NFL Draft

NFL Draft Big Board ‘By Ranking’ (Rounds 1 And 2, Before Free Agency)

I’m still in the process of going through the prospects position by position, but now might be a good time to look across positions since the defense has been analyzed. So here it is.

Please drop your comments about who should go up, who should go down, and why. And remember the standard! This isn’t about where a given prospect ought to be picked by the NFL as a whole. It’s is only about the point at which we’d be willing to have our team – the Pittsburgh Steelers – pick that particular prospect.

Look at the Safeties, e.g. The current grades assume that Terrell Edmunds is gone. I, personally, think that would be a waste and a disaster, but there it is. How far down should these Safety grades be pushed if Edmunds signs a 3- or 4-year deal that keeps him in the Burgh?

Same thing with the Tackles. I recently wrote about why I think Guard-capable players should get a big premium over the pure Tackles in the class, who lack that flexibility. These grades do not reflect that. How big a discount should apply if you agree?

What follows includes only the players I currently have listed as clear contenders for Pittsburgh’s selections in Round 1 (#20) and Round 2 (#52) picks. There are a total of 66 names on that list, which is why I omitted the extra 25 names currently at 3:01. You may assume that your favorite, missing sleeper is in that group.

My thanks in advance for your help in getting this organized! Please know that I read each and every one of the comments, and I really do think about them. Especially when there is discussion back and forth between informed readers. The grades are meant to be an aggregate opinion, of which mine is only the loudest. You won’t be spitting into the wind.

Organized by Highest Value (“HV#”) to the Steelers. Great players for other teams get downgraded here, as do positions where Pittsburgh has limited “want.” An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach for the Steelers if they pick at any point before Pick # 25 overall but good value at any point from the end of the 1st on. Getting that player in the early 2nd would be fine, while getting him in the late 2nd would start to look like a steal. Yes, this system results in a certain amount of grade inflation for positions of need because we are talking about the “highest” grade, not the one where a player is expected to go; but grades are never pushed up just because of need. Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent and organized alphabetically. Boards organized by HV are sorted within each grade by position: Offense and then Defense, inside to out.
Rounds are subdivided as follows:
  • 1st Round grades: 1:01, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd & 3rd Round grades: Early (#:01), Mid (#:12), or Late (#:24).
  • 4th to 7th Round grades: Early (#:01) or Late (#:16).
1:01 EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan. (Senior). 6’5”, 270 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. The NFL has a draft order so that no team with T.J. Watt can ever pick the likes of Aidan Hutchinson. ‘Nuff said. Top 5 talent.
1:01 EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon. (Junior). 6’5”, 258 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Go ahead and dream if you must. Now clean up the mess and forget about it. No supermodel for you; no Thibodeaux for the Steelers. Top 5 talent.
1:05 T/G Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu, NC St. (Junior). 6’4”, 320 lbs. with long ___” arms and ___” hands. Your author’s draft crush of the year, Ekwonu is a natural athlete with sweet feet, tremendous strength, and a desire to dominate opponents that will endear him to fans of all kinds. Viewed purely as a Tackle, he has enough promise to earn Lance Zierlein’s Top 10-15 grade and a comparison to Kelechi Osemele. He looks even better as a potential Guard! The length, wrestling background, natural athletic talent, native strength, and other assets are all top notch. All of which adds up to this: Pittsburgh could plug him in right away as an elite Guard prospect, while he works on the things that might let him mature to be an elite Tackle as well. Puzzle, meet piece. The best part may be that Ekwonu is, in Zierlein’s words, “A gentleman in class and killer on the grass, [whose] football character and urgent field demeanor make it easier to… anticipate him landing closer to his ceiling than his floor as either a guard or tackle.” That’s as good a floor as you’re going to see for an OL prospect. Ekwonu will fit any scheme and, even more important, be a decade-long credit to his team and his city. Me want. But me ain’t gonna get. He could get picked in the Top 5, and will get picked in the Top 10 if there is any justice in the world. I’m not the only one with a draft crush, either. Consider this scouting profile from the well respected Brandon Thorn: “As a run-blocker, Ekwonu uses a stunning blend of athletic ability, size and power to dominate on the front and backside of wide-zone runs and in space as a puller to both sides. His ability to track down smaller targets in space as a puller is special, and it results in at least a few spectacular blocks per game…” It goes on. Joe Marino’s TDN scouting profile ends in an easy Top 10 grade. This detailed scouting profile lays out the issues with his pass blocking, which are all correctable but still there. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report likewise ends in a Top 10 grade, though he does sound a few doubts about Ickey’s ability to excel purely as a Tackle due to some inconsistent footwork and a tendency to dip his head when searching for extra power on some plays.
1:05 S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame. (Junior). 6’4”, 220 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A Colbert Special all day, every day, so good that you’d draft him no matter what for the chance to build a defense around him. Top 5 talent. Ain’t gonna happen.
1:05 CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson. (Junior). 6’0”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 21 in June. This kid loves football, including the hitting part that so many Corners disdain. And he does that with elite coverage skills to back it up. The problems come from an occasional need to say, “whoa boy,” which everyone knows is Tomlin’s favorite kind of problem to deal with. He won’t fall to the Steelers, but wouldn’t it be a dream if he did? The Bleacher Report scouting profile ends in a fringe-1st grade based on worries that his long speed, pad level, and COD skills may be “NFL-good” rather than “NFL-special.” Compare that to this Top-10 grade scouting profile and a comparison to Jaire Alexander for a prospect “with no weaknesses.” Here’s a scouting report with an old-school comp to Peanut Tillman. “He can change direction in a heartbeat” and “has absurd reaction time” according to this February scouting report. This February scouting profile ends with another fringe-1st grade based on concerns about “lack of physicality at the beginning of the snap and [] high pad level.” This scouting profile ends with a “10th overall player” grade. This goes to an interesting point-by-point scouting profile from late January.
1:05 CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU. (Junior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. The pure physical prototype of a shutdown Corner, he has every asset you look for in man, zone, and off coverage. Period. The past two years of film have not been up to his personal standard, but they aren’t hard to excuse if you try. Has suffered from injuries, chaos at the coaching level, and lack of support around him. Has been accused of losing focus at times too, and his devotion to tackling has varied from superior down to lacking. Culture will matter. But it won’t be in Pittsburgh, because he’s just too good. This year’s target of draft second-guessers everywhere.
1:10 T Charles Cross, Miss. St. (RS Sophomore). 6’5”, 305 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 21 year old rookie, turning 22 in November. A brilliant athlete who can actually match up to pass rushers on that basis, while almost every other Tackle needs to compensate with size and strength instead. It’s special. But Cross will struggle with pure power until he comes into his full grown-man strength, and will develop in sync with the quality of his coaching and culture. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report sees little reason to doubt his ability to add that power, and thus ends with a Top 10 grade, an “eerily similar” player comp to Tyron Smith, and the statement that Cross should be able to develop into a sound run blocker and a premier pass protector. Daniel Jeremiah called the foot quickness and knee bend “average” but still had Cross at #10 overall in his first big board. This scouting report from the well respected Brandon Thorn ends in a solid Round 1 grade and the opinion, “He should be an immediate-impact starter.”
1:10 T/G Evan Neal, Alabama. (Junior). 6’6”, 360 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. There’s a HOF ceiling here, if Neal can tighten everything up. And there is a solid starting-Guard floor if he can’t. Combine those and you end up with a very high draft grade. The only question is, “how high?” His issues basically come down to an array of niggling balance problems, a bad habit of allowing his feet to stall, and a pattern of inconsistency you might describe as ‘running hot and cold.’ NFL Edge Rushers routinely embarrass Tackles with those problems, and the best ones will do just that to Neal if he cannot tighten things up. So why doubt that he’ll do just that? The work we’re talking about involves breaking old habits and then building up new ones. That is a difficult, tedious, and frustrating task for anyone, and it may not help that his poor outcomes would disappear if he moved inside to Guard. How much harder would it be to battle through the nasty, thorny, maddening path toward greatness, when the easy path leads to a decade-long career with Pro Bowls mixed in? Just remember the wow! if he does get them fixed. Neal isn’t just an enormous man even for an NFL Tackle, he can carry that size with the grace of someone a hundred pounds lighter. That HOF ceiling is very, very real. But so is the level of work required to get there. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a fringe-1st grade and a comparison is to D.J. Fluker: “a solid yet unspectacular tackle who suffers the same problems in his play as Neal does.” That’s as harsh a verdict as you’ll find. The well respected Brandon Thorn ends with a Top 10 grade, based on the fact that his issues really can be fixed. Why assume the worst for Neal and not for others? The TDN scouting profile agrees with Jonathan, ending with a fringe-1st grade despite a player comp to Orlando Brown. “Ideal Role: A dominant run blocking RT [in a] downhill power scheme that allows him to use his rare combination of size and power to punish defensive lineman.” This thorough and detailed scouting profile goes in with the Top-5 talent crowd, acknowledging the issues but believing he will solve them. Back and forth, forth and back. Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com scouting profile ends with the “Year 1 Quality Starter” grade seen in Top 10 picks, while simultaneously naming a lot more concerns than one typically sees with that kind of grade. An internal seesaw perhaps?
1:10 CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati. (Junior). 6’2”, 190 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A football player who happens to play Corner, Gardner is a flat out playmaker who loves to stick his face in the fan if it’s going to blow up some offensive scheme. Zone schemes allow him to do that best, but it’s not like he has many flaws in man coverage either, and his combination of speed, length, and athleticism are good enough to stand out against the Alabama passing game in the semifinal playoff game. A serious Round 1 target if the team has concerns about the position. Daniel Jeremiah’s top CB in the entire class. That may also be true for Steelers Depot if you go by Owen Straley’s gif-supported scouting report. “I have traditionally been skeptical of the modern NFL’s infatuation with size and length at the cornerback position, placing higher value into traits such as hip mobility, [COD] skills, and ball skills. Enter [this] refined technician in press coverage, equipped with fluid hips, agile feet, and elite ball skills despite his [6’2” frame]… I am higher on Sauce Gardner than I Was on either of last year’s top 10 CB’s, Pat Surtain II and Jaycee Horn.”
1:15 G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. (Junior). 6’4”, 325 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. How likely is Green to be the pick? As poster CP72 pointed out: Team Captain: check. Power five school: check. Young (21): check. Position of need: check. Smart (all academic): check. And more than good enough when it comes to the film. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported scouting report describes Green as a versatile Guard who might manage snaps at Tackle in a pinch, but projects far batter on the inside, where he’s clearly one of the year’s best prospects. All the assets are there. Green is big, strong, nasty, surprisingly quick, and just as good a pass protector as he is in the people-moving run game. His anchor is particularly good; no one blows this kid off the ball. There just aren’t that many holes, and the ones he has can be fixed easily enough (technical issues like maintaining his balance rather than leaning into his punch, and not lunging at targets in space). Came in at #17 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board. This goes to a scouting profile from the well respected Brandon Thorn, which ends in a Round 2 grade based his possession of “key foundational traits… but he needs to clean up some bad habits and polish up his footwork and hands.”
1:20 T/G Trevor Penning, N. Iowa (RS Senior). 6’7”, 321 lbs. with 34⅞” arms and 10⅛” hands. A small school star whose power and multisport athleticism are as good as anyone’s, and who plays with a nasty streak that’s almost fearsome to watch. He’s played some Guard despite the towering height, which can only help. The gif-supported scouting report from Jonathan Heitritter ends with a mid- to late-1st grade based on the endless upside as offset by niggling balance and technique concerns, with the time it may take to nail them down. This clip-supported, detailed pre-Senior Bowl scouting report from a Raiders POV would agree on the grade, but sees Penning as more of a power Tackle than a fluid mover, with questions about slower feet and choppy/inefficient footwork in his vertical sets. Here is a nice TDN article/interview from the Senior Bowl, where Penning’s power and mean streak were on full display along with some footwork and balance lapses that got him forklifted when he lost the leverage battle. His strength and nastiness were on full display at the Senior Bowl, but so were the occasional problems with sometimes-lagging feet and losing leverage from playing too high.
1:20 G/T/C Zion Johnson, Boston Coll. (RS Senior). 6’2¾”, 314 lbs. with 33⅞” arms and big 10⅞” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl] A JUCO transfer and lifelong Steelers fan who became a multiyear starter at a really good program that’s more similar to the pros than most. Johnson is a sneaky good athlete with a nasty attitude, and feet good enough to survive as a college Tackle despite his lack of height and length. The kind of player who seems to “get it”. B+ power on the absurd scale of “NFL Guard”. Likely to be seen in a lot of Steeler Nation mocks as the Round 2 target when some other position got addressed in the 1st. This goes to a top notch, clip-supported January scouting report from a Raiders POV, which expresses a little concern about his anchor, but many more doubts about his ability to stay outside at Tackle. Worked out at Center during the Senior Bowl, which would be awesome. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with an early-2nd grade based on his projection as a powerful, run blocking Guard with enough pass-blocking issues to make him no more than an emergency backup at Tackle. This early February scouting profile from a Giants POV sees a versatile player with few weaknesses except (maybe) limited “jolt” in his punch.
1:20 C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 290 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. I remember Maurkice Pouncey as a prospect. Tyler Linderbaum reminds me of that prospect with maybe even more mobility, but minus an important level of mass (15 lbs.) and size (a few inches shorter and less long). He plays with tremendous leverage and quickness that compensate for those limitations, but Tom Mead’s gif-supported scouting report confirms that they are there and can’t be wished away. An outside zone attack would suit him best, but he’s talented and skilled enough to survive in other systems too. Survive, yes… But will he thrive in Pittsburgh’s gap/power scheme, against the rough and tumble AFC North? This January scouting report from the well respected Brandon Thorn agrees with Tom’s take: “a dynamic run-blocker inside a zone-heavy scheme with the ability to be devastating at the second level. His size and anchoring concerns can lead to issues against high-end power-rushers in the NFL…” This goes to a gif-supported scouting report in the “rave review” category, with the author expressing zero doubt about Linderbaum’s ability to dominate men of any size.
1:20 WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas. (Junior). 6’3”, 225 lbs. with ___” hands. If Juju Smith-Schuster leaves, this is the kid you want to replace him. Same kind of “big slot” player except even taller, heftier, with more native playmaking talent, and possessing even better hands. The problem, as outlined in Devin Jackson’s gif-supported Depot scouting report, comes down to weighing the enormous assets he has in the things you can’t teach, against his desperate need to learn his craft at a professional level. Came in at #11 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board.
1:20 WR Chris Olave, Ohio St. (Senior). 6’1”, 188 lbs. with ___” hands. An elegant, already professional, route running possession receiver. May have the biggest floor of any pass catcher in the draft, but lacks the HOF ceiling you hope for.
1:20 WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio St. (Junior). 6’0”, 192 lbs. with ___” hands. A moderately bigger, faster, and higher pedigreed version of Diontae Johnson, complete with the occasional bout of curable concentration drops. A perfect fit for what Pittsburgh could use, but likely to go long before the Steelers would pick a receiver. Daniel Jeremiah’s top WR in the class.
1:20 EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue. (Junior). 6’4”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A game wrecking 4-3 DE who might rank even higher if the testing shows an ability to play in space. Top 5-10 talent.
1:20 S Jaquan Brisker, Penn St. (Senior). 6’1”, 204 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 23 year old rookie. I expect the Steelers to sign Terrell Edmunds, which would lower Jaquan Brisker’s value well into Day 2. But this is where he belongs if we assume an empty hole at Strong Safety. Everyone, including this long January scouting profile from PFN, agrees that he’s a Round 1 athlete who is equally capable at both Free and Strong Safety. Reviewers also agree that he “gets it.” Pairing Brisker with Fitzpatrick would open up the chance of creating an almost unique defense because both of them can play Free and Strong Safety with equal facility, and probably at all-star levels. QB’s would go mad trying to account for both young talents as they wove, twisted, and played games to disguise the actual shell. The pre-Senior Bowl Bleacher Report scouting profile agrees, ending with a late-1st grade that could go up with testing. Same for this fine January scouting profile.
1:20 CB Roger McCreary, Auburn. (Senior). 5’11”, 189 lbs. with short 29¼” arms and 8⅞” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl]. If Pittsburgh wants him it will need to be in Round 1, because McCreary is just that solid. As high a floor as you’ll ever see in a Corner who isn’t a miracle athlete. I was waiting eagerly for Alex Kozora’s gif-supported Depot scouting report, and it did not disappoint. “If you’re looking for a man cover corner, [this] is your guy. Some will question his size but it didn’t stop him from consistently winning against college football’s best… [T]here won’t be too many better corners in man coverage than McCreary is, especially knowing he wasn’t blessed with elite size or physical traits.” Paraphrasing the conclusion: “McCreary projects as a better and more athletic version of Cam Sutton.” How many more ways can I say it? He’d be a Top 5 lock if he was 2” longer and anything more than a “merely tremendous” athlete on the already-absurd NFL scale. The young man has a certain amount of chippy class, too. Look at this Senior Bowl TDN article/interview asking about the surprising measurements. “I’ve put it on tape [and] I’m gonna play the game the way I play the game.” Yep. No need to add that his results were dominant against the best opponents CFB could offer.
1:20 CB Trent McDuffie, Washington. (Junior). 5’11”, 195 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. There’s something really likable about tough, physical football players who simply “get it.” McDuffie is one of those. His skill set looks better on the inside than as a boundary CB, but he isn’t limited to that role. Think of a bigger, more physical Cam Sutton who needs to develop some extra polish. That isn’t fair to either young man, but it will get you into the ballpark. Came in at #13 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board
1:20 STEELERS ROUND 1 PICK
1:25 QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh. (RS Senior). 6’3¼”, 217 lbs. with ___” hands. Will be a 24 year old rookie. For heaven’s sake: he broke Dan Friggin’ Marino’s college passing records, and he has good enough size and running ability to make a team pay if they forget about that part of his game. His records didn’t come the easy way, either. Like Mac Jones in last year’s draft, he’s more of an old fashioned professional QB prospect than an unearthly physical talent. Smart, accurate, and professional. The questions go to hand size and ceiling. Daniel Kitchen’s gif-supported Depot scouting report has a summary that many reviewers would agree with: “It’s hard to imagine him reaching the highest tier of quarterbacks in the NFL, but there is room for him to be one of the better passers in the game and an above-average quarterback in the right offense.”
1:25 WR Drake London, USC. (Junior). 6’5”, 210 lbs. with ___” hands. Turns 21 as a rookie. An oddball player to evaluate, he was a big time basketball talent who decided on football instead. Surprising size, catch radius, and speed combine with excellent hands, body control, and especially box-out ability to create a matchup nightmare. Would benefit from a creative play caller and QB to get the most out of his somewhat unique skill set. Came in at #10 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board based on both the size and being “a nuanced route runner.”
1:25 WR Jameson Williams, Alabama. (Junior). 6’2”, 188 lbs. with ___” hands. Transferred from Alabama because he couldn’t beat out Wilson & Olave, and then promptly became a star. An all around weapon who can gain quick separation, make defenders miss, and be off to the races. Lacks the size & build to be a physical punisher, but has pretty much everything else you want.
1:25 DT/NT Jordan Davis, Georgia. (Senior). 6’6”, 340 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Georgia had by far the best college defense in 2021, and as usual that started in the trenches. Which is to stay, it started with this quasi-human yeti and his ability to toss opponents backward into the lap of a QB and/or a running lane. Think, “young Casey Hampton” and you won’t be that far off. Big Snack evolved into being “only” a NT by the end of his career, but people forget that the younger version was terrifying as an interior pass rusher too. Conditioning will matter, particularly since he’s been known to make plays downfield, but also to take plays off. The Steelers demand the former, all the time on every play. But if he can get in shape, stay in shape, and stay motivated… wow.
1:25 DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M. (Junior). 6’4”, 290 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Pittsburgh plays a hybrid defensive front out of a 3-4 base. This requires a bit more in the way of flexible skill sets than classic 4-3 or 3-4 approaches. And that, in turn, explains this somewhat unfair grade for a really high quality 3-tech. Leal projects as someone with a good chance at true stardom in a 3-tech role for a true 4-3 defense. Talent, yes. Fit? Not so much.
1:25 EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida St. (RS Senior). 6’4⅜”, 259 lbs. with long 34⅜” arms and 9⅝” hands. Top scores for both floor and ceiling make him an obvious Round 1 talent. Has the versatility to be a 3-4 OLB too, despite the size. Here is an interesting scouting summary from before the Senior Bowl. This solid looking January scouting profile describes a Bud Dupree type, with great length and run-control ability, plus very good explosion, but not a lot of bend. This January scouting profile from the respected Daniel Kelly worries that Johnson may have “maxed out against collegiate competition,” which could make for a disappointing pro. Looked very good during Senior Bowl week, highlighting his length and power.
1:25 MACK ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 235 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A bigger but less explosive version of Devin Bush, who’s probably limited to the Mack ILB role in Pittsburgh’s system. This January scouting profile from Bleacher Report lists mano-a-mano physicality as the primary shortcoming.
1:25 CB Kyler Gordon, Washington. (RS Junior). 6’0”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A fiery, explosive football player who happens to play the CB position. Has exceptional athletic talent and wiring, including the agility to succeed on the inside just as well or better than he does outside. A very fine tackler too, who’s often been used as a blitzer. Came in at #22 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board.
2:01 G/T Darian Kinnard, Kentucky. 6’4¾”, 324 lbs. with 34⅝” arms and big 11½” hands. Reportedly played at 345 lbs. In college. An enormous man who carries his weight naturally and with ease, Kinnard played Tackle throughout college but projects better as Guard for the pros. Three year starter in the SEC, but not so polished that you worry about his ability to improve once a pro coach starts working on the details. This good looking scouting profile from the respected Brandon Thorn ends with a comparison to Cody Ford, after noting that Kinnard shows real flashes of “jarring power and quickness” that are held back by “pad level and hand placement [that] are extremely up and down, leaving him high, off-balance and struggling to control blocks consistently.” Kyle Crabbs’ TDN scouting profile is quite similar but a little more positive, ending in a Round 2 grade. This scouting profile goes up to a fringe-1st grade, and this Ravens-oriented article could even see Kinnard going at 1:14. A prospect who clearly offers a lot of upside. Here is a thoughtful, clip-supported January scouting report from a Raiders POV, which breaks the mold by suggesting that Kinnard might do better if he continues at RT despite the doubts about his foot speed. The PFN scouting profile could also see him as a Tackle if he can clean up the sloppy hand work. This good-looking, Giants-oriented scouting profile sees a Round 2 guard with “potential tackle upside.”
2:01 QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss. (RS Junior). 6’1”, 205 lbs. with ___” hands. A master of the college RPO game, with exceptional athletic skill, a very fine arm to make any throw there is, and an amazing ability to scurry around, extending plays until something breaks down. Would rank that much higher if he was several inches taller and a few dozen pounds sturdier. Could be a great one if he holds up, but that may be a big “if” at the next level. Jonathan Heitritter’s long, gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a Round 2 grade that offsets “moments of greatness” against a distinct lack of size for this “quintessential gunslinger” who reminds the author of the on-field version of Johnny Manziel before he failed to make the transition to a professional game. The upstairs part will make all the difference for Corral. Add in leadership and the Clutch Gene, and you’ll get a Russell Wilson; subtracting those and adding a drinking problem really could produce Manziel Mark II.
2:01 QB Sam Howell, North Carolina. (RS Senior). 6’0¼”, 221 lbs. with 9⅛” hands. [Mtgs. on campus with Colbert, at Senior Bowl]. Howell looked like the Next Big Thing after a monster 2020 year when his offense featured two great RB’s and two very accomplished WR’s. All four of those weapons got drafted, leaving him with not very much in 2021, plus an offensive line he couldn’t trust. It showed. The highlight reel passes faded away, his decision making looked more erratic, and he was forced to be a dual threat runner (which he did). Kevin Colbert visited UNC several times during 2021, which surely indicates some serious interest. No one doubts that Colbert came away impressed. The question is, how impressed? Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported scouting report shows one film expert who was impressed enough to question whether Howell will be “only” a Baker Mayfield, or rise to be a Russell Wilson. Translate that as, “potential franchise QB with a long way to go before he gets there.” Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com scouting profile indicates a film watcher who is much less impress, and ends with a Round 3 grade.
2:01 QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 207 lbs. with 10” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl]. The Quarterback who took a little known program into the Final Four, Ridder has four years of starting experience and sterling reputations as a team leader and overall athlete. He has genuine franchise potential in every measurable way, but he’s simply not a professional QB yet and one has to do a lot of projection to get him there. A better and higher pedigree version of Josh Dobbs. Jonathan Heitritter’s careful, gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a fringe-1st grade for a player with large amounts of all the assets, but a significant need to refine them enough to make it in the pro game. Erratic passing accuracy raised eyebrows at the Senior Bowl, because he would be incredibly accurate on one throw, and then bury one in the dirt on another. Why? And is it fixable?
2:01 WR Jahan Dotson, Penn. St. (RS Senior). 5’11”, 184 lbs. with ___” hands. An oily smooth, sneaky fast route runner on the smaller side, who creates easy separation and has the pure speed to turn any catch into a TD if all those bigger folks on the field don’t get a solid grasp. This quality, clip-supported January scouting report from a Raiders POV raises a number of questions that largely center around Dotson’s lack of the high quality play strength required to break tackles in addition to avoiding them. Owen Straley’s detailed, gif-supported Depot scouting profile sounds an excited note for an early-2nd talent with “elite, sticky hands,” who could “stretch the field vertically with nuanced technique and speed.” Owen also notes that he “plays tough for his size [and is a] fundamental, very willing blocker.”
2:01 EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia. (Junior). 6’5”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Yet another pass rusher who could destroy the universe if paired with T.J. Watt, Walker’s calling cards are speed, power, and the ability to combine the two. Lots of room to grow because he tends to win more on assets than technique, he’d be pushing toward the Top 10 if he’d only shown more than just-acceptable bend. Gives off sort of a Bud Dupree vibe, with better development and NFL-great athleticism instead of “Combine Buster.” Built like a classic 4-3 DE, but studies like this good January Bleacher Report scouting profile emphasize his movement skills in space and his experience as a stand-up OLB.
2:01 SS/FS Jordan Battle, Alabama. (Junior). 6’1”, 210 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. This young man would be a perfect Round 2 pick if Edmunds departs, but is unlikely to fall that far. Fringe-1st all the way, as highlighted by this admiring January scouting profile. High IQ, good size, well trained, and fast enough to play deep as well as in his more natural box. Tremendous tackler too, which will be a big deal given all the clean up work Edmunds has quietly performed. He misses a few, but the core is there and it’s really a matter of consistency. The January Bleacher Report scouting profile notes that he has the playmaker gene, but ends with a Round 3 grade because of questions about coverage ability.
2:01 CB Kaiir Elam, Florida. (Junior). 6’2”, 193 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. His father was Abram Elam, a 7-year NFL Safety, and his Uncle is the Ravens’ Matt Elam. Kaiir is a long, athletic, cover Corner who’s equally adept in both press and zone. Needs to be more consistent and physical, but he excels at job #1: coverage. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a comparison to Xavier Rhodes and a late-1st grade based on the special physical gifts and all-star potential.
2:12 T Daniel Faalele, Minnesota (Senior). 6’8⅛”, 387 lbs. with 35⅜” arms and 11” hands. A freak of nature whose frightening size, athletic talents, and overall potential has teased, tantalized, and dazzled draft watchers for the past several years. Faalele grew up as a rugby and basketball player in Australia, only transitioning to football in 2017 (there’s a cute story about learning the rules by playing Madden after he was discovered by Jim Harbaugh in 2016). He’s developed every year, but he still has some way to go in order to keep NFL technicians from using his height against him. Bottom line? The potential is literally off the chart, so much so that one can see him becoming the single best player of this year’s class. El numero uno. But he could also end up as a career-long might’a-been. Jacob Harrison’s gif- supported Depot scouting report ends in a late-1st grade after showing that you can’t go around him, or over him, or through him, and only occasionally underneath him – and that is both hard to do and fixable. Here is a brief follow-up interview from the Senior Bowl.
2:12 T Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio St. (RS Junior). 6’5”, 315 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. How can you fail to love a giant human being whose name translates to “little brother”? A two year starter in an elite program where he played both LT and RT, Petit-Frere looks like he was designed in the OT laboratory, and has the quick twitch, explosive reflexes and response time that separate elite prospects from the plodders. These made him the #1 OL recruit coming out of H.S. He’s a bit more divisive now because he plays with much more suddenness and power than he does with grace and control, and it makes for a difficult evaluation. Has dominated lesser competition, but been beaten by top talent such as the Michigan pass rush duo. This scouting profile from TDN’s Kyle Crabbs may be the most enthusiastic you’ll see, projecting Petit-Frere as a solid, plug and play, Round 1 talent comparable to Ronnie Stanley. The equally respected Brandon Thorn’s scouting profile ends with a Round 3 grade, largely on the basis of “choppy loud feet with disjointed footwork” that can cause him to play too high, and some objections to his “messy and unreliable use of hands.” This careful looking January scouting profile also ends with a fringe 2/3 grade, based on “franchise” potential offset by overaggression, balance, and handwork issues. This easy-reading scouting profile comes closer to the Round 1 grade. This point-by-point scouting profile believes the issues come down to coachable inconsistency, and ends with an early-2nd grade.
2:12 G/T Jamaree Salyer, Georgia. (Senior). 6’2⅝”, 320 lbs. with 34” arms and 9½” hands. A natural Guard with the balance and technique to survive at Tackle in a pinch. Georgia trains its linemen well, had an exceptional 2021 line in particular, and Salyer was probably the best player on that line despite his lack of nimble athleticism. Plug and play, if there is such a thing. He’s even taken snaps at Center. Had a tremendous game playing Tackle against Michigan’s fearsome pass rush duo in the CFB semi-final Orange Bowl, and then followed it up with equal success against Alabama in the finals. Brandon Thorn’s February scouting profile offers an excellent summary: “He managed to play surprisingly well at tackle over the last two seasons despite having a guard’s body and foot quickness… by using his girth [] on rushers to force them to maneuver around or go through his big body and long arms.” This Giants-oriented scouting profile sees a future starting guard in a power-run system. This relatively thorough PFN scouting profile agrees completely with that evaluation.
2:12 QB Malik Willis, Liberty. (RS Junior). 6’0⅜”, 220 lbs. with 9½” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl]. Willis is the only QB in this year’s draft with Top 10 natural talent. Look at any physical trait you want, and it will come back, “Wow.” So how did he end up at the bottom of this year’s Round 1 & 2 crop of question marks? Simply put, it’s because he’s never done more than flash that potential, he looked confused even in a simplified offense, and he’s played poorly against lower LOC opponents that had no business picking off a future NFL Quarterback three and four times in a game. It begins with losing his starting job at Auburn in 2019 to a true Freshman. That caused him to transfer to Liberty, which is known as neither a physical nor intellectual powerhouse. Praised for his leadership, he’s also seen as a QB who can be rattled, and who causes some of that by failing to read low-level opposing defenses as well as he should. Etc. The very definition of boom-or-bust, with the potential to be a colossal member of either category. Will require an absolute minimum of two redshirt years. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported scouting report compares Willis to a physical skill set like Jalen Hurts, with the developmental level of a raw Lamar Jackson when he came out of Louisville. Your author considers the report’s fringe-1st grade to be a bit generous for that summary, but a bargain nevertheless if he ‘hits.’ This goes to Jonathan Heitritter’s follow-up interview at the Senior Bowl.
WR John Metchie III, Alabama. (Junior). 6’0”, 195 lbs. with ___” hands. Would he be a Round 1 pick if not for the ACL tear last December? Maybe. Perhaps even probably. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report makes it clear that Metchie offers a huge number of assets that Pittsburgh could really use. He’s tough, fast, physical, a ferocious blocker for a WR, and above all he gets open on a regular basis. You know those guys who’d play, “whoops; Now you see me, now you don’t?!” That’s Metchie as a route runner. There are enough drops to drive you mad, but Jonathan describes those as matters of poor technique rather than bad hands. Not “drops” so much as fixable lapses where he’ll body catch instead of snatching the ball out of the air. So the drops may be maddening, but it really comes down to his knee.
2:12 ILB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 252 lbs. with 32⅝” arms and 9⅝” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl]. An excellent, multisport athlete who outgrew his H.S. position as a Safety, became a talented Edge Rusher at U. Conn., and then went to his native Cincinnati where he morphed into a sideline to sideline enforcer at ILB. This January Bleacher Report scouting profile particularly admires the “lightning fast mental trigger [with a] head-on-fire mentality… when engaging with offensive linemen.” You couldn’t come up with a better description of a true Buck ILB. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report agrees, showing highlights of some very impressive burst to go along with the bulk and the straight line speed. Here is a follow-up Senior Bowl interview with Jonathan Heitritter. The questions go to whether he can hold up in coverage. That verdict is still out because he’s looked good at times but seems to lack some lateral agility. An ideal thunder to Devin Bush’s lightning, Beavers would specialize in the dirty work that raises all boats while earning a lot of wrath from the ill-informed because of highlight reel plays where he loses in coverage. A bigger and more athletic version of Vince Williams? His coach has compared him to Zaven Collins from last year’s draft, which suggests that his stock may rise as the process moves forward. Good agility numbers and impressive drills could push him into Round 1. This January scouting profile looks both good and thorough.
2:12 MACK ILB Christian Harris, Alabama. (Junior). 6’2”, 232 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A run-and-chase tackler who can cover, and qualifies from the draft POV as Devin Bush Lite. One hell of a player so long as the D-Line can be relied on to keep him clean. This January scouting profile from Bleacher Report notes that he really enjoys the downhill part of the position, and plays like a bigger guy. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report supports the basic conclusion that Harris looks like a fine all-purpose ILB who’s just a little shy of the potentially elite talents that go in Round 1 nowadays, and needs to be kept clean by his O-Line and (in a 3-4) running mate ILB.
2:12 S Lewis Cine, Georgia. (Junior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A multipurpose Safety who put on a tremendous show in the national championship game, where he showed coverage, pursuit, and tackling talent together against future NFL talent under the brightest of lights. The Bleacher Report scouting profile from January describes him as a model zone Safety who’s at his best when he can read and react in space, but dislikes his tendency to go for kill shots high rather than making surer, fundamentally sound tackles around the legs. The January NFL Draft Buzz scouting profile agrees but is more positive, ending with a Round 2 grade versus the B/R Round 3. This January TDN article is close to a rave, ending with phrases like “versatile chess piece” and “high-level blitzer.”
2:12 FS Daxton Hill, Michigan. (Junior). 6’0”, 192 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. He’s played the multipurpose Safety role in college, but hopefully not in the pros. At some level you need to protect these guys from themselves! Especially the ones like Hill, who combine an outsized heart in an undersized frame. A team leader with a reputation for a high football IQ who simply “gets it,” Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes him as a sort of Minkah Lite, who can play all over the secondary from FS to the Mike Hilton Nickel-DB role. Barring injuries, he’s got an extremely high floor as a starter somewhere in the league. But is he a fit for what Pittsburgh wants? This admiring January scouting profile ends with a late-1st grade, calling him the #2 Safety of the class behind Kyle Hamilton. Compare that with the 4th Round grade in this Bleacher Report scouting profile from the same basic time. Came in at #23 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board, with a comparison to Darnell Savage.
2:20 STEELERS ROUND 2 PICK (# 52 OVERALL)
2:24 T Bernhard Raimann, Central Mich. (Senior). 6’6⅛”, 304 lbs. with 33” arms and 10⅜” hands. Would have a solid Round 1 grade on this board if not for the fact that he will turn 25 at the start (September) of his rookie season. Age matters less for OL’s, but that is enough to push him down by a round. A small school star with huge upside from both his footwork and the “combination of core and hand strength” that led to him coming in at #10 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board. Came to college from Austria as a wrestler with track and field experience, became a TE, and has now matured into a two-year starting Tackle. Two years only, and he could go on Day 1! Talk about a combination of aptitude and fast learning… May require a redshirt year because he’ll be making several steps up the LOC ladder at once, but his potential is sky high. Looked great during the Senior Bowl practices and also in the game. Brandon Thorn’s Bleacher Report scouting profile ends with a Round 2 grade for this “surprisingly polished [tackle] with an uncanny knack for staying attached to blocks using skilled, strong hands, [plus] excellent body control and weight distribution to recover and maintain his center of gravity.” This nice little scouting profile by Devin Jackson sees “a developmental piece, with the upside to be a starter by year 2 and a reliable starter for the next decade.” Here is a good, pre-Senior Bowl scouting profile from a Giants POV.
2:24 T Rasheed Walker, Penn St. (RS Senior). 6’6”, 312 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. The well respected Brandon Thorn’s scouting profile ends in a Round 2 grade for a prospect with a “special blend of size, natural power and body control,” held back by severely inconsistent pass sets and “a glaring overreliance on using two-hand strikes to initiate contact.” The TDN scouting profile gives off a vague Chuks Okorafor vibe with a better pedigree, focusing on the dextrous feet, quality starting experience, and good hand fighting skills, but complaining about a lack of dig’em out power and plain, old fashioned nastiness. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported Depot scouting report sees no issues at all with the nastiness or the running game power, just correctable issues coming from too much concern about protecting against the outside pass rush, which can open him up to inside counters.
2:24 G/C Ed Ingram, LSU. (RS Senior). 6’3⅛”, 317 lbs. with 33⅜” arms and 10” hands. Played occasional snaps at Tackle, but he’s really a Guard from the NFL perspective. Also looked okay at Center in the Senior Bowl, but has never played that position in a game. Has all you want at medium-high levels; power in the running game (his best feature), mobility to pull, football IQ, anchor, etc. Has a character red flag dating back to a 2018 charge for sexual assault, which cost him the entire 2018 season before getting dropped before trial in 2019. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report notes occasional balance and stalling-feet issues, but nothing more than one expects from a college athlete.
2:24 G/T Sean Rhyan, UCLA. (Junior). 6’5”, 318 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A good college Tackle whose odds of success will rise if he focuses on moving inside, at least to start his career. Fundamentally sound, with good balance and technique that compensate for moderate length. Another fine value pick if the OL does not get addressed in Round 1. A multisport athlete (track & field, baseball, rugby) and freshman starter. This good looking NFL Draft Buzz scouting profile describes a dominant run blocking Tackle with questionable length who might make it on the outside, but could dominate at Guard. This scouting profile from the respected Brandon Thorn sees almost no chance for success at Tackle, and ends with a Day 3 grade based on sub-average movement skills and “persistent lunging and getting beat clean across his face on kick-out blocks.” The strength, explosiveness, and ferocity would fit better at Guard. By contrast, this February scouting profile sees “silky smooth feet, and excellent, effortless quickness.”
2:24 QB Carson Strong, Nevada. (RS Senior). 6’3¾”, 226 lbs. with 9¼” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl] A divisive prospect because people look and see conflicting stereotypes. The first is, “classic pocket passer with a huge arm, a great deep ball, and no mobility.” That was certainly true in 2020 and 2021, partly because of the next stereotype: “Too bad he’s broken.” Both years ended with surgeries to repair a knee issue that has nagged him all through college. OTOH, reliable sources suggest that the knee may finally be healing up. Does that lower the red flag? If so, we get to stereotype #4: “Mr. Comeback;” a/k/a that Clutch Performer gene your author values above all else. Inside information from a Depot reader suggests that the knee may be “Joe Namath bad.” That would end the debate. Our own Dr. Mel explained the medical concerns in this article, which will be far better and more reliable than any source that isn’t barred from discussing the case by HIPAA regulations. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends in a fringe-1st “eventual starter” grade and a comparison to Matt Ryan.
2:24 TE Trey McBride, Colorado St. (Senior). 6’3⅛”, 249 lbs. with 32⅝” arms and big 10⅛” hands. Another actual TE who both catches and blocks, though he’s more developed as a receiver. Was actually his team’s primary target, which says something. Good, TE-level hands, sufficient size, and the basic toughness to be a special teams ace as well.
2:24 TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M. (Junior). 6’5”, 265 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Steeler Nation would be clamoring for this kid like mad if Freiermuth hadn’t proven to be a steal, with Gentry stepping up to be a fine TE2. Now he only instills a sense of greed rather than desperate longing. Wydermyer is a true, dual threat TE who can both block and receive, though he’s a little better on the receiving side and has the TE security-blanket hands that we require. Not a miracle athlete, but pretty much the next best thing.
2:24 WR David Bell, Purdue. (Junior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. with ___” hands. A really good possession receiver who creates separation, catches what’s open, and gets the available yards. Extremely solid floor, but moderate ceiling. The perfect player if you want a WR2/3 who’s going to move the chains in the short and midlevel game.
2:24 WR Kyle Philips, UCLA. (Senior). 5’10”, 191 lbs. with ___” hands. A fast, shifty slot receiver with decent size and tremendous hands. His excellent route running will get him open, he’ll catch what’s thrown in his general area, and then he’ll get upfield and earn those extra yards. A very fine punt returner too. This goes to an interesting TDN interview/article on his “uncoverable” route running at the Senior Bowl, along with a February follow-up piece on potential team fits.
2:24 WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati. (Senior). 6’2¾”, 213 lbs. With 32⅝” arms and 9” hands. Likely to end up as everyone’s favorite draft target as an ideal, chain moving WR2 prospect with a chance to mature into a genuine WR1. Big enough, tall enough, fast enough, shifty enough, and possessing flawless hands, he’s also a fine, multisport athlete with wiring good enough that everything simply ‘works’ in a coordinated way. All he lacks is that next-level asset in any category to put him over the top. Tom Mead’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes him as a shorter but shiftier Tee Higgins who can play multiple WR spots and also win above the rim.
2:24 WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky. (Junior). 5’11”, 185 lbs. with ___” hands. Went on my personal radar screen in a big way after he took over the Citrus Bowl against Iowa’s tremendous defense. He simply couldn’t be covered, almost couldn’t be caught, and showed the sort of playmaking creativity that Pittsburgh could really use. He isn’t hugely big or hugely fast (4.45 or so), but awesome hands multiply his effective size just as his sudden burst and COD ability make up for the straight line speed. Tough kid too. He was a highly decorated H.S. running back, and it shows in how hard he is to hit and to get on the ground. This nice PFN scouting profile from December contains good background. The TDN scouting profile ends in a fringe-2nd grade for this “impactful weapon… [with] a knack for explosive plays.” Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com scouting profile describes him as a “much lighter [] Deebo Samuel [who is] sudden and slick with an ability to make plays from a variety of alignments.” This detailed scouting profile also ends with a Round 3 grade. This fascinating “boiler room” article/video from Matt Waldman shows some ways in which Robinson could “develop into a playmaking force, especially from the slot.”
2:24 DT Phidarian Mathis, Alabama. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 313 lbs. with long 34⅝” arms and 10⅜” hands. Will be a 23 year old rookie. Well known for football and human character alike, Mathis has been a multiyear Alabama starter, team captain, emotional leader, etc. His game centers on the exact skill set that Pittsburgh looks for in a DE. High energy motor; strength-forward, sound technique; and phone-booth quick penetration ability. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes a DT who can play anywhere from the 1-tech spot out through 3-tech and the 4i-tech used in a lot of Steeler sub packages, and suggests he could even be a late-1st prospect if the testing shows that level of pure athleticism. The fixable problems actually enhance his grade because you can see how he might improve over even his startling college production. A penetrator more than an immovable object, but still very sturdy against double teams. Probably not a candidate to succeed as a full time NT.
2:24 EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn St. (RS Senior). 6’2⅜”, 250 lbs. with 34” arms and 10½” hands. An explosive speed rusher and athlete, with decent size, excellent agility, and serious bend around the corner. That pure potential underlies his entire grade and could let him start early as a one trick pony, situational rush specialist, but inconsistency and lack of strength litter the tape and need to be fixed if he wants a full career. The athleticism and bend wow the author of this January Bleacher report scouting profile, but the strength issues do not and the explosion is questioned. This thorough January scouting report sees all the explosion, but questions the bend.
2:24 EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, S. Car. (Senior). 6’3¾”, 261 lbs. With very long 35” arms and big 10¼” hands. The sort of half developed player whose stock could soar or sink with the Combine, Enagbare has all the assets you want except very average bend. Also has experience as an occasional, undersized 5-tech, which shows some selflessness. The biggest question is whether he will test out as a linear athlete, or someone whose flexibility simply wasn’t accessed in the way he was used in college. This goes to a solid enough January scouting profile from Bleacher Report. Won on a regular basis during Senior Bowl week due to expert use of his length and leverage.
2:24 EDGE Drake Jackson, USC. (RS Sophomore). 6’4”, 250 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. A younger, better pedigreed version of Alex Highsmith before we knew about the Steeler-level football IQ and work ethic. Will be better in Year 2 after a year of strength training and professional discipline, but could easily turn into a true star if he has the right stuff on the inside to reach his potential. Has experience as a 3-4 OLB, so he can hit the ground running. This January scouting profile ends with a typically solid Round 2 grade. This January scouting profile joins others in emphasizing his distinct lack of grown man strength, and how much he has accomplished without it. Lots of room for growth.
2:24 EDGE Cameron Thomas, San Diego St. (Senior). 6’4”, 264 lbs. with 33⅛” arms and 10” hands. A natural 4-3 DE who can play in space when the situation demands it, Thomas could fit in Pittsburgh if the trend against using “OLB’s” in coverage continues. Has some bend, but it is a secondary asset to his length, strength, power, and hand fighting. Fantastic motor. This goes to a January, pre-Senior Bowl scouting profile. This nice January scouting profile emphasizes Thomas’ advanced set of pass rushing skills, and corresponding ability to contribute early.
2:24 ILB Damone Clark, LSU. (Senior). 6’2⅜”, 240 lbs. with 32⅞” arms and 9⅞” hands. A tough player to pigeonhole because he has incredible athleticism, very good size, and the sort of array of fixable flaws that hints at someone who could grow to be a superstar. But he will have to make that growth, and is likely to be neutralized until he does. Here is a thorough January scouting profile that is well worth the read. This briefer January scouting profile is also worth the time, loving the athleticism and size, but worrying that he has “limited vision and is easily fooled by misdirection.” Here is a background-focused scouting summary from December. Alex Kozora did an interview with him at the Senior Bowl, and then followed up with this video on why Clark “feels like a Steeler.”
2:24 ILB Quay Walker, Georgia. (Senior). 6’3”, 240 lbs. with long ___” arms and ___” hands. Walker is an athletic specimen who played the physical, run-stuffing role in college but only started for only a year. His football IQ got notably better as the season went on, but the significant need to keep learning lowers his grade. The sheer athletic talent is top notch, and he achieves a grade of “average” for coverage while still being a physical banger. Thus as Tom Mead’s gif-supported Depot scouting report concludes, “Walker is [] raw but he could be molded into the blitzing Buck linebacker a la Vince Williams that the Steelers are missing.” Welcome news! He ends with a Round 3 grade. This January scouting profile from PFN continues with another view that should excite Steelers nation. “Walker’s play strength is another factor that separates him from other linebackers. He undoubtedly has the size and strength to take on offensive linemen at the second level. The Georgia ILB latches onto opposing linemen’s pads, then rips down anchors with violent force.” Came in at #31 overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s first big board.
2:24 CB Derion Kendrick, Georgia. (Senior). 5’11½”, 202 lbs. with 30¾” arms and 9⅛” hands. How much has Georgia’s overall defensive excellence concealed the shortcomings that Kendrick has flashed? The good film is very good indeed. The lapses and the raw technique are equally concerning. A player who is quite likely to rise or fall as the process moves forward. Departed from Clemson due to an event where he was “discovered by police asleep in his girlfriend’s car at 3 a.m. with a 9-mm handgun in his lap and marijuana in the vehicle. He was charged with unlawful possession of a gun and simple possession of marijuana.” The same article notes that the charges weren’t just dropped, they were expunged. It will require some due diligence, but at this point it’s remembered smoke, not an actual issue.

 

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