On Saturday April 30, 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Michigan State tight end/fullback Connor Heyward with the No. 208 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. No one was happier than Steelers All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, who happens to be Connor’s older brother – and in the same room with his sibling when Connor received his draft call from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
“He followed me into my mom’s room and was like who is that?” recalled Connor on Saturday, before revealing that he kept his big brother in suspense for a few moments before identifying the caller. “About halfway through I told him who it was, and his facial reaction was just priceless.”
A Choice Between Connor Heyward or Quentin Lake?
Lost in that moment is that the team could very well have chosen to draft a different player from the Steelers family, as just minutes later the Los Angeles Rams selected UCLA defensive back Quentin Lake No. 211 overall.
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Of course, Quentin is the son of former UCLA and Steelers defensive back Carnell Lake, 54, who spent the overwhelming majority of his 12-year NFL career in Pittsburgh after the Steelers made him the organization’s second-round pick in the 1989 Draft. Not only did Carnell Lake earn Pro Bowl honors four times while he was a player, he went on to serve as the team’s defensive backs coach between 2011-2017.
In February of this year, Quentin Lake told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Steelers had been “keeping tabs” on him for quite some time, their interest no doubt piqued by the fact that he had his best season at UCLA in 2021, having recorded three interceptions, six pass breakups and 53 tackles (39 solo) – named second-team All-Pac 12 in the wake of his efforts.
Now Quentin Lake will get the opportunity to compete for a roster spot on a Super Bowl-winning defense that features the likes of cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Jordan Fuller, among others.
Meanwhile, Carnell Lake will continue his work as defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL, having been hired by former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Bandits’ head coach. Haley’s Bandits are 2-1 thus far this season, having defeated the Houston Gamblers 27-26 on April 30, 2022.
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Pittsburgh’s Plans For Connor Heyward
As for Connor Heyward, the Steelers have already indicated that they plan to try him at tight end, where he’ll work with a group that features 2021 second-round pick Pat Freiermuth, as well as Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader and Jace Sternberger.
“I had an opportunity to look at him as a tight end, as a move guy, and he offers some value,” said Steelers tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts on Saturday.
“Connor has got exceptional ball skills, receiving abilities, for a big man,” added Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, without noting that Heyward the younger stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 233 pounds, according to NFL.com. “We’re excited to see what he can do as a tight end, as an H-back, as a special teamer. I don’t want to discount, this guy one time against the University of Maryland put up I believe it was 140-some yards in a game, so he’s very, very talented. He’s very versatile.”
The Steelers can only hope that Connor accomplishes a small fraction of what has been achieved by his older brother, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. CBS Sports.com recently labeled Cam Heyward the best-ever player drafted No. 31 overall.