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 offensive lineman. NOTE: Included are only players with above five interest scores due to the vast number of prospects at the position (which would clutter the graph even more, apologies) and the desire to view them simultaneously with position versatility and varying opinions on where they will specifically play along the line in the NFL:
Right away we see an incredible number of players that check the athletic boxes on the far right of the graph highlighting depth, especially at the tackle position and fitting Pittsburgh’s past draft trends.
This also emphasizes important context for the players that separated themselves with higher interest scores. Kentucky offensive lineman Luke Fortner has the highest rank in this regard but age a lower mark along with a perfect athletic score and seems to be a late day two-early day three option. Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer ranks second and the final interest score above eight but college performance a lower mark along with an athletic score of eight (three DNP’s) and seems to be a day two option.
Two Minnesota offensive lineman headline the above seven interest scores, tying for third and had a position coach at their pro day. Daniel Faalele fares well across the interest metrics but a lower athletic score of seven (40, ten-split, shuttle, and three cone times that would all set new precedents) but not a dealbreaker with his rare elite size as a projected day one-two player, and Blaise Andries’ age is a lower mark with a stronger athletic score of ten (DNP on the bench) appearing to be a late round/undrafted player. Washington State offensive lineman Abraham Lucas ranks fifth in interest score with age his lower mark along with a perfect athletic score and seems to be a day two candidate. Tied for fifth in interest score is Michigan offensive lineman Andrew Stueber with age also his lowest mark along with an eight athletic score (two DNP’s and poor bench press that would set a new precedent) seemingly a late round possibility.
Here are the other players with above seven interest scores: Ikem Ekwonu (NC State), Darian Kinnard (Kentucky), Marcus McKethan and Joshua Ezeudu (North Carolina), Ben Brown (Ole Miss), Austin Deculus (LSU).
There are many other intriguing names to consider at the position with strong results above the mean line in interest (Max Mitchell for example). Two interior offensive lineman that fared well in Alex Kozora’s “What The Steelers Look For Study” that I haven’t mentioned are Cole Strange (Chatanooga) and Tyler Smith (Tulsa). Also, important to note Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green with a position coach at his pro day but faring lower in interest score. In my position groupings, a whopping 14 tackles check the athletic boxes, accounting for most of the names we see on the extreme right of the graph!
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!