NFL Draft

2022 Steelers Draft Interest And Athletic Scores: Linebackers

For a couple of years now, before I became a Steelers Depot contributor nearly one year ago, I have kept a personal running spreadsheet during the draft process. The goal for me was to learn about the players, gathering information that I have tweaked along the way as I’m sure I will continue to do in the future. With great questions and conversations with some your responses to previous articles, people have seemed interested in this information I’ve referenced, so today I will share visualizations of the data points I create each year, simply called interest and athletic scores with explanations to follow.

As Dave Bryan and Alex Kozora discuss regularly, the Steelers have a type of player they look for, and what the scores attempt to achieve is seeing who checks many of those boxes, or vice versa. You will notice many of the inspirations for these scores come from their studies of draft trends over the years for Pittsburgh, with their in-depth research second to none being one of the main reasons I pursued a position and count my blessings to work with the great football minds at Steelers Depot. While there is no perfect way to predict what selections the Steelers will make in the draft at the end of the month, I feel great about what the data points measure and of course would love to hear feedback as I’m always looking to improve the points system. Also, there is only so much time in the day and additional things I’d like to measure, so I focus on the crucial and/or practical choices in my opinion.

Now for more explanation to how the scores come together. The biggest point I want to make right off the bat is this is not a big board or round projection view, rather trying to pinpoint names the Steelers may select regardless of when they are drafted. After I get a healthy pool of names that I hear about or research, I begin the scoring.

Interest Score: Here I configured a points system for the following important questions. How did the player perform in college? Does their height and weight match up to the body type of any player Pittsburgh has drafted at the position since 2010? What is their experience, age? Do they play a position of need? What was their level of competition? Who attended their pro day? Did they have a pre-draft meeting? Did they appear in the Senior or Shrine Bowl?

This matches up nicely to the Athletic Score: simply 11 combine metrics excluding wingspan, and whether or not they were within a threshold in each metric of any player drafted at their position by the Steelers since 2010.

Clear as mud? Here are the linebackers:

Georgia linebacker Quay Walker*+ tops the position comfortably and has the strongest interest score of any player I’ve studied, including a pre-draft visit and strong pro day attendance with age as his lower mark, with a perfect athletic score and appears to be a day one-early day two option.

After a huge drop off into the nine interest score range we see fellow Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall* who ranks second and fares well across the board along with a ten athletic score (DNP on bench) and seemingly a day two player.

Cincinnati linebacker Darrian Beavers ranks third and begins the group of players with above eight interest scores, with level of competition as one of his lower marks and a ten athletic score (DNP on bench) and seems to be another day two-early day three candidate. Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector* ranks fourth in interest score with college performance and age as a lower mark and a perfect 11 athletic score and appears he could be a late round/undrafted player. Ole Miss linebacker Chance Campbell ties for fourth in interest score but college performance a lower mark along with a ten athletic score (DNP on bench) and also seems to be a late round/undrafted option. LSU linebacker Damone Clark ranks sixth in interest score with college performance as a lower mark and less pro day attendance comparatively and will be intriguing to see when he is drafted considering his injury. The final player with an eight interest score is Ole Miss linebacker Mark Robinson+ who ranks seventh along with a pre-draft meeting but no bowl game a low mark and a ten athletic score (shorter arms that would set a new precedent) and appears to be another undrafted, possibly late round player.

The following linebackers have interest scores above seven: Nakobe Dean* (Georgia), Mike Rose (Iowa State), Josh Ross+ (Michigan), Jeremiah Gemmel (North Carolina), James Skalski*+ (Clemson), Ellis Brooks* (Penn State).

*position coach at pro day

+pre-draft meeting

There are many other intriguing names at the position with strong results, and especially wanted to point out Brandon Smith* (Penn State) above the mean in interest score along with a perfect athletic score. Notable names that have yet to come up are Leo Chenal (Wisconsin), Kyron Johnson (Kansas), and Micah McFadden (Indiana) with above six interest scores along with perfect athletic scores.

Do you think Pittsburgh will draft one of the names listed above? Who are some of your favorites? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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