Underrated Prospects Steelers Must Prioritize in 2022 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2022

Underrated Prospects Steelers Must Prioritize in 2022 NFL Draft

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    JASON DECROW/Associated Press

    While the Pittsburgh Steelers haven't dominated the headlines this offseason, they've been busy. In addition to adding Mitch Trubisky to the quarterback room, Pittsburgh signed the likes of James Daniels, Myles Jack and Mason Cole.

    The post-Ben Roethlisberger era is off to a quietly good start, and the Steelers could significantly improve in the 2022 draft.

    Might Pittsburgh use a first-round pick on its quarterback of the future? It's entirely possible. The Steelers could also address their offensive line, add another wide receiver or find a high-upside pass-rusher to complement Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt.

    But what about the middle and late rounds? Pittsburgh has traditionally been good about finding gems on Day 2 and Day 3, and ideally, this year will be no exception. With this in mind, let's examine three prospects the Steelers should target in Round 3 or later.

Cameron Thomas, Edge, San Diego State

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    Pass-rusher isn't the biggest need for the Steelers, who logged 55 sacks in 2021. However, Pittsburgh could use depth on the edge opposite Watt. Defensive linemen Cameron Heyward and Chris Wormley finished second and third on the team behind Watt in sacks.

    The Steelers can find their edge depth late on Day 2.

    San Diego State's Cameron Thomas is the 94th-ranked prospect on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's big board. He isn't likely to make the same early impact as first-round prospects like Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. However, Thomas—who had 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2021—can be a solid rotational player.

    "Thomas can be a decent No. 3 defensive end early on thanks to his fluidity and hand usage to work himself free," Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "If he strengthens his anchor a bit, Thomas could work into a starting role down the line. However, his ceiling may always be capped by his middling explosive ability."

    Thomas is the sort of meat-and-potatoes edge-rusher who might not wow statistically but who won't be a liability when rotating into the lineup.

Cordale Flott, CB, LSU

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Cornerback depth is always valuable, and the Steelers need to help replace starter Joe Haden, who remains unsigned in free agency. The Steelers ranked ninth in passing yards allowed but 15th in interceptions (13).

    LSU's Cordale Flott wouldn't replace Haden outright as a rookie, but he could provide depth at multiple spots. 

    The 163rd-ranked prospect on the B/R big board, Flott could likely be found late in the draft. That doesn't mean that the versatile 6'0" pass-defender can't be an early contributor.

    "Cordale Flott is a versatile athlete with the ability to play as a nickel defender or as an outside cornerback. He has excellent height and length that serves well in both positions," Cory Giddings of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "His versatility extends to him playing in both man and zone coverage. In man, he shows the ability to quickly get out of breaks and match short or medium routes."

    While Flott isn't at his best in run support, his schematic versatility would be very valuable in the Steelers defense. He is a Day 3 developmental prospect, but he has enough upside to be a future NFL starter.

Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Steelers surrendered 38 sacks in 2021 while ranking just 29th in yards per rush. Rookie star Najee Harris rushed for 1,200 yards but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry.

    While adding Daniels and Cole should help, it would behoove Pittsburgh to address their line early and often over draft weekend.

    Washington State's Abraham Lucas would be a fine developmental player to target on Day 3 after being a four-year starter in the Cougars' Air Raid offense. While his experience and physical tools are enticing, Lucas is a raw technician.

    "Lucas' size, length and raw athletic ability offer some upside as a developmental tackle, but he will have a steep learning curve in the NFL, with his technique from the ground up needing to be retooled," Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    The 6'6", 315-pound Lucas wouldn't be asked to start in Week 1, but he could provide depth while new offensive line coach Pat Meyer molds him into a future building block along the line.