By Jeremy Hritz
Over the course of the next week, I will be profiling all of the Steelers draft picks and undrafted rookie free agents. The goal is to give you a comprehensive look at all of the new players to familiarize you with what they have to offer and what they can possibly contribute in the 2022 season.
In the 6th round, the Steelers selected Connor Heyward, H-Back out of Michigan State. Brother of Steeler Cameron Heyward, the brother theme with the team continues, though Connor must show that he can produce and be a valuable member of this offense if he is to make the 53 man roster. A true football player with tremendous versatility, Heyward is a unique prospect, and it will be fun to see how he fits in with this team.
|Height||5’11||School||Michigan State University|
|40-Yard Dash||4.72||20-Yard Split||2.74|
College Rushing Statistics
College Receiving Statistics
It all starts with Heyward’s versatility, and his utility with this Steelers offense is multiple and limited only by Matt Canada’s creativity. Heyward can make plays in the running game and passing game, and provide snaps at running back, full back, and tight end. While not overly explosive or athletic, Heyward has decent acceleration that can catch defenders off guard, which can often result in conversions on 3rd down. Heyward is a gritty, tough gamer who always seems to make a play when it is needed, providing an unorthodox compliment to more traditional players on offense. Excellent hands make him a reliable receiver and a viable target for whoever is playing quarterback.
Areas for Growth
While Heyward is multiple, he does not excel at any given area, nor does he have great athleticism or speed. He is not a threat for pulling away from defenders, and he does not have the physical traits that create mismatches with defenses. Heyward’s frame is unique, with a large upper body, but a disproportionate lower half, limit his potential for physical growth, and his shorter stature could be exposed against larger players in the blocking game. Receiving game is limited to short routes.
Where Does He Fit Into the Depth Chart?
Again, Heyward is unique, and is simply put, a football player. While that sounds vague, what it means is that he is a jack-of-all-trades, who will find space in both the running and passing game, and show the willingness as a blocker, to prove his value to the team. He has a real shot to not only make the roster, but to contribute and be an unsuspecting play-maker. Could spell the end for a current RB on the roster, or possibly even a 3rd TE.
Projected Contribution in 2022
Heyward will make this team, and will find his way into the offense to the tune of 7-10 snaps per game, being employed specifically on third downs to take advantage of his knack for making plays. Heyward could add a unique element to this offense, in addition to their many weapons, who is charged with picking up those 3-6 yards needed on critical third downs.
Did You Know?
It is well known that Heyward is versatile, but this is just ridiculous. At Peachtree Ridge High School in Georgia, Heyward played safety, quarterback, and punter. Think Mike Tomlin takes advantage of this on a fake FG or punt this year? Bet on it.