The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching, and although it's awfully difficult to predict a selection when a team is drafting at 31st overall, my money is on the Pittsburgh Steelers sticking and picking Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward.

Heyward is the safest pick for Pittsburgh where they are selecting. The son of former Pitt star Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, Cameron has the elite football pedigree, has no evident character issues, exhibits minimal injury risk (coming off surgery for a hyperextended elbow, but he's not going to be expected to throw curveballs in the NFL), reportedly has a passion for the game, and was voted a team captain his senior year at OSU. Remember, character is an awfully important issue to the team here in the year after Milledgeville, Santonio Holmes, and Jeff Reed (scratch CB Jimmy Smith and NT Phil Taylor off your list because of it).

That said, can Cameron Heyward play?

With starts in 46 of his last 47 games at OSU and all told 52 games under his belt in the Big Ten, coupled with 37.5 tackles for loss in his career, Heyward has the resume of a first round draft pick. Heyward had 48 tackles his senior year and is a violent player in that part of his game. His athleticism for a big man makes him a pass rush threat (15 sacks at OSU), particularly if matched up against tight ends or running backs.

He also fits the Steelers very well, and looks to be the prototype 6'5, 295 3-4 DE this team loves to groom for the "5 technique." This could be Aaron Smith's final season and Brett Keisel is no young pup, meaning the Ziggy Hood / Heyward bookend duo will be pegged to take over in a year or two and keep the Black & Gold run defense elite. Stuffing the run is always the #1 goal of the Dick Lebeau led defense, and Heyward helps insure that goal is met for the next decade.

I'm told the team very much is interested in him, which already was evident with Mike Tomlin and Lebeau attending Heyward's workout in late March.

It's no sure thing, but Cameron Heyward is the betting favorite in the clubhouse.

Posted in College Sports, Pittsburgh Steelers

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