NFL Draft

2022 Steelers Draft Interest And Athletic Scores: Safeties

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 perfectly 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 safeties:

Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook tops the interest scores faring well including a pre-draft meeting and strong pro day attendance, with lack of bowl game and level of competition his lowest marks and lands on the left due to a lack of athletic testing, seemingly a day two or early day three candidate. Clemson safety Nolan Turner ranks second in interest score, also with a pre-draft meeting and strong pro day attendance with age being his worst mark along with a nine athletic score (lower 10-yard split and short shuttle that would set a new precedent) and seems to be a late round/undrafted option. Up next is Maryland safety Nick Cross ranking third in interest score, with lack of a bowl game and college performance being his lower marks compared to Cook and Kyle Hamilton. Cross has a ten athletic score (hand size would set a new precedent) which is no dealbreaker and was Alex Kozora’s only safety to check every box in the way he measures his “What The Steelers Look For”, seemingly a late day two-early day three candidate. The final player with an above eight interest score is Kentucky safety Yusuf Corker, faring well with college performance also being one of his lower marks comparatively, along with a nine athletic score (hand size and 10-yard split would set new precedent) and appears he will be available on day three.

Here are the safeties with above seven interest scores: Lewis Cine (Georgia), Jaquan Brisker (Penn State), Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame), Jalen Pitre (Baylor), Tycen Anderson (Toledo), Brad Hawkins (Michigan), JT Woods (Baylor), and Leon O’Neal Jr. (Texas A&M).

There are many other intriguing names at the position with strong results, and especially wanted to point out Virginia safety Joey Blount, who also had a pre-draft meeting along with a perfect athletic score. Speaking of which, there are several names to consider on the right of the graph (higher athletic score) considering the strong history Pittsburgh has at drafting this type at the position.

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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