NFL Draft

2022 Steelers Draft Interest And Athletic Scores: Wide Receivers

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 wide receivers:

Ole Miss wide receiver Braylon Sanders tops the position comfortably, sporting a perfect athletic score and the only player with an above ten interest score, his lowest mark in college performance, and opinions seem to point to him staying on the board until the later rounds. Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce ranks second in interest score with level of competition being one of his lower marks along with his athletic score of ten (didn’t bench), and day two seemingly the consensus if Pittsburgh were to draft him. Georgia wide receiver George Pickens* ties for second in interest score with his lower marks including experience comparatively and no bowl game, along with a lower athletic score at eight (three did not participates) and seems to be a day two option. Another Ole Miss wide receiver Dontario Drummond ranks fourth in interest score with age being one of his lower marks along with a ten athletic score (also didn’t bench), and opinion appears he will be drafted before Sanders. Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross* ties with Drummond in interest score with no bowl game appearance, along with an eight athletic score (two DNP’s and a lower ten split that would set a new Steelers precedent) and seemingly can be had on late day two-early day three. Rutgers wide receiver Bo Melton rounds out the interest scores above eight and had a lack of pro day attendance compared to the above, pairing this result with a perfect athletic score and appears he will be available on day three.

Here are the notable wide receivers with above seven interest scores in my opinion: Kevin Austin Jr. (Notre Dame), Danny Gray (SMU), Christian Watson (North Dakota State), Khalil Shakir (Boise State), Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Chris Olave (Ohio State), and John Metchie (Alabama) who didn’t test fully.

*=Position coach at pro day

There are many other intriguing names at the position with strong results, and especially wanted to point out two in Jalen Nailor (Michigan State) and Jalen Tolbert (South Alabama) who fared well in Kozora’s “What the Steelers look for study”.

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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