Column | Projecting where Pitt prospects will land in the NFL Draft


Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer

Defensive back Damarri Mathis catches a football at NFL Pro Day on last month.

By Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

Excitement is at its peak as we are a little under a week away from the NFL draft. After a successful season for Pitt, many players are projected to be drafted. While nobody truly knows which team will select each player until the draft weekend is over, we have an idea of where some of these players could land.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett: No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers

Redshirt senior quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). (Pitt athletics website screenshot )

Quarterback Kenny Pickett’s rollercoaster career is well documented, as he ascended from first-year standout to Heisman trophy candidate. Pickett’s 42 touchdowns to just seven interceptions boosted his draft stock from a potential late-round draft pick to potentially being the first quarterback off of the board.

Pickett is not a perfect prospect, though. Pickett’s accuracy and mobility are unquestionably his best traits. Some scouts dock Pickett for his pocket presence and over-reliance on rolling out. On the other hand, other quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class such as Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral are seen as quarterbacks with higher potential.

Regardless of what scouts think of Pickett, his production is undeniable and he is going to be a first-round pick. But to whom? The Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons are all teams that pick in the top 10 and need to address the quarterback position. But with the talent at other positions in the draft, Pickett will fall.

Pickett falling down the draft board will work out for him, as I have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting him at No. 20 overall. Pitt football’s all-time leading passer won’t have to travel far to continue his football career.

Defensive back Damarri Mathis: No. 96 overall pick to the Denver Broncos

Redshirt senior defensive back Damarri Mathis (21). (Pitt athletics website screenshot )

No player has boosted their draft stock more in the past few months than defensive back Damarri Mathis. Mathis tallied six pass breakups and two interceptions — one returned for a touchdown — for the Panthers in the 2021 season. These marks earned him a Senior Bowl invitation, and Mathis took full advantage of his opportunity.

Despite being undersized at only 5-foot-11 and 196-pounds, Mathis showed great press man coverage ability during one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl.

Mathis followed up his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl with an almost unreal showing at the combine and at Pitt’s Pro Day. Mathis ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, the No. 8 fastest time for cornerbacks. At his Pro Day, Mathis posted a 43.5-inch vertical and 11’1’’ broad jump — both would have been the highest marks among cornerbacks at the combine.

Mathis’ man ability and athleticism will definitely benefit him in the draft process. Mathis has been noticed around the league, with some analysts saying they would “pound the table” for him. Because of this, I don’t see Mathis making it out of day two, with the Denver Broncos selecting him in the third round by the Denver Broncos with the No. 96 overall pick.

Long snapper Cal Adomitis: No. 171 overall pick to the Green Bay Packers

Redshirt senior long snapper Cal Adomitis (94). (Pitt athletics website screenshot )

Scouts rank long snapper Cal Adomitis as the best long snapper in the 2022 draft. Plenty of this is due to Adomitis’ dominant career at Pitt. A career that saw Adomitis start 64 consecutive games and earn first-team All America honors as well as the Patrick Mannelly award in 2021. If there is a long snapper selected in the draft, it will likely be Adomitis.

Adomitis has been tied to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Atlanta Falcons, but I don’t think either will draft him. The Green Bay Packers — the No. 32 special teams unit in 2021 — will draft the long snapper in the fifth round with pick 171.

Tight end Lucas Krull: No. 182 overall pick to the pick to the New York Giants

Redshirt senior tight end Lucas Krull (7). (Pitt athletics website screenshot )

Tight end Lucas Krull caught 38 passes for 451 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. But despite being named second-team All-ACC tight end in 2021, Krull didn’t receive invitations to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Combine.

Krull is still an intriguing prospect, though. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end has prototypical size for the NFL to complement his reliable hands, but he lacks some of the burst compared to other tight end prospects. Still, Krull was able to put up good production in a loaded Panther receiving core, with Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison, Jared Wayne and Gavin Bartholemew.

While Krull isn’t ready to start for an NFL team immediately, his size and hands make him an interesting prospect. The New York Giants will draft Krull in with the No. 182 pick in the sixth round, and if they can coach him up, Krull can be a future starter in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Defensive lineman Keyshon Camp: No. 248 overall pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Redshirt senior defensive lineman Keyshon Camp (10). (Pitt athletics website screenshot )

Defensive lineman Keyshon Camp is also a notable prospect. Camp did not receive any invites to the Senior Bowl or the NFL combine, but he displayed his size, strength and speed at Pitt’s Pro Day that could get him selected in the draft.

Camp — 6-foot-2 and 283 pounds — put up 27 reps on the bench press along with a 4.68 40-yard dash time. These aren’t eye-popping numbers at the position, but Camp has a toolset that could translate well to the NFL.

Camp had just two sacks in 2021, but if coaches can unlock his pass rush moves, Camp can be an all-around interior defensive lineman. I have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Camp with the 248th pick in the seventh round.

While these are just projections, players and fans alike will be waiting for these former Panthers to be selected on draft weekend. The 2022 draft begins in Las Vegas with round one on April 28 at 8 p.m. Rounds two and three will take place April 29 at 7 pm. Rounds five through seven take place April 30 at noon, and fans can watch all seven rounds on ESPN.