NFL Draft

Steelers 2020 Big Board (Version 4.0, By Position)

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).

Steelers pick at: 2:17, 3:38 (estimated compensatory pick),4:18,4:29 (from Tennessee via Miami – could be Miami’s native pick at 4:05?), 6:19, and 7:18

I kept count this time and there have been 55 prospects with a material change to their Big Board entry compared to Version 3.0. Some of them had a single link added. Some were completely rewritten and/or had their grade moved by as much as several rounds. Others are new, or had multiple links added. Regardless, that is too many to give you a list of the specifics. Sorry if that causes any inconvenience. The post-Combine version will have even more changes of course, but after than one hopes that some kind of tracking will start to work out.

I can say that the OL and TE groups have gotten more attention than others because came out with the pre-Combine summaries. Those are written by Lance Zierlein, whose father Larry was the Steelers’ offensive line coach before Mike Munchak. Lance’s family background and training make him more reliable than most for these hard to evaluate, blocking-oriented positions, and so I try to give his views some extra weight. Links have been embedded in the text where his grades have been considered, which is pretty much through Round 4. Your input matters even more, so speak up if there are prospects you believe should be higher or lower! It is a tough year for OL grades in particular, because the tape often shows pretty moderate play in college for a lot of prospects who have all but unlimited ceilings if pro coaching can unlock their athletic talent. Projecting from tape to future performance is the single hardest part of the scouting process. And also, of course, the true objective. Alas, but as with most things prior performance does not dictate future results. Death, taxes, and the rich getting richer aside.

The RB’s and WR’s also got a lot of attention because many new scouting reports had to be added. Besides offering some interesting prospects who could be in play for a few of the Steelers’ picks. See below.

The general structure of this class is getting ever more clear, and it comes down to this: Pittsburgh fans are in for some battles. The Steelers should have BPA bargains/steals available at Pick #49 for one of the positions of want (WR, RB, and OT) but are going to be S.O.L. when it comes to bargains at the positions of higher need (TE and OG). That isn’t because those higher-need positions will be picked over. It’s because the class (at this point) offers no prospect worthy of Round 1 buzz at either position. You can’t get a mid-2nd steal if the player grades out as “only” a Round 2 talent in the first place. Thus we have the classic conundrum: should the team prefer to get a solid value at the “right” position, or a superior talent at a lesser position?

If you fall in the first category, pay attention to TE’s Cole Kmet and, if he blows up the Combine, Adam Trautman. Trautman may be the easiest grade in the draft for what it’s worth. There have been two recent picks that fit his exact profile if he succeeds in showing out at Indy: Adam Shaheen in 2019, and Dallas Goedert in 2018. Both were small school superstars with ideal measurements who tested exceptionally well. Both went in Round 2 at or very close to the Steelers’ pick at #49 overall. Badda bing, badda boom. Harrison Bryant would probably be the #3 prospect on most boards, but he would be approaching true “reach” territory.

Position-oriented draft fans should also devote some time to read up on the Guard-capable Round 2 offensive linemen. There are no Guards in this class with Round 1 talent at that position, with the possible exception of Netane Muti. He’s controversial because we’ve almost never seen a young man come into the NFL with a longer string of really bad injuries. Every other Guard-capable prospect is really a Tackle or a Center who has the ability to slide over one spot. The T/G prospects start with Round 1 talents that might be available for various red flags. The names to watch are Josh Jones (late development and age), Lucas Niang (a season ending hip surgery), and Isaiah Wilson (excessive youth and height that might make it hard to move inside). T/G Robert Hunt and maybe Ben Bartch are  small school prospects with marvelous film that shows utter domination… against competition that won’t be draftable except a rare few games. And then there are the three top Centers of the year, all of whom would be effective but no more than that if asked to play the Guard position. OTOH, there’s something to say for the ability to play one position at a merely decent level while understudying behind Pouncey for another that’s even more important. The names to watch are Cesar Ruiz, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Tyler Biadasz, who have settled into that order on almost all boards.

That is a lot of prospects my need-oriented friends! And most of them, with the possible exception of Josh Jones, are likely to be available to Pittsburgh in Round 2. Why? Because they are going to stir satisfaction in the heart of GM’s and fans alike, but will not fill us with any particular sense of glee.

Those who want to walk away from Christmas In April with giggles of delight ought to focus on the RB and WR positions, plus the year’s unusual set of OT talent. We have no less than three RB’s with mid-1st grades in D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The mocks I see typically have some random pair of those going before #49, with one of the two falling toward Pittsburgh’s grasp. Mid-1st talent in the mid-2nd? Steal city! [No pun intended]. Three other RB’s earn fringe-1st grades higher than any Tight End or Guard in the class: Cam Akers, Jonathan Taylor, and Zack Moss. Many reviewers put some of those three above the first trio; it really is that close. FWIW, we expect Swift and Moss to test “just okay” at the Combine despite having the best film of the group. That is why they could fall. J.K. Dobbins is expected to test like he played for Mount Olympus instead of Ohio State, which won’t change his grade much because it’s already factored in. Testing poorly, OTOH… Same for Akers, except that he played for Florida State and the testing will be even more vital because his supporters blame the poor production on a worse-than-poor Florida State offensive line and overall system. We do not punish prospects for playing behind a good offensive line, nor do we ignore the issues faced by prospects who had a bad one. But if you want to make the argument that “Young Mr. X would have been just as good at Ohio State as Dobbins was,” Young Mr. X had better prove the same level of athletic talent when they’re side by side.

The questions for CEH all go to size, and I hope he does not make the mistake of dropping weight in order to run a tick faster. Jonathan Taylor has been hit with the “just an okay athlete” label and may surprise some people when he reminds us about all those High School track championships. Watch the 10 yard split and the leaping drills! Those test for the explosive burst that people wonder about. Running really fast over 100 meters does not translate well to the football field unless a prospect can hit top speed right away. Does Jonathan Taylor have breakaway burst as well as breakaway long speed? The Combine will help to give us an answer on that.

It seems like we’ve talked about the Wide Receivers ad nauseum, but the talent distribution makes that unavoidable. This class offers 25-30 prospects who could get drafted in Rounds 1-3 of a normal year I believe the average number of WR picks for most entire drafts is something like 32 or 33. It’s pretty amazing stuff, and it doesn’t take much to see teams passing on Round 1 talents in order to fill in other holes. “We can get WR’s who are plenty good enough later in the draft…” Should Pittsburgh take advantage of that? If a true Round 1 talent falls to #49 overall, should Colbert pull the trigger despite the team’s current depth at the position? Hmmm…. The names to follow include Jalen Reagor (will he break 4.30?), Tee Higgins (is he “only” the best big receiver of the class?), K.J. Hamler (is he more than a Chiefs-style flying midget?), Brandon Aiyuk (does he have the pure speed to be a weapon Pittsburgh does not already have?), and Justin Jefferson (same questions as Aiyuk in a totally different type of receiver).

Make no mistake; I do not view WR as anything close to a Pittsburgh priority from the “need” perspective. The point is that all of those players could be legitimate WR1’s in the league, and thus offer better all-years value than any TE or Guard in this year’s class. I should probably mention WR Laviska Shenault as well. He’s been viewed as a Round 1 lock throughout the process but I’ve heard recent rumors that he might have some kind of medical issue that could drop his stock down a bit. He’d be hard to pass up if it’s an injury we know will heal. Shenault is a probable WR1 in the NFL on any team, not just someone who could be if he finds the right situation.

As for the pure Tackles… We should have a discussion in the Comments about this one. This particular year offers close to a dozen young men who will fall out of Round 1 because they have some set of notable flaws, but won’t fall out of Round 2 because they really could develop into all-pro, blindside protectors from Year 3 on. That is rare stuff my friends! Google “football planet theory” if you aren’t familiar with the issue. Up above I listed the ones with enough versatility to (possibly) slide inside to Guard. The pure Tackles include super raw athletic genius types like Prince Tega Wanogho and Austin Jackson, the Round-1-but-for-medicals star Trey Adams, and another small school wunderkind named Matthew Peart. All four would have higher grades on this Board if the team had actual need at OT. Should we remove the slot-or-two discount that depresses their grades?

The issue, in my mind, is that Pittsburgh actually has much better depth at OT than most of the NFL. Villanueva is on the plus side of 30, but should be a solid, league-average starter for a few more years. Feiler is an RFA who needs to be extended. And while Zack Banner and Chuks Okorafor both need to step up, the team can’t be anything but happy with how they looked in a JV role over the past year or two. Most teams would be ecstatic to say all that. The flip side is that none of those players look like future all-pros. Should Colbert pull the trigger if his scouts and coaches see Wanogho, Jackson, Adams, or Peart developing into an actual star who’d leave AV in the proverbial dust? Or one of those Tackles who might be better at RT than LT, but offer more versatility?

We can come back to look at the Edge class if the Steelers somehow fail to sign Bud Dupree for 2020. The Board basically ignores those prospects for now because there are are so many others at the likelier positions (see above). Same for the Corners.

Anyone who wants to help with future iterations should please do some work on the targets for Safety #3 in Rounds 4-6. I believe most of us would agree that this is a relative priority for Pittsburgh, albeit one at a backup position that should not be addressed any earlier. 2020 isn’t a great year for this position, and most of those you’ll see below are pure box Safeties who double as Nickel ILB’s. The Steelers want someone who can at least pretend to be a backup for Minkah Fitzpatrick. I plan to study our Comments sections on Combine related articles, so make sure to note any impressive (or un-) things you notice on the field or hear during the broadcast.

I believe we have a pretty good grasp on the DL talent. The bigger debate there is the extent to which our soon-to-be-lamented Gravedigger was a luxury for the defensive line rather than an important cog who needs to be replaced with a significant investment.

Next, I feel safe in saying that the picks at 3:comp and in Round 4 are likely to be dominated by the long lists of TE and Guard prospects who’d be hard to swallow at 2:49. Those, the continuing wealth at WR, and potential values at Safety and DL fill almost all the mocks I end up doing. The only other targets are exceptions-to-the-rules bargain steals for the likes of QB Jalen Hurts and RB A.J. Dillon. Those are both good prospects with grades low enough to be effectively off the board at #49. But when does the steal potential outweigh the issues? One request on those polarizing prospects: Please try to avoid irresponsible absolutes like “never” or rhetorical extremes that ignore all nuance (“garbage,” “awful,” etc.). Those words only get in the way of our common project; working to dig down into the pros and cons in order to create our personal boards for watching the draft from a Steelers POV.

I should also mention the issue of “loyalty.” I believe Steeler Nation feels a certain emotional tie to young men on the team who’ve shown some promise but might lose their jobs to a new draft pick. Good for us! Feeling that way does us nothing but credit, so long as we don’t let it blind us to how the players view such things. These are professional athletes! Proud young men who love nothing more than a challenge. All they insist on is a level playing field. We would be “disloyal” to the current players if we set a spot aside for the high-expectation rookie regardless of performance. That is true for the current RB room, and at least as much for QB’s Mason Rudolph, Duck Hodges, and the remnants of that elusive Denver dream (Paxton Lynch). Picking a guy like Jalen Hurts would not amount to throwing those current Steelers in the trash without giving them time to mature. Far from it. QB’s improve as much from competition as any other young men, and a team with too many good QB prospects is a team that has the ultimate trade bait in future years. Pittsburgh earned good value from Josh Dobbs between his potential, his roster depth, and the value he ended up providing as a trade chit. The only downside to picking Josh Dobbs lay in missing the chance at some other target we might have preferred (like a certain TE draft crush we all hoped to see in black and gold instead of red and gold).

Enough with the opening act. Let’s get on with the show!

NOTE: The following table has Combine weigh-in data for the QB’s, TE’s, and WR’s but NOT for any other positions. Those will be added to Version 5.0 when it comes out in two weeks or so.

0:00 O-Line Pocket Analysis. There is a thorough analysis of the Offensive Line situation in this article. Bottom line: the Steelers may have the Offensive Line as their top priority, but it is not an emergency situation. Guard looks like a bigger priority than Tackle, and Center depends on the team’s view of Maurkice Pouncey’s next few years, which we can only speculate about. The rankings assume that Ramon Foster will be a cap casualty and the status of backup Center B.J. Finney is unknown.
0:00 T/G Mekhi Becton, Louisville. (Junior). 6’7”, 369 lbs. A gigantic, 20 year old grizzly bear of a Right Tackle. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen. 
0:00 T/G Andrew Thomas, Georgia. (Junior). 6’5″, 320 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 T/G Jedrick Wills, Alabama. (Junior). 6’5”, 320 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 T/G Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. (Junior). 6’5”, 322 lbs. Top 10-15 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
1:25 T/G 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, including good hand usage, a mauler’s mindset, all but elite athletic talents in general, and just enough mechanical issues to provide plenty of room for improvement. He can improve physically too, since he looks more like a basketball player than an NFL Tackle. One has to wonder what a year of specialized NFL strength training will produce! Who knows? He might even bulk up enough to succeed at Guard too. It’s just… he’s never “arrived” in a dominating way, and one worries that a four year starter should look a bit less 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, or maybe on the pessimistic end. 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. Stock on the rise. This February scouting profile sees him as a potential Round 1 pick. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile emphasizes how much and how steadily Jones improved in 2019, and describes the remaining issues as “coachable.”
2:01 T/G Lucas Niang, TCU. (Senior). 6’7”, 328 lbs. This nice, Cleveland-oriented January article on Round 2 OT’s describes Niang as an ideal Right Tackle for the sort of zone blocking scheme that will ask him to move in space, find someone to block, and demolish the guy 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. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from February has highlights from the game against Purdue, and concludes that Niang is an “ascending prospect” who only needs to build more crispness and urgency into his game. Lance Zierlein is a fan: the scouting profile calls him “a scheme diverse Right Tackle [and] help-now right tackle prospect who should be a long-time starter.” Probably a Round 1 pick if he had not required hip surgery for a torn labrum late in 2019.
2:01 C/G Cesar Ruiz, Michigan. (Junior). 6’4”, 319 lbs. A surefire NFL starter who faces longer odds against stardom. His stock has gone nowhere but up as the process moves forward. 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 has the ability to be a solid pulling guard while he understudies for Pouncey, and should 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. This goes to a nice Giants-oriented scouting profile from January. This nice February scouting profile argues that he is the best interior offensive lineman of the entire class. The scouting profile agrees that he should be an early starter.
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 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, as does this top notch article from September. 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. This nice Draft Network interview begins by describing Wanogho as a “natural pass protector who teams will hope to turn into a better run blocker”. This less convincing February scouting profile sees a good run blocker with poor pass protection technique. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile (he is particularly good with OL prospects) agrees with the pass protection upside and poor run blocking, grading Wanogho out as a likely starter after a year of dedicated coaching and work. The only thing everyone agrees on is the “boom or bust” part, lol.
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 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 but only-good range when pulling. Has a very good sense of using angles to create a running lane, and a 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. This goes to a very solid January scouting profile from a Giants POV, that catches the main points well. Here is an equally solid February scouting profile from a Patriots POV. This is a gif-supported February scouting report from a Chiefs POV. The scouting profile applauds him as a do-your-job prospect and genuine team leader.
2:12 T/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 with the raw talent to achieve any heights. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile notes that he improved throughout 2019 and has massive upside, but assumes at least one redshirt year before he can be fairly judged. His run blocking ability might even 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 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 from 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. The scouting profile also emphasizes the boom-or-bust-for-injury bottom line, with extra notes about the need to build play strength. This February scouting profile questions whether he is a special athlete, but agrees he would be a mid-1st pick if not for all the injuries.
2:24 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 very good technician who’s only big flaw is the lack of shining athletic brilliance, and the normal losses that come when that creates physical mismatches against elite DL talent. “Solid but unspectacular” is the verdict from Lance Zierlein in the scouting profile. Should become a starting Center eventually, but could also be effective at Guard. Might he play that secondary position while being the understudy for Pouncey’s eventual retirement? Here is a good January scouting profile that emphasizes the key point: he grades out as very good to exceptional in almost all areas, but never achieves ‘What did I just see?!’ in any of them. Tom Mead’s early February, gif-supported scouting report ends in a fringe-1st grade based on the lack of flaws, and the relative ease with which he could fix the others. This high quality February scouting profile notes that an offseason hip surgery may account for some of the decline in visible athleticism from 2018 to 2019.
2:24 G/T Robert Hunt, Louisiana. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 336 lbs. By all accounts the pure athletic talent is awesome to see. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report ends in a solid Day- and probably Round 2 grade. In college he played Tackle and systematically destroyed the lower level competition with strength, power, and dominating bad intent that they could not resist. He also looked quite solid in the occasional game against the likes of Alabama. In the NFL he projects as an agile road grader who should be a good Guard with swing Tackle ability, though there is still a fair amount of work to be done. This goes to a long but interesting November article from the Draft Network. This good, Giants-oriented February scouting profile also notes some smoke to be cleared away in the form of a 2019 groin injury and a 2017 arrest for criminal mischief that got solved. Earns a relatively high “starter in a year or two” grade from Lance Zierlein.
2:24 OT Austin Jackson, USC. (Junior). 6’6”, 310 lbs. Yet another of this year’s 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 enough strength and technique for that dream to start becoming reality. First and foremost, Jackson is young; as in 20 years old, won’t be legal to drink as a rookie young. That rawness is why the tape shows a player who’s very vulnerable to opponents with sound technique. Bradley Anae took him to school, and this entirely negative screed went up in late December after Jackson got butchered by Top 10 prospect A.J. Epenesa. “Raw but gifted and likely to be coveted by a variety of teams thanks to his true left tackle traits,” is the conclusion in Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile. He gets extremely high points for being a well grounded young man, which actually translates into being the sort of human you’re likely to bet on.. 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 Bleacher Report article worries that he could be the next Greg Robinson, an athlete who went at #2 overall on pure potential but is now on team #3.
2:24 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. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported February scouting report is about as negative as any you’ll find, and even it ends with a Round 4 grade. Kudos to’s Lance Zierlein for this great summary: “The run-blocking tape shows a forklift dressed as a right guard with the power and leverage to move some of the best interior defenders in the conference. The pass-blocking tape shows a heavy-footed guard who lacks length and lateral quickness to hold up if asked to block on an island.” This nice February scouting profile from a Giants POV sees a find Day 2 prospect who should be a starting Guard for many years in the right system.
2:24 G Netane Muti (“nuh-than-EE MOO-tee”), Fresno State. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 307 lbs. Everyone’s favorite sleeper because of a revelatory RS freshman season, Muti has as much pure talent as any Guard around. We’re talking serious ceiling here! But does he still have what he flashed so often in 2017? The issues come down to a long series of season ending health problems. He lost his 2016 true freshman season to an injured Achilles (before those highlights), his 2018 season to a ruptured Achilles on the other leg, and then his 2019 season to a Lisfranc (serious foot) injury three games in. Ye gods! Muti could accordingly go anywhere from Round 1 if a team’s 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, Muti possesses power as well as movement skills, and the team would be able to adjust in any even. This goes to a top notch January scouting profile with one good gif. This Giants-oriented February scouting profile agrees with the basic picture: a fringe-1st talent even though he’s a Guard, but with major red flags for health. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile sees a fair number of technique issues he needs to work on too.
2:24 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 a higher-end Chuks Okorafor, with other comps to the like of Eric Fisher. 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. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from January sees starter upside held back by serious flaws in his hand usage, and the need to keep building NFL strength. Lance Zierlein notes the strength issues in the scouting profile, but also says, “it is important to note that Peart has the potential to get stronger and that issues of concern are mostly correctable.” He seems more concerned about whether the requisite amount of nasty is there to be tapped.
3:01 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? Boom or bust, with the real issue being the multilevel step up in competition. The obvious analogy is to Tampa Bay’s Ali Marpet, who played at D-III 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). Marpet moved inside to Guard. Bartch looks like he may have more position flexibility, in part because he’s a tight 308 pounds with room to add more good weight on his frame. As Lance Zierlein wrote in the scouting profile, “He’s an enticing left tackle prospect who continues to evolve, but a step up in competition and a need for continued physical development will require patience and could determine whether his final calling is swing tackle or starter.” Here is an admiring, gif-supported scouting report from November, along with a thorough Draft Network article/profile from the same period. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from February found nothing but total domination against totally inferior talent.
3:01 G Shane Lemieux, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 316 lbs. A genuinely powerful run blocker who thrives in the proverbial phone booth, but isn’t blessed with the fleetness of foot to excel at pulling. Very accomplished as a college pass blocker, but has footwork issues that pros may take advantage of. The limitation is foot speed. He won’t come anything close to sharing the pulling duties with DeCastro; but is that really a deal killer when you consider what Foster’s play was like even five years ago? Known as a smart, tough, team leader type in the OL room. Here is a short but solid January scouting profile. The view from Josh Carney’s gif-supported January scouting report is more positive: “a new-school interior offensive lineman that is nasty, packs a serious punch in his hands, and can move a bit.” Josh ends in a fringe-2nd grade. This early February scouting profile from a Giants POV agrees: “An above average prospect with multiple above average traits, some rare traits [strength]. [and] some scheme limitations” due to lack of foot speed. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile points to various footwork issues that need to be fixed in order to deal with NFL pass rushers.
3:12 G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky. (RS Senior). 6’6⅛”, 317 lbs. N.A.S.T.Y. He’s really strong and lives for the brutal pancake block, which isn’t that rare on film. His height can become a disadvantage that will get out-leveraged by NFL defenders if he does not develop some better technique. Pure power and attitude only take you so far against professionally trained opponents who have better pure athletic skills. A mostly-contained habit of popping up from his stance accentuates that flaw. Similar body, size, assets and approach to Matt Feiler but in need of the technical skills that Feiler has learned since his college days, though he starts well ahead. No one would call him nimble in space, though it isn’t a liability, and he does have the knack of feeling weight shifts and twisting around to win all the battles in a phone booth. Tom Mead did this nice, gif-supported scouting report in February. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile is much more pessimistic than most, taking issue with the idea that Stenberg has superior power: “Scrappy, blue-collar guard who plays an assignment-oriented, dependable brand of football. Stenberg is lacking in both body composition and pure play strength… He should be a capable NFL backup who can step in and hold up if he’s asked to step in and start.”
3:24 OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State. (RS Junior). 6’6”, 310 lbs. Imagine a slightly higher pedigree version of Chuks Okorafor when he came out; 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 mass, plus all the normal work required on 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. Here is a good scouting profile from Lance Zierlein, who notes that Cleveland is a particularly tricky evaluation due to playing through 2019 with a nasty turf toe injury.
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. Alex Kozora, who got to meet him at the Senior Bowl, has described him as a player who also gives off a “Steelers vibe,” fwiw. The scouting profile gives him an “early backup, eventual starter” grade as a pure Center.
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. Same with the scouting profile. 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. This late January, Giants-oriented scouting profile summarizes him as a good, all-around Guard with athletic limitations.
4:01 G/T Saahdiq Charles, LSU. (Junior). 6’4”, 295 lbs. The descriptions read as almost a stereotype. Charles is a very mobile, highly athletic Tackle who is severely undersized, needs to add a lot of strength and mass, and also needs to improve on various technical points. Extremely high ceiling, but not usable in the NFL until the weight room issues are solved. Here is Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile, which sounds on point. His body type suggests that he could also become a position-flexible pulling Guard, but the lack of pure country strength would be even more apparent in that role.
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 about as well as he can overwhelm with size and power; which is good but not special in both cases on an NFL grading scale. The scouting profile seems to capture both the potential and the reality pretty well. Durant may also have the ability to play Guard if he can get low enough. Definitely a prospect 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 C/G Jonah Jackson, Ohio State. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 310 lbs. The scouting profile finds little to fault in his pass protection skills, and almost everything to fault as a run blocker because he has trouble getting low enough to achieve leverage against a good opponent. This goes to a gif-supported, rave review scouting report published in the aftermath of the Senior Bowl. One wonders how much his agent had to do with it, lol.
4:01 G Solomon Kindley, Georgia. (RS Junior). 6’4”, 336 lbs. An enormous human being who looks like two glued together, he is a true road grader who pass blocks well and comes from a traditionally run-first program. Has also flashed some mobility getting to the second level, but may benefit from some training-room work to hit his ideal weight and achieve that extra upside.Occasionally gets over his toes and can be pulled off balance. Here is a good Giants-oriented February scouting profile with a 15 minute clip of plays. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile is a lot less complimentary, ending with a mid- to late Day 3 grade based on concerns with his bend, mobility, and lack of NFL technique.
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 reach linebackers on the second level. This good looking, late January scouting profile catches the essence: “While Onwenu is quick for his size, that does not mean that there aren’t any mobility concerns here. He is a massive man. Guys like this only move so fast.” Note that Owenwu impressed all watchers with surprising movement skills 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 lose 30 pounds and gain the extra mobility he’d need to block the likes of Devin Bush at the second level? Those ifs and maybes make him hard to grade. Maybe we should ask Devin; they did play on the same team. Owenwu will be a hell of an obstacle even for someone without that kind of mobility, and it should be noted that Foster hasn’t exactly been a dancing bear for the past few years. His limitations might be less of an issue for Pittsburgh than they would be for other teams. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile gives him a Day 3 grade based on the assumption that he will remain an immobile but immovable pivot point that blocking schemes will have to protect.
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 run a lot for outside zone plays. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report describes him as a quick and powerful run blocker who excels in the proverbial phone booth but rapidly goes downhill the further he gets away from tight quarters. Seems like one of those solid human beings who sometimes grow from the toughest soil, as outlined in this tremendous December Sports Illustrated article and this brief, local article from August. Note the solid wrestling background; always a good sign for interior linemen. Lance Zierlein’s pithy summary and “starter in a year or two” grade make worthy reading: “Broad, well-built snowplow of a guard with the traits and power to turn a crease into a full-fledged running lane.” Zierlein also sees better movement skills than many other scouts.
4:16 G/T 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. Translation: high floor, low ceiling backup with some versatility. The scouting profile agrees with that basic summary.
4:16 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. Here is Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile.
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.”
5:01 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.
5:16 G/C Gage Cervenka, Clemson. (RS Senior). 6’2¾”, 321 lbs. with big 10½” hands and acceptable length (32⅛” arms). Sleeper alert! Cervenka started college as a monstrously strong Defensive Tackle who was moved across the line to Guard in 2016, played some Center too in 2019, and is still learning the techniques of OL play. Technically, he’s a half step behind. Physically, he’s right up there with the best in the class when it comes to playing in the phone booth. Cervenka set the all-time Clemson record for the bench press and has the elite body dynamics, balance and other assets to be expected from a three time state champion wrestler. There is real upside here 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 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. This early February, Giants-oriented scouting profile agrees with that summary: a likely starter, but only in the right, zone blocking system. Tom Mead’s early February scouting profile agrees that he could become a starter, but casts major doubt on any hope of stardom.
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? This brief but positive scouting profile believes that Harris’ deficiencies can be disguised in a running scheme designed to do so.
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 T/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.
5:16 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.
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 T/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. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from January as a supreme tough guy with various physical and technical limitations. The scouting profile sees a potential future on a team that runs mostly outside zone concepts, but that isn’t Pittsburgh.
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 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. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile suggests that he might do best as a pulling Guard and emergency Tackle, but both would require a lot of work to build the requisite strength, hand fighting technique, and general coordination.
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.
7:16 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. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 221 lbs. Oh please. Likely to go #1 overall.
0:00 QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (Senior). 6’6¼”, 236 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.
0:00 QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (Junior). 6’0”, 217 lbs. with big 10” hands. He’d be neck and neck for the #1 overall pick but for a season ending hip surgery. The medical news was good. So much for that fantasy.
2:01 QB Jordan Love, Utah State (RS Junior). 6’3¾”, 224 lbs. with very big 10½” hands. Size, strength, rocket arm, mobility, etc., Love has every physical asset and should get picked in the front half of 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 end up being the next Paxton Lynch just as easily as the next pick-your-star-who-got-it? You decide. 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. His former, and K.C.’s current, RB Darwin Thompson sees a real similarity to Patrick Mahomes.
2:12 QB Jacob Eason, Washington (Junior). 6’5⅞”, 231 lbs. The best arm talent in the class, he also satisfies every physical box from size to overall athleticism, but needs to show he can play the NFL position from the neck up. Definitely a boom-or-bust prospect, but the “boom” part is too high and too apparent to believe he will fall out of Round 1 (though stranger things have happened). Is it also enough to justify a pick for the Steelers at 2:17 if he does mysteriously fall? Note that he lost his starting job at Georgia to Jake Fromm in a tortoise-over-the-hare plotline. Here is a January scouting profile that complains of slow reads and issues with his accuracy under pressure.
2:24 QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (Senior). 6’1”, 222 lbs. with very solid 9¾” hands. A wonderful athlete but is he an NFL Quarterback? Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report emphasizes that JH 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. This December scouting profile from DraftWire would add in ‘elongated release’ as another worry. 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. His consistent record of success matters too, especially if you believe that Bill Parcells knew his craft. Fans should also consider JH’s 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”. 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. The title of this January Sports Illustrated article should add fuel to the fire: “If Jalen Hurts Falls in 2020 NFL Draft, the Steelers Shouldn’t Think Twice”. This long January scouting profile notes how much his accuracy has been approving, but still worries that it isn’t up to NFL levels. This February article addresses Hurts’ ability to succeed as a dual threat QB in the NFL.
3:01 QB Jake Fromm, Georgia (Junior). 6’1⅞”, 219 lbs. with small 8⅞” hands. 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. The comp to Andy Dalton may be one of the easiest you’ll ever find for a QB prospect. One has to give Dalton some due respect despite that annoying “Red Rifle” nickname, but he wouldn’t be the long term answer. This late January scouting profile said ‘Drew Brees without the arm’ based on leadership characteristics, but Dalton seems a lot closer as a player comparison. This gif-supported February scouting report uses Chad Pennington as the comp, which works okay too. Here is a good looking, if brief, scouting profile from February.
3:12 QB Nate Stanley, Iowa (Senior). 6’3¾”, 235 lbs. with 10” hands. 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, problems with touch on the short plays, and some decision making concerns. Accuracy is hard to improve, but Stanley’s upside is huge for a team that believes he can tweak things into shape. This January scouting profile wonders why someone with a legit, rocket arm would try so hard to throw gentle passes at a distance.
4:01 QB Anthony Gordon, Washington St. (RS Senior). 6’2⅜”, 205 lbs. with 9¾” 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. His decision making has been erratic at best. 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”, 231 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. Stats may be inflated from playing with one of this year’s superb WR prospects, Laviska Shenault. This goes to a post-Senior Bowl interview.
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, has a pretty big arm, and can throw both on the run and off platform. The interviews will matter more than anything else. Here is a good February scouting profile from a Raiders POV.
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). 6’2½”, 213 lbs. with really big 10⅝” hands. 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). 6’6⅛”, 224 lbs. with big 10⅜” hands. 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). 6’4”, 229 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.
7:01 QB Roland Rivers III, Slippery Rock. (Senior). 6’3”, 230 lbs. A local, small school star with a big arm and stats. He could easily end up as this year’s camp arm with a chance to show something extra. This goes to a February scouting profile.
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.
2:01 TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (Junior). 6’5¾”, 262 lbs. with big 10½” hands. A solid but not exceptional TE who may be the best of an extremely poor 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 good but not special athletic profile, and a medical jacket involving ankle, leg, elbow and collar bone injuries. That said, one rarely goes wrong by betting on the dog with lots of fight… He’s right up there with the best of the class as a receiving option, 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. The scouting profile sees a solid starter in Year 2 after a developmental rookie season to build strength and fundamental technique. This goes to a brief but fair scouting profile from early January, and this to a more complete, gif-supported January scouting report. Here is a February scouting report from a Notre Dame fan site, and a careful, gif-heavy September film study of the game against Georgia.
2:24 TE Adam Trautman, Dayton. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 255 lbs. Like 2019 small school TE sensation Adam Shaheen and 2018’s Dallas Goedert (both Round 2 picks), Trautman suffers under just one cloud: negligible experience, with most of it coming against poor competition. He is, to be blunt, a basketball player from a forgettable football program who played nothing but QB until a few years ago. See this nice Yahoo Sports article for some background. All the other signs say, ‘Delay Not Lest Ye Wish To Lose Out.’ The tape shows a receiver who can get down the field efficiently, box out defenders, and catch whatever is thrown his way. Here is Josh Carney’s gif-supported February scouting report, which ends in a solid Round 2 grade. At the Senior Bowl he looked every bit the peer of his power school opponents, and also showed some serious ability to block. Small school wannabe to draft sensation 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.”
3:01 TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic. (Senior). 6’4¾”, 243 lbs. with smaller than expected hands (9½”) and T-rex arms (30⅝”). Harrison Bryant won the 2019 Mackey Award by putting up gaudy receiving stats, but his pro prospects are held back by significant questions about the level of competition and his ability to succeed as a blocker in the NFL. Is he a tweener with inadequate explosion for a WR and inadequate oomph for a TE, or the one who succeeds in both areas and emerges as a true NFL mismatch weapon?. Note: he came in an inch taller and ten pounds heavier than expected at the Senior Bowl; his coaches in that game used him almost exclusively as a blocker; and he performed much better than expected in-line, in pass protection, in space, and pulling for the run game. Good for those coaches btw, because he had nothing to prove as a receiving weapon. The proof of some blocking chops definitely raised his stock. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported February scouting report ends with a 4th round grade on concerns about lateral agility, which he saw in limited explosion out of breaks. That might also account for some of the missed blocks on his in-season film. Lance Zierlein is a huge fan however, and uses George Kittle as his comp in the scouting profile.
3:12 TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 257 lbs. A sleeper of the class who’s reported to have “deceptively awesome athletic talent.” This interview from his freshman year shows an impressively well balanced young man. This brief local article published when he declared describes a well rounded game. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report is worth quoting at length: “Despite only one year of production he is a reliable pass catcher who can be lined up all over the field and used on all three levels. He has shown good aggressiveness to pass and run block and has improved to the point where it looks like he may enjoy it now. He’s not explosive and didn’t show the ability to create after the catch but it’s hard to find a tight end that can do everything.” Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile is more positive, seeing a potential TE1 if Asiasi can lose some sloppy weight as he tightens up his technique.
3:24 TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford. (Junior). 6’7¼”, 252 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 solid baseline assets it’s hard to see him failing, but nothing special enough to project what the career might look like.” This Giants-oriented scouting profile from February describes a nice but uninspiring weapon as a receiver who does okay blocking in space but is helpless when used in-line. The scouting profile sees a better receiver and a worse blocker.
3:24 TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt. (RS Senior). 6’4”, 257 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. This February scouting profile from a Giants POV describes a classic TE2 who should be able to block and catch at an NFL level, but lacks the athletic talent to ever be a mismatch weapon.
4:01 TE Hunter Bryant, Washington. (Junior). 6’2¼”, 248 lbs. A WR/TE hybrid who can do the receiving part of the job quite well but hasn’t held up as a blocker. Daniel Volante’s gif-supported, late January scouting report emphasizes that he really is a superior, very smooth athlete in the open field who’d be a mismatch against any Linebacker, but is so poor and undersized as a blocker that teams will have no reason to hit him with anything but a Safety.
4:01 TE Dalton Keene, Va. Tech. (Junior). 6’4⅛”, 253 lbs. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile describes him as a “Swiss Army Knife versatility performing in-line, as a wingback, from the slot, as a fullback, and even as a personal protector in pass protection [but likely to] struggle against NFL power at the point of attack.”
4:01 TE Thaddeus Moss, LSU. (Junior). 6’1⅞”, 250 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. The size suggests he might do better as an H-back than a true TE. 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 get picked in the middle rounds because he can actually block. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported, February scouting report describes a promising TE2 prospect who lacks the pure athleticism to ever be a modern-NFL mismatch star, but nevertheless ends in Round 2-3 grade. The scouting profile agrees with the description (tremendous hands, good blocker, distinctly average athlete) but ends with a grade more typical for Round 5-6 targets. One thing is clear: the Combine will really matter for Moss’ prospects. 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. This Pats-oriented February scouting profile sums it up neatly: a pretty good blocker with middle-of-the-pack athleticism, and a surname that leads to false initial hopes..
4:16 TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 245 lbs. with big 10⅛” hands. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl] Originally touted as the premier TE in the class, Hopkins’ stock has faded over time. 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 was 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 seriously needs to work on securing his catches. There are far too many drops, especially for a TE. Lance Zierlein’s scouting report ends with a Day 3 type of grade based on the drops, which he does not think is fixable, along with overall ‘meh’ in other areas. Daniel Jeremiah has made the same critiques. Also gets a minor downcheck for age, since Pittsburgh likes to draft on the younger side. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview he did with Alex Kozora, where Hopkins chose to emphasize his focus on becoming a real asset in the blocking game too.
4:16 TE Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas. (RS Senior). 6’3¾”, 253 lbs. with long 33⅝” arms and big 10⅛” hands. 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.
4:16 TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri. (RS Junior). 6’5½”, 258 lbs. with very long 34⅛” arms and big 10¼” hands. 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? Limitations in that Lock’s high-end play had disguised? We do not know, and that makes for a hard evaluation. His stock isn’t helped in the slightest by some very poor blocking skills, as highlighted by Josh Carney’s gif-supported, late January scouting report. He also appears to be more of a steady athlete in the old fashioned TE mold than a sudden-burst mismatch guy for the modern era. A good Combine would help him a lot. Here is a Dave Bryan “contextualization” piece on A-Ok’s 2019 catches. This early February, Giants-oriented scouting profile focuses on the lack of athletic burst and glosses over his blocking flaws.
5:01 TE Sean McKeon, Michigan. (Senior). 6’5”, 242 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). 6’2⅜”, 242 lbs. with short-for-a-TE 31⅝” arms. A fully functional H-Back with marginal size for the TE position and ordinary (for the NFL) athletic gifts. Good floor, low ceiling. May project better as a very high end fullback, and should excel on special teams. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Alex Kozora.
5:16 TE/WR Steven Sullivan, LSU. (Senior). 6’4⅞”, 248 lbs. with absurd 35⅜” arms and very big 10⅛” hands. 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 with 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 Jacob Breeland, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’4⅞”, 252 lbs. A balanced-skills 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. The scouting profile grades him out as a UDFA.
6:16 TE Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 247 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.
7:01 TE Charlie Woerner, Georgia. (Senior). 6’4⅝”, 244 lbs. with big 10” hands. Used with some success by Georgia as a blocker rather than a receiver. Dave Bryan’s gif-supported February scouting report shows real skill at blocking in space and also some soft hands. But does he have the native athleticism required to be a receiver as well?
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 choice 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. This late January article calls Dobbins, “the best all around back in the draft.”
1:20 RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU. (Junior). 5’8″, 209 lbs. Stock has gone nowhere but up as the process moves forward, CEH is a short-but-not-small, 20 year old prospect with a list of assets so long you don’t realize it until you try to write them down Begin with a really special special ability to make would be tacklers miss in the hole. Add an ankle breaking jump cut that does the same in the open field (no kidding, he left whiffs in his wake on almost every play in the clips from Nick Farabaugh’s January scouting report). Add enough long speed to take simple runs for fifty large if the crease is there. Superb as an outlet and mismatch receiver. Good kick return skills. Surprising power for his size, which pairs favorably with tremendous contact balance. The only issue is that he never managed to stand out as the weapon among all of LSU’s other fantastic talent, though it should be noted that he won the team MVP over QB and Heisman winner Joe Burrow, was named a permanent team captain, and Burrow called him the best player on either his Ohio State or LSU rosters. Jeez people, what else could we want except a few extra inches and pounds? This January scouting profile adds yet another important asset: “The most impressive thing about Edwards-Helaire’s resume is how great he was against good opponents.” That is echoed by this advanced-stats January scouting profile, which could not be a lot more positive. This early February scouting profile emphasizes CEH’s well rounded skill set and overall lack of flaws, ending in a mid-2nd grade. Here is a strong, gif-supported scouting report from late January. He lived up to the rave expectations in this June, 2019 scouting profile, which goes into some detail about his straightforward athletic profile.
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 been asked to carry the ball 300 times in a single season. The skill set itself is amazing for being so well rounded, as this February scouting profile emphasizes. 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. This gif-supported February scouting report puts him at the top of the RB class. This tremendous, gif-supported scouting report by Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network points to some limitations relating to tunnel vision that could make Swift less effective in the NFL as an inside runner. Here is a good, gif-supported February scouting report from a Chiefs POV (the clips include several 2018 games and a cut of all his 2019 snaps).
2:01 RB Cam Akers, Florida St. (Junior). 5’11”, 212 lbs. This Draft Network scouting profile (Marino) argues that the 20 year old Akers (21 in late June) “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 Akers’ youth, his fit to the Steelers blocking scheme, and his skill at blocking; sounds like a serious target for Round 2. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile is a particularly good read because, between the lines, it notes how heavily Akers’ grade depends on projecting beyond the steaming pile that was his offensive line. This February scouting profile makes the argument well, ending with a late-1st grade and a “Day 2 steal” verdict. This Giants-oriented February scouting profile describes him as a top talent weighted down by a complete lack of blocking skills.
2:01 RB Zack Moss, Utah. (Senior). 5’10”, 222 lbs. A higher pedigree version of Conner and Snell, Moss profiles as a smart, between the tackles power back with surprisingly nifty feet and awesome production. He is Utah’s all time leader in rushing yards, scrimmage yards, touches, and touchdowns by a good margin. Lance Zierlein’s scouting report could not be more enthusiastic: “Watching Moss’ game tape is like watching an exercise in controlled violence on just about every carry, but his vision, balance, patience and wiggle are additional skills that help to make him a well-rounded runner… He is a great fit for [Pittsburgh’s] gap and inside zone-heavy rushing attacks and could become an effective, instant starter.” This gif-supported January scouting report emphasizes character as one of the hidden assets. Tore his ACL in 2018 (climbing into bed of all things) and then bounced back for a typically marvelous 2019.
2:01 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 much better speed and no record of health issues. Taylor won the New Jersey state title in the 100 meters at 210 pounds. The big question is whether he is just as fast today at 220, and if his 10-20 yard burst matches up to the longer speed. As Alex Kozora’s gif-supported February scouting report notes, Taylor is not a Saquon Barkley so much as a Mark Ingram. He does everything well, but not with the kind of eye-popping athleticism that makes everyone else on the field look slow. Hence Alex’s late-2nd grade with the chance for moving higher if the testing supports it. The other question marks really go to pushback against conclusions based on the historic stats alone. 2,000 yards in three straight seasons… ‘Is this a league changing runner?!’ The answer is, no. But isn’t overreacting in a negative way is just as bad as looking at statistics without digging any deeper? Yes, Taylor played behind a great OL; but he used it exceptionally well and with Lev Bell-esque patience; 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 the same was true for Alabama until Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs broke out last year. 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 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). This late January scouting profile is more positive, reminding readers that he used to be a track star and the speed is real. This February scouting profile discusses the NFL heritage of good but not great RB’s out of Wisconsin. This particularly good, Giants-oriented scouting profile points out Taylor’s subtle asset: choppy feet that allow for instant and creative adjustments during the run.
3:01 RB A.J. Dillon, Boston College. (Junior). 6’0″, 250 lbs. If this was a Tennessee Titans board and we thought they needed someone to step in for Derrick Henry, Dillon would have a Round 2 grade. But for the 2019 Steelers…? He’s actually bigger and runs every bit as hard as either Conner or Snell. And it should be said that the scouting profile (which uses James Conner as the comp) sees room for him to lose some weight, add some quickness, and become really elite. If he is more Conner 2.0 than Snell 2.0, he is also a viable target for the pick at 3:comp. This short but apparently sound January scouting profile also notes his lack of any proven receiving ability (also true for Conner as a prospect).
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, and surviving the NFL pounding at his moderate size. 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. After this gif-supported January scouting report calls him an “electric” athlete, the author notes a regression in his stats from 2018 to 2019, but puts that down to poor O-Line play.
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.
4:01 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. This enthusiastic, gif-supported January scouting report puts him in the same band as Cam Akers.
5:16 RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA. (RS Senior). 5’10⅝”, 214 lbs. Alex Kozora’s pre-Senior Bowl, gif-supported scouting report 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. This goes to a late January post-Senior Bowl article by Alex Kozora.
5:16 Sewo Owonilua, TCU. (Senior). 6’3”, 240 lbs. Josh Carney’s gif-supported, early February scouting report makes some serious comparisons to LeVeon Bell when he came out of college, and it is easy to see why. Owonilua is a freakish physical specimen who profiles as power back with very nifty feet and great burst, but only mid-level breakaway speed; like Bell, he will break off 20-40 yard chunks but won’t disappear over the horizon. Would probably be in the discussion as a potential RB1 but for a pair of drug charges for possession of something at the level of magic mushrooms or ecstasy. It was cleared up enough for him to play in 2019.
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 and decent hands for receiving work. Here is a February scouting profile from a Giants POV. 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”, 193 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). 6’1⅝”, 198 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). 5’11”, 188 lbs. with somewhat short 30½” arms but huge 10⅛” hands. The dream speedster. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado. (Junior). 6’⅝”, 227 lbs. Round 1 talent all day long. Tall, big, fast, elusive, extremely tough, good hands, versatile, young, toughened by life… He might even be in the Top 10 talk if he played at a Top 10 school. A slightly beefier, faster, and more elusive version of Juju Smith-Schuster. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
1:25 WR Tee Higgins, Clemson. (Junior). 6’3⅝”, 216 lbs. with looong 34⅛” arms. Gets compared to Alshon Jeffrey or (on a good day) A.J. Green. 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. That, and the insane number of Round 1 WR talents he has to compete with this year. This February scouting profile features several games of film clips, concluding that his is the best of this year’s “big receiver” specialists. This gif-supported February scouting report from a Bills POV sees many similarities to former Clemson start Mike Williams.
1:25 WR Jalen Reagor, TCU. (Junior). 5’10⅝”, 206 lbs. Think “higher pedigree, multidimensional Mike Wallace;” a blazing fast, quick twitch deep threat who can operate from the slot as well as the outside, and also excels on punt and kick returns. There would not be a prayer that he’d fall to the mid-2nd in any other year. Walter Football reports rumors that he’s run a 4.29 dash at almost 200 pounds! 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. His stats were way down in 2019 but, as emphasized in this February scouting profile, it was probably due to some awful QB play and an offense that was down in general. Reagor is the sort of WR won’t rescue an inaccurate QB, but can change and even dominate a game if you have one who gets him the ball in stride. 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. Concentration drops are common with someone who can legitimately turn every catch into a TD. 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. Notoriously hard to press because he has great releases off the line. This gif-supported late January scouting report for the Titans agrees that drops are the only real concern, and totally worth the risk to get a game breaking Round 1 talent. This gif-supported, Seahawks-oriented scouting report digs down into the flaws a bit but still ends in a late-1st grade. Here is a good scouting profile from a Packers POV (a team that many view as Reagor’s most likely landing spot). This goes to another February scouting profile from a Packers POV (that fan base really wants him!).
2:12 WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State. (Senior). 5’11⅝”, 205 lbs. with 9¾” hands and long 33½” arms. An explosive weapon who has been 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 except the fact that he is a multipurpose football player who lacks the elite speed and elite size that are the only things missing from Pittsburgh’s current starters? The scouting profile emphasizes his explosiveness, route running, and COD skills that are startling in a man this size. He returns punts at 6’1”! Can we use a mixture of JJSS and Diontae Johnson in a single body? Here is a good February scouting profile from a Giants POV.
2:12 WR Justin Jefferson, LSU. (Junior). 6’1¼”, 202 lbs. with 33” arms. A 2020, slightly more accomplished version of James Washington. Good size, great hands, sufficient but not great speed, and serious leaping/contested catch ability; Jefferson is a complete receiver and an easy Round 1 talent in any ordinary draft class, but is discounted here because of the similarities to a skill set that Pittsburgh already has. The other question is hard to answer. How much of his massive production came from having Joe Burrow as his QB? This late January scouting profile ends with a fringe-1st grade for other years, but a Round 2 grade for this one. This good, late January, Packers-oriented scouting profile extols his versatility. Read this excellent February scouting profile! It makes great points about Jefferson being a limited athlete who has become the ultimate overachiever through craft, dedication, and determination.
2:24 WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State. (RS Sophomore). 5’8⅝”, 178 lbs. with proportionate 30¾” arms but big-for-his-frame 9⅜” hands. A killer quick, big play slot receiver with world class speed who looks like one of the Kansas City guys Andy Reid uses to dominate the league, and would be a legitimate Round 1 target for the right team. The main concern is size, and the aforementioned fit. He is extraordinarily young (turns 20 in July) and we can therefore project some physical growth from 176 lbs., but how much growth is anyone’s guess. He earns a downgrade on this Board because (a) the Steelers picked a less extreme version of this prototype last year in Diontae Johnson, and (b) even a fully grown Hamler will be tiny enough to raise worries about the NFL pounding. There is some nice gif-supported analysis in this late January article. This goes to a short but decent January scouting profile. Here is a good February scouting profile from a Colts POV. This February scouting profile emphasizes the similarities to Mecole Hardman from last year’s draft class.
2:24 WR Denzel Mims, Baylor. (Senior). 6’2⅞”, 207 lbs. with long 33⅞” arms. Your author admits to a draft crush on this one that dates back to December. Take that bias into account. 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 use has to be as a perimeter threat. 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 a bargain spot 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). Here is a nice, post-Senior Bowl scouting profile with some statistical analysis. This gif-supported, late January scouting report ends in a late-2nd grade.
3:01 WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota. (Senior). 6’1⅜”, 206 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. There is some nice, if optimistic, gif-supported analysis in this late January article. This gif-supported January scouting report agrees that he is a multitool adept at the position.
3:12 WR Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky (Junior). 5’10⅝”, 204 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. OTOH, 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. Good kick return skills too. The biggest critique is the need for more discipline securing the ball. This gif-supported February scouting report from a Packers site compares him to Randall “Tex” Cobb. This February scouting profile is essential reading to understand Bowden because it fills in the career perspective. The scouting profile agrees with Randall Cobb as the comp, though Steelers fans may prefer going back to Kordell Stewart.
3:12 WR Collin Johnson, Texas. (Senior). 6’5⅝”, 222 lbs. with surprisingly short arms (31¾”) and small-for-his-size 9” 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. This late January scouting profile ends in a Round 2-3 grade. Here is a gif-supported, late January scouting report published after some “utterly unguardable” SEnior Bowl practice sessions.
3:24 WR Gabriel Davis, UCF. (Junior). 6’2”, 216 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. There is some nice, if overtly positive, gif-supported analysis in this late January article. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from February questions his explosiveness and slots him in as a very high-floor, WR2 in the ‘possession receiver’ mold.
3:24 WR K.J. Hill, Ohio State. (RS Senior). 5’11⅞”, 196 lbs. with short 29⅛” arms. 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. This interesting article calls him the “steal of the draft.” This good, gif-supported article from February examines his ability to create separation through excellent route running. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported February scouting report basically describes a moderately good Round 4 slot receiver with a high floor but low ceiling.
4:01 WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame. (Senior). 6’4¼”, 238 lbs. 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 5-10 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, while this goes to Josh Carney’s enthusiastic gif-supported February scouting report. This Dave Bryan “contextualization” piece gets at the player from a different angle.
4:01 WR Devin Duvernay, Texas. (Senior). 5’10½”, 200 lbs. As the scouting report says, “Duvernay is a challenging study because… the pieces don’t fit together.” How do you grade outstanding, breakaway speed, circus-catch hands, and fearsome running with the ball in his hands against poor route running skills that create no separation, lack of physicality for combat catches, moderate height and length, and tight hips that suggest he will always be more of a straight line guy? He is also 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. Supposed to be a high football-character player too.
4:01 WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina. (Senior). 6’2¾”, 212 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. There is some nice, if overtly positive, gif-supported analysis in this late January article. This gif-heavy January scouting report sees him as a smart, savvy possession receiver whose stock is held back by “only good” athletic talents. Had a minor knee issue that caused him to miss the Senior Bowl, and then broke his foot right before the Combine. We feel your pain young man!
4:01 WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty. (Senior). 6’4”, 223 lbs. This may be the ultimate boom-or-bust receiving prospect of the entire draft. AGG is a phenomenal athlete wired so well that the Senior Bowl coverage did a feature (start at :37 seconds) on how freaky he really is. This is a guy who took up bowling and then had a perfect 300 game two months later! A huge young man who can do full tumbling runs full of backflips and the like! It’s amazing to see. On the football field 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. The issue is that he did it against a very low level of competition. Bottom line: this is pure NFL clay waiting for the potter’s wheel. He’s run nothing remotely like an NFL route tree, nor shown the sophistication he’ll need to beat NFL Corners, but no one can doubt that he possesses the athletic genius to learn all that. Eventually. An added plus: he held up well at the Senior Bowl, showing the ability to beat D-1 Corners as well as the lesser one he faced in the past. The learning curve may be less steep than originally feared. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report questions only the pure, straight line speed.
4:01 WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State. (Junior). 6’3⅝”, 210 lbs. with long 33⅛” arms and big 9⅞” hands. 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 because he’s shown hard-to-catch speed despite never looking fast. “James Washington with extra inches?” This gif-supported January scouting report questions the speed, but raves about the “vice grip hands” and body contro. Expect the description to change as more nuanced reviews come in. There is some nice, gif-supported analysis in this late January article that emphasizes his tremendous hands and catch radius.
4:16 WR Quartney Davis, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’1¼”, 201 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 medicals, or if his skill set had less overlap with the current roster. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported, late January scouting report ends with a Round 3-4 grade. This January article describes him as a classic sleeper prospect. The scouting profile ends with a Day 3 grade based on limited long speed, play time, and what reads like concern that he has a WR2 ceiling paired with his WR3 floor (if healthy). This February scouting profile from a Giants POV puts a lack of long speed as the only real physical deficit.
4:16 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan. (Junior). 6’1⅝”, 212 lbs. with longer 33½” arms and big 10⅛” hands. An amazing 5-star athlete coming out of High School who hasn’t played up to the level expected, but no one seems to have a good explanation of why. Viewed as a prime height/weight/speed prospect for a team with the right room and coaching to get the best out of him. The scouting profile could be summarized as a complaint that he’s been unaccountably sluggish. This February article describes how DP-J’s stock has fallen over the course of time.
4:16 WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC. (Senior). 6’4”, 223 lbs. [Mtg. at Senior Bowl] A 22 year old prospect the Steelers could covet if he falls to Day 3, Pittman is a classic, physical, jump ball receiver who doubles as an ace special teams funner. 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 assets to win, but he could approach dominant if he learns how to be a bully. The odds look good 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. Nick Farabaugh’s gif-supported January scouting report identifies speed and RAC skills as the main question marks. This could be one of the rare cases where the 40 time actually matters! Here is a gif-supported February scouting report. This February scouting profile ends in a comparison to Courtland Sutton.
4:16 WR James Proche (“pro-SHAY”), SMU. (RS Senior). 5’10⅝”, 201 lbs. with short 29 ¾” arms but big-for-his-size 9⅝” hands. A 2020 version of Diontae Johnson with amazing hands, a bit less quickness, and 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 the hands 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. Here are a Senior Bowl interview he did with Daniel Valente, and a February scouting profile from a Giants POV. This New England oriented February scouting profile stereotypes Proche as a perfect example of the Patriots-type slot receiver.
5:01 WR Van Jefferson, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’1½”, 200 lbs. Josh Carney’s late January, gif-supported scouting report describes a college player with pro-level route running and savvy, but limited physical genius. That makes sense because his father is Shawn Jefferson, the long time NFL receiver, made his career on those assets and has since become a well respected WR coach for several teams. The Draft Network scouting profile agrees that the son has learned his craft well, is going to keep getting open at the next level, but doesn’t have the ceiling offered by many of his peers. The skills were on full display at the Senior Bowl, where he could not be covered. But is a possession receiver the addition that Pittsburgh needs? It isn’t his only asset! Van Jefferson is a football player to the core who would rather be a special teams gunner than spend a moment resting on the bench. That matters too. He would definitely rank a few rounds higher if his skills did not overlap so much with the current roster. This good, gif-supported article from February examines his ability to create separation through excellent route running.
5:16 WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin. (RS Junior). 6’⅞”, 202 lbs. with small 8¾” hands. 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. There is some nice, gif-supported analysis in this late January article that emphasizes his “textbook box-out technique.” This goes to a good February scouting profile from a Giants POV.
5:16 WR Joe Reed, Virginia. (Senior). 6’½”, 224 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, a very tough and thick body, 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 Steven Sullivan, LSU. (Senior). 6’4⅞”, 248 lbs. with absurd 35⅜” arms and very big 10⅛” hands. See the entry under TE.
6:01 WR Tyrie Cleveland, Florida. (Senior). 6’2⅜”, 209 lbs. with 9⅛” hands and 32⅞” 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). 5’10¾”, 188 lbs. with short 29¾” arms and small 8⅞” hands. 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 Jauan Jennings, Tennessee. (RS Senior). 6’3⅛”, 215 lbs. A good, solid, all-around possession receiver who’d deserve a grade 2-3 rounds better for another team in another year. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported February scouting report ends with a Round 3 grade based on a description that could be summarized as, ‘a Juju-B version of Pittsburgh’s Juju-A.’ He has too much class to go there but your author has no shame.
6:01 WR Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’4¼”, 208 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). 5’11⅞”, 207 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). 6’3¾”, 198 lbs. with very long 34⅛” arms. A one trick, jump ball specialist who is good at the job but not special enough to earn a higher grade. This February scouting profile notes that he’s become a pretty good blocker on the outside.
7:16 Juwan Johnson, Oregon. (Senior). 6’4”, 230 lbs. with looong 34¼” arms and big 10½” hands. The frame promises a basketball Power Forward rebounding against 5’10” CB’s, but the skill set hasn’t delivered yet.
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). 6’1½”, 189 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 Ross Blacklock, TCU. (RS Junior). 6’4″, 305 lbs. Round 2 talent. Maybe late 1st. Ain’t Gonna Happen. 
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 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. Often projected as a fringe-1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen. 
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 Jordan Elliott, Missouri (RS Junior). 6’4″, 315 lbs. Looks like an ideal DT3 to back up Heyward and Tuitt, but less of a true Nose Tackle than Hargrave. Wonderful hand fighting skills and pretty good explosion. Not expected to get out of Round 2.
3:01 DL Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’3″, 304 lbs. A seriously good, seriously strong DT who can either go through you or get skinny through the gap on either side. He’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. Tom Mead’s late-January, gif-supported scouting report highlights his ability to put even good Guards and Centers on roller skates, and ends with a very reasonable Round 2 grade.
3:12 NT Leki Fotu, Utah. (Senior). 6’5⅜”, 337 lbs. Perhaps 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. In the modern NFL, pass rush potential is the difference between a Round 2-3 talent and one who won’t be picked until the 5-7 range.
4:16 NT 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 at least as good a run stuffer as Javon Hargrave, and nowhere near as good at pressuring the QB. 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. Dave Bryan did this February contextualization article for Hamilton’s sacks.
4:16 DL Rashard Lawrence, LSU. (Senior). 6’2″, 308 lbs. A late Day 2 target if you are looking for someone to replace Alualu as the primary backup to Heyward and Tuitt. Deeper into Day 3 as a replacement for Hargrave, at least according to this gif-supported February scouting report from Tom Mead. Others are more optimistic.
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 that 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. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report notes that NC State used him at every D-Line position from 0-tech out, and suggests that something as straightforward as fixing his stance could yield immediate benefits.
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.
6:16 DL Mike Panusiuk, Michigan. (Senior). 6’4”, 300 lbs. A classic immovable object with no pass rush upsdie.
6:16 DL Bravvion Roy, Baylor. (Senior). 6’1⅛”, 332 lbs. with short 30⅛” arms. Looks like he should be an immovable force, but he plays more like a penetrating 1-tech and has shown issues holding up to double teams. Josh Carney’s gif-supported February scouting report hints that some of the issues should be coachable. He did look good at the shrine bowl.
7:01 DL McTelvin Agim, Arkansas. 6’2½”, 305 lbs. An explosive, high motor, one gap penetrator who fits best as a 3-tech. Nice DL depth behind Heyward and Tuitt, but not a Nose Tackle if you’re looking for the next Hargrave. Here is a good looking, Vikings-oriented scouting profile from February.
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 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. This January scouting profile sees him more as a large, twitched-up 3-4 OLB, but worries about his injury history.
0:00 EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn St. (Junior). 6’5”, 264 lbs. Round 1 talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE Terrell Lewis, Alabama. (RS Junior). 6’5⅜”, 258 lbs. with long 34⅛” arms. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen. He looks like Bud Dupree back in the day, with ideal physical talent other than real bend-and-dip ability. Also carries an injury history.
0:00 EDGE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame (Senior). 6’4”, 248 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
0:00 EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise St. (RS Junior). 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.
3:12 EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah. (Senior). 6’3⅜”, 257 lbs. A prospect whose stock will rise significantly on this Board if something happens in the offseason to make the need more acute. 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 physical talent who can bend the corner while also setting edge. The Senior Bowl reinforced another point: Anae is much more sophisticated than most of his peers, with excellent hand fighting skills and a rushing plan to complement his speed. Brutalized lesser Tackles in the Senior Bowl game, and has similarly feasted on talented ones with raw technique like USC star Austin Jackson. He gets a Round 2 grade in this Redskins-oriented scouting profile from February.
3:12 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. Deserves a bump from the Steelers POV because he is pretty good in coverage too.
4:01 EDGE Jabari Zuniga, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’3⅛”, 253 lbs. with 33⅛” arms and 10” hands. A good looking 4-3 DE who probably cannot play in space. Not a good fit for this particular team in this particular year.
4:16 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. This late January scouting profile isn’t exactly negative but does end what seems to be a Round 3-6 type grade.
7:16 DL Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina. 6’4”, 267 lbs. Daniel Valente’s gif-supported February scouting report describes a hybrid DL/EDGE player who is probably closest to being a power-oriented 4-3 DE. No fit at all in Pittsburgh.
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 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. Round 1 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.
3:24 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. This brief February scouting profile compares him to Fred Warner.
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.
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. Daniel Valente’s Senior Bowl interview.
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 MACK 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. This brief February scouting profile compares him to Fred Warner.
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.
7:01 SS/Mack ILB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan. (Senior). 5’11⅛”, 218 lbs. See the entry under Safety. 
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 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 for all the reasons set forth in Tom Mead’s fine, late January, gif-supported scouting report. Ain’t Gonna Happen
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.
0:00 SAF Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota. (RS Sophomore). 5’10”, 195 lbs. A playmaking, all purpose Safety with injury concerns offset by an excellent football IQ, football bloodlines, punt returner skills and assets, and ballhawking ability. Round 1 talent who will likely drop to Round 2 for the medical red flags. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
3:24 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. This goes to a very interesting background piece from early November. Here is a February article on his draft hopes and issues. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report calls him “the definition of a height/weight/speed guy.”
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.
4:01 SAF 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 CB/S Bryce Hall, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1”, 200 lbs. See the entry under Cornerback.
4:01 FS/CB Levonta Taylor, Fla. St. (Senior). 5’10”, 190 lbs. An unaccountable Combine snub, Taylor was the #1 CB in the nation coming out of High School and has played every position in college from outside and slot Corner to Free- and Strong Safety. The physical talent is there, and the size isn’t “bad”, just kind of average. Would a Cam Sutton channeled more toward Safety and slot work really be a problem?
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). 5’11⅜”, 192 lbs. A Safety known for his coverage skills on RB’s and other check down targets, and for sure tackling in the open field. This goes to a thorough, early February scouting profile that extols his side-to-side range as “extraordinary”, but worries about his range when it comes to playing centerfield.
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 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. This is a summary of his role and background from an Ohio State site.
5:01 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.
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. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Alex Kozora. Here is a really good February scouting profile from a Notre Dame site, which adds some multi-season perspective. The scouting profile sees him as a special teams player with upside if he can grow enough from the shoulders up.
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.
7:01 SS/Mack ILB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan. (Senior). 5’11⅛”, 218 lbs. A local boy from McKeesport, Hudson is a pedal-to-the-metal defensive player who’s stuck in tweener land between being an oversized Safety with severe coverage issues, and an undersized ILB with a desperate lack of playing strength. He has obvious special teams value but, as Josh Carney’s gif-supported scouting report from February explains, he seems likely to into the category of ‘not good enough at anything’ rather than ‘good at many things’ for actual defensive snaps.
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 Damon Arnette, Ohio St. (RS Senior). 6’0”, 195 lbs. Fringe 1st talent. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
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 Jeff Gladney, TCU. (RS Senior). 6’0”, 183 lbs. Early 2nd 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 Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn. (Junior). 5’11”, 200 lbs. Round 2 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 or two 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.
4:01 FS/CB Levonta Taylor, Fla. St. (Senior). 5’10”, 190 lbs. See the entry under Safety.
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. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Alex Kozora.
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. Mann is The Man if you’re looking for a punter.



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