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 edge rushers:
Cincinnati edge rusher Myjai Sanders tops the interest scores including a pre-draft meeting and strong pro day attendance with level of competition as his lowest mark, along with a ten athletic score (DNP in three cone) and appears to be a late day two-early day three option. Ole Miss edge rusher Sam Williams ranks second in interest score also with strong pro day attendance and checking many boxes but age being a lower mark, along with a perfect athletic score and seemingly another late day two-early day three player.
After a drop off we see three players in the eight range of interest scores. Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie ranks third with strong pro day attendance and age as a lower mark along with a perfect athletic score, and seems he could go day one-early day two. Kentucky edge rusher Josh Paschal ranks fourth in interest score but less pro day attendance comparatively, along with a nine athletic score (two DNP’s) and could be a late day two-early day three candidate. Western Kentucky edge rusher DeAngelo Malone ranks fifth and is the final player with an above eight interest score with level of competition and less pro day attendance comparatively his lowest marks and seems to be an early day three player.
There are many other intriguing names to consider at the position with strong results above the mean line in interest (Boye Mafe from Minnesota for example). This is also true for the right of the graph (higher athletic score), which is also important to consider with the strong history Pittsburgh has at drafting this type at the position. One name in particular I wanted to point out that fits this mold is Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma) who fared well in Alex Kozora’s “What The Steelers Look For Study”.
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!