The 2022 NFL Draft is very near, with the first round scheduled for Thursday, April 28th. And while no Kansas State athlete is expected to go in the first couple rounds, there are still a handful of guys that might hear their name called before the draft wraps up on Saturday, April 30th.
So we’ll start our previews of potential Wildcats in the draft with Russ Yeast.
Russ Yeast played at K-State just one season, his last collegiate season in 2021. He prepped at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, IN, where he earned nods as a First Team All-State player and the USA Today and Gatorade Player Indiana Player of the Year. The 4-star recruit then took his talents south on I-65 to Louisville where he had a solid true freshman season, including making seven starts for the Cardinals, then took over primary kick return duties as a sophomore. But his production really ramped up as a junior when he became the full-time starter at corner. His last season at Louisville, 2020, saw him move to safety, where he again started every game.
Our own Drew Schneider broke down his film after he announced his intent to transfer to K-State, if you want to hop in the Wayback Machine.
Yeast decided to use his extra season of eligibility granted during the 2020 Covid pandemic-altered season and entered the transfer portal, where he emerged at K-State. He became an instant-impact starter in Manhattan, starting all 13 games at safety for the Wildcats, carding 48 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and four interceptions — the most interceptions he recorded in a season in his career.
Yeast ended the 2021 season earning First Team All-Big 12 and Honorable Mention Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors from the coaches, and Second Team All-Big 12 honors from the AP.
Yeast will again be called on to play safety at the next level. However his skills as a cornerback from his first three seasons, as well as some experience at returner, means that Yeast is a multi-tool athlete in the defensive backfield. He’s big enough and strong enough to play down-hill in run support and in blitz packages, but is fast enough and skilled enough to cover receivers downfield.
He started for the East defense in the 2022 Shrine Bowl, and played most of the game at defensive back. He played well for the East squad, including breaking up a pass from his former QB Skylar Thompson, who was playing for the West squad. He played well enough that The Athletic ($) put him on their list of “Risers” from the game as a player that should have seen their draft stock rise from their performance. He was specially noted for his natural athletic abilities and instincts, and key work covering the slot (a nickleback role).
He also had a solid Pro Day in front of the scouts in Manhattan. He didn’t clock in an “elite” 40-yard dash time (running a 4.58), and so will get knocked on some draft boards, but again his overall athleticism and skills were on display.
Most projections have Yeast in the “undrafted free-agent” range, but could slot as high as a late round pick depending on the organization and need. Russ should make an NFL roster one way or another, but hopefully he will get to hear his name called during the draft.