In case you missed it, Pitt ended a pretty embarrassing streak last weekend. After two straight years without a single player drafted, the Panthers had three players have their name called - most notably, Aaron Donald being drafted 13th overall by the St. Louis Rams. Tom Savage was also drafted in the fourth round, and Devin Street was selected in the fifth round. It was a strong showing for the program, and having players drafted is a great recruiting tool. So can Pitt keep some momentum going next year?
Pitt definitely does not have one player that is a certain draft pick heading into next season, but that does not mean one can't emerge. Aaron Donald certainly did not have first round buzz at this time last year, but a great season and hard work at the combine really led to his draft positioning. Tom Savage showed off his strong arm, and scouts realized it during his evaluations. Devin Street's experience and decision to return probably paid off for him. So a number of things can happen between now and next Spring for some of the current Pitt players.
Pitt has eleven seniors on the roster, and among them, a few can possibly get into draft consideration. TJ Clemmings could be the most intriguing of the bunch. As a former defensive end that was converted into an offensive tackle, he may have that athleticism factor that translates well to the NFL. Clemmings is a big man at 6'6" 290 pounds, and perhaps another year on the offensive line could get scouts to recognize him. Matt Rotheram will be in his third year starting on the offensive line, and his experience should help his stock. He's also listed at a whopping 6'6" 335 pounds, so he definitely has the size to make it on the league. Manasseh Garner could find his way onto the NFL scene with a big senior season. The hybrid tight end will line up in a variety of ways this season, and his versatility could help him. He's similar to Dorin Dickerson in a lot of ways, and he was able to get drafted after bouncing around in his career himself.
On the defensive side of things, it may not be as promising to get a player drafted. Todd Thomas is an athletic outside linebacker, but has had an up and down career. Like everyone else mentioned so far, a big senior season would be the best recipe to get drafted. Anthony Gonzalez is another guy that bounced around all over the field, but has done alright at outside linebacker. He's athletic enough to generate some interest, but it would be a long shot.
Of the draft eligible underclassmen, it still appears Pitt does not have a lot of candidates in that way either. 2015 does offer any guarantees, but a few opportunities for players to make a name for themselves. It is a long way away, but there is a lot of work for some Panthers to even been considered to be drafted next year.
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