For some, Day 2 of the NFL Draft is even more enthralling than Day 1 given the pool of first-round-caliber talent still available. We won’t necessarily go that far, but Rounds 2 and 3 still provide plenty of entertainment with star names floating and teams looking to fill needs.
With the Steelers making Kenny Pickett the only quarterback taken in the top 32, most pundits felt there would be a slew of QBs to go off the board in Round 2, but that was not the case. Only in Round 3, with the Falcons selecting Desmond Ridder at Pick #74, did the engine on the quarterback train gain steam; Malik Willis (Titans) and Matt Corral (Panthers) were taken in the third as well.
On the Pittsburgh front, the board fell as well as Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert could have hoped at Pick #52. The team chose Georgia WR George Pickens over players such as WR Skyy Moore, LB Nakobe Dean and CB Marcus Jones. Then, at Pick #84, PIT selected Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal to add insurance to an already robust defensive line.
While the preliminary three rounds are where the meat and bones of a draft class originate, shrewd GMs can still find quality talent in Rounds 4-7. Using our BTSC Big Board rankings and analysis, let’s analyze the best players left as well as potential targets for the Steelers.
Top 10 Overall Prospects Remaining
- Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (BTSC Rank: #51)
Redshirt junior, 6-foot-3, 226 lbs
Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown of Strong, I talked about a knee injury he suffered in high school, and that injury has now become the biggest question mark surrounding his draft stock. As a prospect, the first thing that stands out about Strong is his arm strength. He puts good zip on short and intermediate throws and can sling it 60 yards down the field with ease. Over the past two seasons, he has learned to make quicker decisions with the football, and his delivery has become cleaner and quicker as well. Strong has also improved his accuracy, taking yet another step forward in 2021 with an impressive 70.2% completion percentage. Although his poise in the pocket has contributed to his success, his improved footwork has been the thing helping him become a more consistently accurate passer. At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Strong is primarily a pocket passer, but he has enough mobility to move around in the pocket and make an occasional play on the ground. Just don’t expect any designed quarterback runs with him at the helm. People close to him have also raved about his high IQ. My concerns lie in his clutchness and health. The most well-known issue with Strong is his knee problems, and that could be what keeps him from going in the top half of the first round. Fortunately for him, the latest reports indicate that teams do not see his knee issues as something that could plague his career.
Strong is one of two of the top six quarterbacks still standing, alongside Sam Howell — more on him in a second. The Nevada quarterback has arguably the biggest arm of any gunslinger in this class, but his medicals are especially concerning, as is his lack of mobility. Given that Willis slid all the way to the third despite being regarded in a different plane than Strong, the latter might not be taken until the fifth.
The Steelers, Falcons, Titans and Panthers all took quarterbacks, leaving a thinner market for Strong. The Seahawks (#109, #145), Giants (#112, #114, #146, #147), Commanders (#113, #120), Colts (#159) and Saints (#161) are all candidates.
#2. Sam Howell, QB, UNC (#52)
Junior, 6-foot-1, 218 lbs
Necksnation: A junior who has often been compared to Baker Mayfield, Howell was considered by many to be the top QB in this class prior to the 2021 season. However, his production took a notable hit in 2021. Although this was largely due to the departure of his top four playmakers to the NFL Draft, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t necessarily shown the ability to thrive without top talent around him. He had arguably his worst statistical season last year, putting up lows in TD:INT ratio, yards, and rating (per PFF) while also significantly regressing in completion percentage and yards per attempt. However, the loss of his top playmakers gave him the chance to make more plays with his legs, and he had by far his best season as a runner. Howell has very good arm talent, and his accuracy is pretty good as well. I did notice that he sometimes held on to the ball too long and tried to do too much, which is something that he could improve on at the next level. That said, he is more than capable of throwing on the run, leading the nation in TD passes thrown on the run. His tendency to try to make something out of nothing can be a double-edged sword, as it also created many of his interceptions. Howell needs to work on going through his progressions more, as I didn’t see him make too many throws that weren’t to his primary reads, but that may have also been due to scheme. This tendency to throw to his primary reads sometimes resulted in poor decision making, so he’ll need to work on his progressions in the NFL. Ball security seems like it could be a potential issue for Howell, as he fumbled 8 times in 2021 and 19 times across his three years at UNC. His pocket awareness is sometimes lacking, but he’s mobile enough to get out of difficult situations rather frequently, so while it’s something that he should work at, it’s not a huge concern for me. He is a little on the shorter side at 6’1”, but recently we’ve seen plenty of shorter QBs succeed so I’m not too worried about his height. I think that the Baker Mayfield comparison is a fair one, and I think that Howell has a similar ceiling in the NFL. I don’t think that Howell will ever be a true franchise QB, but he has enough upside to warrant a mid to late second round selection. He seems to me like a guy who will be a great backup but never a good starter, which is fine as long as no team reaches on him with their top pick.
Once viewed as a surefire first-rounder, Howell will, at the earliest, hear his name called three rounds later than once expected. The junior had one of the more prolific careers in ACC and North Carolina history, flashing his dual-threat ability and cannon of an arm. At the same time, Howell is a bit stockier and needs to refine his decision-making, especially in crunch time.
The same teams lining up for Strong would likely have interest in Howell, but we would also throw in the Eagles (#154) and Lions (#177).
#3. Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma (#57)
Senior, 6-foot-4, 290 lbs
Noah: Winfrey looks relatively unspectacular. There are some pros, he’s very mobile for a nose tackle and was used in a lot of stunts at Oklahoma. He’s a good tackler and frequently disrupts runs at the line of scrimmage. However, he doesn’t seem to have a real plan as a pass rusher and he doesn’t have the size or strength to get past bigger offensive lineman. He does have a good hand placement that helps him get home for a sack every now and then, but overall, if he can’t develop more as a pass rusher, he could turn out to be a bust for whoever drafts him.
Ranked just ahead of new Steeler Leal on our big board, it was a surprise that Winfrey didn’t get taken on Day 2; then again, the slide of UConn’s Travis Jones likely didn’t aid Winfrey. The Oklahoma product posted a lackluster 59.7 PFF grade in 2021 but is just 21 years old.
#4. Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati (#60)
Senior, 6-foot-4, 237 lbs
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.
Cincinnati’s historic 2021 season has already yielded five draft picks: Sauce Gardner, Alec Pierce, Bryan Cook, Ridder and Myjai Sanders. Beavers will likely become the sixth Bearcat drafted on Saturday.
With Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal falling until the third round, Beavers may be taken later than once expected. His 88th-percentile broad jump and 79th-percentile three-cone time will still generate fans in NFL war rooms, though.
The Steelers could still look to shore up their ILB corps, so they could be in play for Beavers. Other candidates are the Browns (#108), Ravens (#110), Jets, Giants, Broncos and Patriots (#121).
#5. Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State (#65)
Senior, 6-foot-0, 196 lbs
Ryland B.: Shakir’s knack for acrobatic catches really stands out. He has good hands and excellent ball-tracking ability, always putting himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Even though he played the most in the slot at Boise State, he lacks the ideal quickness for the position in the NFL. Shakir has a slower release than most and although he has good long speed he isn’t a short distance accelerator. As a route-runner, Shakir takes great angles and his buildup speed can create separation down the field, but he isn’t the twitchiest. However, he shows good vision after the catch and was a successful returner in college. Shakir’s solid athleticism and size, along with his ability to be a reliable pass-catcher, project him as a very good 4th or 5th receiver on an NFL depth chart.
Shakir turned heads with a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, but the Boise State wideout doesn’t display insane athleticism with an 8.01 raw athletic score (RAS). Altogether, though, Shakir is one of the better receivers available for teams who have yet to meet such a need.
The only team that feels desperate for a WR is the Ravens, but look out for the Seahawks, Vikings, Chargers, Titans (#131) and Panthers (#144) to be in the mix.
#6. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State (#69)
Junior, 6-foot-3 1/2, 250 lbs
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.
Having already seen Arnold Ebiketie (Falcons) and Jaquan Brisker (Bears) get taken, Smith is poised to become the third PSU defender selected in this year’s draft. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projects Smith to be picked in the third or fourth round, so this is the linebacker’s sweet spot.
A bit of a riskier choice than Chenal or Beavers, Smith fits the bill of a linebacker with upside for the teams already looking at Beavers. In fact, given that all 32 teams were at Penn State’s Pro Day, he may be on additional squads’ radars.
#7. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis (#74)
Redshirt senior, 5-foot-8, 170 lbs
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
We’ve seen lightning-quick receivers Jameson Williams and Skyy Moore already find new homes, and Austin is next in line. Flaunting a 4.32 40, Austin is a true burner but lacks good build in both height and weight.
Despite similar concerns, the Rams took Tutu Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While the Atwell pick is already evoking some concerns, Austin’s wheels alone make him arguably the best WR remaining; The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Austin as his top receiver still available. Teams monitoring Shakir could easily defer to Austin.
#8. Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati (#76)
Redshirt junior, 5-foot-10 1/2, 210 lbs
Andrew Wilbar: Ford reminds me in many ways of Javonte Williams last year. He hits the hole with great quickness, and his blend of speed and power give him high upside as a workhorse back in the NFL. What I also like about Ford is his leg drive. He has outstanding lower body strength, and he keeps those legs churning after contact, trying to get every possible yard out of each carry and occasionally carrying defenders with him. My biggest knock on him is in pass protection. He doesn’t have great awareness as a pass protector, and there are times when I watch him on tape and feel as if he didn’t give his best effort. Another issue, albeit a teachable issue, is that he can be too patient running routes out of the backfield. While he has the hands to be an efficient receiver out of the backfield, there were several instances on tape where Desmond Ridder wanted to dump the ball off to Ford only for Ford not to have turned around yet and not be ready for the ball. In the end, I think Ford overcomes these issues and develops into a nice NFL running back.
Running backs were hot commodities on Day 2, with Breece Hall (Jets), Kenneth Walker III (Seahawks), James Cook (Bills), Rachaad White (Buccaneers), Tyrion Davis-Price (49ers) and Brian Robinson (Commanders) being drafted. However, there are still a myriad of solid running back options, including Cincy’s Ford.
Having transferred from Alabama, Ford was an integral part of the Bearcats’ College Football Playoff run and was especially great on the big stage, collecting 187 yards and two touchdowns against Houston in the AAC Championship. A solid 5.1 yards per carry against the vaunted Crimson Tide in the CFP Semifinal should also help Ford become noticed by scouts.
Although six contingents have taken ‘backs, the Texans, Giants, Chargers, Steelers (#138), Rams (#142) and Falcons (#151) are suitors.
#9. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA (#79)
Redshirt senior, 6-foot-4, 205 lbs
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.
With a lanky 6-foot-4 build, an astonishing 4.26 40 and a 9.71 RAS, you’re not going to last very long on NFL draft boards. The fact that Woolen wasn’t taken yet is surprising.
Only three corners were pried in Round 3, meaning the UTSA cover man should be in prime position to be near the top of the fourth round. The Buccaneers (#106), Seahawks, Ravens, Commanders, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys (#129) and Steelers are matches.
#10. Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers (#80)
Senior, 5-foot-11, 189 lbs
K.T. Smith (CHISAP): Melton can run, having clocked a 4.37 at the Combine. I’m familiar with his speed, having coached against him when he was a stud receiver at Cedar Creek High School in southern New Jersey and watched him run by our defensive backs like they were standing still. Melton was a straight speedster back then. In the years since, he has become a good overall route runner and a player whose body control and athleticism allows him to compete for just about any ball thrown in his range. He can be a bit stiff at times, and he could struggle to separate against big, physical press corners in the NFL. But if teams want a home-run hitter with an exceptional work ethic, Melton is a great choice.
One more note: the Steelers have always valued players of high character, and Melton has it. When the son of one of the assistant coaches on our staff was diagnosed with leukemia, Melton, who was at Rutgers at the time, made a video for the boy, then sent him a signed pair of cleats and a football signed by the entire Rutgers team. He didn’t brag about his good deed on social media or make a public show of it. I only found out about it because my assistant coach told me. Melton did it because a young boy was sick and because the South Jersey football community is like a fraternity. They say character is defined by the things you do when no one is looking. If that’s true, Bo Melton is a young man whose character is exemplary.
As K.T. noted, Melton meshes his speed with precise route-running as well as veteran experience. In the fierce Big Ten, the wideout amassed over 600 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons and has played in 45 collegiate games. After a solid Senior Bowl showing, Melton’s stock improved, but there’s still some debate as to where the New Jersey native will be picked.
Melton isn’t just a track runner like Austin, especially given his boxier frame. Regardless, teams looking for a versatile option should angle towards Melton, who played 18.9% of his snaps in the slot and has some minor kick/punt return experience.
Top 10 Steelers Fits on the Board
#1. Tariq Woolen
Finding long, athletic corners is the stuff that general managers dream of.
Woolen does need to improve his tackling, as he missed over 21% of his tackles in both 2020 and 2021. At the same time, Woolen would grant the Steelers a young corner with rare size and speed that can learn behind Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace.
#2. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati (BTSC Rank: #127)
Some could argue that Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and DeMarvin Leal have all felt like picks of fate, that the Steelers have chosen players that fans had continuously mocked to the team.
Given that trend, Bryant very well may be next up.
Steelers fans have grown enamored with the 2021 Jim Thorpe winner. Bryant is already 23 and is not the most athletic, but his cover skills speak for themselves: his 61.1 passer rating allowed in 2021 was top 25 in the country among corners to play at least 300 snaps.
Pittsburgh sent its top personnel to watch Cincinnati prospects up close, including getting dinner with several Bearcats. Bryant was one of them; the interest and fit are undeniably there.
#3. Zach Tom, OT/OG, Wake Forest (#82)
Even after acquiring James Daniels and Mason Cole, the Steelers very well might want to add an offensive lineman in the draft. Who better than Tom, who has experience at left tackle and center?
In a recent interview I did, Sports Info Solutions’ Nathan Cooper mentioned Tom as a target for the Steelers, citing his reactivity, ability to pull and hand usage.
#4. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota (#91)
Faalele is truly a mammoth, situated at 6-foot-8 and nearly 385 pounds. Such a frame is nearly unparalleled, though Faalele isn’t the most nimble and performed below expectations at the Senior Bowl. Nonetheless, the ability to acquire a tackle of his stature to create competition with Dan Moore Jr. is quite appealing.
#5. Darrian Beavers, CB, Cincinnati
I’m continuing to place my bet on the Steelers taking at least one Cincy prospect. When watching tape on Sauce Gardner, Beavers certainly catches one’s eye, too. Beavers’ aggressive play style would unequivocally supply the Steelers with the downhill linebacking they lacked in 2021, and his coverage weaknesses could be offset with Myles Jack and Devin Bush.
#6. Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan (#139)
It’s flown somewhat under the radar in the build-up to the draft, but Pittsburgh would be wise to add a running back to ease the workload on Najee Harris. In 2021, Harris accounted for 74.6% of the Steelers’ rushes, higher than even Jonathan Taylor (66.5%) by a sizeable margin. Haskins was a key ingredient to Michigan’s stellar season, posting a gaudy 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns. Although not much of a receiver, Haskins is great at explosive rushes; his 36 rushes of 10+ yards were tied with Breece Hall and would add a dynamism to a Steelers RB room not known for chunk plays.
#7. Damone Clark, LB, LSU (#101)
Point blank, Clark could be one of the bigger steals in this year’s class. If not for his spinal cord fusion surgery that will sideline him for most, if not all, of 2022, Clark would probably have been taken in the second round. We saw the Ravens scoop up David Ojabo at #45, and the Steelers could follow suit with stopping Clark’s freefall. Clark’s 90.1 PFF tackling grade in 2021 was on par with first-round ‘backer Quay Walker.
#8. Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt (#111)
One Pitt Panther is great, so why not take two?
Mathis would be a similarly likeable pick, as the local DB also fills a pivotal position of need. A tad older at 23, Mathis has three years of starting seasons against top-notch ACC competition, and his 4.39 speed is a boon.
#9. Dane Belton, S, Iowa (#207)
Belton isn’t ranked super high on our board but is slotted as the best remaining safety, per Sports Info Solutions’ rankings. Only 21, Belton was a cog in a stingy Hawkeye defense and can play in the slot, box or at free safety. The Steelers never ended up signing Tyrann Mathieu — at least not yet — but Belton could be a fine consolation prize and a glimmering toy for Teryl Austin.
#10. Ty Chandler, RB, UNC (#179)
Chandler isn’t a running back garnering tremendous amounts of attention, largely due to his age — he’s nearly 24. However, when watching film on Sam Howell, Chandler’s 4.38 speed and tackle-breaking ability continually impress. Following in the footsteps of North Carolina backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter last year, Chandler would be a stupendous complement to Najee Harris.
While watching Sam Howell, UNC running back Ty Chandler caught my attention. Could be a mid-to-late-round target for the #Steelers.— Bradley Locker (@Bradley_Locker) March 26, 2022
Chandler has great wiggle, vision and burst and was a Second-Team All-ACC selection in 2021. At the same time, he'll be 24 in May. pic.twitter.com/ex3u53thNm
Other Names to Watch
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama (BTSC Rank: #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.
Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor (#263)
Ryland B.: When researching Barnes, his 4.23 second 40-time was the first thing that really caught my eye. Incredibly close to the combine record, Barnes shouldn’t have any issues running alongside NFL receivers. However, the NFL is much more than a track meet. Barnes has poor backpedal technique, often looking too stiff and upright. He also can react late, and while his athleticism generally makes up for it, there will be much less margin for error at the next level. Barnes isn’t the most physical and could improve his ball skills as well. He’s an incredibly raw prospect, but his elite athleticism and good effort on the field make him an intriguing late round option.
Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama (#284)
Andrew Wilbar: Jobe has been one of the more consistent corners in college football over the past couple years. However, he was unable to ever reach a special level in the three years he had a prominent role, and he seemed to take a step back in 2021 when put into the CB1 role. When it comes to Jobe as a prospect, his ball skills are not thoroughly impressive, but when he gets good position from the get-go, he knows how to get into passing lanes and swat away passes. Unfortunately, he seems to lack the athleticism to play heavy doses of man coverage. His instincts are also poor, leading one to believe that a transition to safety may be the best career move for him. That is the belief of Lance Zierlein, who wrote an interesting scouting report on Jobe. You can check it out here.
Dare Rosenthal, OT, Kentucky (#105)
Andrew Wilbar: Rosenthal weighed in about 30 pounds less than what he was listed at during the season, which makes his evaluation slightly more difficult. He looked like a player with a totally new profile at the combine, and I am not sure whether that should be considered a good thing or not. Rosenthal is a talented lineman who transferred from LSU and quickly became a leader on Kentucky’s offensive line. His lack of presence was felt in the team’s bowl game, as their backup looked quite incompetent compared to what people had been accustomed to seeing from Rosenthal. When watching him on tape, I liked how he always played through the whistle, and I loved his nasty attitude and demeanor. He plays like a bully, but with the amount of weight he lost between the 2021 season and the combine, I am not sure if he is going to be as effective with that style of play. He gets great forward movement as a run blocker, and he does a good job using his long arms to create leverage. His anchor needs a little work, but there are multiple things you can write home about when it comes to Rosenthal’s game. I would say that he is the biggest “wild card” of the offensive tackle class.
Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota (#106)
Andrew Wilbar: Mobility is the first thing that jumps out on tape with Waletzko. He does a good job getting to the second level of the defense, and he is above-average as a blocker downfield. Sometimes I feel as if he has a little too much zeal coming out of his stance because there are times where he will just overrun blocks; I mean, I am glad he has quickness off the snap, and I am glad he has fantastic mobility, but you don’t want to be overrunning blocks and getting to the second level too soon either. Nonetheless, he keeps his shoulders square, he has good hand placement, and he has some power in his hands. He does not have superior strength, but I think he will get stronger once he gets with a strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He also has shown an ability to pull, which only increases his value to NFL teams. I do have concerns about his level of competition, as he hardly faced NFL-talent-level players in college. That could be partially why he looked so dominant on tape. Nonetheless, he is a prospect that I would be more than willing to take a chance on if he falls to day three.
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.
Darrian Kinnard, OT/OG, Kentucky (#122)
Andrew Wilbar: Kinnard is a mountain of a man who brings high potential to the table. Although he played right tackle in college, I see him as a guard in the NFL, as quicker NFL edge rushers are going to constantly beat him on inside moves if he remains at tackle. When Kinnard latches onto a defensive lineman and gets good hand placement, he can control the rep, but does not blow people off the ball as often as you would expect a tackle his size to do. His footwork is also a bit sloppy for a tackle, which is one of the primary reasons why I think his best fit is at guard in the NFL, at least at his current weight. He is definitely more of a vertical mover than a lateral mover, and unless he drops some weight and improves his lateral quickness, he will need to go to a team that runs primarily man or gap concepts.
D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State (#120)
Andrew Wilbar: Jackson’s play speed and physicality is impressive when you watch him on tape. Despite his lack of elite size, Jackson has a nasty streak in him, delivering big hits on opposing ball-carriers consistently. I also came away impressed with Jackson’s ability to close holes quickly. The instincts to predict which hole the runner is going to go through is evident on tape as well, as he is quick to shoot gaps and plug holes in the run game. While I do have concerns about his change-of-direction skills and fluidity in coverage, I do like his ability as a blitzer. He is incredibly lethal on delayed blitzes, displaying fantastic closing speed. Size and agility are the potential downsides here, but once we get to day three, there will be plenty of teams who are willing to take a risk on him.
Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin (#150)
Jeremy Betz: Sanborn is the definition of a “tweener”, with no real defined place in a traditional defense. He plays faster than he runs and is a sideline-to-sideline missile who attacks ball-carriers with gusto. Many scouting reports on Sanborn talk about a smart, high-effort player with limited athleticism. A team drafting the Wisconsin product is hoping that competitive drive and quick-processing ability translate to a productive rotational ILB at the next level.
Nephi Sewell, LB, Utah (#374)
Ryland B.: Sewell would definitely be a popular pick for those who value football bloodlines. Nephi is one of four brothers to play college football, with his older sibling Penei being the 7th overall pick last year for Detroit. Listed at 6’0” and 228 lbs, Sewell is undersized for the position with good-not-great athleticism. He’s great in zone coverage, showing good awareness and excellent movement skills, looking as fluid as a DB at times. However, while he’s physical against the run, his lack of size and strength minimize his impact. His high character and coverage skills could make him an intriguing 7th round/UDFA pickup with the upside of a very good special teamer.
Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M (#125)
Ryland B.: Spiller is a productive SEC back with good production and athleticism. What’s not to like? He’s a tough runner with top-notch acceleration and decent long speed for his size. What stands out with Spiller is his excellent vision. He’s very smart and efficient in his cuts, being difficult to bring down behind the line of scrimmage and running with excellent angles in the open field. While not particularly shifty in the traditional sense, he is surprisingly hard to bring down due to his power, vision, and ability to change direction without losing much speed. As a pass-catcher, Spiller hasn’t seen a ton of action, but he has good hands and is a solid route-runner. He has enough tools to be a versatile weapon in most offenses. Easily one of the best running backs in the class, Spiller should be a good pick in the late first or early second round for a running back needy team.
Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame (#158)
NecksNation: Williams may be undersized, but he plays above his frame. The 21 year old displayed impressive versatility at Notre Dame, which should translate well to the NFL. However, his lack of size may preclude him from being a traditional “feature back” at the next level, which could hurt his draft stock. Williams experienced a slight regression from his sophomore to junior year, but he saw a slight uptick in his receiving production. He should prove to be a valuable asset in the passing game, between his receiving skills and his stellar pass protection. He was clocked at a 4.44 40 yard dash, and although that number should change shortly, he’s quite athletic and has impressive strength. I noticed that he had a bit of a tendency to get tripped up, but for the most part he was solid when it came to breaking tackles. Williams may not be an every down star back in the NFL, but he should be a solid all around contributor for whatever team drafts him.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida (#154)
Andrew Wilbar: Pierce may be one of the most underrated running back prospects. He has good speed, shiftiness, and contact balance. Pierce is not a bulldozer, but he does have some sneaky power, and he does a great job of withstanding serious contact. His lower body strength is evident on tape when you see him carrying a couple defenders and picking up an extra yard or two. He is at his best, however, when he can run laterally and use his agile, elusive style of running to make defenders miss. He also has incredibly good footwork, which allows him to stop on a dime and be nearly impossible to bring down one-on-one in the open field. While all this sounds enticing, we have not seen it consistently enough. He does not always do a great job of seeing the hole before it closes, and he does not have elite short-area quickness, which is most noticeable when he is running in between the tackles. There is definitely some upside with Pierce, but let’s see how consistent he is the week of the Senior Bowl.
Zamir White, RB, Georgia (#142)
Noah: White is a powerful runner with good lower body strength and leg drive. His combination of size, vision and burst will make him a solid backup with potential to be a full time starter. However, he’ll be 23 when the season starts, and while that’s not bad for a rookie, running backs tend to age a little quicker than other positions and he already has a lot of carries for his physical playstyle. That, along with his lack of long speed could limit his potential. If he’s put in a good situation, he could be successful very early in his career. I like him going to the Falcons a lot.
Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU (#128)
NecksNation: Allgeier’s combination of bulk and athleticism immediately stands out, which provides him with a high ceiling in the NFL. He supposedly ran a 4.4 40 yard dash, and although he doesn’t seem to play with that same speed, he is quite explosive when he gets going. He had an unusual 2019 season, when he spent time at both running back and linebacker, but ultimately settled on being a RB. It’s worked out for him ever since, tallying 2731 yards in 24 games over the past two seasons. Allgeier doesn’t have great agility, but he’s certainly capable of breaking tackles and he certainly is a big play threat, as he rattled off numerous big runs in his career at BYU. He isn’t a big factor in the receiving game, but his production on run plays more than compensates. He would certainly be considered a downhill runner, a trait that serves him well when breaking tackles and accelerating. Allgeier certainly has the potential to be a feature back at the next level, and should at least develop into a solid change of pace back for an NFL team.
Tyler Badie, RB, Mizzou (#191)
Andrew Wilbar: Don’t let the size fool you. Badie is a very durable back who was a true bell cow for the Tigers’ offense. Despite taking a beating in several big games down the stretch, he withheld the beating and recorded several huge performances down the stretch, accumulating 574 yards on 102 carries over the final three games. His low center of gravity allows him to withstand contact, and he has quick feet than allow him to make tacklers miss in the open field. However, I do not see him as an every-down back. He reminds me a lot of Devin Singletary coming out of college in that he is a small, durable running back who lacks the size or top-end speed to ever become anything special against NFL athletes. Nonetheless, he could absolutely be a nice number two running back in a system that allows him to run outside the tackles and make an impact as a receiver on third downs.
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.
Jesse Luketa, EDGE, Penn State (#140)
Andrew Wilbar: Luketa is one of my favorite day-three prospects in the draft. While his athletic testing was unbelievably poor, he put out impressive tape in 2021 for scouts to look at. The numbers are not going to jump off the page, but he began playing a snap at outside linebacker here and there as the season went on. He was primarily a middle linebacker at Penn State, but to me, it was as clear as day that he was playing out of position. When aligned at outside linebacker, he simply displayed a better feel for the game. He timed his jumps off the line of scrimmage almost perfectly, and he looked incredibly smooth coming around the edge, displaying a natural feel for rushing the passer. While his straight-line speed may not be elite, he has excellent closing speed, and he rarely misses a tackle once he closes on the ball-carrier. If the Steelers can grab him late on day three, it would be one of the best value picks in the entire draft.
Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon (#155)
Ryland B.: In a fairly deep safety class, McKinley’s 6 interception season might have flown under the radar. But the Oregon safety might be some great value for a team in the middle rounds, or even a surprise day 2 selection. What stands out regarding McKinley is his ball skills. He’s an elite ballhawk who can make acrobatic interceptions and undercut routes, while also possessing the type of football IQ where the football just seems to find him wherever he is on the field. He has good coverage skills overall with some versatility as a slot defender. Against the run, McKinley isn’t elite, but he’s an adequate tackler with good football smarts. The biggest knock on McKinley is his measurables. At 5’11” and 194 pounds he’s a bit short and undersized for the position. And although an adequate athlete at the college level, McKinley seemingly lacks the range of a great coverage safety in the NFL. Still, he has a fairly high floor and should be able to start early on in his NFL career.
Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo (#143)
Andrew Wilbar: Anderson is an athletic safety with a high ceiling, but adding more weight may help him when coming downhill to defend the run, as he lacks ideal functional strength for the position. Anderson has good closing speed, and he closes open throwing windows in a hurry, but he struggles to finish tackles against a vast majority of running backs and tight ends because of his lack of strength. Having a better understanding of tackling angles would help him as well. Nonetheless, his production and talent make him worthy of a mid-round selection. He will just need time to fully develop.
Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, USC (#166)
Andrew Wilbar: In case you were wondering, Pola-Mao is the cousin of Steelers legend Troy Polamalu. It is surprising that he has flown under the radar, as there is a ton of untapped potential here. He is a physical safety who is not afraid to lower his shoulder and blast opposing receivers and running backs. Do not let his physical play style fool you though, as he displays plenty of range in coverage as well. I just feel as if USC failed to put him in position to create splash plays in 2021, and I also feel as if he was playing out of position, aligning primarily at free safety for the Trojans. At 6’3”, I think the best scenario would be for him to add a few pounds and move to strong safety, where his physicality and blitzing ability would be utilized in a better way. Pola-Mao is more than likely not the next Troy, but he could be a nice toy for Teryl Austin in the secondary. If you would like to look into Pola-Mao’s game more extensively, check out this film breakdown by former BTSC contributor and current Pro Football Network analyst Nick Farabaugh.
Quentin Lake, S, UCLA (#172)
Andrew Wilbar: Quentin, the son of former Steeler Carnell Lake, was one of my day three sleepers in the 2021 draft class, but he decided to return to school in an attempt to improve his draft stock. He is primarily a free safety who brings solid athleticism and great instincts to the table. He has become much stronger against the run, and his tackling angles have also improved. He has also become unafraid to lower his shoulder, get dirty, and lower the boom on an opposing receiver. Overall, there is not much to complain about with Lake, especially when you consider that you will only be spending a late-round pick on him. Playing in a weak conference and playing games late at night may partially be why he is getting hyped so little, but don’t overthink it. Lake is a good football player who should definitely make an impact in the NFL, whether it be as a starter, backup, or special teamer. You can check out his full interview with Jeremy and me below.
Connor Heyward, FB/TE, Michigan State (#200)
Andrew Wilbar: The brother of Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, Connor is a fairly athletic fullback who can be used as a runner, blocker, and receiver. Heyward was used as a running back his first four seasons at Michigan State, but he willingly changed positions and played the role of an H-back. He is listed as a tight end on the Spartans’ website, but he will most definitely be considered a fullback headed into the NFL. Heyward is a good blocker who, much like his brother, displays great effort and toughness on every down. Just to give insight as to how versatile he is, Michigan State used him as a kick returner his first two seasons in Lansing as well as making him a rotational running back. As a blocker, Heyward plays to the whistle and beats his opponents with physicality. I wanted Ben Mason in last year’s draft, but if the Steelers decide to part ways with Derek Watt, perhaps Cam Heyward will be the next Steeler to have a family member join him on the team.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina (#108)
Jeremy Betz: Likely is the the epitome of today’s hybrid players at the TE position. He moves well, relying on speed, size, and fluidity to win down the field. Comps favorably to Noah Fant when he came out of Iowa, although Likely is a tad slower. Teams looking for a mismatch in the passing game could look to Likely on Day 2 of the Draft. He’s too big for corners and too fast for LBs, but he will likely (had to do it) struggle as a blocker at the next level and will need development in that area. Get him in an NFL weight room while maximizing his receiving talent early, and Likely could become a high-end playmaker relatively early in his career.
Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State (#93)
Necksnation: The first thing that jumps out about Kolar is his size. At 6’6’’ and 260 pounds, he certainly has the frame to succeed in the NFL. He had consistent production as a receiver at Iowa State from his sophomore to senior seasons, and is a capable blocker when he’s not catching passes. His hands are outstanding, and although he isn’t a great athlete, he has value as a red zone threat that he showcased throughout college. His drop rate of 3% makes him a very reliable option to a QB. Kolar is a pretty good blocker, but his height can cause him to lose leverage, which is something that could use work between now and when he makes his pro debut. He isn’t much of a threat after the catch, and he doesn’t create separation so easily, so he functions best when playing against zone and when he doesn’t have to gain many yards after the catch. Kolar projects as a day three pick who can be a decent red zone threat and reliable TE2 in the NFL.
Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin (#195)
Ryland B.: Want a high-floor tight end prospect who can block and be an impact in the red zone? Look no further than Ferguson. He’s not exactly the biggest tight end, and not the most athletic, but he carved out a nice career at Wisconsin for simply being good at football. He’s a great blocker who plays with aggression and excellent drive, even being deployed as a fullback at times. If I had one complaint it would be that he could improve in holding onto blocks a little bit longer, but Ferguson is one of the best blockers in this year’s tight end class. In the passing game he’s not a separator, but Ferguson has reliable hands and can make contested circus grabs. His primary usage as a blocker also made him find a lot of success catching roll-out passes out of play-action. Ferguson may never be a star at the NFL level, but he’ll be a rock-solid contributor, especially in the right offense.
Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M (#259)
Ryland B.: Wydermyer is a big-bodied, lanky, tight end in the mold of Kyle Pitts. He has good speed and is an incredibly smooth-athlete for his size. His burst and change of direction aren’t anything to write home about but more than adequate for the position. Wydermyer has good hands and should be a natural fit as a receiving tight end at the next level. As a blocker, Wydermyer isn’t exactly a natural, but he shows top-notch effort. Wydermyer shows that he wants to be a factor in the run game, so his blocking is something that could likely be improved at the next level, fully rounding out his game.
Grant Calcaterra, TE, SMU (#366)
Ryland B.: Calcaterra is an athletic receiving tight end who has had good college production. However, he has some injury issues and he lacks strength and form when it comes to blocking.