You know I’m all about trying to conduct studies to give us some sort of hint of who the Pittsburgh Steelers could choose in the first round. We have a lot of stuff planned for April but to start, there’s one strong correlation for the team’s first pick.
Since 2010, Mike Tomlin and/or Kevin Colbert has attended the Pro Day of every first round pick they’ve taken.
Granted, that probably isn’t much of a shock. They go where they have interest. But it’s super helpful in narrowing down the list of who the pick will be.
The Steelers’ last two first round selections, Artie Burns and Bud Dupree, didn’t even have an official pre-draft visit. While that’s still an important tool, it’s lost a bit of its luster for that initial pick. But Tomlin/Colbert attended their Pro Day and dined with them the day before.
They’ve been at every Ohio State Pro Day since probably Woody Hayes, meaning they’ve been there for Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward’s, the latter having Tomlin make an appearance when Heyward had his own private workout closer to draft day after healing up from Tommy John surgery.
Ditto for the rest – Jarvis Jones, David DeCastro, two players who, for whatever it’s worth, Colbert would say post-selection he thought the team had no chance of getting. And then there was Maurkice Pouncey in 2010.
The last player I couldn’t find confirmation of either attending their pick’s Pro Day was Ziggy Hood in 2009, who the team didn’t even bring in for a pre-draft visit. That seems like the outlier here.
So you have seven straight years of this correlation, good enough to use it as our guide. That keeps these players in contention:
OLB Carl Lawson (Auburn)
OLB Tim Williams (Alabama)
TE OJ Howard (Alabama)
OLB TJ Watt (Wisconsin)
CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)
QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
CBs Gaeron Conley/Marcus Lattimore (Ohio State)
DE Taco Charlton (Michigan)
S Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
CBs Quincy Wilson/Teez Tabor (Florida)
S Marcus Maye (Florida)
ILB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
TE David Njoku (Miami)
DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
To be clear, I’m not saying all those guys are definitely in contention for the pick. They are simply those who fit that one criteria. Here are the players who, again, solely by this criteria, would be eliminated.
OLB Haason Reddick (Temple)
CB Kevin King (Washington)
OLB Charles Harris (Missouri)
OLB Derek Rivers (Youngstown State)
S Obi Melifonwu (UConn)
OLB Jordan Willis (Kansas State)
CB Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
QB DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
OLB Tyus Bowser (Houston)
This isn’t the say-all, end-all, and there could be exceptions. The Steelers are bringing Melifonwu in for a visit so clearly, there’s some serious measure of interest and the front office was courting Dont’a Hightower the same day of Rivers’ Pro Day. So there’s an easy excuse.
But I think when I sit down to do my mocks from now on, I’ll pick from the first list, and whatever names get added. Odds are, that’s where the pick will come from.
Be sure to follow our Pro Day tracker list here throughout April.