The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.
Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.
Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.
As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 2 of college football!
Steven Gilmore | CB | Marshall
The brother of star cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Steven is fifth-year senior at Marshall who, despite being an undersized corner, has a knack for making big plays. This weekend, the story was no different, as Gilmore came away with a huge interception that he returned 37 yards for the touchdown.
The media is still buzzing about the Thundering Herd’s earth-shattering upset against Notre Dame, but it is important to note the strong performance by their top cornerback. While it appears as if there are no clear measurables for Gilmore, Marshall’s official website lists him at 6’0”, 170 pounds. He has a bit of feistiness in him, but if he really wants to become an imposing force on the boundary, he will have no choice but to add a chunk of weight. Nonetheless, Gilmore’s bloodlines, speed, and coverage skills make him an intriguing prospect to follow ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Tuli Tuipolutu | DL | USC
An early-season PAC-12 rivalry went down as expected Saturday night, with Lincoln Riley’s USC Trojans defeating David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal 41-28. One of the biggest issues for Stanford was their interior offensive line, which failed to come up with an answer for Tuli Tuipolutu.
Tuli, the brother of Eagles defensive tackle Marlon Tuipolutu, was on a different level Saturday night, racking up 6 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. He also deflected a pass. Tuipolutu is only a junior, but after making an impressive fumble recovery in Week 1 and following it up with a great game against a conference rival in Week 2, he has become one of the more unheralded underclassmen in a position to declare for the draft early. His hand usage and quickness off the snap make him effective getting upfield.
Keidron Smith | CB | Kentucky
Smith is an Ole Miss transfer who has made his presence felt on Kentucky’s defense early in the season, and his high-quality play against Florida put NFL scouts on high alert. Smith’s superb performance was highlighted by a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown, but his sound coverage on the outside throughout the contest was perhaps more impressive than anything.
Ole Miss tried converting him to safety in 2021, but with Kentucky putting him back at his natural position, he seems to have found new life as a draft prospect. He has even become better at defending the run and helping in run support. Measuring in at nearly 6’1”, 205 pounds, Smith has both the size and speed to hold his own on the boundary at the next level. The only question is whether or not his success can be maintained for a longer period of time.
Others Who Improved Their Stock
Gervon Dexter, Sr. | DT | Kentucky (7 TCKL, 0.5 SCK, 1 PD, 1 INT)
Bryce Ford-Wheaton | WR | West Virginia (11 REC, 152 YDS, 2 TD)
Jordan Wright — EDGE — Kentucky (6 TACK, 2 TFL, 1 SCK, 1 INT)
Tory Horton — WR — Colorado State (9 REC, 186 YDS, 3 TD)
Antwane Wells, Jr. — WR — South Carolina (8 REC, 189 YDS, 1 TD)
Cedric Tillman — WR — Tennessee (9 REC, 162 YDS, 1 TD)
Byron Young — EDGE — Tennessee (4 TCKL, 2 TFL, 1 SCK, 3 QB HUR)
A.J. Woods — CB — Pittsburgh (2 PD)
Kendrick Sartor — OT — Marshall
What are your thoughts on the aforementioned prospects? Do you think any of them could make sense for the Steelers? Which draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!