Most of you guys have already debated this to death yesterday but we need a new article and I figured I could use this as the opportunity to get in the last word.
First, one Pitt Panther was drafted this past weekend, in round seven no less. It was senior Cornerback Dane Jackson, and he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. While we are all happy for Dane to get his shot in the NFL, I think we all would have liked to see him go a little earlier. I blame coronavirus for this. Pitt’s pro day is traditionally where all the non-combine athletes got their exposure, and those who went to the combine (which Jackson did) got even more.
Three other Pitt Panthers signed as free agents. WR/KR Maurice Ffrench signed with the Chiefs. TE Nakia-Griffin Stewart (somewhat surprisingly given his lack of effective receiving skills) signed with the Vikings, and Kylan Johnson signed with the Dolphins. We wish them all the best as they attempt make it work in the NFL.
Taking a step back from this, the chief complaint of many, is that Pitt has not had enough players drafted in recent years, this year included. This of course, points to a lack of talent and a deficiency in player development and recruiting. Even Chris Dokish, who is usually a pretty positive dude (and I’m kind of being sarcastic here, because he’s usually a REALLY positive dude), said as much.
First of all, a simple fact check: He’s not wrong. Pitt has had 11 players drafted from 2016-2020 (That’s five years. Count it with me … 16-17-18-19-20). BC has had 12 players drafted. Meanwhile, Temple has sent 15 to the pros by way of the draft. Clearly this does not reflect well on Pitt, and by extension, Pat Narduzzi.
What’s even more damning though is that 9 of Pitt’s 11 draftees were recruited by Paul Chryst. (I’m giving Narduzzi credit for Jordan Whitehead and Nate Peterman. Yes Peterman was a transfer but I can gaurantee you he would not have come to Pitt if Chryst was at the helm.) Wait? What??? The ‘Duzz has been in place for five years and he’s sent a grand total of TWO guys to the pros? The howls of “Fire this coach he clearly sucks at recruiting,” are growing louder.
Well lets just slow down on the emotional knee-jerk reactions shall we. We’ll start with some data. And after we look at it, we may well conclude that these reactions are justified, but lets at least give the facts their day in court. We are, after all, (mostly) college graduates here.
First… All the guys that were drafted out of Pitt since 2016. I’ve added come commentary, and to keep it simple, I’ve also color-coded the players. Green means they are contributing to an NFL team. Red means they are out of the league OR not a contributor.
Two conclusions here
- Duzz has still not put a lot of guys in the NFL.
- While the numbers are low, the ‘Duzz does have a 100% success rate with his guys. IE everyone that ‘Duzz has coached for 3+ years and that has been drafted is currently contributing to a team in the NFL. On the other hand, we are talking about four guys here in three years, so yea, that’s kind of a low bar. (Ollison, O’Neill, Whitehead, Maddox. Connor was only a ‘Duzz guy for two years)
For your reference…
So a few more thoughts here:
- In 2017 Temple went 10-4 in the American and had three guys drafted. Pitt went 8-5 in the ACC and had five. Of course four of them washed out…
- Temple has one more win than Pitt in the last two seasons – in a weaker conference – but has had SEVEN guys drafted. Pitt has had two. What does that tell you?
- Pitt’s 2018, 5-7 team had three guys drafted. By the “guys drafted” measure it was Pitt’s second most talented team under Narduzzi. Of course we didn’t have a quarterback (more on that in a later article…)
- Steve Addazio has put more guys then Narduzzi in the NFL and yet never broke the 7 win plateau.
Last but not least, Pitt had four guys that could have declared in 2019 and probably would have been drafted (although all bets are off with COVID). Narduzzi is retaining his most talented guys. Do you really want to hold THAT against any college coach? Really?
Now…what about the future? After all, we are Pitt fans. In fact, we should probably change our battle cry from “Lets go Pitt” to “Next year is our year!”. But…if you look forward Pitt has 11 potential draftees in 2021…assuming there is a season. No, not all of them will get drafted, but barring injury at least four of them will (and probably at least two more besides that.) And guess what? They were all recruited and developed by Narduzzi. (Except Mack who transferred in – technically still recruited by him though).
Now the guy may have hairy arms. And he may make some head scratching in-game decisions. And he may come off as a bit of a blowhard in interviews. But looking at the 2021 draft-potential, it’s pretty tough to say he isn’t developing talent…even though it’s taken a while. Note the eight redshirts on that list. That’s intentional, and I think a lot of people don’t get that. #Meatballhasaplan