Based off of how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ front office brass and coaching staff has traveled the eastern part of the country in recent weeks for Pro Day visits and dinners with prospects, it’d be safe to assume that the top target for the black and gold remains quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Despite knowing that and seeing the way the Steelers are present and active at Pro Days for the top quarterbacks like Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli went in an entirely different direction in the first round of his latest mock draft Friday afternoon, heading to the defensive side of the football for the black and gold.
After a flurry of moves in free agency in the trenches and on the defensive side of the football, Fornelli decided to strength a key area for the Steelers, grabbing Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt at No. 20 overall in his latest mock draft, giving the Steelers a dynamic athletic in the trenches to ideally pair with Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, giving the Steelers a deep, talented defensive line.
307-pounds should not move this quickly
Devonte Wyatt Day 1📈 pic.twitter.com/TUFbEQly3R
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 2, 2022
“Wyatt is everything you want as an interior lineman these days,” Fornelli writes. “He has the size and strength to hold up against the run in a variety of fronts, and he’s quick enough to be disruptive as a pass-rusher. His get-off on the snap is not Aaron Donald-esque (whose is?), but it’s the most impressive I’ve seen from a DT in this class.”
Wyatt certainly is a specimen, especially after having recorded a 4.77 40-yard dash and an 11’1″ broad jump at 6-foot-2, 304 pounds.
#UGA DT Devonte Wyatt (6-3, 315) really flashes on tape. He’s a true up-the-field penetrator as a 3-tech. Disruptive, discipline vs. the run, and contains upside as a pass rusher. Saved his best for last against Alabama in the title game.
Excited to see him at the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/BwoPB0xny3
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 21, 2022
Though he appears a bit undersized overall, Wyatt’s explosiveness and strength are very apparent on tape the last two years at Georgia, where he was a dominant trench player on one of the best defenses in college football history under head coach Kirby Smart.
How he fits exactly into a base 3-4 system is anyone’s guess, but Wyatt would be able to give the Steelers a legitimate chess piece in the trenches behind Heyward and Tuitt, allowing the Steelers to keep both All-Pro caliber defensive linemen relatively fresh throughout games and the season.
Just 310lb DT Devonte Wyatt dropping to middle hole/spying QBs for Kirby on 3rd Down…
Don’t forget about Wyatt on this defensive unit! Light footed big guy! pic.twitter.com/ma71Lonuo7
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 24, 2021
Jonathan Heitritter wrote up our draft profile on Wyatt, calling him a “chess piece” and a future starter in the NFL with a second-round grade overall.
“Devonte Wyatt has the skill set you look for in an interior defensive lineman at the next level,” Heitritter writes. “He has experience playing up and down the LOS from various spots in various defensive formations, aiding to his versatility. He best profiles as a penetrating 4-3 DT, but he can still be a disruptive 3-tech or 4-I that can even kick inside if needed to hold his own as a run defender or attack the A-gap. His quick twitch and movement skills make him a fun chess piece that can be schemed many different ways given his ability to blow things up in the backfield.”