NFL Draft

2020 Pittsburgh Steelers’ Big Board – Version 2.0

2020 Steelers Big Board (Jan. 27, By Position)

Welcome to the first full Steelers Big Board of 2020! This is the one that will change the most, since the current grades have been set by averaging out those in a large number of online all-teams boards and processing that rough score through my personal evaluation of what the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to need and who is likely to fit those needs. But that is the starting point, not the end! These Big Boards are designed to give vital importance to community opinion on these posts. Speak up and you will be heard, along with all your peers. I promise!

For example, this version has very few corners or edge rushers, and applies a significant discount to those few, because I see those positions as the lowest priorities for this particular year and roster. That will obviously change a lot if the Steelers let Bud Dupree hit free agency, and change a bit if they tag him. That is my well informed opinion… but it is still just that. An opinion. If you disagree, speak up.

Running backs are another example. I believe that most fans are generally happy with the Steelers youthful depth in that room, but agree the team would benefit from adding a potential star. Thus the top RB’s have a more-or-less retail grade, while those who might be an upgrade on Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and Kerrith Whyte Jr. have been discounted. Approve? Please say so. Disagree? Speak up.

New links and resources are both requested and craved. Think of this as a set of shorthand notes, so that I [ahem] you can easily go back and refresh your memory as need arises. Good articles and links will do nothing but help that process for everyone.

What else…Just one thing. Please try to be polite. Over the past 10 years these Big Boards have evolved into the best forum I’ve ever known for the reasoned exchange of ideas. No one is going to “win” in these discussions by shouting anyone else down, or coming up with some cutting quip about how much a particular prospect/player is loved or hated. We “win” by making each other better, and luring input from the really good film watchers on why they feel so strongly about one or another prospect. And if you are one of those fans with real expertise, please take these posts as a chance to teach your fellow fans to appreciate the game we all love at a deeper level. These comments are not just about the posters you’re exchanging opinions with, but also the vastly greater number of readers who never bother to post.

Speaking of which… if you happen to be one of those readers, now is the time to sign up! Get involved, have your say, and learn along with the rest of us.

Organized by Highest Value (“HV#”) to the Steelers. Great players for other teams get downgraded here, as do positions where Pittsburgh has limited “want.” An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach for the Steelers at any point before Pick # 25 overall but good value at any point from the end of the 1st on. Getting that player in the early 2nd would be fine, while getting him at 2:14 would almost be a steal. Yes, this system results in a certain amount of grade inflation for positions of need because we are talking about the “highest” grade, not the one where a player is expected to go; but grades are never pushed up just because of need. Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent and organized alphabetically. Boards organized by HV are sorted within each grade by position: Offense and then Defense, inside to out.

Rounds are subdivided as follows:

  • 1st Round grades: 1:01, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd & 3rd Round grades: Early (#:01), Mid (#:12), or Late (#:24).
  • 4th to 7th Round grades: Early (#:01) or Late (#:16).

The Steelers pick at: 2:17, 3:35 (estimated compensatory pick), 4:18, 4:29 (from Tennessee via Miami), 6:19, and 7:18.

Here. We. Go!

0:00 O-Line Pocket Analysis. The Steelers may have the Offensive Line as their top priority, but it is not an emergency situation and the team does not have to target one position over all others. It can and should go pure BPA. The rankings assume that Ramon Foster will be a cap casualty and the status of backup Center B.J. Finney is unknown. Matt Feiler is expected to move inside to Foster’s old position at LG, with RT being manned by the winner of Chuks vs. The Hulk.
0:00 OT/G Andrew Thomas, Georgia. (Junior). 6’5″, 320 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 OT/G Jedrick Wills, Alabama. (Junior). 6’5”, 320 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 OT/G Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. (Junior). 6’5”, 322 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
1:15 OT/G Mekhi Becton, Louisville. (Junior). 6’7”, 369 lbs. A gigantic grizzly bear of a Right Tackle who should be able to move inside and be a dominant Guard if the height doesn’t get in his way. Could he play on the blind side too? Maybe… though questions about whether he has the requisite feet. Time will tell. This December scouting profile emphasizes how much his mobility improved with the loss of some weight going into 2019, and serious, informed comparisons have used names like Trent Brown and Bryant McKinnie as comparisons to what he could be if he got in true NFL condition. What drops him aside from conditioning questions? Depth of the overall class, and a bunch of minor technical questions. Some other scouting profiles have noted signs of hesitation that could come from insecurities about basic technique. That could almost be seen as a good thing, since drilling technique and physical training are two of the easiest “fixes” for OL prospects. This nice, Cleveland-oriented January article on Round 2 OT’s identifies weight and conditioning issues as the only real flaw.
1:25 OT Josh Jones, Houston. (RS Senior). 6’5⅛”, 305 lbs. with 9⅝” hands and shorter than ideal arms (32⅛”). No one will ever doubt that Josh Jones has the tools to be a high quality NFL starter: length, experience, good hand usage, a mauler’s mindset, and all but elite athletic talents in general. He even has physical upside. This is a young man who should test amazingly well, but he looks almost lean; more like a basketball player than an NFL Tackle. One has to wonder what a year of specialized NFL strength training will produce! It’s just… he’s never “arrived” in a dominating way, his game has numerous technical problems his NFL coach will have to address, and one worries that a four year starter would still look so raw. Bottom line: the ore glints with a lot of gold but the team that drafts him will have some serious digging and refining to do. This gif-supported January scouting report from Nick Farabaugh describes an exciting developmental prospect and ends with a Round 2 grade. That is right in the middle of the pack. This late December scouting profile sees him as a potential riser into the 1st based on pure athletic potential. This solid-looking January scouting profile ends in a fringe Round 2/3 grade based on bad habits like popping up when he moves; but it ends with an interesting player comp to Oakland’s Kolton Miller, who has become a very solid blindside protector. He flat out brutalized opponents during the Senior Bowl practice week, improved steadily all week, and displayed serious pop in the actual game.
2:01 C/G Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 321 lbs. Name a better factory for linemen than Wisconsin. [Crickets]. Name the leader of the Wisconsin OL. You got it. A marvelous technician who’s only flaw is the lack of shining athletic brilliance in any one area. He could start at Guard as well as he could at Center, which makes him particularly valuable because he could help the team as a starter while being the understudy for Pouncey’s eventual retirement a few years down the road. Here is a good January scouting profile that emphasizes the key point: he grades out as very good to exceptional in basically all the categories, but never achieves ‘What did I just see?!’ in any of them.
2:01 C/G Cesar Ruiz, Michigan. (Junior). 6’4”, 319 lbs. A surefire NFL starter who faces longer odds against stardom. Smart and extremely mobile, he would be a fine successor to our current Center if you keep the expectations to “starter” rather than “HOF votes to be counted.” Don’t get me wrong. Ruiz has a legitimate shot at stardom. It just isn’t his destiny in the way it was for Pouncey. Ruiz also offers a particularly good floor because he should play well as a pulling guard and can therefore start while he also understudies. He’s also likely to be ahead of the curve on football IQ. His college coach (the other Harbaugh) may act the jagoff outside the locker room, but no one can deny his knowledge of the game of football and his ability to teach it.
2:01 OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn. (RS Senior). 6’5⅛”, 307 lbs. with 10⅛” hands and 33⅛” arms. A Round 1 athlete as a blind side protector who could develop into a shut down guy if everything goes just right, but is generally pegged for Round 2 because he requires so much work on his technique. Long, smooth, mobile, and smart, one is tempted to describe him as a higher pedigree version of Chuks Okorafor.  He never stepped on a football field until his senior year in high school because basketball was the dream. This good looking December scouting profile emphasizes his pure athletic talent, and also his overall intelligence, but knocks him for a case of severe inconsistency. Here is a Redskins-oriented scouting profile from December. This New Year’s article gives nice insight into some character and background issues. This nice, Cleveland-oriented January article on Round 2 OT’s describes Wanogho as a better pass protector than run blocker, which is fair so long as it isn’t taken as a limitation.
2:12 OT Trey Adams, Washington. (Senior). 6’8”, 314 lbs. A Round 1 talent with prototypical length, excellent strength that solves any leverage issues, and enough mobility to project as a solid NFL starter at either Tackle spot. Pure speed rushers have given him trouble sometimes, but that is true for all men this size who don’t have perfect technique. The issue is health. As discussed in this article, Adams has tenaciously fought back to overcome both a 2017 ACL tear and a 2018 disc surgery. If the team doctors say “go for it,” don’t be surprised if the Steelers do just that. Probably not a Guard simply because he is so long.
2:12 C/G Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU. (RS Junior). 6’3¼”, 312 lbs. with big 10½” hands and arms like vines (34⅝”). He’s got all the raw physical talent you want, and won numerous honors for his character and leadership at LSU, with “permanent team captain” being just the start. Showed off much better than expected technique at the Senior Bowl; so much so that The Draft Network’s Jonah Tuls wrote: “He’s cemented himself as the top center prospect in this class with a strong season and performance this week.” In the actual game, he and teammate Damien Lewis stood at as rocks on an offensive line that otherwise got destroyed. Flashes good quickness and okay range to find the second level, with a good sense of using angles to create a running lane. Tremendous anchor against power rushers on the inside. Tom Mead’s gif-supported scouting report from late January questions “a passiveness to his style”, but that is belied by his teammates’ level of respect. They would not view a ‘soft’ player so highly. His ability to be a solid pulling Guard supports his grade here, since he needn’t be a true benchwarmer while he understudies at Center. Has enough fixable technique issues to project as the sort of prospect who often disappoints in his rookie season and then make a major Sophomore leap.
2:12 OT Austin Jackson, USC. (Junior). 6’6”, 310 lbs. Yet another of this year’s heavy crop of pure Offensive Tackles who possess Round 1 athletic ability and could easily develop into pro bowl blindside protectors, but will need a redshirt year to build their strength and fix their technique before that dream has any chance of becoming reality. OTOH, he can afford that year because he is only 20 years old, leaving more room to mature than almost any other OL prospect in the draft. This full-length, January scouting profile from Walter Football ends with a fringe-1st grade and a comparison to a young D.J. Humphries. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report ends with a Round 3 grade based on huge flashes and major flaws. This brief January profile summarizes him as a pure boom-or-bust prospect known for some high character events like donating bone marrow to his ailing sister. This entirely negative screed went up in late December after Jackson got butchered by Top 10 prospect A.J. Epenesa, who made full use of Jackson’s flawed mechanics.
2:12 OT/G Lucas Niang, TCU. (Senior). 6’7”, 328 lbs. Another classic Right Tackle prospect with the ability to play Guard if he moves inside and can play low enough to maintain his leverage. This nice, Cleveland-oriented January article on Round 2 OT’s describes him as an ideal Right Tackle for the sort of zone blocking scheme that will ask him to move in space, find, and demolish what he finds. Walter Football cites rumors concerning work ethic but that isn’t the most reliable source. Here is a brief, Redskins-oriented scouting profile from early January.
2:12 OT/G Isaiah Wilson, Georgia. (RS Sophomore). 6’7”, 340 lbs. First point: he is young. Second point: really, really young. As the two-year starting Right Tackle for a run-heavy offense, Wilson has earned a reputation as a ferocious run blocker with Round 1 athletic potential, but (for the NFL) very poor technique in pass protection. Boom or bust, but that run blocking talent might let him move inside despite the height. This article provides good background. This January, Bears-oriented scouting profile summarizes the issues well: very good going downhill, not so much stepping back for pass pro.
2:24 G Netane Muti, Fresno State. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 307 lbs. Everyone’s favorite sleeper, Muti is as talented a pulling Guard as any prospect in any year, with enough strength and ferocity to play in a power-oriented system too. He also features quick hands to match the feet, and possesses a good understanding of leverage. We’re talking serious ceiling here! Especially once he gets a few years of NFL experience under his belt. Netane Muti with solid, all-pro technique could even be a worthy partner to David DeCastro. The issues come down to a long series of season ending health problems. He lost his 2016 freshman season to an injured Achilles, his 2018 season to a ruptured Achilles on the other leg, and then most of his 2019 season to a Lisfranc (serious foot) injury. Ye gods! Muti could accordingly go anywhere from the late 1st if the team doctors issue a gold plated bill of health, to UDFA if they waive the red flags in warning. We outsiders have no way to guess which one will be true. O-Line pedants may ask for another downgrade on the theory that Pittsburgh needs a power Guard to pair with DeCastro more than a second pulling Guard, but [yawn]. Good is good, actual humans are not bound to such strict categories, and the team would be able to adjust. This goes to a top notch January scouting profile with one good gif.
3:01 G/OT Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas. (Senior). 6’4⅜”, 302 lbs. with longer 33⅞” arms.  Played OT in college and has the mobility to do it in the pros too, but he’s small for a modern Tackle, and he lacks the play strength (currently) to succeed as a pulling Guard. No real technical negatives except a need to improve just a bit across the board and do hard work on the strength issue.
3:01 G Solomon Kindley, Georgia. (RS Junior). 6’4”, 336 lbs. A road grader who pass blocks well and plays for a traditionally run-first program. Has flashed some mobility too, but will need some NFL coaching and training-room work to hit his ideal weight and achieve that extra upside.
3:01 OT/G Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin. (RS Junior). 6’5”, 312 lbs. Played LT in college, but projects better as a solid, Day 2 RT with excellent power and the ability to move inside. His main assets seem to be country strength, solid technique as both a run and pass blocker, and a really nasty attitude toward those who get in his way. Those would make him very position flexible even if he lacks the weird combination of exceptional feet, length, and wingspan required to be an NFL-level blindside protector.
3:12 T/G Ben Bartch, St. Johns. (Senior). 6’5¾”, 308 lbs. with 33” arms. This year’s small school phenom utterly dominated his D3 opponents, but so what? How does one project that to the NFL? The obvious analogy is to Tampa Bay’s Ali Marpet, who played at D3 Hobart (a school best known for lacrosse and the production of fantastic attorneys in perpetual search of new clients, but who instead waste time writing Steeler Big Boards). Bartch is a tight 308 pounds with room to add more good weight on his frame. Boom or bust potential. Here is an admiring, gif-supported scouting report from November, along with a thorough Draft Network article/profile from the same period.
3:12 G Shane Lemieux, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 316 lbs. He moves irresistibly in one direction – forward. Ideal if the Steelers want a power player to dig opponents out while DeCastro handles the pulling. The wrong guy if you want to share the pulling duties.
3:12 G Damien Lewis, LSU. (Senior). 6’2”, 329 lbs. with 33⅜” arms. A people mover with good, quick movement inside the phone booth and acceptable mobility when pulling. Knows how to use both power and angles in the run game. His performance during Senior Bowl week led Alex Kozora to write: “LSU’s Damien Lewis seriously might be one of the best players – not just linemen – in Mobile. Quick, technically sound, great ability to reset and repunch, with a quick first step, capable of mirroring in the pass game and reaching backside cutoff blocks in the run game. Super impressive week.” In the actual game, he and teammate Lloyd Cushenberry stood at as rocks on an offensive line that otherwise got destroyed.
3:24 OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State. (RS Junior). 6’6”, 310 lbs. A solid, toolsy athlete with enough potential to earn whispers of the occasional Round 1 grade. He will probably require a redshirt year to build NFL levels in both strength and technique, but there aren’t many men on the planet with the physical ability to be a blindside protector, and he is one of them.
3:24 C Matt Hennessy, Temple. (RS Junior). 6’4”, 302 lbs. with 32⅜” arms. A sound, technically oriented Center in college who excelled at pass protection. He was a rock who consistently stoned the all-star Senior Bowl pass rushers too, in drills that give the defender an edge because they have more room to move. Also noted for his football IQ, but will need to add strength, is only solid as a puller, and would probably suffer if asked to fill in at guard for anything but an emergency.
3:24 G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky. (RS Senior). 6’6⅛”, 317 lbs. He’s really strong and produces a lot of brutal pancakes and throwaways when he wins the initial battle. His height often becomes a disadvantage, however, and he will get out-leveraged by NFL defenders if he does not develop some better technique. His habit of popping up out of his stance accentuates that flaw. Similar body, size, assets and approach to Matt Feiler but in need of the phone booth skills that Feiler has learned since his college days, and maybe with a bit ahead of where Feiler started in the way of footwork.
4:01 G Ben Bredeson, Michigan. (Senior). 6’4¾”, 316 lbs. with very short 31½” arms. A multiyear starter and team captain with good power and all the toughness you want from the big guys up front, Bredeson is a good but not great athlete with a solid career at Guard in front of him and almost no chance of being a star. The Draft Network scouting profiles emphasize both of those points: a good dig-em-out prospect playing in the proverbial phone booth, but only that and nothing more. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report agrees, describing him as a high floor, low ceiling “throwback to a different era” with no position versatility at all. This is a full retail grade based on the fact that Pittsburgh could use a player of that description. Showed up well at the Senior Bowl.
4:01 T/G Yasir Durant, Missouri. (Senior). 6’6¼”, 343 lbs. with long 34½” arms. A JUCO transfer who rose to be a multiyear starter, Durant looks like a prototypical Right Tackle who can pull just as well as he can overwhelm with size and power. Also fits the numbers to move inside. One to watch if Pittsburgh gets to Round 4 without an OL pick. Has had issues keeping his weight down, and is another Missouri player who might have suffered from the loss of Drew Lock as his QB.
4:01 G Michael Onwenu, Michigan. (Senior). 6’3”, 362 lbs. with long 34½” arms. Sleeper alert! Owenwu was a defensive NT who moved to Guard, and he is every bit as big, wide, strong, and long as that suggests. The question marks obviously go to his mastery of OL technique versus all the parallel bits that are Trenches-In-General, and his ability to pull and/or to reach and pin linebackers on the second level. He jumped up the Board after impressing all watchers with his movement at the Shrine Bowl practices; a trend that continued and led TDN’s Benjamin Solak to call him, “clearly the best offensive lineman [at the Shrine Bowl] on either team.” Could he climb to the second level and pin the likes of Devin Bush? That’s a big ask, but he’d be a hell of an obstacle even for someone with that kind of mobility. Ask Devin. They did play on the same team.
4:01 G John Simpson, Clemson. (Senior). 6’4½”, 330 lbs. with huge 11” hands. A living stereotype for “power Guard”, he will be a load even at the NFL level so long as he plays in a phone booth. Grade drops significantly for a team that would want him to pull, and he will be vulnerable in pass protection by DT’s with genius-level quickness (as most Guards are).
4:16 OT/G Jack Driscoll, Auburn. (RS Senior). 6’4¾””, 297 lbs. with arms on the shorter side for a Tackle at 32⅞”. He started at U. Mass, transferred to the SEC based on his development, and then won the Right Tackle job for a very good program. And did okay there. But he is, nevertheless, severely undersized for the NFL and sort of a square peg who’s hard to fit in any particular hole. One can speculate about a different position… but one has to speculate.
4:16 C Jake Hanson, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 295 lbs. A four-year starter who plays Center like the stereotypical coach’s son. What he lacks is the model size and strength to go with his solid technique and smarts. High floor, low ceiling.
4:16 OT Matthew Peart, U. Conn. (RS Senior). 6’6½”, 310 lbs. with very long 35⅛” arms. Boom or bust. A physical specimen who converted from basketball (a big deal at U. Conn.) to be an OT with sweet feet and good overall athleticism. Peart has blindside protector upside and has been compared to Chuks Okorafor. Like Okorafor, he will need at least one redshirt year before he’s able to use the very impressive physical assets and does not project well as a potential Guard.
4:16 G Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’4⅞”, 310 lbs. A college Tackle who will need to become a pulling Guard at the next level. Projects as a higher pedigree Ramon Foster if the coaching staff can help him solve some technical issues with his use of leverage against NFL talent. Got absolutely butchered at the Senior Bowl trying to play Tackle.
4:16 C Darryl Williams, Mississippi State. (RS Senior). 6’2½”, 304 lbs. with very short 31½” arms. Tom Mead did this gif-supported January scouting report that agrees with everything else you’ll read: he presents a classic case of the high floor, low ceiling prospect with solvable problems for everything other than the T-rex arm length. He particularly needs to build some NFL strength or he will be totally limited to Center and a perpetual problem against Size XL Nose Tackles. He also needs to improve his hand fighting and position. But is a prospect whose ceiling is around Finney’s level (or maybe a little higher) the player that Pittsburgh needs? He starred at the Shrine Bowl.
5:01 OT Justin Herron, Wake Forest. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 301 lbs. with very long 34⅝” arms. An always-in-the-way blocker more than a power or length player, Herron nevertheless gets results. He did not allow a sack in 2017, missed all of 2018 to an ACL tear, and then came back with a solid if not special 2019. Obviously needs to get bigger and stronger in an NFL weight room, but those vine-like arms make up for the lack of height.
5:01 G Robert Hunt, Louisiana. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 336 lbs. Regularly destroyed lower level competition with strength, power, and dominating bad intent that they could not resist. May face a rude shock when he steps up against top level college athletes, let alone the NFL, but he could not have done more given the level of competition.
5:01 G Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’6”, 319 lbs. Wide as a boat, which makes him hard to either get around or go through, but he occasionally moves like a boat as well. Strength is okay, but not up to the level he will need to succeed as a power-oriented NFL Guard.
5:01 C Zach Shackelford, Texas. (Senior). 6’3”, 303 lbs. with short 31” arms. A solid technician who lacks the size, length, and strength to slide out to Guard, and the mobility to be special as a pure Center. Floor is, “should be a reliable backup” (subject to the normal risks in all rookies) but the ceiling may be “average starter.”
5:16 G Gage Cervenka, Clemson. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 325 lbs. A monstrously strong Defensive Tackle who moved across the line to Guard in 2016 and is still learning the position. Has real upside to play people-mover in the power running game if he can absorb the necessary coaching to play with NFL technique.
5:16 OT Scott Frantz, Kansas State. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 303 lbs. Moves well and plays with good strength, but a bit of a T/G tweener who doesn’t wow at either position. A better target for a team that needs quality depth, rather than one that can afford to take risks on star potential.
5:16 C Nick Harris, Washington. (Senior). 6’1½”, 293 lbs. with 32⅜” arms. This gif-supported scouting profile from Tom Mead describes Harris is smart, savvy, strong, and possessed of exceptional mobility. He’d be a Round 1 Center if he was 3-4” taller, was 30 pounds heavier, and had arms that were 2” longer. And there’s the issue; those are very big numbers, it shows in his play, and it cannot be fixed. Among other things, Harris may mature into a good Center but there is zero chance he will ever be able to serve as a backup at Guard. Is this the profile that Pittsburgh needs?
5:16 G Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina. (RS Junior). 6’4”, 320 lbs. Lots of strength. Lots of power. Needs lots of help with his technique.
5:16 OT/G/C Jon Runyan Jr., Michigan. (RS Senior). 6’4⅛”, 313 lbs. Mr. Versatility (he can also be a long snapper) started at Left Tackle for a very good offensive line, played Guard in the Shrine Bowl where he looked tremendous, and projects just as well to Center in light of his high football IQ and movement skills. Tough, nasty, and competent, he looks like a prime Day 3 target with a high floor and a low ceiling (except for that versatility). Scouting profiles like this January, Giants-oriented piece tend to agree that he lacks the length and movement skills to continue at Tackle, though he may serve well as an emergency backup. And yes, his father is that Jon Runyan; the retired all-pro LT for the Eagles, retired U.S. Congressman, and now NFL Vice President who hands down the fines.
5:16 C/G Donell Stanley, South Carolina. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 322 lbs. A solid, full-sized Guard who happens to play Center. He gets damned with “only good” faint praise at both positions, but the size is great for that kind of versatility.
6:01 G/T Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson. (Senior). 6’2”, 315 lbs. An undersized but athletic Tackle in college who needs to add some grown-man strength and then become a versatile pulling Guard if he wants to succeed in the NFL.
6:01 G/T Saahdiq Charles, LSU. (Junior). 6’4”, 295 lbs. A mobile Tackle in college who will probably need to move inside for the NFL, where he would be a position-flexible pulling Guard. Is that what Pittsburgh needs?
6:01 G Steven Gonzalez, Penn State. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 341 lbs. Lots of strength. Lots of power. In need of lots of help from the technical point of view.
6:01 OT Charlie Heck, North Carolina. (RS Senior). 6’7⅞”, 309 lbs. with 34⅛” arms. Tremendous length but needs a lot of technical help to make full use of it. Showed good drive on run blocks at the Senior Bowl.
6:01 G/T Terence Steele, Texas Tech. (RS Senior). 6’6”, 320 lbs. A good, physical Right Tackle who will require a year of NFL strength and technique training to build a better anchor, and to work on a variety of related subtleties. A pretty good target if the Steelers wait for the end of the draft and want a prospect for the pipeline. He has played every OL position except Center. Got brutalized by more advanced talent at the Senior Bowl.
6:16 OT Colton McKivitz, West Virginia. (RS Senior). 6’6¼”, 304 lbs. He looks the part and has the potential to become an NFL starter, but will need a lot of coaching in the classroom, on the practice field, and in the weight room in order to achieve it. He’s also a Steelers fan, which shows the high character that we always look for.
7:01 OT Alex Taylor, S. Carolina St. (RS Senior). 6’8½”, 308 lbs. with huge 11” hands and astonishing 36⅛” arms. Want to bet on a physical prototype? Try out this small school star from Javon Hargrave’s alma mater, who has more size and length than anyone else in the draft. He’s even got room to fill out, and is a converted basketball player with great overall athletic talent. Obvious leverage problems and a lack of NFL strength will require at least one and probably two redshirt years, but the boom potential is enormous.
7:16 G Kevin Dotson, Louisiana. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 310 lbs. with 33” arms and big 10½” hands. Earned praise at the Shrine Bowl as a tough, nasty finisher that no defender liked to go against.
0:00 QB Pocket Analysis. Round 1 talents are discounted to Round 2 with the understanding that only a huge bargain would tempt the team that early. A Day 3 pick to create competition makes more sense.
0:00 QB Joe Burrow, LSU. 6’4”, 216 lbs. Oh please. Likely to go #1 overall.
0:00 QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (Senior). 6’6⅛”, 227 lbs. with big 10” hands. Said at the Senior Bowl that he plays around 233-235. The clear star, MVP, and most consistent QB at the Senior Bowl, he will go in the Top 5-10.
1:25 QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (Junior) (Assuming bad medical news). 6’1”, 219 lbs. He’d be neck and neck for the #1 overall pick but for a season ending hip surgery. Question: What will happen if the doctors say he won’t recover fast enough to play in 2020? Answer: he will fall out of the 1st, and quite possibly to the middle of Round 2. Question: Would the Steelers leap for the podium like a lion on a limping gazelle if Tua’s available from 2021 onward? Answer: They might, rabbit; they might.
2:12 QB Jacob Eason, Washington (Junior). 6’6”, 227 lbs. A prospect who satisfies every physical box from size through arm and overall athleticism, but who needs to show he can play the NFL position from the neck up. He may be boom-or-bust but the talent is too good to fall out of Round 1 – but is it enough to justify a pick at 2:17 if he mysteriously falls?
2:12 QB Jordan Love, Utah State (RS Junior). 6’3½”, 223 lbs. with very big 10⅝” hands. Size, strength, rocket arm, mobility, etc., Love has every physical asset and should get picked in Round 1 for nothing more than his pro bowl ceiling. Does that make him worth a pick for the Steelers at 2:17 since he could be Paxton Lynch just as easily as pick-your-star-who-got-it? Had an amazing ratio of TD’s to INT’s in 2018 (32 to 6!), that changed significantly (22 to 17) as he tried to do more in 2019.
2:24 QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (Senior). 6’1”, 218 lbs. A wonderful athlete but is he an NFL Quarterback? Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report emphasizes that he has all the physical assets you want even if you ignore the somewhat amazing talents as a runner. The issues go to whether he can learn the position, and how long it would take him in light of his undeveloped processing skills and ability to go through the progressions – let alone to call blocking schemes. The Depot Day 2 Senior Bowl report emphasized that Hurts can be amazingly streaky; when he’s hot, it’s Mt. Doom molten lava, but when he’s cold it’s a storm on Mt. Caradhras. Epic either way. But fans should also consider his tremendous intangibles, which may be the main selling point at the end of the day. This Bleacher Report article describes how Hurts flat-out won the starting job at Alabama, lost it to the young phenom Tua Tagovailoa on prime time TV, and continued to display pure class throughout that process. He then moved on to Oklahoma, where he looked like a world beater, came in second in the Heisman voting, continued to act with amazing class and maturity, and has by all accounts has continued to hold the love and loyalty of his teammates in both places. Jalen Hurts has “it”, whatever “it” may be. The often-mentioned comparisons to Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson are fair in that regard, without the developed accuracy. Or perhaps Tim Tebow, if you want a great leader at the QB position who failed in the NFL. It comes to this: Hurts is a risky bet on from the QB skills perspective, but a great bet on if you’re looking for a winner. Let the battle commence.
3:01 QB Jake Fromm, Georgia (Junior). 6’2”, 220 lbs. All the intangibles and assets of Duck Hodges with a better quality arm, though still not a good one on the NFL grading scale. The floor is okay but his 2019 film suggests a pretty hard cap on his ceiling.
3:12 QB Nate Stanley, Iowa (Senior). 6’4”, 243 lbs. Plays in a pro style system, which depressed his statistics but makes him a little easier to judge. Stanley is a classic pocket passer with a rocket arm, but hampered by accuracy issues downfield and problems with touch on the short plays where you need to hit a receiver dead in stride. Accuracy is hard to improve, but Stanley’s upside is huge for a team that believes he can tweak things into shape.
4:01 QB Anthony Gordon, Washington St. (RS Senior). 6’2¼”, 199 lbs. with 9½” hands. He’s on the smaller side but he’s got an acceptable NFL arm highlighted a weird the ability to throw from odd positions (he was drafted by the Mets to play shortstop). The issues (beyond size) have to do with questions about his ability to make the leap from an air raid system to the NFL. A pretty decent gamble with one of the Round 4 picks, where the dream of a potential Drew Brees would be worth the 90+% chance of disappointment. Looked decisive at the Senior Bowl, where the broadcast crew praised his timing, anticipation and accuracy.
5:01 QB Steven Montez, Colorado. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 240 lbs. Boom or bust. He’s got all the NFL size you want, has nice mobility, and possesses a full sized NFL arm, but the accuracy is distinctly hit-or-miss and one can only speculate on his ability to handle the neck-up demands of the NFL position. The biggest issue is footwork that’s been described as “terrible.” OTOH, footwork is an area where some exceptionally studious young men can improve, and improvements in footwork tend to cascade upward into every other part of the game.
5:01 QB Bryce Perkins, Virginia. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 215 lbs. Boom or bust. Like his midround peers of this class, Perkins has not-quite-elite athletic talent as a runner, and an arm big enough to make all the throws. Making the throws on time and on target…? Aye, there’s the rub. Along with the questions about identifying which throws to make at an NFL level.
5:16 QB Tyler Huntley, Utah. (Senior). 6’1”, 205 lbs. A run-option QB with obvious size issues, excellent athletic skills, and maybe the ability to double as a Slash-type WR. As a QB he is very (but not pinpoint) accurate, and able to throw both on the run and off platform. The interviews will matter, particularly to assess his willingness to explore the Slash role. This grade assumes the whole, combination package.
5:16 QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M. (Junior). 6’3”, 217 lbs. Boom or bust. He isn’t Lamar Jackson, but you’d put him in the next tier of QB athlete and he has a lot of arm talent to go with it. But he has also been inconsistent to say the least, even in college. Josh Dobbs might make a good comparison from the pure talent perspective.
6:01 QB Brian Lewerke, Michigan State. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 216 lbs. The classic “damned with faint praise” prospect. He’s been a good leader and has shown improved accuracy (if still not great), but everything is just a step down from what you’d prefer to see. The low ceiling depresses his stock, and he isn’t advanced enough to have an identifiable NFL floor at this particular position.
7:01 QB Jake Luton, Oregon State. (RS Senior). 6’7”, 230 lbs. At the risk of sounding trite, the scouting reports sound like a really tall version of Duck Hodges. A good leader, a smart college-level QB, and accurate enough on short and medium throws when his mechanics are right. But he has a tendency to lose his mechanics and does not have a full-sized NFL arm, which results in way too many floaters when things fail to go right. Sounds a lot like the more damning scouting reports on Tom Brady when they took that ugly photo at the Combine… And I suppose that is the dream that makes him draftable in Day 3.
7:01 QB James Morgan, Fla. Int’l. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 223 lbs. A major Shrine Bowl winner who proved his ability to be a big-armed pocket passer. If only the level of competition had been a little higher… Described by the broadcast team as “the best interview of the week” according to multiple team sources, he received the 2020 CFB Pat Tillman award as a player who exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship, and service.
0:00 TE Pocket Analysis. In the ideal world Pittsburgh would have a star TE1 with freakish physical skills, a solid TE2 who can star as either a blocker or receiver while functioning in the other capacity, and a TE 3 for depth. The 2020 Steelers currently have half a season’s snaps at TE1 in the oft-injured Vance McDonald, no TE2 unless Nick Vannett or some other free agent can be signed, and no TE3 except the long-but-not-wild-shot prospects Zach Gentry and Christian Scott-Williamson. Discounts of up to a half-round have been applied for one-dimensional prospects that cannot block at all. This is an unfortunate pattern of the weakest position group in the 2020 draft.
2:12 TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (Junior). 6’4”, 235 lbs. This solid but not exceptional TE may well be the best of this extremely poor Tight End class. Why? It comes down to grit. As Nick Farabaugh emphasizes in this gif-supported January scouting report (which ends in a fringe-1st grade FWIW), Kmet plays with the hard-bitten, nasty, tough guy attitude you want from a TE. It is, alas, vanishingly rare in this era of oversized receivers, and especially in this particular class. [Sigh]. The issue is his very marginal size to get that done. He is a good athlete but not a great one, and at 235 lbs. he may get bullied by NFL athletes with the same attitude backed up by better size and strength. That said, one rarely goes wrong by betting on the dog with lots of fight… He’s also right up there with everyone else as a receiving option who can get deep down the seam and possess good hands for settling into zones. Tends to body catch but that looks more like a bad habit than a physical need.
3:01 TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue. (RS Senior). 6’3¾”, 241 lbs. with big 10⅛” hands. Widely considered the premier TE in the class, Tom Mead’s gif-supported January scouting report shows a big bodied receiver who blocks well – for a receiver. Which should embarrass him since his father was a Round 1 pick with a 10 year career at LT. As a TE you’d have to call him poor on film, though he looked okay at the Senior Bowl. He gets in the way of defenders eagerly enough but weak when asked to play in-line, or even to deal with a Safety that’s gotten up a head of steam. He excels at getting open, and has some hard-to-catch game speed, but needs to work on perfecting the security blanket hands one expects. Also gets a minor downcheck for age, since Pittsburgh likes to draft on the younger side.
3:12 TE Thaddeus Moss, LSU. (Junior). 6’3”, 249 lbs. A surprise entry into the draft whose stock soared after a fine performance in the CFB championship, Moss has gotten even more buzz as the son of WR legend Randy Moss. Dave Bryan’s January “contextualization” piece shows the son to be nothing like the amazing deep threat his father was, but in this weak class he may still be the one rises like cream to the top. This early-process, Bears-oriented scouting profile notes that Moss is a good hands-catcher and a pretty sound blocker compared to most of this year’s class, but emphasizes his extreme lack of experience and his lack of any TD’s in LSU’s record-setting offense.
3:12 TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri. (RS Junior). 6’5”, 255 lbs. He looks the part and showed marvelous hands in 2018 with Drew Lock as his Quarterback. Great things were expected for 2019 and… they simply didn’t happen. Was it the step down in QB quality? The rumored clash with that new QB on a personal level? Or limitations in his abilities that Lock’s high-end play had disguised? We do not know, and that makes for a hard evaluation. At this point he appears to be more of a steady athlete in the old fashioned TE mold than a mismatch guy for the modern era, but he is also one of the players where a good Combine could be in the cards. Back in the day he’d be viewed as a poor in-line blocker, but that’s pretty good for this particular class. Here is a Dave Bryan “contextualization” piece on A-Ok’s 2019 catches.
3:12 TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford. (Junior). 6’7”, 251 lbs. Fits the mold of a TE2 quite well. You’ve got to love the height for red zone work, and his film shows superior but not great athletic talent. The security-blanket hands stand out in a good way, as one expects from a Tight End. Coming out of Stanford you know he’s also very smart. The issue is blocking. He seems to be willing enough, and projects a decent pass blocker and positional run blocker because he understands how to get in the way without being blown up. But his height has caused real issues with getting any push, and he does not project as a player who could help in-line. Still, even that limited version of a well rounded TE is enough to be special in this class, so he’s got a full retail grade. Read both Tom Mead’s gif-supported January scouting report and the associated comments for more insight. Parkinson is a hard prospect to summarize because he somehow generates enthusiastic lukewarmity from all sources. It isn’t a high-floor-low-ceiling thing, either; more of a, “He’s got so many baseline+ assets it’s hard to see him failing, but nothing special enough to project what the career might look like.”
3:12 TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 254 lbs. He looks the part and he has the hands, but he needs to improve in basically every part of his game. He is a good receiver but not a great one. He tries to block but isn’t good at it. Etc. A solid developmental prospect at 3:comp or early in Round 4, and maybe higher than that if he kills the Combine enough to suggest a higher ceiling. OTOH, he will be a 23-year old rookie rather than the kid that Pittsburgh prefers to target. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report summarize him as a good but not great prospect with a high ceiling, who will also require a year or three of patience from the fan base before he starts to get it.
3:12 TE Adam Trautman, Dayton. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 251 lbs. This year’s sensation. First, the issue: negligible experience against poor competition. Trautman is, to be blunt, a basketball player from a small school who spent his football life at QB until this year. See this nice Yahoo Sports article for some background. Everything else keeps coming up roses. His tape shows a receiver who can get down the field efficiently, box out defenders, and catch whatever is thrown his way. Then came the Senior Bowl, where he looked every bit the peer of his power-school opponents, and also showed some ability to block. Small school wannabe to phenom in one easy leap! This goes to a gif-supported scouting report from Senior Bowl week, which suggests that Trautman has the native stuff to keep rising up boards. Heck, during the Senior Bowl broadcast Daniel Jeremiah said, “[Trautman] has a legitimate opportunity to be the first Tight End drafted.”
4:01 TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic. (Senior). 6’4¼”, 242 lbs. with both smaller hands (9¼”) and shorter arms (31⅜”) than expected for a TE. Won the 2019 Mackey Award by putting up gaudy receiving stats, his pro prospects are held back significantly by questions about the competition and a build that makes blocking a genuine challenge. People worry that he might be a potential tweener with inadequate explosion for a WR and inadequate oomph for a TE. But who knows? The college production was real and he’s on the small side of big enough if the grit is there. Note: the Senior Bowl coaches used him almost exclusively as a blocker, and did much better than expected in-line, in space, and pulling for the run game. Good for those coaches btw, because he had nothing to prove as a receiving weapon.
4:01 TE Hunter Bryant, Washington. (Junior). 6’2”, 239 lbs. Another WR/TE hybrid who can do the receiving part of the job quite well but won’t hold up when asked to be a blocker.
4:16 TE Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 248 lbs. A prospect who checks all the boxes with solid Round 2 talent. He might have been ranked as the best TE in the class but for some significant off-field issues. He was suspended from the team in his final season despite being one of it’s few legitimate stars. Nor is he particularly young.
5:01 TE Jacob Breeland, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 250 lbs. A fully functional TE with decent size for the position and ordinary (for the NFL) athletic gifts. His stock rose throughout 2019 as a multipurpose weapon until a season ending knee injury in December.
5:01 TE Sean McKeon, Michigan. (Senior). 6’5⅛”, 248 lbs. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report describes an above-average blocker with below-average athletic skills, which translates to a prospect with a high floor in a useful area, but a low ceiling unless he can improve his stock at the Combine. The Steelers should have special insight into McKeon because he played as part of a TE duet with last year’s pick Zach Gentry
5:16 TE Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati. (RS Senior). 6’2½”, 245 lbs. with short-for-a-TE arms (32”). A fully functional TE with marginal size for the position and ordinary (for the NFL) athletic gifts. Solid TE3 floor with a TE2 ceiling, plus gadgetry. May project better as a very high end fullback.
5:16 TE/WR Stephen Sullivan, LSU. (Senior). 6’5”, 245 lbs. with big 10⅜” hands and long 35⅛” arms. A WR who grew so big that his team gave him a different position title. He knows next to nothing about blocking but he will destroy any team that tries to cover him like a normal TE, with only a linebacker. Sullivan’s pure athleticism really stood out at the Senior Bowl in the pass catching role, and that much is pretty clear. Of course, no one will choose to cover him like a TE until he learns to do more than catch passes, and he isn’t quite up to WR standards in that capacity. Could be a Day 3 steal if he has that all-important “Wanna” for the more physical part of the position.
6:01 TE Eli Wolf, Georgia by way of Tennessee. (RS Senior). 6’4¼”, 238 lbs. A Shrine Bowl star known as a good receiver who knows how to block but is a bit small to be really good at it. Was off the Board completely until he looked so good in the all-star game.
6:16 TE Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 245 lbs. An oversized WR from a smaller school. Has some gifts but requires a huge amount of projection.
7:01 TE Luke Farrell, Ohio State. (RS Junior). 6’6”, 250 lbs. A capable blocking TE who looks outright slow when asked to be a receiver. The sort of player who will become a draftnik sensation if he kills the Combine (or pro day if he doesn’t get invited) with unsuspected athletic talents, or will disappear from everyone’s radar screen if the feet really are that heavy.
0:00 RB Pocket Analysis. Pittsburgh has half of a good RB1 in the oft-injured James Conner, and a solid array of talents competing for the RB2 spot in Jaylen Samuels, Bennie Snell, and Kerrith Whyte. The team therefore has real room for a RB1.b to pair with Conner and no discount has been applied to any Round 1-3 talent that might serve in that capacity. Increasing discounts have been applied to lesser talents.
1:20 RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio St. (Junior). 5’10”, 217 lbs. Dobbins could easily be Pittsburgh’s main target in Round 2, and no one should complain if they land him. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report gives a good overview: smaller and less of a load than James Conner, but possessing an equally rounded skill set with the addition of breakaway speed, better acceleration, more quickness in space, and no history of health problems. Bulk him up just a little and you’d get a Maurice Jones-Drew vibe: the classic bowling ball with good moves and acceptable hands. One can question his ceiling in pass protection due to the lack of size, or raise doubts because he played behind a great college OL, but the same is true for the other top backs in this draft. Almost no RB succeeds when the line allows penetration.
1:20 RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia. (Junior). 5’9″, 215 lbs. As summarized in this nice January scouting profile, the only real flaw people have found is hypothetical: he’s never never been asked to carry the ball 300 times in a single season. The skill set itself is amazing for being so well rounded. He can break ankles, stiff arm defenders into next week, or run through them as desired, and will do all three. I watched some film and was struck by his knack for drilling through tackles with a last second spin that seems to always gain an extra yard. The vision and timing for holes could not be better. Easy speed that does not stand out but never gets him caught from behind. A finisher’s mentality in a short-but-not-small body. Very good hands with full, WR body control to twist and turn midair for a catch. Does tend to break for the sideline on his bigger runs, but not excessively, he gets there when he makes those breaks, and he is definitely able to stay inside too. I did not see many broken tackles, just ones he avoided and ones he drilled through for that extra yard.
2:12 RB Cam Akers, Florida St. (Junior). 5’11”, 212 lbs. This Draft Network scouting profile (Marino) argues that Akers “has no physical limitations to execute in any role,” but has been hidden from view because he (a) played behind a terrible OL in college, and (b) may need a good coach to develop his above-the-neck skillset, blocking, and receiving skills. Nick Martin’s gif-supported January scouting report echoes that: “If Akers were a bit more refined in his ball security and catching the ball out of the backfield, there’d be a lot of talk about him as the #1 back in the draft right now.” Sounds awesome! Add in the facts that Akers is only 20 years old, fits the Steelers blocking scheme perfectly (he’d be good in anything but the outside zone game we rarely employ), and is already good at blocking. Sounds like a serious target for one of Pittsburgh’s first two picks.
2:12 RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin. (Junior). 5’11”, 219 lbs.  The Draft Network scouting profiles unite to laud Taylor’s “rare blend of [patience], size, burst, and power.” It’s a combination that brings to mind a version of James Conner with better speed and no record of health issues. What more could you ask? The question marks really go to push back against conclusions based on the historic stats alone. 2,000 yards in three straight seasons… ‘Is this the next Top 5 back?’. The answer is, no. Taylor is more of a game-maker than a game-breaker, and overreacting in a negative way is just as bad as blindly assuming that college success translates directly to the NFL. Yes, Taylor played behind a great OL; but he used it well and patiently, and the same is true for all the other top RB’s. Yes, Wisconsin has a long history of producing gaudy stats for RB’s that turn out to be merely solid at the next level; but that just means Taylor has to be judged on his own. Yes, he’s had an excessive workload; but that is better than having too scant a record, and he hasn’t shown any signs that it’s worn him down. Yes, he had 18 fumbles in his college career; but that’s on close to a thousand touches between runs and passes. Etc. This late January scouting profile that characterizes Taylor as more of a power back than an overall talent, with elite vision, very good but not elite speed, and questions about his receiving ability (though others have been satisfied about that).
2:24 RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU. (Junior). 5’8″, 209 lbs. Short but not small, with a special ability to make would be tacklers miss in the hole, and an ankle breaking jump cut that does the same in the open field. Honestly, he leaves whiffs behind him on almost every play if you look at the clips in Nick Farabaugh’s January scouting report. He also has enough long speed to take simple runs the length of the field, and surprising power for his size. A classic example of short-but-not-small. The only issue is that he never managed to stand out as the weapon among all of Clemson’s other fantastic talent.
4:01 RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona St. (Junior). 5’9″, 195 lbs. A player the Steelers may consider for a pick in the 3:Comp to Early-4 range if they see him solving the ball security issues. He has great vision, short area COD, decisiveness, one of the deadliest spin moves you’ll ever see, and the twin ability to get skinny and fall forward as he gets tackled. He also functions well out of the backfield, though he lacks the speed to be a poor man’s WR, and he is a fearless, proficient blocker. Comes with a high floor because his overall attitude suggests that he will be a core Special Teams maven when he isn’t getting offensive snaps. Question: is a higher rated, smaller version of Benny Snell a prototype that Pittsburgh really wants? This excellent January interview reveals a really smart young man who graduated in three years despite his athletic schedule, has an immigrant work ethic, and gains an edge by understanding football at the level beyond just the particular plays.
4:01 RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland. (RS Sophomore). 5’9″, 198 lbs. If the Steelers decide to change philosophy and use a change of pace back, this is your man. Kerrith Whyte opened our eyes, but McFarland is an outright devil in open space. The issues show up when he’s confined, and particularly when he’s asked to go mano-a-mano in pass blocking. A major target if Pittsburgh plans to move toward more RBC principles. Not so much if they continue to follow the leave-your-best-on-the-field approach.
5:01 RB A.J. Dillon, Boston College. (Junior). 6’0″, 250 lbs. If this was a Tennessee Titans board and we thought they needed a backup for Derrick Henry, Dillon would have a Round 3 grade. There are people out there who’d argue for higher than that, too. But for the 2019 Steelers…? Not with both Conner and Snell on the roster.
5:01 RB Zack Moss, Utah. (Senior). 5’10”, 222 lbs. He would be ranked significantly higher for a team that does not have two effective power backs already in Conner and Snell, and very solid RB depth overall. Moss comes out of college rated higher than either of Pittsburgh’s bell cow backs, but he is unquestionably in the same mold: a between the tackles power back with surprisingly nifty feet.
5:16 RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA. (RS Senior). 5’10⅝”, 214 lbs. Alex Kozora won’t be the only one making Benny Snell 2.0 comparisons. You have to like this version as much as the original, but that doesn’t mean there is room on the current Steelers roster. To be fair, he looked much more creative than Snell in the Senior Bowl, where he repeatedly used quickness to make something out of nothing. Also supposed to be a very impressive young man off the field.
6:01 RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt. (RS Senior). 5’9½”, 205 lbs. A good prospect who would probably fit an outside zone team best in order to make use of his cutback skills. Earns a large discount on this Board because he would be competing for the already-stacked RB 2 position.
7:01 RB JaMycal Hasty, Baylor. (RS Senior). 5’8”, 203 lbs. This is an unfair grade for a player who deserves to get picked a few rounds higher, but it’s a question of fit. Pittsburgh has more than adequate depth at the RB position, and Hasty brings a skill set that basically duplicates what is offered by Kerrith Whyte. He may well be an enviable puzzle piece for the right team, but that doesn’t seem pick-worthy for the Steelers in this particular year. Had a bad fumble at the Senior Bowl.
7:01 RB Trey Sermon, Oklahoma. (Junior). 6’0″, 216 lbs. The scouting reports really remind you of James Conner with a bit less size and juice, but a proven ability to pass protect. I love Conner, and did so when he was drafted too, but drafting a player to compete with Snell and Samuels for the RB2 spot just doesn’t make sense. Sermon would be better served getting drafted in Round 4 by a team that can use him better.
7:16 RB Lamical Perine, Florida. (Senior). 5’10¾”, 211 lbs. Joe Marino’s Draft Network scouting profile and Daniel Valente’s gif-supported Depot scouting report combine to catch both the essence and the issue: Perine is a tough, downhill runner who greatly resembles Benny Snell in style, approach, and joy to watch. He is also more versatile than people may assume. I like him, but a solid RB2/3 with special teams upside would not help the Pittsburgh roster.
7:16 RB Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis. (Senior). 6’3″, 227 lbs. A hammer with niftier feet than you’d expect. Sounds a lot like Benny Snell, who in turn sounds a lot like James Conner. It’s hard to see Pittsburgh spending one of it’s limited picks on someone with that description.
0:00 WR Pocket Analysis. 2020 offers more and better WR talent than any class in recent memory, and maybe ever, but the Steelers have three young WR2 talents in Juju Smith Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson. Any or all of those three might develop into a true WR1, and true stardom is still a possibility. The Board therefore assumes that Pittsburgh will only target (i) a likely WR1 all-star, (ii) a deep threat superior to the promising Deon Cain and Amara Darboh, or (iii) a titan sized red zone specialist. Those prototypes receive minor discounts. Prototypes similar to the top 3 WR’s already on the team receive greater discounts. Note that the Ain’t Gonna Happen list includes the top four talents because they are guaranteed to go in Round 1.
0:00 WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama. (Junior). 6’1”, 192 lbs. Going in the top 10, but no WR gets a higher grade than mid-1st for this particular team in this particular year.
0:00 WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma. (Junior). 6’2”, 189 lbs. Going in the top 10, but no WR gets a higher grade than mid-1st for this particular team in this particular year.
0:00 WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama. (Junior). 6’0”, 190 lbs. The dream speedster. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado. (Junior). 6’2”, 220 lbs. Round 1 talent all day long. Tall, big, fast, elusive, extremely tough, good hands, versatile, young… He might even be in the Top 10 talk if he played at a Top 10 school. A slightly beefier and maybe faster version of Juju Smith-Schuster. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
1:25 WR Tee Higgins, Clemson. (Junior). 6’4”, 215 lbs. Gets compared to Mike Evans, and to Juju with several extra inches for jump ball matchups. The odds that he falls even to 2:17 hover around 2% outside the weird world of quirky mock draft simulators, but that is greater than zero and thus he goes on the Board instead of the Ain’t Gonna Happen list.
1:25 WR Jalen Reagor, TCU. (Junior). 5’11”, 195 lbs. Think “higher pedigree Mike Wallace;” a blazing fast, quick twitch deep threat who can operate from the slot as well as the outside. Walter Football reports rumors that he’s run a 4.29 dash! Unlikely to be available at 2:17 because he projects so perfectly to other teams looking for a final weapon to give their QB, like Green Bay, New Orleans, or that one-and-out squad from Massachusetts. This December scouting profile points out Reagor’s need to focus on catching and holding the ball before running with it, though few have any doubt about his ability to do so. The Draft Network scouting profiles agree: he has the potential to be an all-pro deep threat in the NFL; must fill out his array of WR skills to do so; and needs to particularly focus on not letting DB’s force him to drop passes that could have been caught.
2:24 WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State. (Senior). 6’1”, 206 lbs. A 2020 version of Juju Smith-Schuster, but a bit faster, a bit more athletic, and a few years older on draft day. Discounted – with painful regret – from a late-1st overall grade for this particular team in this particular year. Fought through adversity to first rise up from JUCO and then wait behind N’Keal Harry. Background as a Running Back shows bright in his RAC ability and return skills. Pro-level training from Herm Edwards. What’s not to like?
2:24 WR Justin Jefferson, LSU. (Junior). 6’3”, 192 lbs. A 2019 version of James Washington, but a little taller. Size, hands, speed and leaping ability. Could he be the outside deep threat to complete Pittsburgh’s basketball team at the WR position? Indeed he might. The big question is hard to answer. How much of his massive production came from having Joe Burrow as his QB? Would get an easy Round 1 grade if the team had greater need.
2:24 WR Denzel Mims, Baylor. (Senior). 6’3”, 215 lbs. Your author admits to a draft crush on this one that dates back to December. Mims would have started on this Board with a late-1st grade if the Steelers had a more dire need at WR, which would be utterly at odds with the public boards. Take that bias into account, though it must be said that his stock has continued to rise throughout the process. That said, Mims really does profile well as the final piece for Pittsburgh’s WR corps: a big, speedy, outside weapon who can stretch the field and also win jump balls in the red zone. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported, pre-Senior Bowl scouting report supports that description completely, describing Mims as a walking highlight reel of “did he just do that?!” catches. This is a player who can win in many ways, but his best feature has to be the catch radius and hands. Benjamin Solak’s Draft Network profile sums it up like this: “Mims has a catch radius the size of Mars, with unfathomable leaping ability, tremendous concentration and body control in the air, and the hand strength to snag and secure balls at the very extent of his considerable frame.” But he brings a lot more to the table than just size, leaping ability, hands, body control, and the athletic profile of a multisport athlete. Mims has track champion speed, actually enjoys blocking (which Baylor does not require), and there is room to improve because he suffers from a few obvious but coachable errors that have limited his route running skills. (Things like getting his weight up, telegraphing breaks, and letting his concentration lapse on plays that seem too easy). Oh yes! There’s also my favorite nugget, the one that pushed him over the top in my eyes: the Sugar Bowl broadcast team said he played the 2019 season with a broken bone in his foot! Color me sold. Tough as a Steeler; has tools the Steelers want; and could fall to 3:comp or 4:18 because of this class’s absurd depth at the top. The main drawback is that word “Senior” because the Steelers like to draft youngsters at the WR position (he will turn 23 in late October of 2020).
3:01 WR Devin Duvernay, Texas. (Senior). 5’10½”, 202 lbs. Serious, breakaway, deep threat speed combined with great hands and a nasty attitude once the ball is in his hands. What he lacks is ideal height for a field stretching receiver, and the exceptional COD skills to project as a natural route runner. Route running skills flat at the Senior Bowl practices, but okay in the game where Corners were clearly respecting his speed. A good showing in the agility drills would really help his stock, and turn the route running into “why he isn’t in the Round 1 conversation” versus “will he ever be more than a simplistic speed guy with oomph in his play?”. A little older than the F.O. prefers. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report emphasizes Duvernay’s toughness; he’s built like a RB and lives on plays over the middle, rather than being the stereotypical outside speed maven.
3:01 WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota. (Senior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported January scouting profile describes Johnson as a big, crafty, all-around receiver with a very high WR3 floor and a decent chance to become a solid WR1. He could almost be described as a taller version of James Washington (as a prospect) with Juju-esque size  – which explains why the Steelers might hesitate to pull the trigger in Round 2, when someone darned well ought to. He’d be graded as a fringe-1st overall grade for some other team. For the 2020 Steelers…? Not so much. That said, Johnson profiles as a WR to the bone and the sort of player you root for even when he plays for some other team. Nothing in this description should be taken as a knock. It’s just that he doesn’t offer a skill set that the Steelers currently lack.
3:01 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan. (Junior). 6’2”, 208 lbs. He isn’t small and he isn’t slow, but he plays even bigger and faster than he is. A really likeable prospect whose stock will go up if the measurables prove he can excel as a deep threat. If not, he will be caught in that same trap of being another peer of the good, all-around WR’s Pittsburgh already has.
3:12 WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State. (RS Sophomore). 5’9”, 176 lbs. A killer quick, big play slot receiver with excellent speed who earns a significant downgrade on this Board because (a) the Steelers picked that guy last year in Diontae Johnson, and (b) Hamler is tiny enough to raise worries about his ability to endure the NFL pounding. A legitimate late-1st target for a team that needs his particular skill set.
3:12 WR Collin Johnson, Texas. (Senior). 6’5¾”, 221 lbs. and surprisingly small 8¾” hands. A full retail grade because he brings something Pittsburgh does not already have: monstrous, mismatch, jump ball size for the red zone. He’s big; he plays big; he blocks; and he could even, in theory, bulk up into a true “Move TE”. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported scouting report confirms that he is one to keep an eye on. Johnson’s lack of breakaway speed puts a ceiling on his draft grade, but he does offer surprising COD and route running skills for a man that big. There was a vague pattern of drops in the Senior Bowl practices, but people were looking for them after seeing the hand size. Plenty willing to block, as befits the son of a Round 1 father (Johnnie) who enjoyed a 10-year career at CB and FS with the Rams and Seahawks.
3:24 WR Gabriel Davis, UCF. (Junior). 6’3”, 212 lbs. Good at everything, but where is he great? An easy Round 2 talent for the right team, Davis has been hit with a severe discount on this Board because his array of talents duplicates those that Pittsburgh already has in the WR room.
3:24 WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina. (Senior). 6’3”, 215 lbs. One of those “almost there” players who is frustratingly hard to grade. He has the size to be a jump ball, red zone threat of the sort that Pittsburgh could use, and has flashed those skills, but he hasn’t done it enough to distinguish himself in that regard. He has good COD skills, but is still undeveloped as a route runner. He is fast but not a blazer. Etc. May have been held back in 2019 by some very weak play at QB.
3:24 WR K.J. Hill, Ohio State. (RS Senior). 6’0”, 192 lbs. with short 29” arms and small 9” hands. Another really good, all around receiver who’s discounted by a full round on this Board because he duplicates a skillset that Pittsburgh already has. Also a bit older than Pittsburgh seems to prefer. He looked tremendous during Senior Bowl practice week, regularly getting wide open and making the occasional circus catch like this one. Nice punt return ability.
4:01 WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’4⅜”, 229 lbs. with big 10” hands. Run down the field, jump high in the air, and big-boy those pesky little DB gnats out of your way… He may be a one-trick pony, but it’s a darned good one; he’s got the size and skills to produce in that way even at the NFL level; and it’s a trick the 2020 Steelers don’t yet have on the roster. Add ten pounds and blocking ability, and you’d have the best TE of the year! He’s already an ace gunner on special teams. This goes to what seems like a fair December scouting profile. This January Steelers Depot article provides some good background on his youth in Canada and maturation as a football player. This Dave Bryan “contextualization” piece gets at the player from a different angle.
4:01 WR Quartney Davis, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’1⅛”, 199 lbs. Smooth, crisp, quick, and full of promise, this is a young man who runs, moves, cuts, and catches like a WR ought to. His stock has been depressed by a 2016 ACL, a 2019 issue with his back, and the need to explain away some bad drops, but he has genuine WR1 potential. Would grade out higher in a weaker class, especially if you could wish away the question marks. This January article describes him as a classic sleeper prospect.
4:01 WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty. (Senior). 6’3½”, 222 lbs. May be the ultimate boom-or-bust WR of the draft. AGG is a phenomenal athlete wired so well that the Senior Bowl coverage did a feature (start at :37 seconds) on how he bowled a 300 game two months after picking up the game, and also has the gymnastic chops to do full tumbling runs. On film he excelled at running really fast down a sideline, leaping high in the air, twisting around while he’s up there, and seizing the ball away from the opposing DB. Why bother with anything else against that level of competition? In other words, this is pure NFL clay with nothing remotely like experience with an NFL route tree, route running skills, or experience beating high-end Corners; but the unquestionable athletic ability learn it all eventually. He held up well at the Senior Bowl, showing the ability to physically dominate D-1 Corners too.
4:01 WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State. (Junior). 6’4”, 209 lbs. One to watch if you think the Steelers could use a jump ball specialist who does it with length and jumping ability rather than massive size. Hodgins’ Combine results will be interesting to see. This grade assumes some sneaky-good long speed with a pedestrian 10-yard split, long limbs, and solid jumping ability; but that could be because the early public reports have triggered an image of “James Washington with extra inches.” Expect the description to change as more nuanced reviews come in.
4:01 WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC. (Senior). 6’3⅞”, 219 lbs. A player the Steelers could covet if he falls to Day 3, Pittman is a classic, physical, jump ball receiver who doubles as a special teams ace. Think, “a bigger, taller, but less explosive JJSS” and you’ll be in the ballpark to start your analysis. Gets a discount for this Board because that skill set is a half tone out of tune compared to what Pittsburgh could really use. Pittman Jr. knows how to use his size and strength, particularly when it comes to stacking DB’s he’s gotten behind, but has room to do even more in that regard. In college he used his to win, but he could approach dominant if he learns how to be a bully. That, combined with his already-good route running talents, suggest the potential for a solid 10 year career comparable to that of his father (RB Michael Pittman of the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Broncos). This goes to a decent, if optimistic December scouting profile. Pittman’s stock would be higher if he’d shown the straight line speed to really stretch a defense. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report identifies field stretching speed and lack of dynamic RAC skills as the main question marks. This could be one of the rare cases where the 40 time actually matters! Note that he will turn 23 as a rookie, which is a bit older than the Steelers have preferred in recent drafts.
5:01 WR Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky (Junior). 6’1”, 199 lbs. A tremendous athlete with frightening elusiveness in space, Josh Carney’s gif-supported January scouting report points out that Bowden Jr. is tougher to project than he should be due to playing option QB on an emergency basis for much of 2019. On the other hand, that shows fine team spirit too. He desperately needs to learn his position, but finding this kind of lightning-in-a-bottle playmaker at his size suggests a potentially special talent down the road.
5:16 WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin. (RS Junior). 6’1”, 207 lbs. A solid Day 2 talent who comes with a unique amount of smoke to dim his grade on the Board. Quintez Cephus wasn’t just accused of sexual misconduct or nasty peccadillos to violate some PC code: he was actually charged with two counts of sexual assault and lost his entire 2018 season when the case went to trial! A trial at which a jury of his peers cleared him on every charge, which let him return to football. That led to 2019, in which he proved to be a dominant, big-man weapon on the field – as all the world could not help but see in the Rose Bowl. I would be really torn about this Day 3 grade if he did hit the “next Juju Smith-Schuster” button so clearly. Pittsburgh has the original, and thus no need to hire the several detectives it will take to get a good fix on the state of his character both before and after the [ahem] trials and tribulations.
5:16 WR Joe Reed, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1”, 215 lbs. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report makes a comparison to ‘Cordarelle Patterson Lite’, and that might be fair if you discount Patterson’s unearthly athletic talent down to “just excellent” for Joe Reed. He has real, deep threat speed that Pittsburgh could use, nice height, and nifty kick (but not punt) return skills that won the Jet Award for best in the nation. Patterson got overdrafted on pure potential, but that was in a class where receivers didn’t fall from the sky like the gentle rain from heaven. Joe Reed is likely to fall in 2020, and would make a lot of sense if he does. A potential Day 3 steal? Note that Reed, like Patterson, will need a lot of hard work and good coaching to help him grow into an NFL receiver rather than an awesome bundle of almost-there potential. The hands are real but inconsistent. He did not flash at all at the Senior Bowl.
5:16 TE/WR Stepen Sullivan, LSU. (Senior). 6’5”, 245 lbs. See the entry under TE.
6:01 WR Tyrie Cleveland, Florida. (Senior). 6’2½”, 205 lbs. with 9” hands and 32½” arms. A significant deep threat in a mold similar to Deon Cain and Amara Darboh. Has some kick return ability too.
6:01 WR Aaron Fuller, Washington. (Senior). 5’10”, 187 lbs. A super shifty scat rat who flashes endless potential but has a long way to go in order to achieve it. The Steelers have Diontae Johnson, which lowers Fuller’s stock on this Steelers-specific Big Board.
6:01 WR Van Jefferson, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’1½””, 197 lbs. His father is Shawn Jefferson, the long time NFL receiver who made his career on savvy play and route running, and has since become a well respected WR coach for several teams. The Draft Network scouting profile describes a son who has learned his craft well and runs remarkably crisp routes, but lacks NFL muscle. That was on full display at the Senior Bowl, where he tore people up with his route running skills but left questions about his ability to ever be more than a possession receiver. Is that what Pittsburgh needs? Note that Jefferson is a football player to the core who would rather be a special teams gunner than spend a moment resting on the bench. Would definitely rank a few rounds higher if his skills did not overlap so much with the current roster.
6:01 WR James Proche, SMU. (RS Senior). 5’10½”, 196 lbs. A 2020 version of Diontae Johnson with amazing hands, but without the likes of Darryl Drake to pound the table for his all important character traits. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported January scouting report highlights the twin abilities to get open with top notch quickness and to make even the most difficult shoestring catches. That is an NFL-worthy skill set even in this amazing WR class, but one has to question whether it is a skill set that Pittsburgh will spend a draft pick on. Like DJ, Proche also doubles as a superior punt return talent.
6:01 WR Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’4”, 204 lbs. A prospect who knows how to use every inch of his length, and can make acrobatic adjustments on the ball. Could stand some time in the weight room.
6:01 WR JD Spielman, Nebraska. (RS Junior). 5’9”, 180 lbs. Your classic, super-slick, scat rat slot receiver.
6:16 WR Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt. (Senior). 6’⅛”, 202 lbs. A good route runner with decent size and a need to learn pro-level skills. Falls on this Board for lack of fit with the particular profile we expect Pittsburgh to look for. Kick and punt return ability.
6:16 WR Binjimen Victor, Ohio State. (Senior). 6’3½”, 193 lbs. A one trick, jump ball specialist who is good at the job but not special enough to earn a higher grade.
7:16 WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 206 lbs. A good, solid, all-around possession receiver who’d deserve a grade 2-3 rounds better for another team in another year.
7:16 WR Isaiah Wright, Temple. (Senior). 6’2”, 220 lbs. A player with this kind of sophisticated savvy should not fall to the end of the draft, but Wright will do just that in his exceptionally deep year. That article is a great read, and this could be a prime UDFA target or even a late round steal.
9:99 WR John Hightower, Boise St. (Senior). 6’1⅛”, 185 lbs. A vertical stretch receiver with “phenomenal” return skills according to Daniel Jeremiah, Hightower caused frustration at the Shrine Bowl with his ability to get open and then to drop passes he shouldn’t have. He improved on the drops as the week went on, but they are now a red flag that will drop his stock in this overloaded class.
0:00 D-Line Pocket Analysis. The Steelers have a very strong Defensive Line group headed by Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, backed up by Tyson Alualu (32 years old) and Isaiah Buggs (a 2019 rookie with positive buzz). There will be no need to add a player unless NT Javon Hargrave departs in free agency, as most of us expect. This would make NT a Round 4-6 priority, which might become 3:COMP if there is a bargain to be had. The Round 2 and 3 talents have accordingly been grouped in giant baskets at 2:24, and 3:24 for the sake of convenience, expecting none of them to be realistic options. The grades after that are assigned with more care.
0:00 DL Derrick Brown, Auburn. (Senior). 6’5”, 318 lbs.  Top 5 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama. (Senior). 6’7″, 312 lbs. Reminds me of Stephon Tuitt as a prospect, with some college stagnation as the issue instead of an injury problem. He could be a similar Round 2 bargain as well, but the Steelers have other priorities.
0:00 DL Javon Kinlaw, S. Carolina. (Senior). 6’5⅛”, 315 lbs. Top 20 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
2:24 DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama. (Senior). 6’7″, 312 lbs. Reminds me of Stephon Tuitt as a prospect, with some college stagnation as the issue instead of an injury problem. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
3:01 DL Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’3″, 304 lbs. A seriously good, 1-gap penetrator who’s earned Round 1 buzz but will probably go early on Day 2. The numbers lie about his size a bit because it’s lean muscle. He’d be a 320’s guy with the typical amount of sloppy weight added in. An ideal but unrealistic replacement for Javon Hargrave, who plays with great leverage that allows him to handle double teams as well as to penetrate through an A-gap.
3:12 DL Ross Blacklock, TCU. 6’4″, 305 lbs. Will be high on the Steelers’ realistic target list if he measures well. A true interior lineman with decent explosion, lots of strength, a notoriously hot motor, and probably the ability to play 0-tech in addition to being a penetrator. Would be higher if he had elite explosiveness instead of just good. No sloppy weight on this frame.
3:12 NT Leki Fotu, Utah. (Senior). 6’5⅜”, 337 lbs. Probably the best semi-possible target for a NT after Round 2, Fotu has been described as a “versatile wrecking ball” with all the natural assets you want from a two-gap defender with pass rushing potential. Good motor, good effort, wonderful strength… He could rank even higher but for a serious need for coaching to make use of his natural leverage, understand his duties, and make tackles in addition to blowing up blocking schemes. Tom Mead’s gif-supported January scouting report calls him a “mountain of a man” and points out his flexibility to play anywhere from 0- to 3-tech, but warns that he may be a 2-down player and ends with an early Day 3 grade.
3:24 DL Rashard Lawrence, LSU. (Senior). 6’2″, 308 lbs. A Day 2 steal if you are looking for someone to replace Alualu as the primary backup to Heyward and Tuitt. Late Day 2 as a replacement for Hargrave.
4:01 DL Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma. (RS Senior). 6’2″, 304 lbs. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report confirms the general view that Gallimore is a 1-tech penetrator with a skill set similar to Javon Hargrave, but less size to hold up against double teams. Hargrave is good but not great at that role, and barely even good at 2-gapping. We can therefore project Gallimore as a potential dip when it comes to pure run stuffing, but just as good at producing inside pressure if the QB checks to a pass.
4:16 DL Davon Hamilton, Ohio St. (RS Senior). 6’3¾”, 327 lbs. with 32⅞” arms. Ohio State’s designated, handle-the-double-teams big man in the center. The production has all been in areas that don’t show up on a stat sheet, and he sat out large portions of many games after Ohio State built up a massive lead, but he projects to be a somewhat lesser version of Javon Hargrave. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report ends in a Round 2 grade, which is discounted only because Nose Tackles with moderate pass rush ability tend to be so undervalued in today’s game.
5:01 NT Benito Jones, Ole Miss. (Senior). 6’1⅛”, 321 lbs. with 32¾” arms. Built by nature to be a 0-tech, 2-gapping NT, he can also surprise a lot of people with his quickness and ability to slip through double teams. Quickness, not speed; Jones is a living stereotype of the 2-down run stuffer. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported, late January scouting report highlights the quickness but also shows some of the many examples where he plays too cute and end up buried on the ground. It’s a problem, but most likely a coachable one. He also has a distinct need to work on his conditioning.
5:16 DL Larell Murchison, NC State. (RS Senior). 6’2⅜”, 294 lbs. Held up as a 2-gap defensive lineman throughout 2019, but he’s way on the small side to do that in the pros. Has shown some explosiveness too. But is he a 5-tech who can slide inside, or a potential NT? Probably the former, which earns a downgrade.
5:16 DL Jordan Elliott, Missouri (RS Junior). 6’4″, 315 lbs. Described like a perfect profile for a Day 3 pick to back up Heyward and Tuitt. Profiles much less well as a replacement for Hargrave. May also require a redshirt year of good coaching to elevate up to NFL technique and football IQ.
6:01 DL LaBryan Ray, Alabama. (Junior). 6’5″, 292 lbs. Missed 2019 with a leg injury after showing flashes of being a potentially special player in 2018. Who knows? The issue for Pittsburgh is position. He would be depth behind Heyward and Tuitt, not a replacement for Hargrave.
6:01 NT Jordon Scott, Oregon (Junior). 6’1″, 322 lbs. Mike Tomlin would call him the ideal employee for Blockbuster Video; a classic immovable object NT with no pass rushing upside. Offers genuine value for a very limited number of snaps each game, and for defensive gimmicks like reverting to the classic 3-4 against particular teams where that would work.
6:01 DL Raequan Williams, Michigan St. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 287 lbs. A penetrating 1- and 3-tech in college who relied too much on quickness. The Shrine Bowl measurements suggest that he is a pure 3-tech and probably unsuited to the Steelers’ needs at this time. A very good Day 3 project pick, but probably for some other team.
6:16 DL Tyler Clark, Georgia (Senior). 6’4″, 300 lbs. A pure 3-tech who could go as high as the late 4th, but would be a poor fit to replace Javon Hargrave.
6:16 DL Naquan Jones, Michigan St. (RS Junior). 6’4″, 323 lbs. A quick twitch load in the center of the defense who has the size to hold up on run downs and offers some occasional pass rush skills. A true Gravedigger Lite.
7:01 DL McTelvin Agim, Arkansas. 6’2½”, 305 lbs. An explosive, high motor, one gap penetrator who fits best as a 3-tech. Probably not what Pittsburgh could use.
0:00 Edge Rusher Pocket Analysis. The Steelers have no need at Edge unless Bud Dupree leaves in free agency or the team’s promising backups, Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper, have issues unknown to we fans. With the exception of special cases like a published scouting report on this site, all Edge Rusher prospects have either (a) been moved to the Ain’t Gonna Happen list, or (b) omitted completely to safe some space.
0:00 EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU. (Junior). 6’4”, 250 lbs. Top 15-20 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa. (Junior). 6’6”, 280 lbs. Top 10 talent as a 4-3 DE. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn St. (Junior). 6’5”, 264 lbs. Round 1 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise St. (RSJunior). 6’3”, 265 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE Chase Young, Ohio St. (Junior). 6’5”, 265 lbs. Top 5 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
3:01 EDGE Terrell Lewis, Alabama. (RS Junior). 6’5⅜”, 258 lbs. with long 34⅛” arms This gif-supported scouting report from Josh Carney describes Lewis as a tantalizing talent who’s had trouble staying healthy. He looks like Bud Dupree did back in the day, with ideal size, great length, and startling athletic talent that features everything but real bend-and-dip ability. Major discount for lack of need at the position.
3:24 EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah. (Senior). 6’3⅜”, 257 lbs. Tom Mead did a gif-supported scouting report on Anae in mid-January, concluding that he is a sound pass rusher who deserves to be picked in Round 2 as a second-tier talent who can bend the corner while also setting edge, which gives him a very high ceiling indeed. His stock will rise significantly on this Board if the need becomes something more acute. Brutalized lesser Tackles in the Senior Bowl game with excellent hand usage and a rushing plan to complement his speed.
4:01 EDGE Alton Robinson, Syracuse. (Senior). 6’3”, 259 lbs. Tom Mead’s mid-January, gif-supported scouting report describes a well rounded Edge player with good explosion, adequate bend, a variety of developing pass rush moves, and an overall athletic profile that only falls short when compared to the eye popping talents of the more premier prospects. Having a pretty good floor and a pretty good ceiling makes you a darned solid prospect, but probably not for this particular Steelers team. He may be better suited to being a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB; Pittsburgh has Adenyi and Skipper on the roster; and that requires a discount for someone who may be their peer but does not project as significantly better. Though to be fair, Robinson looks more like the next Chickillo than the next Watt, which is how those two would be summarized.
4:01 EDGE Joshua Uche, Michigan. (Senior). 6’1⅜”, 241 lbs. Welcome to stereotype land! In this corner you have the incredibly bendy pass rusher who can dip to knee height on opposing tackles but lacks the play strength to either set the edge against the run or to hold his line against Tackles that get a hand on him. This gif-supported January scouting report by Alex Kozora emphasizes both aspects. He looked barely a step short of dominant at the Senior Bowl, both during practice week and in the actual games.
5:01 EDGE Johnathan Greenard, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 262 lbs. Another fine, intriguing pass rusher who will be long gone before there is any chance of the Steelers finding that sweet spot where value and need hook up. Josh Carney’s late January, gif-supported scouting report emphasizes Greenard’s nifty combination of get off, speed, and ability in run support, but hints that limited coverage ability may require him to play as a 4-3 DE.
0:00 ILB Pocket Analysis. The starters are set in Devin Bush and Vince Williams. We expect the able Mack ILB Mark Barron to be a cap casualty, but there is the very promising Uly Gilbert III waiting to step in behind him. Tyler Matakevich, the #2 Buck ILB and a #1 special teams ace, is a free agent. A Day 3 depth pick makes sense if Dirty Red departs and/or the team wants to keep an extra-full pipeline for this recently-problematic position.
0:00 ILB Kenneth Murray. (Junior). 6’2”, 234 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 ILB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson. (RS Junior) 6’4”, 230 lbs. Early 1st Round talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
3:12 ILB Monty Rice, Georgia. 6’1”, 235 lbs. A player on the line between a too-linear Mack and an undersized Buck, but with the explosion to manage either position – especially as a multitool backup. Should go well before the Steelers pick at 3:Comp.
3:24 MACK ILB Troy Dye, Oregon. (Senior) 6’4”, 225 lbs. Awesome length for a Mack but he is built very light. Tremendous athleticism in search of a true position. Your classic hybrid Safety who’s on the Linebacker side of that line.
3:24 BUCK ILB Malik Harrison, Ohio State. (Senior) 6’2½”, 247 lbs. Vince Williams 2.0 in a younger body. Ideal if the team loses Matakevich and has worries about Williams’ age (just turned 30). Probably too good to fall into Round 4. Alas.
3:24 MACK ILB Patrick Queen, LSU. (Junior). 6’1”, 227 lbs. Wonderful range but issues with lack of size… You know the story. Devin Bush Lite, which is not a bad thing at all if Mark Barron departs as a cap casualty.
4:01 BUCK ILB Markus Bailey, Purdue. (RS Senior). 6’1”, 240 lbs. Another prototype. Smart, tough, and tenacious with excellent tackling skills, but could be exposed if expected to handle regular coverage duties.
4:01 ILB Jacob Phillips, LSU. (Junior). 6’4”, 233 lbs. A really fine athlete who could replace Mark Barron with a slightly different skill set, but does he bring more than Uly Gilbert?
4:01 ILB Charles Snowden, Virginia. (Junior). 6’7” (not a typo), 235 lbs. The length and tackling radius are freakish, but also make him hard to slot into any normal defense. He will need to develop extraordinary technique in order to make sure the length is an advantage and not the creator of COD issues.
4:01 BUCK ILB Evan Weaver, California. (Senior) 6’2⅛”, 234 lbs. A nice player to get if we lose Matakevich. Exceptional tackler with limited foot speed he makes up for via tenacity, grit, a very high football IQ, great motor, and top notch fundamentals. Alex Kozora noted the similarities to Vince Williams in his Day Two Senior Bowl report.
4:16 BUCK ILB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech. (Senior). 6’1”, 245 lbs. Has a lot of experience in coverage due to the conference, but less technique for attacking the line in run support. Another fine substitute if the team needs a backup Buck ILB.
4:16 SS/ILB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne. (Senior). 6’¾”, 217 lbs. See the entry under Safety.
4:16 BUCK ILB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami. (Senior). 6’½”, 242 lbs. A prototype tackling machine that Charles Davis singled out for his “charisma, leadership, and thump.” He hits, runner drops; and he won’t ever give up on the chance to make that hit. Can be exposed if asked to play in space. Played every available game in his college career from Freshman to Senior.
4:16 BUCK ILB David Woodward, Utah State. (RS Junior). 6’2”, 235 lbs. A slightly undersized tackling machine with limited athletic talent. You want to keep him away from coverage duties.
5:01 BUCK ILB Joe Bachie Jr., Michigan State. (Senior). 6’2”, 231 lbs. Think of the stereotype Steeler fans make out of Vince Williams; a one-dimensional, downhill, run stuffer who is good at that job but no more. It’s an unfair picture but catches the gist.
5:01 BUCK ILB Mohamed Barry, Nebraska. (RS Senior). 6’1”, 245 lbs. I like this one! He’s described as having a phenomenal motor, very good speed and range for a Buck ILB, serious hitting power, and even the ability to move in space too. The issue is lack of length, and the corresponding problem that he doesn’t get off blocks. Pittsburgh would ask him to blow blockers up more than get free to roam, and that is also a learnable skill. Could be one to watch.
5:01 BUCK ILB Nate Landman, Colorado. (Junior). 6’3”, 230 lbs. A classic Buck ILB in the Steelers 3-4 or a Mike in the 4-3, he needs to play downhill as a run stuffer. With Matakevich a free agent in 2019, and VW in cap peril for 2020, that is a profile to watch for.
5:01 ILB Justin Strnad, Wake Forest. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 235 lbs. A boom or bust prospect who can run, cover, and hit but has miserable tackling technique for a position where that has primary importance. Could be a backup at either ILB position, and maybe more than that if he hits on the “boom” part.
5:16 ILB Francis Bernard, Utah. (Senior). 6’½”, 230 lbs. A converted RB who is still learning the position but has real upside. A solid developmental backup.
5:16 MACK ILB/SS Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State. (RS Senior). 6’1½”, 219 lbs. A hybrid Safety on the Linebacker side of that line. Will need at least one redshirt year to learn the pro gave but has enough good tools and attitude to almost ensure that someone will spend a draft pick. Alex Kozora praised his “see-to-do” reaction speed at the Senior Bowl, along with a pervasive nose for the football that continued to be on display all week.
5:16 BUCK ILB Kamal Martin, Minnesota. (Senior). 6’3”, 245 lbs. Plays ILB like an old-man-Foreman punch: it takes a while to get there and might be dodged, but lord help the RB who gets hit square on the chin. The big issue is the speed, which severely limits his play in space.
5:16 BUCK ILB David Reese II, Florida. (Senior). 6’1”, 239 lbs. Smart, solid tackler you want to keep out of coverage duties.
0:00 Safeties Pocket Analysis. The Steelers have the strongest pair of starting Safeties since Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark were at their peak, but very little depth behind them, especially at Free Safety. Marcus Allen is a pure box Safety and special teams player, while Jordan Dangerfield is an aging veteran who lacked  top end physical talent even when young. A multipurpose Safety with the speed to back up Minkah Fitzpatrick would make a lot of sense for the pick at 3:comp or one of the picks in Round 4.
0:00 SS Grant Delpit, LSU. (Junior). 6’3”, 201 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 SAF Xavier McKinney, Alabama. (Junior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. Fringe 1st talent as a multipurpose Safety. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
3:12 SAF Ashtyn Davis, California. (RS Senior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. A multipurpose Safety who will improve with good coaching. Unlikely to fall out of Round 2.
3:24 SS Brandon Jones, Texas. (Senior). 6’0”, 205 lbs. Alex Kozora’s pre-Senior Bowl, gif-supported scouting report catches the essence: Jones is an experienced Strong Safety with good zone coverage skills who would provide high quality depth behind Terrell Edmunds. He’s definitely a hitter, but a lot less skilled as an actual tackler. That is improvable. Lacks the pure range to be an NFL Free Safety too, but might step in there for emergency duties once he learns the game, and he is almost certain to be a core special teams maven.
3:24 SAF K’Von Wallace, Clemson. (Senior). 5’11⅛”, 199 lbs. A multirole Safety able to play deep, in the box, and in coverage, plus all you could ask for as a special teamer. Ceiling at Day 2 because he lacks the brilliance to be a star in any of those roles other than Teams, where he could be. The most notable asset may be a tremendous football IQ. Clemson actively used him as a shifting defensive puzzle piece in order to confuse opponents. Might start somewhere, but in the Burgh he’d offer excellent backup potential as a multipurpose Safety.
3:24 FS Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota. (RS Sophomore). 5’10”, 195 lbs. Son of an NFL father, he lost both 2017 and 2018 to injuries, which accounts for the remaining eligibility. A playmaking center fielder to backup Minkah or pair with him if the team drops Edmunds into a Nickel ILB look. Excellent football IQ. Has a punt returner’s COD, timing, and ballhawking skills, which translate ideally to zone coverage. Lacks only measurable length and high end speed.
4:01 SS Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame. (Senior). 5’10⅝”, 202 lbs. A very good Safety but may not have the pure speed to play single-high if Fitzpatrick got hurt.
4:01 SS Richie Grant, UCF. (RS Junior). 6’0”, 194 lbs. A multipurpose Safety with some ballhawking skills, but held back by questionable foot speed. May not have the range to play single-high if Fitzpatrick got hurt.
4:01 CB/S Bryce Hall, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. See the entry under Cornerback.
4:16 SAF Julian Blackmon, Utah. (Senior). 6’1”, 204 lbs. A tight hipped CB with questionable long speed, who moved to Safety and looks like a better fit. Good tackling skills already, but still needs to learn the position from the neck up in order to maximize the “just NFL-level” athleticism.
4:16 SS Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland. (Senior). 5’10⅞”, 217 lbs. The Safety equivalent of a bowling ball, he’s built like a half-pint ILB and sort of plays that way. Great blitzer, but less nimble and speedy than desired for coverage duty. Could be stuck in tweener land.
4:16 SS Terrell Burgess, Utah. (Senior). 6’0”, 188 lbs. A box Safety who can cover RB’s and other check down targets.
4:16 SS Shyheim Carter, Alabama. (Senior). 6’1”, 191 lbs. A box Safety with good experience and excellent length. Does he offer more than Marcus Allen?
4:16 SS/ILB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne. (Senior). 6’¾”, 217 lbs. Won the Cliff Harris Award as the best small school defender in the nation and then stood out at the Senior Bowl against all-star D-1 athletes. Physically profiles as a coverage-heavy Mack ILB/SS hybrid. Athletic enough to return punts too. Slight downgrade for playing a position of moderate want.
4:16 SAF Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech. (Senior). 6’0”, 220 lbs. Watch out for this one Steeler Nation! Has a good combination of size, range, and overall athleticism, and served as the field general for his secondary in 2019. Fits the exact profile Pittsburgh will seek as a Day 3, multipurpose backup with special teams upside. Could jump up boards if he kills the Combine.
4:16 SAF Jordan Fuller, Ohio State. (Senior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. A very plus athlete who often played single-high in college but has the size to drop into the box in run support too. Likely to be a big riser at the Combine because scheme limited his tape. Ohio State asked him to be an eraser rather than a flashier playmaker.
5:01 SAF Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh. (Senior). 6’1”, 195 lbs. A versatile, multipurpose backup in the making who will benefit from a year of NFL strength training to harden his somewhat reed-like frame. Described as an “almost” guy who does nothing poorly but leaves plays on the field because he lacks the specialness to step up and excel.
5:01 SAF Brad Stewart, Florida. (Junior). 6’0”, 200 lbs. A cover-2 Safety who may lack the pure range to play single-high.
5:01 SAF Geno Stone, Iowa. (Junior). 5’10”, 210 lbs. A good, smart, solid Safety from New Castle in Western PA. Might have done better to return to college in order to answer questions about his native athletic talent, but could rise up boards if the Combine helps him out in that regard.
5:16 MACK ILB/SS Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State. (RS Senior). 6’1½”, 219 lbs. See the entry under ILB.
5:16 SAF Myles Dorn, North Carolina. (Senior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. Needs to show some speed at the Combine. Could jump up boards if he does.
5:16 SS J.R. Reed, Georgia. (RS Senior). 6’1”, 194 lbs. Will be a 24 year old rookie. That, plus limitations to a box Safety role, drop his grade by a full round for Pittsburgh.
6:01 SAF David Dowell, Michigan State. (RS Senior). 6’1”, 192 lbs. Age (will turn 24 as a rookie) and role limitations drop his stock a bit. May be only a cover-2 guy. Smart field general for his secondary.
6:01 SAF Jalen Elliott, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’½”, 205 lbs. An aggressive, smart, multirole enforcer in college who desperately needs to kill the Combine in order to erase question marks about his ability to keep up with NFL athletes.
6:01 SAF Tanner Muse, Clemson. (RS Senior). 6’2”, 230 lbs. A fine Day 3 target who will have a long NFL career on special teams if nothing else. Turns 24 as a rookie, which reduces his value a bit from the Pittsburgh perspective. He’s also something of a straight line athlete comparable to a bigger and faster version of the Steelers’ Marcus Allen. But the size, savvy, and speed are real. Tanner Muse ran down Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, a late-1st prospect, for a game saving, shoestring tackle in their Bowl game! And isn’t straight line speed the essential characteristic for a backup who might have to play single-high if Fitzpatrick gets hurt, with this kind of size as the ideal for a backup to Edmunds? Muse has played both roles for Clemson, and could for Pittsburgh too. That adds real value despite his flaws in the COD department, and the concomitant issues in coverage.
6:16 SAF Jaylinn Hawkins, California. (RS Senior). 6’2”, 210 lbs. A good developmental prospect with no particular holes, but suffers because 23 year old rookies are already behind the curve.
6:16 SS Jared Mayden, Alabama. (Senior). 5’11⅞”, 201 lbs. A solid prospect who will climb the Board if he shows unexpected athletic skills that would let him play more than a pure cover-2 role. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report suggests that he’s better suited to the box Safety job than acting as a backup for Minkah. Alex also emphasizes some real issues with tackling angles and technique.
6:16 CB/S DeAndre Pierce, Boise State. (RS Junior). 5’11”, 180 lbs. A wannabe Mike Hilton who played cover-Safety in college. Very good coverage skills for a Safety, but unproven when that becomes his main role. Lacks the size and oomph to be a true Safety in the NFL.
6:16 SAF Nigel Warrior, Tennessee. (Junior). 6’0”, 186 lbs. A solid developmental prospect with good, all-around athletic potential. Need a redshirt, practice squad year for both coaching and strength training but has some multipurpose upside.
7:01 SS Evan Foster, Syracuse. (Senior). 6’0”, 215 lbs. Marcus Allen Lite, but the original is now on the roster.
7:16 SAF Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois. (Senior). 6’3”, 212 lbs. A playmaker for a very small program, with boom-or-bust upside to be a multirole Safety.
0:00 CB Pocket Analysis. For the first time in recent memory the Steelers have no real reason to draft a Cornerback. With the exception of special cases like a published scouting report on this site, all prospects have either (a) been moved to the Ain’t Gonna Happen list, or (b) omitted completely to safe some space.
0:00 CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama. (Senior). 6’2”, 207 lbs. Easy Round 1 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 CB Kristian Fulton, LSU. (Senior). 6’0”, 200 lbs. Easy Round 1 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 CB C.J. Henderson, Florida. (Junior). 6’1”, 202 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio St. (Junior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. Top 5 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson. (Junior). 6’1”, 190 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
4:01 CB/S Bryce Hall, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. He’d be graded a full round higher in other years, but the Steelers will be less interested in his very real ability to compete with Justin Layne, and more intrigued by his potential to be a hybrid cover-capable Free Safety who could also back up Minkah Fitzpatrick. This goes to Tom Mead’s gif-supported January scouting report.
6:01 CB Dane Jackson, Pitt. (RS Senior). 5’11½”, 180 lbs. with short 30⅞” arms. The Senior Bowl’s standout Corner prospect, where he answered persistent questions about his long speed and demonstrated a solid, consistent ability to cover all types of receiver while also making plays on the ball. Probably better playing in zone. Grade depressed for lack of want at the position.
6:16 CB/S DeAndre Pierce, Boise State. (RS Junior). 5’11”, 180 lbs. See the entry under Safety.
7:16 PUNTER Bradley Mann, Texas A&M. (Senior). 5’11⅜”, 197 lbs. Set a string of all-time CFB records en route to winning the Ray Guy award in 2018. Man is The Man if you’re looking for a punter



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