Following the slate of games on Saturday, we will be highlighting several college football prospects and their respective performances, as well as how they could be viewed going forward into the 2022 NFL Draft, specifically by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (Friday)
When you break the all-time streak of consecutive games with a TD scored in all of college football, you normally are doing something right. That is exactly what junior RB Breece Hall did Black Friday against TCU, turning 18 carries into a whopping 242 rushing yards (13.4 YPC) and three TDs while chipping in two receptions for 39 yards and a score. Hall set the record with 24 consecutive games with a TD in this beatdown of the Horned Frogs 48-14, gashing the defense for long runs all night, displaying burst and vision in the backfield that has made him the favorite to be RB1 off the board this spring. Hall has feature back size (6’1″, 220 lb.) and the skillset to be a workhorse back.
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (Friday)
It’s a great day to be a resident of the state of Iowa, both the Cyclones and Hawkeyes represented on this list. Iowa scored 22 unanswered points to beat Nebraska 28-21 to clinch the Big Ten West and an opportunity to play Michigan for the Big Ten Championship. Leading the way for the Hawkeye rushing attack was All-American C Tyler Linderbaum, who put together another stellar performance in the trenches. The 6’3″, 290 lb. junior routinely made blocks on the move out in space, dishing out pancake blocks like it was a breakfast buffet. His athleticism and power are incredible for the position, plus the strength to anchor in pass protection. Linderbaum is a likely lock for C1 in this draft class.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The matchup between the Michigan edge rushers and Ohio State OTs was highlighted here on the site prior to the top-5 showdown, and the pass rush got the better of the pass protection, helping Michigan pull of the upset 42-27 in Ann Arbor. While David Ojabo also had a strong performance, Aidan Hutchinson stole the show in this one, setting the single-season sack record at Michigan with 13 by adding three sacks and seven total stops to his stat sheet. Hutchinson was virtually unblockable in this game, regularly winning with speed off the edge as well as on counters inside, putting blockers in a bind. He also did well at getting off blocks and chasing the ball from the backside, showing phenomenal effort all afternoon.
It remains a forgone conclusion that Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux will be the first EDGE selected as the favorite to go #1 overall, but Hutchinson has done his best to close the gap and potentially solidify his status as a top-10 selection come the 2022 NFL Draft. The evaluation process this spring will be interesting as to how the order may fall, but Hutchinson made it a goal to return for his senior season to beat Ohio State, and he accomplished just that whilst sending his draft stock through the roof.
Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan
For the Michigan offense, the star of the game was RB Hassan Haskins, who had his way with the Buckeye defense. The 6’1″, 220 lb. senior gashed Ohio State on the ground in the snow, racking up 28 carries for 169 yards (6.0 YPC) along with five TDs. Haskins ran with power in-between the tackles and picked up plenty of yardage after contact, consistently moving the chains and eating clock to help the Wolverines sustain long drives and keep the dynamic Ohio State offense on the sidelines.
Haskins also showed decent burst to the second level, making defenders miss in space. Built in a similar mold as Jordan Howard or Alex Collins, Haskins can be a Day 3 pick that can lead a committee as the early down back, specializing in short yardage and goal line situations.
Damone Clark, LB, LSU
I mentioned Clark as a player to watch heading into LSU’s matchup with Texas A&M in Death Valley, where the Tigers got the upset in Coach Orgeron’s final home game as LSU’s head coach by a score of 27-24. Clark capped of a strong senior campaign with ten total tackles (seven solo) and 2.5 sacks. Clark did get taken advantage of at times in the quick passing game in this matchup, but his pursuit of the ball and speed from sideline was something to see for a player of his frame, standing 6’3″, 245 lb. Clark was extremely effective coming downhill against the run, filling gaps and rushing the passer.
He recorded back-to-back sacks at the end of the game to seal the victory for the Tigers, displaying impressive closing speed on the football. Clark was noticeably emotional and passionate in this final game in Baton Rouge, having become a leader both on and off the field for the program. His athletic traits, size, and intangibles make him one of my personal favorites heading into draft season, believing at this point he will make some team very happy for selecting him come April.
What are your thoughts on the names listed above and their potential fit in Pittsburgh? Do you think they could translate well to the league? What other names stood out Saturday that the Steelers could have interest in come the spring? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and thanks again for reading!