Former Pitt offensive lineman Brian O’Neill has been the subject of some lofty expectations since announcing his early departure from the university to pursue a career in the NFL.
Aside from being named one of the top 50 prospects in the upcoming draft by ESPN’s Todd McShay and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, O’Neill was also pegged as a first-round draft pick by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. But he’s not buying into all the hype surrounding him just yet.
“It didn’t really mean anything,” O’Neill said of Kiper’s prediction, according to Ryan Mink of the Baltimore Ravens’ official website. “I know Mel and Todd McShay and the other guys do a really good job, so I appreciate the love. But it doesn’t mean anything. What means something is playing well [at the Senior Bowl].”
To that end, the former Pitt lineman put on a solid showing in Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday.
While O’Neill faced some criticism for his technique and strength during the practices preceding the Senior Bowl, he seemed to shore up those issues and put on a solid performance in the all-star game itself. Although he allowed a sack early in the game, he bounced back and provided reliable protection for the remaining three and a half quarters.
In addition to that, one national scout interviewed by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune singled O’Neill out as one of his top two performers in the practices preceding the game. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report was also won over, noting, “I left Mobile thinking O’Neill would be a great right tackle in a zone scheme.”
Now, with the Senior Bowl behind him and the draft a few months off, O’Neill has had time to at least address the predictions about his future. But when asked by Mink about potentially going to the Ravens in the first round, as Kiper predicted, he noted there’s still a long way to go before the draft.
“I have a lot of respect for the organization,” he said. “Close to home. But it’s so far off at this point to even think about those details. I’ve got to think about watching film and getting better.”