After a week filled with games that came down to the wire, the NFL Draft landscape is continuing to take shape. Which standouts from this past week’s college football games could be in play for the Steelers? It is time to find out.
During the college football season, I will be sharing with you weekly “stock reports,” breaking down everything that transpired in the previous week of college action. We will look at players at any position that either helped or hurt their stock based upon that week’s performance, but we will give a more extensive look at players that play a position the Steelers will be in need of next offseason. Those positions may fluctuate as the Steelers’ 2021 season unfolds and we learn more about what this team truly needs to address in the offseason.
As it stands right now, cornerback, safety, guard, wide receiver, and quarterback seem to be the most likely needs. Thus, a noteworthy performance by a player at one of those positions is more likely to be recognized in these articles than an impressive showing by a player at a position the Steelers are already loaded at.
Here are the highest of highs and lowest of lows from the fourth full week of college action.
There is no relation to BTSC senior editor Jeff Hartman (that I am aware of, at least), but Hartman has been racking up incredible numbers nonetheless. Albeit against Army, Hartman completed 23 of 29 passes for 458 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions while adding 22 yards and 1 touchdown on four carries as a runner. Hartman could still return to school and wait until the 2023 draft, but now that he is averaging nearly 300 passing yards per game and has a 19-3 touchdown to interception ratio, it would not shock me if he declared early.
Hartman has a decent arm and does a nice job spreading the ball around, but he has not been tested against any strong opponents yet. Fortunately, he has two challenging matchups in the near future, Clemson and North Carolina State. If he can consistently make the simple throws while putting a little more zip on his passes over the middle of the field, he could become yet another quarterback that we talk about as a potential day two pick.
Kenny Pickett / QB / Pittsburgh
I feel as if the Pickett love may be getting a little out of control, but there is no denying his fantastic play. Pickett finally played against a quality defense in Clemson last week, and he played quite well overall, completing 25 of 39 passes for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns.
When I mentioned Pickett a couple weeks ago, he was still being looked at as a day two selection. However, his continued improvement when it comes to reading defenses and making smarter decisions with the football has pushed him into the first-round conversation. I still want to see him perform well in cold weather, and his hand measurement at the combine will be a major storyline to follow, but he is improving his draft resume by the week.
Diallo is not a household name yet, but he is putting together an impressive campaign this season, racking up 7.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks as an interior lineman. What is even better is that his production has come against quality opponents. Diallo has recorded a sack against Oregon, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks against UCLA, and just this past week against Washington, 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Diallo was listed at 320 pounds coming out of high school but has shrunk down to about 285 pounds and become much quicker and explosive rushing from the interior. After failing to hang around at either Texas A&M or Central Michigan, Diallo seems to have finally found a team that will utilize his skill set to the fullest extent. He is a complete unknown to just about everyone at this point, but don’t be shocked if he is one of the major risers during the pre-draft process. Milton Williams was a little more athletic overall, but after seeing how quickly Williams rose on draft boards last spring, it would not shock me at all if Diallo sneaked into the back end of the third round or beginning of the fourth round this spring.
Others who improved their stock:
Kenyon Green / G / Texas A&M
Jalen Wydermyer / TE / Texas A&M (4 REC, 75 YDS, 2 TD)
Kayvon Thibodeaux / EDGE / Oregon (8 SOLO TACK, 2 SCK, 4.5 TFL, 1 QB HUR)
Drake Jackson / EDGE / USC (6 SOLO TCKL, 1 SCK, 2 TFL)
Jay Shaw / CB / UCLA (INT in 4th quarter, 1 PD)
Damone Clark / LB / LSU (19 TACK, 1 SCK, 2.5 TFL)
Micah McFadden / ILB / Indiana (1 SCK, 3 TFL)
Kedon Slovis / QB / USC
There are times when Slovis looks as if he could be a solid NFL quarterback, but more times than not, he looks like another overhyped USC quarterback who will fizzle out in the NFL. Slovis had a chance to boost his stock on Saturday against Notre Dame, but his 299 passing yard performance was overshadowed by an interception and two fumbles. Slovis has good patience in the pocket and a solid arm, but his awareness inside the pocket is lacking. At this point, I do not see Slovis going any higher than the middle of day two.
Sean Rhyan / OT / UCLA
It would not be fair to Rhyan to not point out that he was faced against Kavon Thibodeaux for a good portion of the game, but nonetheless, Rhyan got beat around the edge often. Very often. Whether it was Mase Funa, Brandon Dorlus, or Kavon Thibodeaux, Rhyan was consistently getting beat, as he struggled to get out of his stance quickly and mirror his opponent in pass protection. There are not a ton of surefire first-round tackles in next year’s draft, so he could still find a way to sneak into round one. However, he will need to prove his lateral movement skills and overall athleticism moving forward.
Harvell-Peel was expected to rise on draft boards over the past few weeks, considering the challenging opponents he was going to face and the opportunity he would have to showcase his talents on a bigger stage. However, he has failed to live up to expectations, as he has now gone three straight games with neither a pass defended or an interception. Playing Baylor, Texas, and Iowa State back-to-back-to-back is no easy task, but Harvell-Peel has been average at best in coverage and non-existent when it comes to creating splash plays. He is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the 2022 class, but the overall depth at safety in the 2022 class could cause him to drop to day three.
For a breakdown on everything you need to know for Week 9’s slate of games, check out Pittsblitz56’s College Game day article this Saturday right here on BTSC.
Which players caught your eye last weekend? Who do you think has a golden opportunity to rise on draft boards with a strong Week 9 performance? Let us know your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and updates as we get you ready for the Steelers vs. Browns matchup on Sunday.