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 tight ends:
Right away we can see Pittsburgh tight end Lucas Krull with the only above eight interest score and one of the few players at the position with strong pro day attendance but college performance and age his lower marks along with a ten athletic score (small hands that would set a new precedent) and appears to be a late round/undrafted possibility.
Two players have above seven interest scores, beginning with Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar who ranks second and his lowest mark was age along with a perfect athletic score, seemingly a late day two-early day three option. Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert ranks third in interest score with college performance his lowest mark and an athletic score of four (six DNP’s and shorter arms that would set a new precedent) likely a late day two-early day three player.
Now we are quickly into the six interest score range, beginning with Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson who ranks fourth in interest score and his lowest mark is age along with a ten athletic score (shorter arms that would set a new precedent) that could possibly be a day three option. Virginia tight end Jelani Woods ranks fifth in interest score and another player with age as a low mark along with a perfect athletic score that seems to be an early day three candidate.
Here are the remaining tight ends with interest scores above six: Trey McBride (Colorado State), Cole Turner (Nevada), Curtis Hodges (Arizona State), Daniel Bellinger (San Diego State), Chigoziem Okonkwo (Maryland).
While Pittsburgh’s interest has been low compared to other positions, here are some other names that have not been mentioned that check the many important athletic boxes: Chase Allen (Iowa State), Teagan Quitoriano (Oregon State), Austin Allen (Nebraska), and Peyton Hendershot (Indiana).
Do you think Pittsburgh will draft a tight end? If so, one of the names listed above? Who are some of your favorites? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!