For a couple of years now, before I became a Steelers Depot contributor nearly one year ago, I have kept a personal running spreadsheet during the draft process. The goal for me was to learn about the players, gathering information that I have tweaked along the way as I’m sure I will continue to do in the future. With great questions and conversations with some your responses to previous articles, people have seemed interested in this information I’ve referenced, so today I will share visualizations of the data points I create each year, simply called interest and athletic scores with explanations to follow.
As Dave Bryan and Alex Kozora discuss regularly, the Steelers have a type of player they look for, and what the scores attempt to achieve is seeing who checks many of those boxes, or vice versa. You will notice many of the inspirations for these scores come from their studies of draft trends over the years for Pittsburgh, with their in-depth research second to none being one of the main reasons I pursued a position and count my blessings to work with the great football minds at Steelers Depot. While there is no perfect way to predict what selections the Steelers will make in the draft at the end of the month, I feel great about what the data points measure and of course would love to hear feedback as I’m always looking to improve the points system. Also, there is only so much time in the day and additional things I’d like to measure, so I focus on the crucial and/or practical choices in my opinion.
Now for more explanation to how the scores come together. The biggest point I want to make right off the bat is this is not a big board or round projection view, rather trying to pinpoint names the Steelers may select regardless of when they are drafted. After I get a healthy pool of names that I hear about or research, I begin the scoring.
Interest Score: Here I configured a points system for the following important questions. How did the player perform in college? Does their height and weight match up to the body type of any player Pittsburgh has drafted at the position since 2010? What is their experience, age? Do they play a position of need? What was their level of competition? Who attended their pro day? Did they have a pre-draft meeting? Did they appear in the Senior or Shrine Bowl?
This matches up nicely to the Athletic Score: simply 11 combine metrics excluding wingspan, and whether or not they were within a threshold in each metric of any player drafted at their position by the Steelers since 2010.
Clear as mud? Here are the defensive lineman:
Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt leads the position comfortably and the only above eight interest score with strong pro day attendance, but age as a lower mark along with a ten athletic score (DNP on the bench) and seems to be a day one-early day two option.
LSU defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr. ranks second in interest score with age also his lower mark along with a lower athletic score of seven (DNP in the broad jump with a poor bench press, slow 40-time and three cone that would set new precedents) that seems to be a day three player. Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis ranks third in interest score also with strong pro day attendance with lack of bowl game a low mark along with an eight athletic score (three DNP’s) and will likely be gone by Pittsburgh’s current first round selection. Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis ties for third in interest score with age as a lower mark along with a seven athletic score (four DNP’s) and seems to be a day two-early day three candidate. Fellow Alabama defensive lineman LaBryan Ray rounds out the top five in interest score with college performance his lower mark along with a ten athletic score (small hands that would set a new precedent) and seems to be a late round/undrafted possibility.
The remaining players at the position with above seven scores include: Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma), Marquan McCall (Kentucky), Otito Ogbonnia (UCLA), and John Ridgeway III (Arkansas).
There are many other intriguing names to consider with strong results above the mean line in interest at the position, especially Jayden Peevy and DeMarvin Leal from Texas A&M with a position coach at their pro day, along with Eric Johnson II (Missouri State) and Kurt Hinish (Notre Dame) with pre-draft meetings with perfect athletic scores.
I was also curious to see if any non-combine players met Alex Kozora’s “What The Steelers Look For” thresholds after seeing no names making his list. Of the players I’ve studied, three names qualify: Johnson II, Ben Stille (Nebraska), and Elijah Garcia (Rice) who could be late round/undrafted possibilities.
Do you think Pittsburgh will draft one of the names listed above? Who are some of your favorites? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!