Based on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ known interest, the prospect’s makeup, and a little bit of gut feelings, here is a list of players the team loves. I think.
Eric Rowe/CB Utah: Rowe passes the eye test with the height and weight teams crave standing in at 6’0/6 and 205. He has the versatility that has become ever-popular starting three years at safety before moving to corner in 2014, following the same path Keith McGill did last season.
But Rowe is a more fluid athlete who shows an exceptional ability to find and high point the football. Players who are over six feet and jump 39 inches like Rowe are ones team’s like to collect. The Steelers have some level of known interest, bringing the senior in for a pre-draft visit.
His draft stock is difficult to get a read on. Some view him as a third rounder while others don’t discount the possibility of him being taken in the first. My gut feeling says it’s not impossible for Rowe to be the Steelers’ first round selection.
What the Steelers Might Say: “We felt he was a guy who can help us in multiple ways. He tested well, was productive, and was a four-year starter. He met all the things we look for in a first round draft pick.”
Eli Harold/OLB Virginia: Harold seemingly fits all the criteria for a Steelers’ early round pick. An underclassmen who was brought in for a visit, a Virginia native like Mike Tomlin and a great kid with a story to tell.
He’s an exceptional athlete at a position of obvious of need. Tomlin has been known to get his way when picking outside linebackers. He was the catalyst that led to the Steelers taking Jason Worilds over Sean Lee in 2010 despite Lee being the higher rated player.
What the Steelers Might Say If they Draft Him: “We love his potential. He’s a great kid and obviously, did some really nice things at Virginia. We targeted him for awhile and knew he’d be our pick once he fell to us.”
Max Valles/OLB Virginia: Valles is certainly not in the discussion in the first round. Heck, he may not even be taken on Day Two. Though I’m very much mixed on his pro prospects, he’s so far away from becoming an effective pass rusher, he shares a lot of traits with Steelers’ linebackers. Versatile players with experience playing off the line in subpackage football. Taking on those tasks as a redshirt sophomore is no small feat.
An underclassmen they’ve shown interest in, bringing him in for a visit, it feels like a good bet he’ll be high on their board. Almost a slam dunk Harold or Valles is drafted by the Steelers.
What the Steelers Might Say: “He did a lot of similar things at Virginia we do here. He wasn’t asked to rush the passer as much because he moved around so much. We feel we can develop him.”
Doran Grant/CB Ohio St: No reasonable Steelers’ fan should be shocked if the team waits until the third round to address cornerback. Historically, it’s how they operate. They love taking Buckeyes, nabbing one in four of the last five drafts. They love the system and the experience defenders get out of it.
Grant was another of the 30 pre-draft visitors. A handful of those players will wind up in Steelers’ uniforms.
What The Steelers Might Say: “He was a leader and a captain on a great defense. Those traits were only confirmed when we brought him in.”
Quinton Spain/OG West Virginia & Max Garcia/C Florida: Both players are in a similar boat. It’s almost a lock the Steelers will take a lineman in the sixth or seventh round. They’ve done so in six straight seasons and 11 times under Kevin Colbert.
The team loves versatile guards and how shown interest in both, dining with Garcia and bringing Spain in. Garcia has extensive experience at left tackle, left guard, and center, while Spain has experience at left tackle and left guard. Odds are good one of them will be drafted late on Day Three.
What the Steelers Might Say: “He’s a versatile guy, something we really value in Pittsburgh.”
Craig Mager/CB Texas St: The one player I’ve included who didn’t visit. But Mager is a senior who attended the Combine and the team may have talked him then. He’s a high-character who’s regarded as a leader in addition to being a four year starter. There wasn’t a compelling reason to bring him in.
Since 2007, five of the team’s seven mid-round cornerbacks selected were at least 5’11. At 5’11/4, Mager eclipses that mark.
He’s physical and sets the edge in the run game better than most cornerbacks in this year’s class. He’ll get knocked for his school but the Steelers’ took Cortez Allen from The Citadel in the 4th round in 2011. A precedent has been set.
What the Steelers Might Say: “Mager is a player who competed in three different conferences, moving from the FCS to Division One level. He was a leader on that Texas State team and obviously, has a great body of work as a