NFL Draft

NFL Draft Prospect Preview: Rose Bowl

Please note that (A) all grades are based on my estimate where the Steelers might be interested rather than my estimate of an all-teams grade, and (B) all grades are much more tentative than they will be as the process moves forward.

ROSE BOWL, #1 Alabama vs. #4 Notre Dame [Jan. 1st at 4 p.m. on ESPN]

When Notre Dame is on offense and Alabama on defense:

  • #74 OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame. (RS Senior). 6’6”, 305 lbs. Very good at everything, with tremendous experience at a good program. He’d get a solid 1st round grade if he’d earned fewer holding penalties and/or flashed more in the way of physical genius. Everything – balance, punch, power, pulling, etc. – seems to be just short of the “special” you hope for. One of those guys who projects as a long term starter and occasional pro bowler, but who doesn’t ring the “HOF upside” bell. ROUND 2 GRADE
  • #78 OG Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame. (RS Senior). 6’6”, 320 lbs. A pure Guard who wins in the phone booth basically every time, but looks progressively worse the further you move him away from the A gaps. Would be a much better fit for a team that runs a pure gap/power running game, which the Steelers do not. ROUND 5-7 GRADE
  • #72 OT Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’5”, 295 lbs. A smart, effective, overachieving Tackle who has some of the best hands in college football, both for punching and for gripping. Would rank much higher if he could somehow hang an extra 30 lbs. of muscle on his frame, but he hasn’t done it at Notre Dame and one has to question if he could in the pros. ROUND 6-UDFA GRADE
  • #69 OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame. 6’5″, 325 lbs. No description has been written. ROUND 6-UDFA GRADE
  • 12 QB Ian Book, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’0”, 212 lbs. A lethal player of sandlot ball, and a proven winner, when Book has had trouble it’s been against defenses that force him to stay in the pocket, read the defense, and make the throws. The arm talent is plenty good enough but not great. Tends to be streaky. Baker Mayfield with a similar ceiling, but a lot more risk? ROUND 4-7 GRADE
  • NOTE: Notre Dame is packed with draft eligible Day 3 players that I have not yet reached in my research. Please leave comments with any notes you want to add.


  • #58 DL Christian Barmore, Alabama (RS Sophomore). 6’5”, 310 lbs. He’s got the talent to be picked in Round 1, but hasn’t proven it on the field, and still gets out-leveraged far too often. Production aside, he will get a lot of looks from the Steelers because he fits so well on paper. He has the burst and ability to penetrate that Coach Butler prizes, and size enough to theoretically hold up against double teams. He just hasn’t done it the way you want… More Cam Heyward than Javon Hargrave, but that’s hardly something to complain about. ROUND 2-4 GRADE
  • #48 NT Phidarian Mathis, Alabama (RS Junior). 6’4”, 317 lbs. A two-down NT who deals well with double teams but offers very little in the way of pass rush. Would rank higher if pure run stuffers hadn’t become an endangered species in both the Steelers defense and the NFL in general. ROUND 6-UDFA GRADE
  • #2 CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (Junior). 6’1”, 203 lbs. He’s the very model of a modern cover corner, as Gilbert and Sullivan almost wrote. But it Ain’t Gonna Happen. No one will confuse Surtain for a hard hitting Safety, but he tackles just fine for an outside CB with true shutdown potential and it will be a shock if he drops out of the Top 10. ROUND 1 GRADE
  • #28 CB Josh Jobe, Alabama (Junior). 6’1”, 190 lbs. He’s been buried behind NFL talent in earlier years, and took it out on opponents by excelling on special teams and becoming the sort of physical CB who hits beyond his weight class. Quick enough to see snaps in the slot, and fast enough to play outside for 2020, he is a good enough all around athlete to earn snaps as a true Freshman too. ROUND 2-4 GRADE
  • #32 ILB Dylan Moses, Alabama (Senior). 6’3”, 235 lbs. The only knock on Moses are some lingering questions about a 2019 injury, and how long it will take him to internalize an NFL playbook. He played below the Top 10 expectations with which he entered the year, so it’s possible he will fall down toward the point where Pittsburgh could not resist. Daniel Jeremiah has compared him to Myles Jack. ROUND 1-2 GRADE


When Alabama is on offense and Notre Dame on defense:

  • #70 OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama. (Senior). 6’6”, 310 lbs. Smooth, quick footed, and strong enough to handle the job, Leatherwood has a number of fixable technique issues that will drop his stock toward the fringe-1st area where Pittsburgh has to be focused. Could be an ideal pick for a team like the Steelers that can afford to give him a redshirt year to grow on. ROUND 1 GRADE
  • #65 OG Deonte Brown, Alabama. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 338 lbs. A Grendel-sized human being who routinely faces other monsters and moves them where he wants them to go. The word “backward” is not in his vocabulary either, no matter who is trying to push him there. And his feet are nifty enough to handle all the lateral movement a Guard is asked to do. For all that, he is a classic Guard-only prospect and better suited to an old-fashioned power game than the zone schemes that Pittsburgh has run in more recent years. Could go in Round 2 if a team has just the right scheme and opening, but easier to project as a Round 3 or 4 pick. ROUND 2-4 GRADE
  • #69 C/G Landon Dickerson, Alabama. (RS Senior). 6’6”, 325 lbs. Don’t sleep on this one Steeler Nation. Dickerson is an experienced Center who’s proven his ability to lead an elite offensive line, but he’s built like a stereotypical power Guard, and blocks like one too. If you want an interior lineman to get down low and dig people out, this is your man. The limitations show when he’s asked to pull and to move in any direction but forward. That makes him an ideal backup for all three interior line positions, which just happens to be a perfect description of what this team could use. ROUND 2-4 GRADE
  • #10 QB Mac Jones, Alabama. (RS Junior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. Can there be a high floor, low ceiling QB prospect? If so, it’s Mr. Jones. A smart game manager who understands the position and can deliver the ball consistently, accurately, on-time, and with touch until you get to those throws that test his only-average arm strength. ROUND 2-3 GRADE
  • #22 RB Najee Harris, Alabama. (Senior). 6’2”, 230 lbs. Solid, solid, solid, with an extremely high floor and a moderately high ceiling. A big, strong RB who Daniel Jeremiah has compared to Matt Forte, Harris can be trusted to get every inch of what’s available, a bunch of ground that wouldn’t be there for lesser backs, and to get stronger as the game goes on. His game features three powerful assets: (i) terrific size and strength, (ii) a jump cut worthy of someone 40 pounds lighter, and (iii) a brutal spin move he uses anywhere and everywhere, which leaves a lot of would-be tacklers snatching at air. Thus (A) if you stand and wait, and he’ll run you over, (B) he won’t be there if you go in hot, and (C) he’ll vanish from your grasp if you fail to get a perfect grip. Deadly. On the downside, he is fairly tall and tends to run high, and he lacks top end speed. He’s plenty fast enough to get around the corner, but he won’t outrun many Safeties toward the pylon. And, of course, he plays for another team where the amount of surrounding talent makes it hard to tell which heights he achieved on his own, versus climbing so high on the shoulders of his friends. It helps that he is already an accomplished pocket protector, and also a fine outlet receiver. Pro ready. ROUND 1-2 GRADE
  • #17 WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama. (Junior). 5’10”, 208 lbs. Top 20 at worst. Ain’t Gonna Happen. ROUND 1 GRADE
  • #6 WR Devonta Smith, Alabama. (Senior). 6’1”, 175 lbs. Something of an artist at the WR position, Smith’s production, speed, shiftiness, separation ability, and attitude suggest a player who ought to get picked high in the first. But that weird cable-and-wire frame could cause a surprising drop that puts him into the Steelers’ range. Daniel Jeremiah has compared him to no less than Marvin Harrison. ROUND 1 GRADE


  • #91 EDGE Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’4”, 268 lbs. This young man is a big, strong, and long load to handle, and it’s been too much for most of the opposing Tackles he faced in 2021. But can he play 3-4 OLB in the Steelers defense as well as he projects to play defensive end in a 4-3? And is he a 1-year wonder? ROUND 3-4 GRADE
  • # 6 ILB/SS Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (RS Junior). 6’2”, 216 lbs. An ideal example of the modern hybrid SS/ILB who can do both jobs at an acceptable level. His SPARQ score will matter, since the sudden explosiveness of his game is a big part of the appeal. Downgraded a bit for the lack of size, which would limit his role to being a backup Mack ILB behind Devin Bush. Won the Butkus Award in 2020. ROUND 2-3 GRADE
  • #4 CB Nick McCloud, Notre Dame by way of N.C. State (RS Senior). 6’0”, 192 lbs. Transferred to Notre Dame for his final year of eligibility, and played well enough to get on everyone’s radar. An all around CB. ROUND 4-7 GRADE
  • NOTE: Notre Dame is packed with draft eligible Day 3 players that I have not yet reached in my research. Please leave comments with any notes you want to add.
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