With the draft over and our profiles on all seven of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks complete, we’re dipping our toe into the undrafted territory. We profiled a couple of them before the draft but most of the 13, we didn’t. We’re breaking down the second of the tryout players signed after rookie minicamp – North Carolina OG R.J. Prince.
#71 R.J. Prince/OG North Carolina – 6’5/2 311
– Good looking frame, thick lower half, looks like an NFL linemen
– Despite height, plays with good leverage and base
– Strong lower half and good anchor, tough to be bulled backwards and holds the POA
– Able to generate power with his lower half and create movement on the LOS
– Better than expected short-area quickness, ability to mirror against inside rushes and counters
– Good strike and hand usage/placement
– Average athlete who does move more fluidly than his testing suggests
– Adequate starting experience
– Will have to transition to NFL blocking schemes and Munchak coaching (UNC with plenty of half/full slides, taught skip pull, Munchak teaches square pull)
– Needs to do better job of finding work, not locking onto one spot (their scheme may have had a role in that)
– Ineffective cut blocker who rarely takes DL to the ground
– Far from a great athlete whose best work will come on base blocks
– Needs to finish his down blocks better, secure and finish
– Two-year starter, 23 starts
– Had two-game academic suspension lifted before 2017 season
– Pro Day results: 25.5 vert, 8’7′” broad, 8.00 three cone, 1.91 ten yard split
– Came to school as an offensive tackle but didn’t see much time there
– Nickname is “D.D. Blaze”
– Hopes to become a pro wrestler one day
The Steelers have seemed to float Prince to play tackle, listing him as such on their rookie minicamp roster, but most of his time has come at guard. Granted, he’s pretty tall to play the position, a little over 6’5, but watching him on tape, you wouldn’t know it. Prince has a sound base with the knee bend to get low and play with leverage. That makes him an impact in the run game.
Watch the movement he gets on a couple of these blocks against Old Dominion. Back keeps running off his hip. He’s the right guard, #71 in all the following clips.
Even in pass pro, where you’d think he would struggle, he does well. “Tackle feet” with the ability to change directions, mirror, and counter. Really good rep vs NC State, who boasted two excellent DT prospects, both drafted high in April (B.J. Hill and Justin Jones).
I think part of it was scheme with their half-slide and full-slide heavy pass protections and a focus on giving their tackles plenty of help. But he needs to do a better job of “finding work,” and helping out on the interior too. Too many times he wasn’t giving help anywhere or aiding a tackle who was sealing the end upfield and didn’t need any help.
Like most linemen, he’s going to have to get used to what Mike Munchak demands in his scheme. Some of it, Prince does well. A heavy, quick first two steps out of his stance, getting square to his blocks. But if he’s playing guard (and even tackle with the Steelers Dart runs), he’ll have to totally change his technique as a puller. North Carolina used a “skip pull,” where the guard doesn’t turn his shoulders and “skips” to gain ground before coming up the hole.
The Steelers used a “square pull” where the guard turns his shoulders, gets parallel with the LOS, and then turns upfield or kicks out the end man on the line. Like Ramon Foster does in Week 2.
Prince used a little bit of that square pull on playaction but I don’t think he did on run plays. So that’ll be something new.
There’s definitely baseline traits that makes him worthy of a 90 man roster spot. There’s a ton of competition for even a practice squad spot, 16 offensive linemen on the roster, and I imagine he’ll spend most of camp with the third-team. That makes reps hard to come by but it’s still possible to stand out. Jake Rodgers was in that reserve role a year ago and is back with the Steelers.