A year ago, Rashad Weaver was looking forward to the 2020 NFL Draft. The star Pitt defensive lineman was coming off a breakout redshirt sophomore season, his first as a full-time starter.
Weaver racked up 47 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2018, while also showing a rare knack for finding the football, forcing two fumbles and recovering three. The Florida native seemed to be poised for even more in 2019, returning in his second full season as a starter for Pitt’s talented defensive line.
Instead, Weaver’s 2019 was over before it ever started, with an ACL injury suffered in training camp sidelining him for all of his redshirt junior campaign.
While Weaver was absent, a couple of other Panthers grabbed the spotlight, with defensive end Patrick Jones II and defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman earning All-ACC honors as the Pitt line turned out to be one of the conference’s best.
That has perhaps the diluted the level of hype for Weaver’s 2021 NFL Draft candidacy, but it shouldn’t.
Y’all would think I died 😂 the way it be lookin
— Rashad Weaver (@R_Weaver17) May 21, 2020
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound lineman has an NFL build and has drawn the eye of multiple evaluators that think he could be one of the best in the class, including legendary former Dallas Cowboys exec Gil Brandt.
My top SENIOR defensive linemen to watch this season:
Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
Naquan Jones, Michigan State
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Brandon Pili, USC
Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
Marvin Wilson, Florida State
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) May 7, 2020
2020 Preseason ACC All-Coastal defensive team. pic.twitter.com/ctay9Dytw6
— Finnelytics (@Finnelytics) May 2, 2020
The 2021 edge group is one I’m going to be keeping a close eye on. There is some big talent that should experience some potential huge rise during the season. The question is how it will shape up… could go a ton of different ways but I’m excited to watch! pic.twitter.com/eRivlDTgsc
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) March 21, 2020
With the return of Weaver and fellow senior Keyshon Camp, who also missed 2019 with a season-long injury, Pitt’s defensive line could have four future NFL players on it in 2020. Sacks are the primary statistical ammunition for draft-bound defensive linemen, so it could be a race to the quarterback for Pitt’s quartet this fall.