Well, didn't see this one coming. For the first time in more than a decade, Pitt was shut out of the NFL Draft.
It's not as if Pitt had a bunch of high-profile guys. Many years, we're talking about if the Panthers will have a first-rounder. This year was a bit different, but it still appeared as Pitt would have at least one or two guys taken. The most likely suspects were Brandon Lindsey and Lucas Nix, who showed up on most mock drafts.
If there's anything this shows you, it's how little the media knows about the perception of the middle-late round guys. Projecting early-round talent is fairly easy, but when it comes to determining how teams feel about the other guys, that's a lot more difficult.
All of that said, I'm surprised that Lindsey especially was left out. This was a guy that had 18 1/2 sacks and with experience at both defensive end and linebacker. I really expected someone to take a chance on him and the fact that it didn't happen late blows me away.
Nix is a little different. I'm surprised he wasn't taken, either, but offensive linemen don't have stats that can jump out at you as with other positions. It's nearly impossible to see how they were on paper and while more goes into it than that, obviously, it's a little easier for me to see why he wasn't taken.
So what's next? Free agency, of course.Lindsey and Nix will almost assuredly be snatched up by someone and brought into their camp - that's a given. But I also think the other seniors we profiled this week (Antwuan Reed, Chas Alecxih, Myles Caragein, and Max Gruder), along with maybe some others such as Buddy Jackson, will get looks, too. Remember, this isn't about giving guys big contracts - it's virtually a risk-free opportunity to get them into camp and work them out. If the team doesn't like what they see, they cut them.
It's nice to have players drafted from the university, obviously, but the good news for the guys not taken is that it's better to be an undrafted free agent than a late-round pick. As a player not taken, the player has his pick of options (assuming he has more than one offer, of course). Instead of going to a team that might be stacked at his position, he can pick a different franchise where a better opportunity might exist.
Look for a few guys to sign some deals shortly.