From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#69 Landon Dickerson/OC Alabama – 6’6 325
– Plus size, broad upper body and looks the part
– Great play strength, creates movement as a run blocker with leg drive
– Has nasty attitude, mean streak and looks to finish/bury opponent
– Strong anchor in pass pro and easily stalls out bull rushes
– Plays with tight hands and good grip strength
– Burst off the snap, does a tremendous job getting his hips set for cut-off/reach blocks, good lateral mobility
– Understands leverage and angles in the run game
– Active eyes, good football IQ and finds work when he’s uncovered
– Shows physicality in pass protection, always playing with an edge
– Adequate getting out into space, impactful when he gets out in front
– Capable combo blocker, climbing and sticking to the second level
– Positional versatility, logged time at at least three spots
– Leader, captain, toughness is highly respected in locker room
– Despite injuries, boasts ton of starting experience
– Looks to have average/below average length relative to size
– Feet can go dead on initial contact in run game, causing him to lean and fall off blocks
– Tends to play with forward lean as a blocker, can lose to speed/bendy rushers who challenge him laterally
– Awkward and loses balance when asked to skip pull, better with square pulls where he can pivot and get downhill
– May lack top-level upside
– Serious medical red flags, likely will be off some team’s boards
– 5th year senior, older than typical prospect
– 44 career starts
– Spent three years at Florida State before transferring to Alabama for 2019 and 2020 seasons
– Won 2020 Rimington Trophy, given to best center in college football
– Named Crimson Tide permanent team captain
– Started four games at RG for Alabama in 2019, rest came at center
– Twice tore his ACL, including in the December 2020 SEC Championship Game
– Other torn ACL came in 2016 with FSU
– Suffered right ankle injury in 2017, which required season-ending surgery
– Missed all but one game in 2018 due to ankle injury, granted medical redshirt after the season
– Saw some time at RT with Florida State, labeled team’s “Swiss Army Knife”
– Four/Five-star recruit out of high school, chose FSU over Clemson, Florida, Stanford, among 16 other schools
Welcome back to out 2021 draft profiles. It’d be nice if the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season was ongoing. But we’re excited to talk draft with you guys over the next couple of months. Kicking things off with a view of Landon Dickerson.
Dickerson has plenty of the traits the Steelers will be looking for this offseason. Strength. Physicality. Toughness. A willingness to finish his blocks. The trait that stuck out to me the most though in watching his game was his understanding of leverage, angles, and ability to set his hips in the run game. So many of Alabama’s blocks were run off his hip and counted on him either reaching or cutting off a backside linemen to make the play work. Couple of examples. He is the center in all the below clips.
And Dickerson is just an old-school linemen who loves to flash his strength and demeanor. Couple of clips I posted over on Twitter. On the first, watch him decleat the looping defender against Missouri. Little later in the game, he displaces and flattens this nose tackle.
Dude definitely has a mean streak. pic.twitter.com/eUwtCYQXFA
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) January 18, 2021
But I don’t want to stereotype Dickerson as this brute-strength/no-mobility type of player. That’s not true. Dickerson shows a burst off the snap (as you can tell in those first clips) and he can move laterally down the line. Watch him snap the ball and then get down the line.
Overall, he shows a high football IQ. Understands stunts and blitzes and the games defense tries to play. Active eyes when he’s uncovered.
But Dickerson has his on-tape faults. One recurring issue is a tendency to bend at the waist too often, most commonly because his feet stop on contact. His leg drive and push is great when he does it but sometimes he’ll lean too much off the snap, not bringing his feat, or not sliding his feet against lateral/speed rush moves in pass protection. Causes him to double-over and fall off his block.
And there’s obviously a lengthy list of medical concerns. Two torn ACLs, including one he suffered one month ago, and two season-ending ankle injuries. Medical testing may be trickier this year without a centralized Combine but I imagine several teams will have him off their board solely because of those medical worries. If that’s the case, whether or not the team likes the prospect becomes moot. It’s hard to take a chance on a player, especially presumably a Day Two selection, if there are major medical red flags.
But Dickerson is an easy guy to root for. Classic tough guy everyone in the room likes and respects. In the waning moments of the Championship Game, Dickerson got Nick Saban’s blessing to take the field for the final kneeldown snaps. You can see how happy his teammates were to see him in the game.
To transfer from Florida State, immediately start for Saban, and leave as a permanent team captain is awfully impressive. Dickerson offers many of the things I’m looking for in a future Steelers’ linemen. Someone whose tough, physical, plays with an edge in pass pro, can combo and reach the second level. His versatility is a plus, too.
It’s very early in the year and difficult to make big proclamations about projection and if the Steelers should select Dickerson. I’ve made that mistake before. And the medical makes it impossible to know how Pittsburgh will value him. But for a moment, assume the team clears him medically. Dickerson makes a lot of sense for a Day Two, or Day Three if he slips because of his injury, selection for the Steelers and heir to Maurkice Pouncey. Comps are difficult to make right now but Dickerson can become a better version of Travis Swanson.
Projection: Mid-Late Day Two
Games Watched: at South Carolina (2019), vs LSU (2019), at Missouri, vs Georgia