With an eye toward the 2024 draft, NFL scouts will continue to monitor how Pitt’s players develop

The target number is 11.

This is the record for most Pitt players selected during the first seven rounds of the NFL Draft.

In 1981, after the 1980 team finished 11-1 and crushed South Carolina, 37-9, in the Gator Bowl, 11 Pitt players were drafted in the first five rounds. Hugh Green, Randy McMillan, and Mark May were first-round picks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made the 12th overall with quarterback Rick Trucano, but that happened in the 11th round. The draft stops after the 7th round these days.

This year, six Pitt players have been selected, tied with 2021, 2004 and 1992 for the most in the past 32 drafts. The total is also tied for 5th nationally and 1st (with Clemson) in the ACC. If you count Jordan Addison, who did his best at Pitt, he helped Pat Narduzzi’s crew send 15 players to the NFL from the past three drafts.

The 2023 Pitt roster has a chance of getting close to six players being drafted, but the record of 11 players may never be broken. Before we make any final statements or bet a big chunk of our paychecks, let’s see who stays healthy and how the season develops.

Meanwhile, here are six players with a good shot (for now):

MJ Devonshire, Cornerback

Devonshire, who played in Aliquipa, was a standout in play in 2022, with two pick-6s and a punt return for a touchdown. The NFL is interested in players who can change the course of games. He’ll also have three seasons of solid Power 5 playing time.

Devonshire plays football with confidence, but does not overdo it – another factor in his favour.

Panjali Kamara, outside linebacker

The 2022 season was his first as a starter, so he still has a lot to learn. This is where Pete’s coaching staff will play a huge role in Kamara’s future. Pitt’s recent ability to develop draft picks is something the NFL will not overlook.

Kamara plays Pitt’s star, part linebacker, part safety. Can end up with a variety of effective skills to enter the NFL.

Jake Cradle, quarter

Kradel, a Butler alumnus, has the size (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) and the experience (38 starts) to catch NFL eyes.

He also played right guard. Almost above all else, the NFL values ​​diversity among its offensive linemen.

Plus, Kradel’s personality and respectful demeanor will play well when he sits down with the coaches and CEOs at the 2024 meeting.

Matt Goncalves, offensive tackle

If he gets a chance to play left tackle, his stock will go even higher.

But he’s also a good bet on the right side, as his size (6-6, 315) and proper next-level training will turn him into a road grader.

Phil Gurkovich, quarterback

Much riding on Jurkovic’s performance this season, personally and for the team.

Pete needs a solid midfielder who will make the right decisions and turn his passing game into the weapon he has been in 2021 (or at least close to that level).

Jurkovec (6-5, 215) has all the physicality, and will benefit from playing under offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. , who knows what professionals seek in a quarterback after years of coaching experience in the NFL.

A slight improvement in his 2020 baseline at Boston College (61% completion percentage, 2,558 aerial yards and 17 touchdowns) would certainly lead to him being drafted. A total of 14 quarterbacks have been selected this year, nine after the third round.

Marquis Williams, cornerback

This is a guy with a lot of confidence, built the right way – based on experience. He has played 34 games and caught five assists over the past three seasons.

Bringing that number closer to 50, along with a few more interceptions, will help him get noticed.

At 5-9, 180, he’s going to need a great season, but that’s what Pitt is counting on from Williams.

If Devonshire and Williams are drafted, it will be 10 defensive appearances in seven drafts under Naruzzi.

Jerry DePaola is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Jerry via email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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