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A Big 2023 Draft Class Would Push Pitt Into Upper Tier of Recent ACC Draft Success



Pitt has had 13 players selected since Baker Mayfield was picked No. 1 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. That’s a five-year window.

In that time frame, if you count down from the top of the ACC, Pitt has the seventh most selections. If you count up from the bottom of the ACC, Pitt has the eighth least selections.

That’s upper tier — if only just barely.

There’s been one first rounder (Kenny Pickett last year), one second rounder (Brian O’Neill in 2018) and one third rounder (Patrick Jones in 2021) over that period.

But Pitt has had at least one player selected in all five drafts, reaching a high of six selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and if the early returns this year are accurate, Pitt could have a draft class this year that rivals 2021’s class.

And just to clarify, this is based solely on how many names each program has had called over the last five NFL Drafts.

Since 2018 Total Draft Picks 1st 2nd 3rd
Clemson 23 5 4 3
Miami 20 2 0 1
North Carolina State 16 3 0 4
North Carolina 15 0 2 3
Florida State 14 3 2 1
Virginia Tech 14 4 0 2
Pitt 13 1 1 1
Boston College  11 2 1 4
Wake Forest 8 1 2 0
Virginia 7 0 1 2
Louisville 7 3 1 2
Syracuse 6 0 0 2
Duke 5 1 0 0
Georgia Tech 4 0 0 0

Even without counting Jordan Addison, which will be a fair debate down the line considering he was drafted out of USC but developed by Pitt, Pitt has six players who are garnering legitimate NFL hype right now.

Calijah Kancey isn’t quite a first-round lock yet (it’s certainly close), but at the very least, he will be Pitt’s first selection and a high second round pick at that.

Israel Abanikanda, Carter Warren and SirVocea Dennis are trending toward mid-round selections, at varying stages of Day 2 and Day 3, and Habakkuk Baldonado and Brandon Hill are exciting Day 3 selections who have each risen this spring.

Erick Hallett and Jared Wayne are late round hopefuls, hoping their Pro Day performances will push them into the later rounds. And that’s not even mentioning Tylar Wiltz, Deslin Alexandre and Marcus Minor.

That’s a lot of talent, a lot of talent that was partially responsible for an ACC Coastal title in 2019 and largely responsible for an outright ACC title in 2021 (which is a factor when evaluating NFL draft picks with collegiate success), and the fact that all six — maybe more, maybe less — are headed to the NFL is important.

It’s talent on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, running back, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back, that the coaching staff can point to as areas of development and success — both as a team and individually. With, likely, back-to-back first round selections no less.

It also doesn’t hurt that all six NFL hopefuls were largely underrecruited three-stars — and a two-star in the case of Dennis.

With six draft selections this year, Pitt’s 19 selections over the last six years would comfortably rise into the top five in the ACC over that time frame. It’s a testament to the coaching staff and the level of development at Pitt but also the hard work and effort of the players in the system.

The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, look out for Kancey being the second Pitt first rounder in as many years.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

These are good stats to know about. Looking forward to see this chart upgraded after the current draft completes.

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