NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Defensive Ends

For the fourth year, we’re looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers draft history to determine who the best fits are for the current draft class. Using the measurables of the players they’ve drafted, we can attempt to predict who they’ll be most interested in for 2019. And also who they might not be interested in selecting.

An imperfect, inexact science of course but another piece of the puzzle we can add. Each year, we update it based on the selections made in the previous draft.

Before we start, some of the caveats I like to mention up front. For any timed event, 40 yard dash or shuttle time, I go only off Combine data. Pro Day numbers can be all over the place; the time announced often is different than what an individual organization clocks and we know these numbers are notoriously favorable to the players. For events with more clear-cut measurables, the bench, broad, and vertical, we’ll use the best number of the Combine or Pro Day.

For the first time since we’ve begun this series, we’re looking at the defensive ends. Not nose tackles, mind you. There hasn’t been enough of a sample size to judge that group yet. Maybe if they take one in this class. Here are the players and the criteria we’re working with. I am, however, including any nose tackles who happen to fit this criteria though.

This study will conclude our list for the year. We’ll recap everything Monday.

2015: L.T. Walton

Height: 6’5
Weight: 319
Arm Length: 32 1/4
40: 5.25 40
Bench: 25
Vert: 27
Broad: 8’7”
SS: 4.78
3C: 7.91

2014: Stephon Tuitt

Height: 6’5/4
Weight: 304
Arm Length: 34 3/4

2013: Nick Williams

Height: 6’4
Weight: 309
Arm Length: 34 1/8
40: 4.94
Bench: 28
Vert: 33
Broad: 9’3″
SS: 4.65
3C: 7.55

2011: Cam Heyward

Height: 6’5
Weight: 294
Arm Length: 34 1/4
Vert: 30

2010: Doug Worthington

Height: 6’5/1
Weight: 292
Bench: 19
Vert 35.5
Broad: 10’1”

2009: Ziggy Hood

Height: 6’2/7
Weight: 300
40: 4.97
Bench: 36
Vert: 34.5
Broad: 9’8”
SS; 4.55
3C: 7.5

Sonny Harris

Height: 6’4/3
Weight: 298
40: 4.99 40
Bench: 28
Vert: 25.5
Broad: 8’10”
SS: 4.87
3C: 8.18

2007: Ryan McBean

Height: 6’4
Weight: 286
Arm Length: 33 1/2
40: 5.05
Bench: 27
Vert: 28
Broad; 9’0”
SS: 4.46
3C: 7.79

Our final criteria is as follows:

6’4+ (7 of 8)
290+ (7 of 8)
Sub 5.05 40 (4 of 5)
33 inch arms (4 of 5)
25+ bench (5 of 6)
27+ vert (6 of 7)
8’10” broad (5 of 6)
8.00 3C (4 of 5)
4.8 SS (4 of 5)

Unfortunately, this is a weird class. You might think a lot of the linemen would struggle hitting the agility drills but the bar is set really low in the shuttle and three cones. Nope. It was the height/weight where most of the defensive linemen fell short and makes this position tough to project. Only one player checked every single box.

Name/School Height Weight Arm Length 40 Time Bench Vert Broad SS 3 Cone
Renell Wren/ASU 6’4/7 318 33 7/8 5.01 30 32″ 9’10” 4.53 7.65

Wren could be an early-ish Day Three prospect. The Steelers haven’t shown much outward interest in him but when you’re talking about Day Three selections, the interest may not always be as obvious as first rounders. The only personnel member we know who attended Arizona State’s Pro Day was WRs coach Darryl Drake, who worked out N’Keal Harry.

Here are the prospects who missed in just one category:

Trysten Hill/UCF: Height
Jerry Tillery/Notre Dame: Bench

That’s it. Tillery is a legitimate sleeper and someone definitely on the radar for #52 if he somehow slips that far – unlikely – and hey, I wouldn’t even get too mad if you slotted him at #20. He fits.

Because the height/weight/length seems to matter so much for the d-line, with good reason, I’m cheating here a little bit and listing another player who checks those three boxes in addition to Wren and Tillery. That’s Arkansas’ Armon Watts, a late Day Three pick.

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