by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of ESPN.
After a 45-7 whipping of Wofford in week one, the Pitt Panthers welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats to Acrisure Stadium on Saturday evening. Last week’s game was a nice tune up for Pitt’s draft hopefuls, but it was also hard to get a true performance grade since Wofford’s talent level is not on par with a school like Cincinnati.
Here are three Pitt Panthers Draft 412 will pay close attention to against the Bearcats:
Quarterback - Phil Jurkovec
Jurkovec will want to show the draft pundits that he can excel against a bigger and faster defense. He posted excellent numbers against the Terriers, going 17-23 for 214 yards and a passing touchdown, and ran for another on a 23 yard scamper. He was never under a lot of pressure, rarely needing to move around in the pocket.
This week will be different. Cincinnati’s Dontay Corleone (nicknamed “the Godfather”) was Pro Football Focus’ number one rated defensive player in the country last year and is going to be rushing up the middle all night long against Pitt.
Scouts will be watching to see if Jurkovec has improved his release time and Corleone won’t make it any easier. Jurkovec will need to prove to the scouts in attendance that he can navigate through pressure, throw on the run and recover after taking a hit or two.
Defensive Lineman- DeAndre Jules- 6’3” 310 lbs.
DeAndre Jules blew up the first two plays of the game against Wofford last week and has been the talk of Pitt’s camp this summer. Jules lost 25 lbs. in the offseason, becoming quicker while still being a load to move in the middle of Pitt’s defensive line.
It’s hard to not be excited about a Pitt defensive lineman after what they have produced over the past decade, but scouts will want to see how Jules plays against superior FBS interior linemen like Louisville transfer Luke Kandra, who helped the Cardinals beat Pitt 24-10 last season.
With a quarterback like Emory Jones who has mobility and can make throws on the run, Pitt is going to need pressure from all angles including Jules up the middle. A big game this week can start getting him some traction on NFL draft boards.
Tight end- Gavin Bartholomew- 6’5” 250 lbs.
There was a feeling during Pitt camp that quarterback Phil Jurkovec may throw more to his tight ends than Kedon Slovis did last year, and in week one, the tight ends for Pitt caught 6 passes, including 2 by Gavin Bartholomew.
Bartholomew is an athletic tight end who has the hands and speed to be a success at the next level. He has had issues with his blocking in the past but last week looked dominant against the smaller Wofford team. Pitt has several tight ends they rotate in and out, so Bartholomew may not put up huge numbers in this offense. Scouts will want to see how he does blocking in the run game against Cincinnati and we will follow his route running, which was efficient last week. His 28 yard catch down the seam last week showed off not just his hands but also his body control and his potential to be a player who can beat a defense over the top.