Local NFL Draft Prospects
One of the highest-risers in the 2017 NFL Draft has been Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman, whose regular season performance and post-season success could shoot him all the way into the second round. Peterman leads half a dozen Panthers who hope to hear their names called in the 2017 NFL Draft.
QB Nate Peterman. Peterman will have no problems adjusting to any system due to his experience in a pro style system during his time at Pitt. Peterman has accuracy, anticipation and the poise that you want in a quarterback. Scouts will not be wowed by his arm or his physical attributes. Teams that want a solid back up quarterback or a developmental potential starter will take a look at Peterman, as early as the second but likely no later than the middle rounds.
OG Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon). Johnson is a solid athlete with excellent leg strength and long arms, but he's a little over-aggressive at times. His size is not ideal, but his toughness and savvy should more than make up for it. He has the consistency and intelligence to be a solid starter on Sundays. Middle-round pick.
OL Adam Bisnowaty (Fox Chapel). Bisnowaty is a prospect with a strong build with good technique in pass blocking and is strong enough to hold up run blocking. However he has had ankle and back issues during his time at Pitt and he may not have the elite athleticism to play left tackle. He may be better suited for the right side or guard and projects as a mid-round selection.
RB James Conner (Erie). Conner is a strong classic power back with prototypical size and power for the role and has shown great resilience on coming back from a torn ACL and Non Hopskins Lymphoma. He may lack elite speed and lateral vision to be an every down back at the NFL level but he may be a red zone and short yardage specialist. Middle to late rounds.
OLB Ejuan Price (Woodland Hills). Price played defensive end at Pitt, but his short stature will force him to move to linebacker. Must learn the position and show he can use his athleticism, explosion and strength to deal with larger linemen in space. Major injury issues. Probably a late-round pick.
TE Scott Orndoff (Seton LaSalle). Orndoff is already a solid blocking tight end. His downside is that he may not get open as well at the NFL level, however he will make catched over the middle in traffic that will enable him to be a viable red zone option. Likely free agent but could hear his name in the right situation.
FA POSSIBILITIES: Chris Blewitt, K; Bam Bradley, OLB; Dontez Ford, WR; Tyrique Jarrett (Taylor-Allderdice), DT; Ryan Lewis, CB; Jaymar Parrish (Gateway), FB; Shakir Soto, DE
WR Chris Godwin. Highly productive receiver with good speed and athleticism that tends to play big in the biggest games (2017 Rose Bowl). Goodwin will need to show a little more consistency and route running skills but he should be a steal in rounds 2-4 in the draft.
DE Garrett Sickels. Sickels is a high motor player with good technique and pass rush moves, however he does not have elite athleticism to keep blockers off of him on a consistent basis. Could be better suited at OLB in a 3-4 defense. Likely a middle-late round pick.
OLB Brandon Bell. Bell is built more like an inside backer but his skills translate more to playing outside. His lack of ideal measurables may make him a free agent, but a team with extra picks could draft him as a special teamer with an upside.
FA POSSIBILITIES: Malik Golden, SS; Evan Schwan, DE; Nyeem Wartman-White, ILB
CB Rasul Douglas. Douglas (6-2, 210) is a bigger corner that has the ability to make plays on the ball when he is in position. Scouts have concern about his deep speed and he may be best suited to be a zone corner. Probably not physical enough to transition to safety. Middle-round probability.
WR Shelton Gibson. Gibson is a quintessential deep ball threat that can run past cornerbacks to make big plays however he has inconsistent hand and is an unpolished route runner. Gibson could be a low volume/high impact player early in his career while he rounds out his game at the NFL level. Mid-round.
C Tyler Orlosky. Orlosky has the technique, mean streak and strength to hold his own against NFL nose tackles, however he has shorter arms than NFL scouts like and he is not the best athlete at his position. He has starting potential but his ceiling is unknown. MIddle to late round projection.
FA POSSIBILITIES: Christian Brown, DE; Maurice Fleming, CB; Darrien Howard, DT; Skyler Howard, QB; Nana Kyeremeh, CB; Noble Nwachukwu, DE; Adam Pankey, OG; Rushell Shell (Hopewell), RB; Daikiel Shorts Jr., WR; Jeremy Tyler, SS
WESTERN PA's NATIONAL PROSPECTS
S Malik Hooker (Ohio State / New Castle). Hooker is a ball hawk with great instincts that allows him to make plays. Hooker is still raw with only one year of starting experience and is not the most polished tackler, but the ability is there if they are willing to go through some growing pains. Likely first-rounder.
DT Treyvon Hester (Toledo / Penn Hills). Hester has good size and quickness, but his technique could use some work. Projects as a three-technique defensive tackle. Middle round probability.
S Montae Nicholson (Michigan State / Gateway). Nicholson has all the height, weight, speed to be a NFL safety but his production and on field aggression did not always match his measurables. Middle-rounds.
SS Lorenzo Jerome, St. Francis PA. Jerome is not the biggest or the fastest safety for NFL standards but he has playmaking instincts and a sure tackler. Capable of returning kicks and punts as well. Likely to get drafted.
OL Ethan Cooper, IUP. Cooper is a mountain of a man that is a good enough athlete to make it at the NFL level. Cooper was not as dominant at run blocking for some scouts, especially with his size and his level of competition. Day three prospect or free agent.
FA POSSIBILITIES: Garry Brown, WR, Cal-PA; QB Dillon Buechel, Duquesne (Montour); WR Wayne Capers Jr, Duquesne (Chartiers Valley); OT Larson Graham, Duquesne; OLB Christian Kuntz, Duquesne; WR Blair Roberts, Duquesne
OTHER PITTSBURGH CONNECTIONS
WR Jerome Lane, Akron. The son of former Pitt basketball star Jerome Lane is a physical receiver that has good size. Scouts have doubts that he has the speed to play wide receiver and could be moved to tight end.
LB Hardy Nickerson, Illinois. The son of former Steelers linebacker Hardy Nickerson has been productive and has a high motor, but his athleticism and instincts may have him needing to go to the special teams route to make an NFL roster.