The Wisconsin Badgers had two players drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, as the Pittsburgh Steelers selected linebacker T.J. He played sparingly in 2015 after injuring his right knee in spring practice but emerged as a star for the Badgers last fall. Conner joins an impressive lineage of Pitt tailbacks in the National Football League, including LeSean McCoy, Curtis Martin, Craig Heyward and Tony Dorsett. Even as the drugs sapped his strength and wreaked havoc on his immune system.
Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, MLive.com writers Nate Atkins and Kyle Meinke will preview prospects who could be a fit for the Detroit Lions.
Conner, of course, is one of the feel good stories from last year’s college football season. “There’s no reason why he can’t contribute and be a significant player, but he’ll be a young player”. A 6-foot-2, 230-pound favorite son of Erie, Pa., Conner watched the draft in his hometown with friends, family, former Pitt teammates and others. Conner started to develop headaches and night sweats during his rehab, which is when doctors found a tumor around his heart, diagnosed as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Yet Conner never stopped working. He finished the season strong, scoring a key touchdown in Pitt’s upset victory over No. 1 Clemson and ending the year with over 1092 yards and 20 total touchdowns. It’s more than just a hashtag. Conner insisted he’s not looking to challenge Bell’s spot. He hopes defenders are sentimental about Conner, who will proceed to run over them. He battles, and beats, cancer, only to come back more determined and stronger than ever. “Keep this ball rolling”.
Then again, Ben Roethlisberger said after the AFC Championship game loss at New England that the moment might have been too big for some of his receivers after Coates and Hamilton dropped passes and Rogers fumbled. Watt is also good on initial contact, has strong straight-line speed, beats guys with both his upper and lower body and can line up all over the place (subpackages, guys changing, etc.). “Can play inside (and) outside”. He won’t turn 21 until November, when he’s more than halfway through his rookie season.
“To do that in his first year at the position is really wonderful”, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. The tweets were subsequently deleted. Now what? How much will that matter four years from now?
However, J.J. Watt also posted a tweet with a possibly more ominous tone, one that referred to the fact that his Texans and the Steelers are set to square off on December 25.
Taking Southern Cal’s Juju Smith-Schuster in the second round represented the Steelers selecting the best player available over need.
The reality is that it’s ultimately up to the players to justify their draft position by playing up to it. Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick, but is universally considered a first-rounder in those “redraft” exercises that fill up time in the offseason.