NFL Draft

Steelers Big Board – Who To Pick At #102, 124, And 135

This article follows the one from March 31st that addressed Round 2 targets. That article explained how and why it makes sense to divide drafts into six (6) broad tiers of talent. The first three groups are the Elite Colbert Specials, clear 1st rounders, and fringe-1st rounders as judged for that mythical thing called an average or typical year. The lists show that 2020 contains solid early and mid-1st groups, but has an extraordinary amount of late-1st talent; which means the Steelers are all but guaranteed to land a late-1st caliber player if they target one of the denser clusters of talent at OL, RB, or WR.

I also made the argument for choosing at one of those positions in any case; because (A) the offense deserves the Round 2 attention with the Rounds 1 & 3 picks having gone toward defensive players, and (B) those positions are the only ones where a 2020 rookie could hope to crack the starting lineup in 2021 or 2022.

This article examines the Round 2 and Round 3 talent groups. I conclude that Pittsburgh has only a small chance of finding a Round 2 caliber player with the pick at #102, because the class thins out in Day 2, but it may be possible in one of the positions that is overpopulated with talent. On the other hand, the numbers all but guarantee that Pittsburgh will have access to a very sound Round 3 talent even though we do not have a pick until the compensatory selection at #102. Rejoice Steeler Nation, for that wouldn’t be true in a lot of the drafts I’ve studied over the past 10 years!

The talent pool diminishes rapidly after that, however. There is a chance of landing a Round 3 talent at pick #124 (4:18), but the odds aren’t great and the pick would most likely have to be in one of those talent clusters: WR, IOL, CB, and possibly DT. The odds get worse for Pick #135, where it is hard to imagine landing a Round 3-level prospect outside the final surge of WR’s.

NOTE: The Big Board entries at the end of this piece use Steeler specific grades. For the body of this article series I am trying to get at an all-teams grade based on my understanding of the consensus opinion. That consensus score should not be taken as a criticism if you have assigned a different grade based on direct film study. You are one of the people who go into the average; it is not a standard that you get measured against.

Prospects with a Round 2 Grade

T/G Ben Bartch, St. Johns Jalen Hurts, Okla. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame Zack Moss Tyler Johnson, Minn.
G/T Robert Hunt, Louisiana Jacob Eason, Wash. Adam Trautman, Dayton Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
G Damien Lewis, LSU Jake Fromm, Georgia  —  —  —
G Netane Muti, Fresno St.  —  —  —  —
OT Matthew Peart, U. Conn  —  —  —  —
Justin Madabuike, Texas A&M Bradlee Anae, Utah Malik Harrison, Ohio St. Jeremy Chinn, S. Ill. Damon Arnette, Ohio St.
Johnathan Greenard, Florida Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne Cameron Dantzler, Miss. St.
Joshua Uche, Michigan Uche…? A.J. Terrell, Clemson


The class was stacked, stuffed, and overflowing with late-1st grades, but it’s only so-so when it comes to Round 2 skill sets. On average there should be 25 names, but I only have 22; with none but DL Justin Madabuike who edge toward a Round 1 grade, and several who should arguably be down in the Round 3 group. We won big with the likelihood of getting a major bargain at #49, but the law of averages always catches up.

Prospects with a Round 3 Grade

OT Trey Adams, Wash.  Eno Benjamin, Ariz. St. Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
G/T Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas  — Devin Duvernay, Texas
C/G Tyler Biadasz, Wisc.  — Bryan Edwards, S. Car.
C Matt Hennessy, Temple  — K.J. Hill, Ohio State
G Shane Lemieux, Oregon  — Collin Johnson, Texas
G/T Tyre Phillips, Miss. St  —  — Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
G John Simpson, Clemson  —  — Michael Pittman Jr., USC
G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
 —  —
DL Jordan Elliott, Missouri Jonathan Garvin, Miami Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech Terrell Burgess, Utah Jaylon Johnson, Utah
NT Leki Fotu, Utah Anfernee Jennings, Alabama Willie Gay Jr., Miss. St. Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame Bryce Hall, Virginia
DL Rashard Lawrence, LSU Darrell Taylor, Tennessee SS Brandon Jones, Texas Darnay Holmes, UCLA
Curtis Weaver, Boise St. K’Von Wallace, Clemson Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
 —  — Amik Robertson, La. Tech.


A hair short of average yet again, with 13 on offense (basically all on the OL and at WR) and 18 on defense (well distributed). But once again I’ve generally given the benefit of the doubt by letting the top talents slip upward, so there are no players who are likely to deserve a Round 2 grade (maybe the two ILB’s?) and plenty who should arguably be down in Round 4. In particular, Safety Alohi Gilman has been up in Round 4 a lot of the time, as have OT Trey Adams and all of the Edge Rushers.

Overall, though, the Steelers should still in decent shape for finding players they like with the first Round 4 picks. The high level of early talent is just now evening out, and there are always a set of freaky-looking falls that the amateur community can’t predict. If you want to be strict about it, my numbers show that Pittsburgh, sitting at 4:18, is juuuuust below the level where a bargain would be mathematically secure. But failing to get a draft steal is not exactly a bad outcome! All you would normally hope for is solid, fair value; which in this case would be a Round 4 pick with a Round 4 grade. The lists above do not include anyone in that group, and there are a lot of young men I have graded right on the edge of Round 3. I have no worry – none – about the team getting cheated at either 124 or 135. There absolutely will be talent at those picks which is at least comparable to what’s seen in an average Round 4. It’s only the bargain hunting that’s going to be tough, especially if the team does not target the big clusters of WR’s, Centers and Guards.

FWIW, in my own mocks I have been known to pick a Safety or ILB at #102 – earlier than my pure grades would warrant – simply to beat the system by relying on access to good Guards and WR’s in Round 4. I get a silly grin every time Devin Duvernay, Lynn Bowden, or Michael Pittman get penciled in at 135!

Oh, and about RB A.J. Dillon… You will see him down below with a Round 3 grade but he does not appear above. Why? Because the consensus has him down in Round 4, and the higher grade comes from my personal evaluation of how well I think he’d fit the team. Personal bias has reared it’s ugly head on this one, but at least I own it up front. Have at me if you wish. I also admit to generally cutting off my consideration of the RB’s after those who’d be a clear improvement on Conner, and the few others who’d be clear improvements on Snell. There are many more Round 4 prospects in the class than I list below. Pittsburgh has too many very solid bodies in the RB room to clutter up a Steelers-specific Board with any who would not be special. Eno Benjamin’s grade may have been influenced downward by that.

I will end this here because things rapidly get even more muddled as the grades move into the 4-7 tier. What follows are the full Big Board descriptions for all players who’ve been given a Steelers-specific Round 2-3 HV grade, plus a bonus selection of Round 4 and early-5th prospects just because I can. This includes everyone mentioned above plus around 40 more names. Use your browser’s search feature if you want to go back and forth from the lists of names alone down to the descriptions:

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.
2:24 T/G Ben Bartch, St. Johns. (Senior). 6’5¾”, 309 lbs. with shorter 32⅞” arms. 22 years old. This year’s small school phenom played Tight End until 2018, when he moved up to Left Tackle and began to utterly dominate his D-III opponents. 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. Here is a nice, very brief summary from a Cleveland POV.
3:01 C/G Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin. (RS Junior). 6’3½”, 314 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. He gets a round or so downgrade on this Board for medical red flags arising from a 2019 hip surgery and a 2020 shoulder issue. The hip seemed to slow him down for most of his 2019 season. “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. I highly recommend this late February scouting profile from a Wisconsin Badgers site because it does an excellent job of surveying the issues and the assets. Here is a nice, very brief summary from a Cleveland POV.
3:01 G/T Robert Hunt, Louisiana. (RS Senior). 6’5⅛”, 323 lbs. Will turn 24 as a rookie. 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.
3:01 G Damien Lewis, LSU. (Senior). 6’2”, 329 lbs. with 33⅜” arms. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. 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.” He and teammate Lloyd Cushenberry stood out as rocks in the actual game 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.” Not so heavy-footed in general, given his top-third SPARQ score that was held back primarily by a lack of height. 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.
3:01 G Netane Muti (“nuh-than-EE MOO-tee”), Fresno State. (RS Junior). 6’2⅞”, 315 lbs. with very short 31¾” arms but very big 10⅝” hands. 21 years old. Everyone’s favorite sleeper because of a revelatory RS freshman season, Muti has as much pure talent as any Guard in the draft, featuring both power and movement skills. We’re talking serious ceiling here! But does he still have what he flashed so often in 2017? 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. 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.
3:01 OT Matthew Peart, U. Conn. (RS Senior). 6’6⅝”, 318 lbs. with extraordinary 36⅝” 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. Interestingly, he tested extremely well in all areas but agility, his supposed strength, earning a top-3rd-of-the-NFL SPARQ score. 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. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported March scouting report ends with a Round 4 grade based on Round 1 athletic potential held back by the need for serious work in a weight room and to tighten his correctable technique flaws.
3:01 G/T Tyre Phillips, Miss. St. (RS Senior). 6’5”, 331 lbs. with very long 35⅛” arms and big 10⅜” hands. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile, which ends in a strong “starter in a year or two” grade, describes a classic Right Tackle with the potential to be even better at Guard. Carries some sloppy weight but moves better than he tests due to short, choppy steps. The Combine athletic testing was not encouraging. He bombed almost everything but the measurements, and ended up with a fifth (5th) percentile SPARQ score. Tom Mead’s late March, gif-supported scouting report agrees with Zierlein’s, and ends with a strong Round 3 grade.
3:01 G John Simpson, Clemson. (Senior). 6’4⅛”, 321 lbs. with long 34⅛” arms and huge 11¼” hands. Turns 22 as a rookie. 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. Stock may be slightly depressed by an ankle injury that hobbled the second half of his 2019 season. 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 and has Simpson tied for the 2nd best IOL in the whole class.
3:12 C Matt Hennessy, Temple. (RS Junior). 6’3⅞”, 307 lbs. with shorter 32¼” arms. 22 years old. His athletic profile is wonderful for everything but size and strength, and Daniel Jeremiah gave him a Round 2 grade during the Combine broadcast. Carries good weight, moves well, and is a sound, high football IQ technician who excels 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. Really needs 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 who’d be much weaker as a Guard. Tom Mead’s late February, gif-supported scouting report ends with a Round 3 grade and a bit more confidence about his ability to be a decent backup at Guard. Here is a good March scouting profile from a Giants POV.
3:12 G Shane Lemieux, Oregon. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 310 lbs. with shorter 32¼” arms. Will be a 23 year old rookie. 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 with footwork issues that pros may take advantage of, limited ability to pull (though straight line speed is okay), and a distinctly average amount of overall athletic talent (18th percentile SPARQ score). Known as a smart, tough, team leader type in the OL room, which probably matters more. 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). 6’6”, 317 lbs. with big 10¼” hands. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. 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 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. The technical question is whether he can learn to play low enough to prevent quick NFL opponents from taking an angle, getting underneath, and levering him up. The Combine testing showed meh results in a lot of areas (he has too much height for most Guards and looked stiff in motion), which resulted in a distinctly average amount of overall athletic talent (18th percentile SPARQ score). Tom Mead did this nice, gif-supported scouting report in February, which suggests that he’d do better in a pure power system like Tennessee’s. 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 Trey Adams, Washington. (Senior). 6’8”, 318 lbs. with very long 34⅜” arms. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. Two years ago he was projected as an all but guaranteed Round 1 talent with sound technique, prototypical length, excellent strength, and enough mobility to starter at either Tackle spot in the NFL. The description would have been, “A better pass protector than run blocker, though he’s quite good at both.” Then came the injuries. As discussed in this article, Adams has tenaciously fought back from both a 2017 ACL tear and a 2018 disc surgery. The doctors will have as much to say about his draft status as anyone in the class. From our POV, it does not help that he said the medical concerns are well behind him in this late February article from the Combine, and then tested with a distinctly average athletic profile that produced an outright horrid SPARQ score (second percentile; i.e., bottom 2%) plus some klutzy-looking field drills. Either there are still medical concerns, or the injuries have changed him for the worse. 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.
3:24 G/T Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas. (Senior). 6’4⅜”, 302 lbs. with longer 33¾” arms. Played OT in college and has the mobility to do it in the pros too. He tested as an athlete with exceptional explosion and movement skills, good for a SPARQ score in the NFL’s top 25%. But he is quite small for a modern Tackle, and he (currently) lacks the play strength to succeed as a pulling Guard. A real favorite for in-the-know draftniks seeking a versatile puzzle piece with starter potential held back by a limited chance at stardom. Overcame a pair of 2017 labrum surgeries on his shoulders. Hand fighting needs help. No other real negatives except a need to improve just a bit across the board and do hard work on the strength issue. The scouting profile agrees with that basic summary. The Draft Network scouting profile sees him as a better fit for teams that run a zone scheme. Here is a DraftWire interview from the Combine. Here is a more negative, pre-Combine scouting profile from a Rams POV.
4:01 G Ben Bredeson, Michigan. (Senior). 6’4½”, 315 lbs. with very short 31½” arms. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. 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/C Jonah Jackson, Ohio State. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 306 lbs. with big 10½” hands. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. 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. The Draft Network scouting profile sees an NFL starter who might fit best in a zone blocking scheme. A miserable Combine put him in the bottom 10% from a SPARQ perspective, though the athletic profile looks closer to average for a Center. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported March scouting report ends with a Round 5-7 grade, viewing Jackson solely as a Guard.
4:01 G Solomon Kindley, Georgia. (RS Junior). 6’3¼”, 337 lbs. with shorter 32¼” arms. Turns 23 as a rookie. An enormous human being who looks like two people glued together, Kindley 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 ends 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). 6’2⅝”, 344 lbs. with long 34⅜” arms and big 10½” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. 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.
4:16 G/C/T Jon Runyan Jr., Michigan. (RS Senior). 6’4¼”, 306 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 observe 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. Had a good Combine that resulted in a 56th percentile SPARQ score that was held back more by measurements than athleticism. This gif-supported March scouting report by Alex Kozora ends in a mid-Day 3 grade based on the need to move inside to Guard in order to hide the physical limitations.
4:16 OT Alex Taylor, S. Carolina St. (RS Senior). 6’8⅜”, 308 lbs. with huge 11¼” 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 excellent overall athletic talent (other than a mysteriously poor vertical jump). 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 T/G Yasir Durant, Missouri. (Senior). 6’6”, 331 lbs. with long 34¾” arms. A JUCO transfer who rose to be a multiyear starter, Durant looks like a prototypical Right Tackle with limited movement skills and good but not special power. He may be Guard capable if he can get low enough, and is definitely a prospect to watch if Pittsburgh gets to Round 6 without an OL pick. Has had issues keeping his weight down but looked pretty tight at the Combine at 331 pounds, and is another Missouri player who might have suffered from the loss of Drew Lock as his QB. Big kid, but neither explosive nor fast, and pundits have said his punches lack some pop. The scouting profile seems to capture both the potential and the reality pretty well.
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/G 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. Anchors well against power but is not a people mover. The scouting profile describes him as a stalemate-and-position type of blocker, much like B.J. Finney has become. Looked great at the Shrine Bowl.
2:24 QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (Senior). 6’1”, 222 lbs. with very solid 9¾” hands. STOP! Do not form any opinions on Jalen Hurts until you read this wonderful late-February article on how his skills might fit the Steelers. Done? Very well then. The typical question people start with is this: Hurts is 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 (it helps that he is a coach’s son), 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 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 some team won’t take a shot on his upside in Round 1. Still, stranger things have happened. Should the Steelers consider him in Round 2? Only if he impresses in the interviews. Note that he lost his starting job at Georgia to Jake Fromm in a tortoise-over-the-hare plot line. Here is a January scouting profile that complains of slow reads and issues with his accuracy under pressure. This February scouting profile pretty much agrees with that take: huge arm talent; slow processor; issues appear when he’s pressured. Ditto for this late February scouting profile.
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. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported, Combine-day scouting report concludes that “Fromm has the profile of a player who be in the top 15 at his position, but rarely in the top 10.”
4:16 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 decent gamble at some point when 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.
2:24 TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (Junior). 6’5¾”, 262 lbs. with big 10½” hands. A very young (turns 21 in March) TE who is solid but not exceptional all around. Kmet, Trautman, and Dalton Keene were the only Tight Ends who tested as above-average athletes at the Combine, and Kmet would have had the best overall athletic profile but for a poor, 13th-percentile 3-cone drill. His best feature isn’t physical. It’s a reputation for grit. One rarely goes wrong by betting on the dog with lots of fight. As Nick Farabaugh emphasizes in this gif-supported January scouting report (which ends in a fringe-1st grade), Kmet plays with the hard-bitten, nasty, tough guy attitude you want from a TE. The other issue is a medical jacket involving ankle, leg, elbow and collarbone injuries. He’s fast enough, has good burst in a straight line, and security-blanket hands for move-the-chains throws (he will body catch sometimes but that looks like a bad habit). The scouting profile sees a solid starter in Year 2 after a developmental rookie season to build strength and fundamental technique. This gif-supported February scouting report from a Patriots POV, which seems pretty good, concludes that Kmet has all the tools but needs so much work on his game that no real contributions should be expected until Year 2 or 3. Sounds about right. 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. This late February TDN article from the Combine includes several nuggets like his multisport background, late growth spurt in High School, and the fact that both his father and uncle played in the NFL.
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. The tape shows a receiver who can get down the field, moves very well in space, can box out defenders, and will catch whatever is thrown his way. The Combine testing showed moderate speed but fantastic COD skills – better than most WR’s! Trautman, Kmet, and Dalton Keene were the only Tight Ends who tested as above-average athletes at the Combine. He had a well balanced athletic profile headlined by an extraordinary 3-cone drill, resulting in a SPARQ score in the top third of the NFL. At the Senior Bowl he looked every bit the peer of his power school opponents, and also showed some serious ability to block. Daniel Jeremiah was moved to say, “[Trautman] has a legitimate opportunity to be the first Tight End drafted.” Small school wannabe to draft sensation in one easy leap! This gif-supported February scouting report from a Patriots POV seems pretty good, concluding that Trautman has all the tools to become a TE1 at his peak, but needs so much technique work that no real contributions should be expected until late Year 2 or Year 3. Josh Carney’s gif-supported February scouting report ends in a solid Round 2 grade. 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.
4:01 TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic. (Senior). 6’4¾”, 243 lbs. with smaller than expected hands (9½”), T-rex arms (30⅝”), and an athletic profile that disappointed badly in all areas but linear speed. OTOH, this post-Combine article notes how he moved well through all the drills and looked like one of the few capable blockers. 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, ability to succeed as a blocker in the NFL, and (after the Combine) basic athleticism. 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? His blocking at the Senior Bowl looked much better than expected in-line, in pass protection, in space, and pulling for the run game (he was an offensive lineman in High School). Good for those coaches btw, because he had less to prove as a receiving weapon. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported February scouting report ends with a 4th round grade on concerns about lateral agility and, particularly, limited explosion out of breaks. A 14th percentile 3-cone score tends to support that concern, and may 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.
4:01 TE Albert Okwuegbunam (“O-coo-WAY-boo-nham”), Missouri. (RS Junior). 6’5½”, 258 lbs. with very long 34⅛” arms and big 10¼” hands. [MTG. AT COMBINE] He looks the part, runs really fast in a straight line (4.49 dash!), 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 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. Here is a Dave Bryan “contextualization” piece on A-Ok’s 2019 catches. This early February, Giants-oriented scouting profile focuses on an apparent lack of athletic burst (which is Combine run may have answered) and glosses over his blocking flaws.
4:16 TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA. (RS Junior). 6’3”, 257 lbs. A sleeper who, despite early projections, tested as a distinctly average athlete at the Combine. 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. The 31st percentile SPARQ score was uninspiring.
4:16 TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue. (RS Senior). 6’3⅞”, 245 lbs. with big 10⅛” hands. [MTG. AT SENIOR BOWL] Fiftieth (50th) percentile SPARQ score based on an all around average athletic profile. Originally touted as the premier TE in the class, Hopkins’ stock has faded over time; primarily because he drops more than 10% of the passes headed his way, always has, and reviewers doubt he can ever improve it. His inability to block is the second big knock. Think ‘Eric Ebron but much less athletic and distinctly worse at catching the ball.’ Tom Mead’s gif-supported January scouting report shows a big bodied receiver who blocks like a big receiver; which should embarrass this son of a Round 1 Offensive Tackle. He gets in the way eagerly enough but fails to hold up when asked to play in-line, or even against a hard-charging Safety. The blocking did look a little better at the Senior Bowl, so there is hope. The big positive is that Hopkins has always excelled at getting open, and has some hard-to-catch game speed with the ball in his hands. Lance Zierlein’s scouting report ends with a Day 3 type of grade due in large part to the drops, which he does not think are fixable. Daniel Jeremiah has offered a similar grade. We add an extra, albeit 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. This Giants-oriented scouting profile from February concludes that Hopkins has the tools to be a multipurpose TE but offers much less in terms of blocking than receiving.
4:16 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.” This link goes to a Va. Tech. site that collects articles on Keene, including a sort of consensus scouting profile from February. Keene, Kmet and Trautman were the only Tight Ends who tested as above-average athletes at the Combine. He ended up with a well balanced athletic profile and a top-of-the-class, 80th percentile SPARQ score.
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.
3:12 RB A.J. Dillon, Boston College. (Junior). 6’⅜”, 247 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). Dillon put up a series of very impressive results at the Combine, headlined by a 4.53 dash and two amazing jumps that put him into the top 3-4% of the NFL from a SPARQ perspective. Yes indeed, he is faster and more explosive than Pittsburgh’s current pair even if he runs in a similar style.
4:01 RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona St. (Junior). 5’8⅞”, 207 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 Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt. (RS Senior). 5’9⅝”, 214 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.
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 – which explains why the Steelers might hesitate to pull the trigger in Round 2, when someone darned well ought to. 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. This late February TDN article from the Combine examines some oddities from his pre-draft process, like pulling out from the Shrine Bowl.
3:01 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, and the proud, 21-year-old owner of a SPARQ score in the top 1% of the NFL. The issue? He hasn’t played anywhere close to the level his athletic talents suggest, though many people have suggested that the problem came from weak QB play. For draft purposes he is an extraordinary 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.
3:12 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. Oh yes… and he also tested into the top 2% of the entire NFL for SPARQ score, with a 4.42 dash being typical in his athletic profile. W.O.W. 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. This late February scouting profile from a Giants POV plays with the idea that he could double as a “move TE”.
3:12 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 4.39 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. Good genes if you take the horse-breeder approach; his cousin is Kyler Murray. 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. This good, late February scouting profile was written by a fan of that other, obviously inferior, Santa-hating Pennsylvania city but contains a lot of good background and some sound analysis. Here is a good Dave Bryan “contextualization” article from March.
3:12 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. He did not statistically improve in 2019, but that may be due to very weak play at QB. Etc. Under normal circumstances he’d probably have the chance to rise up to a Round 2 grade, but with the lack of draft data this year and the depth of the class he is stuck down with an early Day 3 grade. 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!
3:24 WR Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky (Junior). 5’10⅝”, 204 lbs. Will turn 23 as a rookie. A tremendous athlete with frightening elusiveness in space, it might be fair to describe him as more Deebo Samuel than Diontae Johnson. 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. NOTE: we have two UK fans on the site, both of whom vouch for Bowden’s overall character. This comes from poster Landry Byrd: He’s a kid from Youngstown Ohio, always been a Steelers fan… [H]is freshman year he had attitude issues and [Assistant Head Coach] Vince Marrow really took him in and showed him how to be a man, he came back sophomore year and did great in the classroom, no trouble with girls, good grades all that… [H]e became the unequivocal leader of the team… I’ve never seen or met a harder worker during my 4 years here.” 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.
3:24 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 and boasts no particular athletic assets. 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.
3:24 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 Michael Pittman Jr., USC. (Senior). 6’4”, 223 lbs. [MTG. AT SENIOR BOWL] A 22 year old prospect the Steelers could covet, Pittman has the size of a classic, physical, jump ball receiver but is also a true student of the game who doubles as an ace special teams gunner. Think, “a bigger, taller, but less explosive JJSS” and you’ll be in the ballpark to start your analysis. The owner of a top 15% of the NFL SPARQ score with a well rounded athletic profile, Pittman Jr. knows how to use his size and strength but has room to do even more in that regard. 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.
4:01 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. He isn’t slow (4.61), but he plays a bit faster. This gif-supported January scouting report questions the speed, but raves about the “vice grip hands” and body control. 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. Will turn 22 as a rookie. Tom Mead’s gif-supported, late-February scouting report sees a pure jump ball winner who offers just that single skill.
4:16 WR Gabriel Davis, UCF. (Junior). 6’2”, 216 lbs. A 21 year old WR who is 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. Josh Carney’s gif-supported February scouting report ends in a Day 3 grade based on worries about moderate athleticism, which were borne out at the Combine by a 39th percentile SPARQ score and an athletic profile that raises questions about his COD ability. The scouting profile projects him to be a clear starter in a year or two.
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 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 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. The Combine also revealed an athletic profile with moderate speed and a distinct shortage of COD skills. 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.
4:16 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. [NOTE: Proche ran shockingly bad 3-cone and shuttle drills at complete odds with his film.] 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.
4:16 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 a “just excellent” 88th percentile SPARQ score 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.
5:01 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.
3:01 DL Ross Blacklock, TCU. (RS Junior). 6’3⅛”, 290 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] A fringe-1st talent with amazing explosiveness off the ball in a body that is a little lighter than ideal for a Defensive Tackle. This grade applies a Pittsburgh-specific discount that borders on being too obscene for the author to stomach. Insert your own grade as desired if you believe that either Heyward or Tuitt are likely to retire in the near future.
3:01 DL Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma. (RS Senior). 6’2″, 304 lbs. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported January scouting report confirms the general view that Gallimore is a fringe-1st caliber, 1-tech penetrator with a skill set similar to Cam Heyward and Javon Hargrave, but less size to hold up against double teams. This grade applies a Pittsburgh-specific discount that borders on being too obscene for the author to stomach. Insert your own grade as desired if you believe that either Heyward or Tuitt are likely to retire in the near future.
3:01 DL Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M. (RS Junior). 6’2⅝”, 293 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 DL Marlon Davidson, Auburn. (Senior). 6’3”, 303 lbs. A very hard player to grade because he projects best as a 4-3 DE with the size and power to rotate inside to a DT position. His college film is further distorted by playing Robin to Derrick Brown’s Batman, which gave him extra opportunities to shine but also put him in shadow by comparison. Could easily go in Round 1 to just the right team. This grade applies a Pittsburgh-specific discount that borders on being too obscene for the author to stomach. Insert your own grade as desired if you believe that either Heyward or Tuitt are likely to retire in the near future, and you see a way to fit that skill set to Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme.
3:12 DL Raekwon Davis, Alabama. (Senior). 6’6⅛”, 311 lbs. Compare to Stephon Tuitt as a prospect, with some college stagnation as the issue instead of an injury problem. The Steelers have the original version. This is another grade that applies a significant, team-specific discount.
3:12 DL Jordan Elliott, Missouri (RS Junior). 6’3⅞”, 302 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 strength, but only average explosion. Showed an average-at-best at athletic profile at the Combine. Tom Mead’s gif-supported February scouting report praises Elliot’s versatility along the DL but ends with a Round 4 grade based on the lack of pass rush numbers. The scouting report notes the low sack production but views that as the result of constant double teams and extra attention by opponents, and ends with (essentially) a Round 2 grade. This Redskins-oriented scouting profile ends with a Round 4 grade based on lack of burst. This March Ratbirds-oriented scouting profile sees the same limitation but puts the grade in Round 3
3:12 NT Leki Fotu, Utah. (Senior). 6’5⅜”, 330 lbs. with long 34¼” arms and big 10⅝” hands. 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, athletic enough to be on the U.S. national rugby team… 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.
4:01 DL Rashard Lawrence, LSU. (Senior). 6’2″, 308 lbs. with long 34⅛” arms. 21 years old. According to this gif-supported February scouting report from Tom Mead, Lawrence should be viewed as a Round 3 target if you are looking for someone to replace Alualu as the primary backup to Heyward and Tuitt, but more like Round 4 if you want a true Nose Tackle to replace Hargrave. Others are more optimistic about his unquestioned grit, and his mid-to-good combination of run stuffing ability with some pass rush on the inside. Here is a DraftWire interview from mid-February. The scouting profile admires the leadership and toughness but raises concerns about 2019 knee and ankle issues. The Draft Network scouting profiles can be summarized as high-floor, moderate ceiling reviews. This Redskins-oriented scouting profile agrees on that verdict: a productive and valuable role player unlikely to ever become a star. This goes to a nice, brief February scouting profile.
4:16 NT Davon Hamilton, Ohio St. (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 320 lbs. 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 NT Benito Jones, Ole Miss. (Senior). 6’1”, 316 lbs. with 32⅞” 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 ends 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. The Combine testing could not have been worse.
5:01 DL Larell Murchison, NC State. (RS Senior). 6’2½”, 297 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. The Combine coverage described him as a player who wins more with a high motor and endless effort than he does with athletic traits that are oddly scattered..
3:01 EDGE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame (Senior). 6’4¼”, 252 lbs. Has all the assets you want in a pass rusher except strength, and he has the frame to add it. Perhaps the best Edge prospect out there if Pittsburgh knows of some reason why Bud Dupree won’t be signed. Unlikely to even reach #49 in light of those talents and the league’s desperate hunger for Edge talent.
3:01 EDGE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee (RS Senior). 6’3½”, 263 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] Will be a 23 year old rookie. The scouting profile puts it succinctly: “five-star traits, but three-star skill level.” The traits include size, weight, strength, burst, and especially bend, but he is as raw as he could be. The Draft Network scouting profiles join Zierlein in lamenting the lack of instincts. There is a red flag from a 2017 one-game suspension for a nasty fight with a teammate during practice.
3:12 ILB/Edge Zack Baun, Wisconsin. (Senior). 6’2⅜”, 238 lbs. See the entry under ILB. Usually viewed as a Round 2 Edge.
3:12 EDGE Terrell Lewis, Alabama. (RS Junior). 6’5¼”, 262 lbs. Profiles like a poor man’s Bud Dupree; ideal physical tools with the single exception of good bend-and-dip ability. He will fall on all draft boards because of an injury history, and on fan boards because the Covid-19 outbreak shut off the chance to highlight his athletic gifts in the pre-draft process. Almost certain to go in Round 2 in light of the league-wide desperation for anything that even smells like an Edge Rusher, and the limited amount of good 2020 prospects.
3:12 EDGE (and BUCK ILB?) Joshua Uche, Michigan. (Senior). 6’1¼”, 245 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] 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. He is too small for the Pittsburgh prototype unless the team thinks he has the ability to double task as a Buck ILB on run downs – in which case he’d be an absolutely perfect puzzle piece. 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. Here is a gif-supported February scouting report from a Giants POV.
3:24 EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah. (Senior). 6’2⅜”, 265 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. The athletic testing was not good: an 11th percentile SPARQ score with a fairly well rounded, all-meh athletic profile. Here is a nice, very brief summary from a Cleveland POV.
3:24 EDGE Johnathan Greenard, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’3⅜”, 263 lbs. with long 34⅞” arms. Age is a concern: he will turn 24 as a rookie. A fine, intriguing pass rusher who will be long gone before the Steelers find 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. The scouting profile compares him to Dante Fowler. He tested as a surprisingly poor athlete (20th percentile SPARQ score) though the athletic profile does not look that bad.
4:01 EDGE Jonathan Garvin, Miami. (Junior). 6’4⅛”, 263 lbs. with long 34” arms. A Combine standout who catches the eye as a tight fit for what Pittsburgh looks for in a pass rusher: big enough, long enough, athletic enough, and young (just 21 as a rookie). He achieved a very large number of pressures, but nowhere near that production of sacks. The scouting profile calls him a developmental prospect with good traits who needs a solid year in the weight room to tighten his body and maybe build a bit of extra attitude.
4:01 EDGE Anfernee Jennings, Alabama. (RS Senior). 6’2⅛”, 256 lbs. Turns 23 in the summer. Projects as a high floor, moderate ceiling OLB3 who would be a starter if he only had a bit more burst, bend, and (for the Steelers) youth. According to the scouting profile, Jennings excels at using his size and physicality to set the edge on run downs but is only average in other regards. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported April scouting profile would agree, but adds a caution about Jennings’ injury history. The Draft Network scouting profiles pretty much agree: a tough, run stuffing team leader who lacks the extraordinary bend and athleticism required of top end 3-4 OLB’s. Same basic analysis from this February Detroit-oriented February scouting profile, and this more positive Atlanta-oriented scouting profile (which suggests that injuries depressed his stock). This somewhat odd, Raiders-oriented scouting profile from January suggests using him as (essentially) a two-down, run-stuffing Buck ILB.
4:01 EDGE Curtis Weaver, Boise St. (RS Junior). 6’2⅜”, 265 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] Daniel Valente’s gif-supported February scouting report ends with a Round 3-4 grade after describing Weaver as being good in run support, coverage, and overall technique but lacking when it comes to explosion, flexibility, and bend around the corner. That matches his tested athletic profile. The scouting profile and The Draft Network scouting profiles all agree: good player held back by no-more-than-average athleticism. Here is a nice, very brief summary from a Cleveland POV.
4:16 EDGE Alton Robinson, Syracuse. (Senior). 6’2¾”, 264 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.
4:16 EDGE D.J. Wonnum, S. Car. (Senior). 6’4⅝”, 258 lbs. with long 34⅛” arms and big 10½” hands. A mid-round pass rusher who fits Pittsburgh’s profile perfectly when it comes to size, length, and athletic profile. The Draft Network scouting profiles create a picture of a high effort, multi-talented rusher in serious need of good coaching to develop his handwork, counters, and planning. The scouting profile is a bit more pessimistic about his ultimate ceiling but does see real potential as a valuable depth piece.
4:16 EDGE Jabari Zuniga, Florida. (RS Senior). 6’3⅜”, 264 lbs. A good looking 4-3 DE who probably cannot play in space. Not a good fit for this particular team in this particular year. Tested extremely well for explosiveness and straight line speed, but did not do the agility tests. He did look quite good in most of the field drills.
2:24 ILB/Edge Zack Baun, Wisconsin. (Senior). 6’2⅜”, 238 lbs. An accomplished Edge Rusher in college who just looks small for the NFL. He will most likely get picked as an Edge Rusher anyway, and probably in Round 2 because of his overall bend and juice, but his best fit in Pittsburgh would be as a developmental, athletic Buck ILB with scary third-down blitz ability. Ain’t Gonna Happen.
2:24 BUCK ILB Malik Harrison, Ohio State. (Senior). 6’2½”, 247 lbs. Vince Williams 2.0 in a younger body and a much better athletic profile that put him in the 77th percentile of the NFL for SPARQ score. He would have a realistic chance to grow into that elusive 3-down player the Steelers could really use, albeit a somewhat slim chance because his coverage skills aren’t exactly dazzling
3:01 SS/ILB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne. (Senior). 6’¾”, 217 lbs. See the entry under Safety.
3:12 BUCK ILB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech. (Senior). 6’0”, 240 lbs. Has a lot of experience in coverage due to the conference, but less technique for attacking the line in run support. Excellent range, he was described in the Combine broadcast as a “twitched up athlete.” A fine prospect to be a superior Buck ILB if the coaches think he has the essential “wanna” needed to sacrifice his body on running plays. The scouting profile sees a future ILB starter whose only real flaw is underachieving compared to expectations.
3:12 ILB Willie Gay Jr., Miss. State. (Junior). 6’1⅛”, 243 lbs. No relation to the Steelers long time Corner, Gay leapt into national attention with a startling Combine that put him in the Top 2% of NFL Linebackers with an athletic profile heavy on speed and explosion. The scouting profile ends in a poor grade, but that is based on off-field concerns: primarily an 8-game suspension having to do with a large academic fraud where a tutor took exams for multiple players in multiple sports. There was also a one game suspension for (according to rumor) punching a freshman QB. Here is an extensive March scouting profile that is definitely worth a read. It digs pretty deeply into the issues, and also confirms that the athleticism shown in the testing also appears on the film. Note that Gay has pretty good size and may be able to succeed as a very athletic Buck; i.e., a version of Vince Williams who can play in space.
4:01 MACK ILB Troy Dye, Oregon. (Senior). 6’3¼”, 231 lbs. Awesome length for a Mack, but he is built very light and will be a 24 year old rookie.. Tremendous athleticism in search of a true position. Your classic hybrid Safety who’s on the Linebacker side of that line. Played through a hand injury that had him in a club for most of the year. This brief February scouting profile compares him to Fred Warner. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported March scouting report sees a Round 2-3 player and potential “TE eraser” who is unlikely to blossom until Year 2 based on what I translate as football IQ issues.
4:01 BUCK ILB Logan Wilson, Wyoming. (Senior). 6’2⅛”, 241 lbs. Will be a 24 year old rookie – but if he was two years younger I would be getting very excited about the idea of Pittsburgh getting a Buck ILB and 3-year team captain with the speed and skills to cover players in space, and to stay on the field for third downs as well as running plays. Probably fated to be a long term, productive Linebacker according to the scouting profile, but one questions whether he fits the Steelers’ drafting philosophy.
4:16 BUCK ILB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami. (Senior). 6’½”, 234 lbs. A tough, instinctive, prototypical 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 Evan Weaver, California. (Senior). 6’2⅛”, 237 lbs. 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 and late February, gif-supported scouting report agree: he’s a tackling machine with great instincts and an off-the-chart football IQ, all held back by very limited athleticism. The Combine testing put him in the 32nd percentile for SPARQ score based on an athletic profile notably better than Dirty Red’s.
2:24 SAF Ashtyn Davis, California. (RS Senior). 6’⅞”, 202 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.
2:24 SAF Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota. (RS Sophomore). 5’9⅛”, 203 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. Should not happen, and would not in a well ordered world, but popular demand and weird Internet boards forbid saying it is totally absurd.
3:01 SAF Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois. (Senior). 6’3”, 221 lbs. A playmaker for a very small program who might be described as a poor man’s Terrell Edmunds. The athletic profiles are remarkably similar, though Edmunds was more advanced as a player.(We cannot know if Chinn deserves the startling character raves that also helped to boost Edmunds’ stock. Chinn’s speed (4.45) and explosiveness wowed everyone at the Combine but he will see next to no defensive snaps as a rookie because the football IQ and technical nuances are too far behind. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile suggests that he might do even better to add ten pounds and convert to the Mack ILB side of the line – just as many said about Edmunds. Tom Mead’s gif-supported March scouting report calls him “a knowledgeable, athletic and versatile defender who will fit in any defense” and ends with a Round 3 grade. His uncle is Steve Atwater!
3:01 SS/ILB Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne. (Senior). 6’⅞”, 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. Ended up at such a small program because he was a late bloomer who was only 5’6” in High School. 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.”
3:12 SS Brandon Jones, Texas. (Senior). 5’11⅛”, 198 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] 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 a big time hitter but a less skilled tackler, though that is improvable and may be due in part to an injured shoulder labrum. Lacks the pure range to be an NFL Free Safety but should have no problem with Cover 2, and he is almost certain to be a core special teams maven. Post season surgery kept him out of both the Senior Bowl and the Combine exercises, which led to this absolutely remarkable feat of mental working out; Jones spent his time “breaking down every NFL team’s defensive plays from 2019. All 32 teams. Every defensive play. [And then kept] notebooks for every team [] during interviews at the Combine [including the Steelers].” No one will be more impressed with that kind of self-starter dedication than Mike Tomlin, which earns Mr. Jones a slight bump up the Board.
3:24 SAF Terrell Burgess, Utah. (Senior). 5’11⅜”, 202 lbs. with very short (29½”) arms. 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.” His excellent Combine performance supports Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile “good backup with starter potential” grade. Excellent straight line speed (4.46) allayed worries about his range to play centerfield. Thomas Frank Carr’s gif-supported March scouting report loves Burgess’ range and sticky coverage ability, but ends in a Round 4-5 grade based on lacking the length to succeed as an outside CB, and the physicality to excel as a slot CB or FS in run support.
3:24 SAF Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame. (Senior). 5’10½”, 201 lbs. After leaving the naval academy, Gilman moved to Notre Dave where he became a very good, versatile, and extremely clutch fan favorite. This pre-Combine scouting profile comes from a Notre Dame fan and has some nice background. He should continue to play Safety in the NFL but is probably limited to box duties with some Cover 2 mixed in. Lacks the pure speed to play single-high if Fitzpatrick got hurt. A difficult player to judge, which leads to diametrically opposite evaluations such as Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile (late Day 3) versus Kyle Crabbs’ Draft Network scouting profile (late Day 2). Here is a February scouting profile from an Eagles POV. This very readable March article describes Gilman as one of those “won’t ever be denied” types.
3:24 SAF K’Von Wallace, Clemson. (Senior). 5’11”, 206 lbs. A multirole Safety able to play deep, in the box, and in coverage, plus all you could ask for as a special teamer. Clemson actively used him as a shifting defensive puzzle piece in order to confuse opponents. In the Burgh he’d offer excellent backup potential as a multipurpose Safety. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported March scouting report admires the “combination of good athleticism, versatility, with physicality and hit power you need in a DB,” and ends with a late Round 3 grade. Lance Zierlein’s scouting profile sees a more limited player who won’t succeed outside the box. The Draft Network scouting profiles are in the middle, projecting him as a good and versatile box Safety who gets exposed the deeper he gets. This pre-Combine February scouting profile ends with a Round 4-6 grade. This February DraftWire interview digs into his difficult background.
4:01 CB/S Bryce Hall, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1¼”, 201 lbs. See the entry under Cornerback.
4:16 SAF Julian Blackmon, Utah. (Senior). 5’11¾”, 187 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. The scouting profile is particularly positive.
4:16 SS Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland. (Senior). 5’10⅝”, 220 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.
4:01 CB/S Bryce Hall, Virginia. (Senior). 6’1¼”, 202 lbs. He could be graded two rounds 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 CB Amik Robertson, La. Tech. (Junior). 5’8⅜”, 187 lbs. [MTG. AT COMBINE] Turns 22 as a rookie. A savage, hard tackling, but miniature slot CB in the Mike Hilton mode. Likely to have a tough NFL transition because of the double step up in the quality of WR’s he’d be asked to cover. You can tell from the scouting profile that Lance Zierlein is a fan.



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