beef up their defensive lines.

The Bucs at #33 make sense, as Ndamukong Suh remains unsigned. If Todd Bowles & Co. pass on Jones, keep an eye on the Texans, Jets, Bears, Falcons, Ravens, Cardinals (#55) and Bengals (#63).

#10. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (#35)

Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 261 lbs

Andrew Wilbar: Mafe is still relatively new to the game of football, and that is evident when you watch his tape. There are a lot of technical issues, from pad level, to hand usage, to leverage. Nonetheless, his athleticism is outstanding. When his hand placement is consistently good and he is breaking away from opposing linemen, watch out, because he can run down just about anyone in the backfield. While he could fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, he does not always look natural in a standup position. Thus, I think his best fit long-term is as a 4-3 defensive end. It will take time for Mafe to reach his full potential, but if he can reach that potential at some point, he will be an extremely dangerous pass rusher.

Mafe seeks to become the third straight Golden Gopher to be picked in the first two rounds, joining Rashod Bateman (2021, 1st) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (2020, 2nd). The edge rusher also posted a solid Senior Bowl week, leaving some thinking the Chiefs could nab him; KC opted instead for fellow Big Ten West pass-rusher George Karlaftis.

Having posted a 4.53 40 and a 38” vertical jump, Mafe is in greater than the 90th percentile for both measurements. Such athleticism should entice the squads already looking at Ojabo and Ebiketie.


Top 10 Steelers Fits on the Board

#1. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Genuinely, I thought there was a chance the Steelers would trade back into the first with Booth still on the board. Pittsburgh has a very close relationship with Dabo Swinney and Clemson, and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin paid a meticulous look at the Tigers during their mid-March pro day.

Booth fits exactly what the Steelers are looking for: a young, athletic, physical young corner that can learn behind Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace before ultimately molding into a premier CB. If Booth is somehow still available at #52, Pittsburgh should be sprinting in the pick. If not, I think a trade up for Booth would be an outstanding move.

#2. George Pickens, WR, Georgia (BTSC Rank: #49)

Wow, would this be a lot of fun.

The Steelers have been infamous for their “diva” receivers in recent memory, and Pickens does have similar attributes. It appears that his slide is largely due to his willingness to be coached.

At the same time, if there’s anyone I’d trust to harness Pickens’ elite combination of toughness, ball skills and physicality, it’s Mike Tomlin.

Get Pickens, and this draft class looks infinitely more optimistic.

#3. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

We know the Steelers love their local connections: just ask Kenny Pickett! Why not double down with the speedy, tough Moore?

Fundamentally, the Steelers need receivers — quite possibly multiple in this draft. With either Mitch Trubisky or Pickett under center, just Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Anthony Miller/Miles Boykin/Gunner Olszewski is far from sufficient. Moore can help take the edge off of defenses and is physical enough to work over the middle of the field, with 40% of his routes having been slants or hitches.

#4. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan (#61)

There was speculation that Raimann could be taken in the first, but he’s instantly the best tackle left with Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross, Trevor Penning and Tyler Smith gone. Despite signing Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year deal, an upgrade for the Steelers at either tackle position is not out of play, especially given 2022 being a major litmus test for 2021 fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr. Raimann would be tough to pass up.

#5. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

If Dean somehow remains on the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock, it would only be right to pick the Georgia star.

Pittsburgh sent the house to UGA’s Pro Day, including new senior defensive assistant Brian Flores. While smaller, Dean could easily prove to be a long-term defensive communicator alongside Myles Jack, who has struggled when wearing the green dot.

I’m especially in favor of drafting an ILB given that Pittsburgh is yet to make a decision on Devin Bush’s fifth-year option. At worst, selecting Dean gives Bush more incentive and, if Bush bounces back, creates one of the most formidable front sevens in the NFL.

#6. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn (#40)

Despite having 28 7/8” arms, McCreary makes up for a lack of size with spectacular patience and reaction time, plus solid ball skills. At the same time, McCreary lacks elite closing speed and can give up ground as receivers hit the stem of their routes; this was particularly apparent watching McCreary against new Commander Jahan Dotson. Nonetheless, McCreary’s three years of starting against fierce SEC competition and 89.9 PFF grade, which ranked first among all FBS corners, make him an intriguing pick.

#7. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin (#68)

Chenal put many of the qualms about his athleticism to bed by running a 4.53 40 during the Combine and is the epitome of a thumping, downhill linebacker — something Pittsburgh sorely lacked in 2021. Why not pair Chenal with fellow Badger T.J. Watt to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks and running backs?

#8. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (#42)

If not for a torn ACL against Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship, Metchie could have slipped into Round 1. The receiver is physical with good hands and excellent route-running; it also seemed he had a knack for clutch catches, including this game-winner in Jordan-Hare Stadium in which he ran a whip route to perfection.

#9. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State (#46)

The only reason I put Brisker this low is that the Steelers don’t exactly need a safety, having both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds under contract. Then again, Edmunds signed just a one-year deal for under $3 million, and Fitzpatrick is due for an extension in the near future. Possessing Brisker would provide tremendous insurance at the position and could allow Austin/Tomlin/Flores to have some fun in different sub-packages to really throw off quarterbacks.

#10. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati (#56)

Pierce, too, is a late riser. While Steelers fans long had visions of pairing Ridder and Pierce in the pro ranks, the best Pittsburgh can do at this point is take the latter.

With his 6-foot-3 frame, above-average hands and 4.41 speed, Pierce should be a playmaker in the league for a long time. He especially fits the Steelers given his ability to play in the slot. While not a true “Y” receiver, Pierce lined up in the slot on 14% of his passes in 2021.


Other Names to Watch

Marcus Jones, CB, Houston (BTSC Rank: #55)

Andrew Wilbar: Size will most definitely limit Jones to the slot in the NFL, but his closing speed and feistiness make him an interesting day two pick, regardless of his size. Versatility is the other big part of his game, as he can play a little free safety as well as return kicks and punts. I also love how smoothly Jones can flip his hips in coverage. His footwork is clean, and his backpedal looks incredibly natural. He has not provided much value as a blitzer thus far into his playing career, recording zero sacks in four seasons; however, his ability to make plays on the ball was on full display in 2021, as he recorded 5 interceptions and 13 passes defended in 11 games. If you are looking for an NFL comparison, look no further than former Steeler Mike Hilton, at least from an athletic standpoint. Hilton is definitely a better blitzer than Jones is, but Jones has the upper hand when it comes to ability in coverage. He is still raw and learning the nuances of the position, but the upside is through the roof if he is developed properly.

Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA (#79)

Necksnation: Woolen has appealing physical traits, but is incredibly raw and will be quite a project for the team that drafts him. He converted from receiver to cornerback in 2020, and it shows on his tape, as he was burnt numerous times in man. In zone, his instincts are okay, but could use a bit of work, as he sometimes misreads his assignments. As a former receiver, Woolen does have impressive ball skills, but he sometimes struggles to make plays on the ball while simultaneously covering the receiver. He is certainly an aggressive defender while the ball is in the air, and he’s willing to make hits to jar the ball loose and get his hands in the way to prevent a completion, but this can be a double edged sword, and he gave up a few big plays because of this aggression. Additionally, I have some concerns about his competitive toughness. He often appeared unwilling to make tackles and defend the run, and while this may be partially due to his lack of experience at the position, it’s something that he’ll need to figure out in the NFL. On the bright side, his athletic upside is tremendous. Standing 6’4” and running a 4.26 40 yard dash, he absolutely has the physical tools to succeed, but his tape doesn’t back up his measurables yet. He seems like a good guy to take a flier on early in day 3, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable selecting him before then due to how much development he still needs.

Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati (#127)

Noah: Coby Bryant was the definition of lockdown this year for the Bearcats. He may not have had the career that his teammate Sauce Gardner did, but he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for a reason. Bryant displays good footwork and his 9 interceptions in 4 years are evidence of his ball skills. He’s a smart player and has good athleticism despite being a tad slow at times. Bryant does a good job of watching the feet and not biting on fakes. He does have relatively short arms creating some inconsistency when wrapping up. Due to his lack of quickness Bryant has struggled when he’s covering routes that force him to move laterally across the field. He has the mental toughness and physical tools to be a very good player, but he needs to put it all together. He has the potential to be the steal of the draft if he can clean up some of the holes in his game.

Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington (#62)

Ryland B.: Washington has turned into a defensive back factory over the past few years, and Gordon, along with teammate Trent McDuffie, should further that trend. Gordon is a big, physical corner with good athleticism. He’s a very smooth mover with a great backpedal in bail technique, where he played the most. Gordon’s reaction time and quickness is pretty solid and he’s a willing run defender and high-effort player. He has special teams experience as well. Gordon is a good option for a team in need of a solid outside corner.

Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska (#95)

Andrew Wilbar: Talk about a guy who consistently got in passing lanes and broke up passes in 2021. Taylor-Britt, despite decent athleticism, is probably best suited as a zone corner, as his instincts and fluidity would give him the upper hand. If he wants to make it as a zone corner, however, he must take better tackling angles. At Nebraska, he struggled to bring down opposing receivers after the catch due to that issue, and it is not an issue that will simply subside in the NFL. He has good straight-line speed, but his start-and-stop quickness when mirroring a receiver in man coverage leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, I like Taylor-Britt’s chances of developing into a start if put in the right situation. He just has several technical issues that developed into bad habits at the collegiate level. If he can break those habits, he will become a solid CB2.

Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt (#111)

Andrew Wilbar: Mathis is an aggressive corner who is a little handsy at times. In fact, I remember the TV analyst of the Pitt/Clemson game mentioning that, when talking to people at Pitt, he realized the importance of officiating relative to the team’s success. He was apparently told that the way the refs officiate the game is huge for them, largely due to the aggressive style they play. There are times when Mathis may have gotten away with a little bit of grabbing, but overall, he has good awareness in man coverage, and he knows when to turn around and make a play on the ball. He is also plenty athletic, displaying the size, speed, and versatility to play both corner and safety at a high level. He is still somewhat raw technically, but if you want a guy in the middle rounds who has the tools to develop into a star corner, Mathis is your guy.

Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama (#136)

Noah: Jalyn Armour-Davis may not be as skilled as some of the other guys in this class but I believe that playing for Nick Saban is going to greatly benefit him. He has the length and athleticism to be a really good player. His instincts are great and he is excellent at tracking guys down to make the tackle. However, he’s pretty stiff and you’d like to see him get his hips around a little quicker. He also gives receivers too much room sometimes and overall needs to tighten up his coverage. Being just a one-year starter there are some concerns about his experience and if he’s ready for the NFL yet. Armour-Davis is certainly a project but the reward could definitely be worth a day 3 pick.

Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis (#74)

Ryland B.: Austin has literal track speed, and it translates into explosive plays on the football field. Austin is a smooth athlete, lighting-fast accelerator, and a great route-runner. He has quickness to make defensive backs look silly and the speed to run past a secondary. Despite his diminutive size, he has a great release with urgent footwork and violent hands. But size is still a major issue. Austin’s 5’9” frame just doesn’t have an elite catch radius despite his good hands, and at 162 pounds he doesn’t pack much physicality after the catch although he plays with good effort. Austin’s 4.3 speed makes him an intriguing NFL prospect, but his size may result in him only finding a gadget role in an NFL offense.

Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky (#94)

Necksnation: Robinson certainly looked impressive during his junior season after transferring to Kentucky, but there are concerns about how he will translate to the NFL. The first thing that jumps out about Robinson is his size, or lack thereof. Not only is he 5’8” and 178 lbs, but he has the shortest arms of any receiver to enter the draft since 1999 by nearly half an inch per arm. The good news is, he did test very well at the combine from an athletic standpoint, and for the most part it shows up on his tape. I would consider him to be a guy who is “quicker than he is fast.” In open field, he was frequently able to make defenders miss and gain lots of yards after the catch because of it, which resulted in a lot of big plays. Additionally, he is a smooth and quick route runner, frequently able to create separation and find holes in the defense. However, for a guy who relies so much on his athleticism, Robinson gets run down from behind more often than he should. He did run a good 40 yard dash, but there were numerous instances in his tape where he could have scored but didn’t because he was unable to maintain his top speed throughout the play. It is a bit of a concern, and it makes you wonder how he’ll fare against NFL defensive backs if he’s getting chased down by college defenders, but his speed should improve a bit as he transitions to the pros, and hopefully it won’t be an issue for him. Robinson is also more than willing to take hits over the middle and survive hits to make tough catches. This is definitely a strength to his game, but you can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to take those same hits in the NFL with his small frame. Despite these concerns, Robinson’s natural quickness and ability to get open should make him serviceable at the next level. He’ll almost certainly never be a WR1, but he could be a solid WR2 with the ability to line up in the backfield (he had 134 total carries across his two seasons in Nebraska before transferring). He could also have value as a returner, an area where he wasn’t used often in college, but it seems like a natural fit for his skillset. At the end of the day, Robinson will likely never carry an NFL team’s passing offense, but he should provide some burst and versatility to a team, and should be able to carve out a decent career in that type of role.

Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor (#83)

Andrew Wilbar: The most exciting thing about Thornton is his fantastic straight-line speed, especially when you combine that with his 6’3” frame. Typically, receivers who run below 4.3 in the 40 are undersized receivers who are limited to the slot. This is not the case with Thornton, however. He still needs to add weight to his slender frame, but he is a surprisingly physical receiver who does not shy away from contested catch opportunities. Not only does he get a quick release off the line of scrimmage, but he will also become more effective getting off press coverage at the line once he adds a little more muscle. There is definitely some rawness with Thornton, and there may be a little bit of projection here, but you cannot teach 6’3” and 4.28 speed.

Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson (#153)

Necksnation: Ross had an incredible freshman season, but injuries have derailed his career ever since. However, if he can stay healthy and reach the potential that he showed as a freshman, he could become a star in the NFL. Ross certainly has the size to succeed at the next level, and although he doesn’t have incredible speed, he provides a decent amount of chunk plays. You won’t see him making too many 70 yard receptions, but he does a nice job on intermediate plays to pick up 15-20 yards for his team. His diverse route tree allows him to gain separation in a myriad of ways, especially on short to intermediate routes. Additionally, he does a nice job of gaining a few extra yards after the catch, and he is more than capable of breaking some tackles in the process. He can also juke out defenders when necessary, although it isn’t necessarily his ideal way of getting by defenders, but it’s certainly an ability that he possesses. His ball skills are elite, and he makes plenty of difficult catches downfield and in the end zone. He did have some concentration drops, but overall, his hands are a strength of his game, and they really benefit him when he’s making contested catches. Ross has a lot of traits that could make him a WR1 in the NFL, but he will need a good amount of coaching to get back to where he was pre injury. That said, it is worth wondering if he is injury prone. He broke his foot in 2021, but more importantly, it was discovered that he had a congenital fusion in his spine, which could have stopped him from ever playing again. He is healthy now, but whatever team that drafts him should do so with the awareness that he may have limited durability. But if he’s able to stay on the field and live up to the hype of his freshman season, he could wind up as a major steal on Day 2, and he’s worth taking a gamble on sometime in the middle of round 3.

David Bell, WR, Purdue (#104)

Necksnation: Bell doesn’t possess the speed and athleticism that is becoming more and more common in today’s receivers. However, what he lacks in quickness he makes up for with physicality and contested catch ability. His production at Purdue was excellent, recording 2946 yards and 21 touchdowns in 29 games. Additionally, although he had the occasional concentration drop, he was generally one of the most sure handed receivers in the country, posting an outstanding 68% catch rate as a junior. That number would be good for a guy who primarily works underneath, but Bell runs routes over the entire field as an outside receiver. While Bell isn’t particularly agile, his routes are better than you’d expect for someone with his athletic profile, and his diverse route tree gives him some versatility. He does struggle to consistently gain separation, but luckily for him, his ability to make contested catches is his best trait. He does a fantastic job of high pointing the ball, and his impressive hands and ball skills make coming down with 50-50 balls look easy. He is a physical receiver who is willing to make tough catches over the middle, and although he isn’t a huge threat after the catch, he still produces a decent number of chunk plays by making difficult catches downfield. Bell’s stock has declined a bit over the last few months, which is largely due to his poor testing at the combine. His production and route tree make him seem like a fairly pro ready option, which is impressive for someone who won’t turn 21 until December, but his lack of athleticism may limit his upside. However, receivers like Keenan Allen have proven that you don’t need to be a speed burner to succeed in the NFL, and Bell could develop into a similar type of player at the next level.

Danny Gray, WR, SMU (#128)

Ryland B.: Yet another receiver who ran in the 4.3 range at the NFL combine, Gray could be a possible speed threat option for the Steelers in the middle rounds. He was more often than not the fastest guy on the field, and it really shows. Gray’s speed and change of direction really stand out on tape, and he’s a menace with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think there’d be even more touchdowns on tape if he didn’t deal with so many underthrows on deep routes. Gray has a tall, lanky frame and often struggled with more physical corners. He has a good release but would often get jammed in press, or struggle to separate in more physical coverage. Gray has good hands but has a bit of a habit to body catch, although he does have some good contested catches on tape. Overall, there’s some great potential with Gray, who could really succeed as a deep threat on the next level.

Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (#72)

Andrew Wilbar: Despite tremendous talent, Petit-Frere struggled at times during the 2021 season, largely due to inconsistent footwork and technique. These issues were worse in 2020 when playing on the right side, and I think this illuminates the fact that he is a better fit at left tackle in the NFL. He is not as strong as his profile may indicate either, as he gets moved off his base and pushed back toward the quarterback too often. He also struggles to contain inside moves. Penn State’s Jesse Luketa made him look absolutely foolish on one specific rep that stood out, but there were other instances that were not quite as obvious as well. Although there may be a lot of issues with his game, he brings enticing upside due to his fluidity and mobility. He is a boom-or-bust option on day two.

Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State (#75)

Ryland B.: Lucas has some definite issues in his game, but he’s an intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. His floor is fairly high thanks to his above-average technique. He plays with quick feet, and good reaction time and hand usage. He’s not an athletic freak but is a good mover with ideal size for the position. But despite his size at over six and a half feet and 319 pounds, he gets driven back far too much. His overall strength and anchoring ability needs a lot of work, and while Lucas will likely hold his own against speed rushers at the next level, bull-rushes will prove a major problem. That being said, Lucas definitely has the frame to gain some strength and an NFL weight room might greatly improve his strength. I see him as a mid-round pick with some starting upside.

Zach Tom, OL/OT, Wake Forest (#82)

Noah: Zach Tom scored a 99 which was the highest among all offensive tackles at the combine. He plays with a solid pad level and uses his lower body strength to keep defenders from getting to the quarterback. He has good grip strength and hand placement that really benefits him against stronger pass rushers. Tom uses his natural strength to his advantage in the run game but there’s definitely a lot to be desired as a run blocker. His size and overall skill set makes him better suited to be a guard at the pro level, but he has experience as a guard and the versatility to do it.

Daniel Faalele, OT/OL, Minnesota (#91)

Andrew Wilbar: I was a big fan of Faalele before he decided to return to school for the 2021 season, but some of his issues were exposed on a consistent basis over the past year, both during the season as well as during the week of Senior Bowl practices. Any 6’9”, 380-pound lineman who moves as well as Faalele does is going to draw intrigue, and rightfully so. He is a powerful individual who simply moves defenders in the run game, and it is difficult to move him off his base in pass protection. However, he had serious issues in college with twitchier edge rushers who could get low coming around the edge, and I am not sure how much can be done about that. When you are that size, quick pass rushers who can get low are going to give you fits. I think in Faalele’s scenario, the best thing would be to work on improving his footwork to the absolute best it can get. He cannot change the fact that he is 6’9”, but he can minimize the cons of being that size with better technique. He has the potential to be a dominant right tackle in the NFL, but he is very boom-or-bust.

Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State (#118)

Necksnation: A year ago, Walker was projected to go in the top half of the first round, but his stock lowered considerably over the course of this past season. He was almost exclusively a left tackle at Penn State, playing all but two snaps at the position during his final two years of college. Walker certainly did look like a better prospect in 2020, but he was still able to put together some solid performances, including one against Michigan’s pass-rushing tandem of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. He has decent size, although he could benefit from gaining some weight between now and the start of the NFL season. He is a good athlete, which tends to be his calling card in pass protection as he frequently relies on his athleticism in favor of his power. As a result, he isn’t the most physical blocker, and although he’s solid in the run game, he could work on playing with more power and intensity. He does a very good job of getting off the line of scrimmage, and he has good burst and agility in general, which he uses to his advantage when moving upfield. Walker is a bit of a boom or bust prospect, and if a team is willing to take a gamble on the player that he looked like a year ago, he could end up being a steal on late-day 2/early day 3, but he does have a low floor.

Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming (#54)

Shannon White: [Muma] is a fundamentally sound tackler, displaying superior technique. He is extremely instinctual, from his first step and flawless angles to the ball carrier against the run, and the almost effortless depth he achieves in pass coverage. He has good size for the position at 6’3” and 245 lbs, which allows him to take on blockers and consistently disengage to make the tackle. He shows good burst and easy acceleration when blitzing the QB. Muma is a third generation athlete, as both his father and grandfather played football at Wyoming. He was a defensive back in high school, which helps explain his coverage instincts. He reportedly has excellent leadership skills, and knows how to command a defensive huddle. Another coach on the field, he could be seen throughout Senior Bowl week instructing other defenders with their assignments. Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers defense in 2021, and the potential impact his substantial abilities could bring to the equation, this BTSC writer believes that Chad Muma would be a perfect fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati (#60)

Necksnation: Beavers fits the mold of a prototypical buck linebacker, and while he could become successful in that role, it may hurt his draft stock a bit. At 6’4’’ and 255 lbs, he certainly has the frame to be a run stuffing linebacker, and he showed an ability to do so plenty of times at Cincinnati. Although he didn’t pick up linebacker until after graduating from high school, Beavers spent five years playing linebacker at the collegiate level (two with Connecticut and three with Cincinnati), so he does have a decent amount of experience at the position. He tested well at the combine, and had a pretty week at the Senior Bowl, but the biggest question mark surrounding Beavers is his ability in pass coverage. He isn’t too bad in zone, but he shouldn’t be asked to play man very often, as he is likely to be exploited by a veteran QB. Overall, Beavers is a good downhill tackler and run defender who should have a solid career in the NFL, but I don’t ever see him becoming any more than a two down linebacker, and it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. Still, I would feel comfortable taking him late in day two, since he certainly has the upside to become a quality starter in a primarily run defending role.

Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State (#69)

Andrew Wilbar: If you want to take a risk on a boom-or-bust guy early on day three, look no further than Brandon Smith. His tape is up and down, but it is easy to see his athletic traits. His 40 time was a bit slower at the scouting combine last month than the 4.38 he reportedly ran back in high school, but that is understandable when you consider the amount of weight he put on toward the end of his collegiate career. That weight needed to be added, though, as there were several occurrences on tape where he struggled to disengage from blocks and make more challenging tackles. If he keeps the added weight on, he may be able to handle the BUCK position in addition to being able to play a MACK or MIKE role at the drop of a hat. Part of the reason he struggled at times in 2021 was because he had a lot more on his plate. In 2020, he did not have to communicate as much, and he rarely had to deal with difficult run-stopping assignments. Before adding weight this past season, Smith’s frame was on the slighter side, and he was used primarily as a coverage linebacker. He was impressive in that role the majority of the time, but when his role increased in 2021, he seemed overwhelmed at times. Nonetheless, if you want to gamble on a guy with traits, Smith could pay big dividends.

Damone Clark, LB, LSU (#101)

Andrew Wilbar: Clark had an incredible statistical year in 2021, finally living up to his billing as a strong athlete. At 6’2 ½”, 239 pounds, he ran a 4.57 in the 40, had a 36.5 inch vertical, and a 7.12 in the 3-cone. Those are solid numbers across the board, but things have not gone well for Clark since. It was announced at the end of March that he is undergoing spinal fusion surgery, which is something that could provide chronic issues down the line. On the other hand, this concern lowers his price, making him a potential day three steal. If he can avoid any long-term spinal issues, he could be the future at BUCK linebacker for the Steelers. It would allow Devin Bush to roam free while Clark helps in run support and occasional blitzing. Injuries of that nature are always dangerous, but he is a nice schematic fit for a team like Pittsburgh.

Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech (#137)

Andrew Wilbar: Some players just defy the limitations for certain positions. With Barno, he has defied the speed limitations of the traditional EDGE rusher. He ran an insane 4.36 in the 40 at the combine, but the crazier part is that he just about plays to that speed on tape. Unfortunately, there is not much here other than raw speed. He does not have the strength to successfully convert his speed to power on bull rushes, and his change-of-direction skills are merely average. Hand usage and pad level need a good bit of work as well. Overall, he is a boom-or-bust prospect who would be best suited for a team that will allow him to be just a rotational pass rusher until he builds up his strength.

Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (#164)

Skyfire322: Sanders is explosive off the line, and while he’s not the fastest, he can get in the backfield and doesn’t give up pursuit. His hand speed and bull rush are second to none and is an excellent pass rusher. He does have the length necessary to create some separation off the line. However, his lower body strength isn’t the greatest, especially when double-teamed, so this could be an issue against a top-tier offensive line. He also tends to wrap up, which may hurt against more elusive runners, but teams can most certainly address these issues. Overall, while his numbers dropped in his senior season, his technique, football IQ, and ability to play both sides of the ball worked in his favor.