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Senior Bowl Preview: What To Watch For

I have ventured out of mom’s basement and headed south for Mobile, Alabama for the second year Steelers Depot has attended. Lot going on this week, it’s an exciting couple days, though things don’t really get going until tomorrow morning with the weigh-ins. Today’s the day for all of us to get settled in and attend a press conference at 4 PM from Phil Savage, the man who is running the show, and a couple of unannounced players.

Want to again thank everybody for their very generous donations. And want to thank our sponsor, TouringPlans.com, who are helping to fund the trip. Be sure to check them out here, especially if you’re looking to book a Disney trip in the near future. Highly recommend. We’ll be plugging them throughout the week. Maybe it’ll reach Craig Achtzehn status. Stay tuned.

If you’re not familiar or need the refresher, here’s the schedule for the week.

Monday: 

Press conference

Tuesday:

Morning weigh-in (heights/weights/arm length/hand size)

North/South Practice

Evening media session

Wednesday: 

North/South Practice

Thursday: 

North/South Practice

Saturday: 

Gameday


Just a heads up, we won’t be attending the game. We’ll check it out back at home on TV. The Cleveland Browns are coaching the South squad and the Chicago Bears the North.

And today is as good a day as any to get you ready for who we’ll be keeping a close eye on. These are mostly tied to the positions the Steelers could be taking a close look at. So sorry, you won’t see a lot of offensive linemen or defensive ends on this list.

Let’s start with the offense:

OFFENSE

Nate Peterman/QB Pittsburgh – Transferring in from Tennessee, Peterman is a household name to a lot of you reading this. He started the last two years for the Panthers, leading one of the NCAA’s most explosive offenses last year, and tossing 47 total touchdowns.

If the Steelers are looking for a quarterback, drafting one they see all the time wouldn’t be the worst idea. They’ll have better insight to him than any other club.

Corey Clement/RB Wisconsin – Clement was someone I’ve had my eyes on for years, even thinking he was a better back than Melvin Gordon when Gordon was a senior and ultimately, a first round pick. Injuries marred the latter half of his career and his average took a tumble his senior year, falling to just 4.6 yards per carry, but I’m a fan of him on tape. The running back class this year is strong and the Senior Bowl roster is no exception.

Clement is a vertical runner who has the lateral quickness to create space when things get tight. I was impressed by his performance against LSU, this year’s 13th ranked run defense. He may have just rushed for 86 yards but he wasn’t stuffed once, a testament to his running style.

He seems to lack top end speed and didn’t do much out of the backfield at Wisconsin but he has a well-rounded game.

Kareem Hunt/RB Toledo – Another guy I’ve been waiting to become eligible for what feels like a couple seasons more. I like Hunt more than Clement. He’s more explosive and has a stronger lower half. At 6’0 225, he has the big frame the Steelers like with their non-specialty backs. Le’Veon Bell was 6’1 230 and Rashard Mendenhall was 5’10 225. Hunt would make a lot of sense in Pittsburgh.

He has a lot of carries under his belt already but had a high level of production in the MAC, averaging 6.3 YPC and 44 touchdowns. Also caught 73 passes, including 41 in 2016.

Fred Ross/WR Mississippi State – Ross impressed me on tape. He’s 6’2 205 and lined up all over Mississippi State’s offense, playing the X, the Z, and in the slot. He tracks the ball well vertically and has an impressive vertical, timing his jumps and making contested catches.

He’s going to have to learn how to consistently beat press. He can win when given an outside release but with the cornerback head up, he wastes a lot of time and motion trying to shake free. Something to watch. They drill releases pretty hard down here because so many receivers aren’t used to getting pressed like they will in the big show.

Jamari Staples/WR Louisville – Really like Staples, too, though the tape I watched was limited. He transferred to Louisville by way of UAB after their football program was shut down, meaning he didn’t play with Eli Rogers. Staples is a totally different build, a lanky 6’4 195, but NFL Draft Scout says he has some serious wheels, pegging him as a possible sub 4.4 player.

He has great hands and routinely makes difficult catches. May be his best trait. Excited to see more.

O.J. Howard/TE Alabama – Howard is one of the biggest names in Mobile and one the last adds. There’s the pedigree of course and the big plays he made there, even though he wasn’t used enough at times. 45 catches last season.

In the last two National Championship games, he caught nine passes for 314 yards and three scores. He should be the #1 tight end in this year’s class, especially after Jake Butt’s torn ACL.

Gerald Everett/TE South Alabama – He has Ladarius Green-type size and if, and it’s all a hypothetical, Green is no longer with the team for 2017, the Steelers should have obvious interest in a similar, suitable replacement. Everett is raw and struggles with his reads in route running but he has excellent hands and is a pretty good route runner. He caught 12 touchdowns in two years with the Jaguars and as a bonus, Mobile is South Alabama’s stadium. So some home field advantage for him.

Forrest Lamp/OT Western Kentucky – One of the best linemen down here, I haven’t gotten a good look at Lamp yet because the Steelers obviously aren’t drafting a linemen in the first two days, but he’ll be a good test for the edge guys in one-on-one work. He collected a lot of hardware during his career and was a four year starter for the Hilltoppers. He’ll be the highest selection in school history.

DEFENSE

Montravius Adams/NT Auburn – The Steelers probably aren’t in the market for a nose tackle but Adams is still an interesting prospect I want to check out. He’s a huge frame who I think is heavier than his 309 pound listed weight. He has to be more consistent with his pad level and his play clearly drops off when he’s tired but he’s a high motor player and I really like his balance. Rarely on the ground. Just a talented player that I want to see in person.

Jordan Willis/OLB Kansas St – Willis is far from an elite athlete but he wins with his length, hand placement, and flexibility to corner the edge. Can he win in one-on-ones or will the step up in competition expose someone who doesn’t have a great initial step?

He had one heck of a career ending his career with 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles last year.

Ryan Anderson/OLB Alabama – Anderson isn’t one of my favorite EDGE guys but he’s an outside linebacker from the SEC and that’s right in the Steelers’ wheelhouse. He was productive at a top school, ending his Bama career with 39.5 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles.

Anderson is a power rusher who can convert speed to power but he really seems to struggle to turn the edge and is pushed up the arc too often. Doesn’t win in enough ways.

Derek Rivers/OLB Youngstown State – Small school sleeper to watch and someone draft analysts think will have a strong week. He’s a big frame at 6’5 255 and looks like an impressive athlete, something that should align with the Steelers’ needs. More explosive out of a two-point stance than three, he can dip and rip the edge or convert speed to power. Wins in a lot of ways and that’s a good trait to have.

Want to see him get stronger at the point of attack and hold up better against the run. And of course, there is a competition jump to consider.

Tyus Bowser/OLB Houston – Not sure Bowser is a special pass rusher but he has length, athleticism and similar to Bud Dupree, has a ton of experience dropping into coverage. I’ve seen flashes of flexibility in limited opportunities so I’m excited to look at him in drills to see what kind of pass rusher he really is. Had a lot on his plate at school, again, like Dupree. He played with his hand up almost all the time which is uncommon for the position.

Corn Elder/CB Miami (FL) – Elder is one of my favorite players down here. He wears every hat you need him to. Outside corner, in the slot, as a return man, and on the coverage unit. Guy does it all. He’s an impressive straight-line athlete and much better in zone coverage than in man. Not the biggest guy but will support the run. Cornerback might not seem like a huge need but nickel corner is an area to focus on in this draft. William Gay is on his last contract and who knows what the Steelers will ever get out of Senquez Golson. There’s no other options on this roster.

Jourdan Lewis/CB Michigan – Another one of my favorite guys. Similar scouting report to Elder though I like Lewis more in man coverage than I do Elder. He’s technically sound who mirrors the release of the receiver well in press and stays in-phase or works hard to do so when he’s beat. Shows an impressive vertical too with ball skills and hands, making one of the most impressive interceptions of the year. 

Tre’Davious White/CB LSU – White is probably going to be one of the higher graded cornerbacks down here and for good reason. He’s got great long speed, fluid hips, and can play in man or zone. He has a return background and it’s evident anytime he picks off a pass. He intercepted six of them in his career.

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