2023 NFL Draft

2023 Pittsburgh Steelers Big Board, By Grade (Mid-February Edition)

Hi all! I hadn’t planned to publish anything else this week, but there were enough requests for a current Big Board to consider the idea. This is my current list of players ranked from 1:01 down through 3:01; i.e., suitable for a selection at or before the first pick of Round 3 (pick #65). There are 87 names on that list, which means more than enough to reach down to the Steelers’ pick at 3:18 (#80 overall).

Bottom line: I think it’s fair to expect that three of Pittsburgh’s first four picks will be on this table, and maybe more. They break out by position as follows:

  • OT = 10 names, including overlaps for G/T/C Peter Skoronski and G/T/C Cody Mauch
  • OG = 9 names, including overlaps for T/G Paris Johnson Jr., T/G Broderick Jones, C/G John Michael Schmitz, C/G Toe Tippmann, and T/G Matthew Bergeron
  • OC = 6 names, with overlap for G/T/C Peter Skoronski, G/T/C Cody Mauch, and G/C Emil Ekiyor.
  • QB = 6 names [severe discounts]
  • TE = 5 names
  • RB = 1 name [severe discounts]
  • WR = 11 names [discounts for styles that overlap with the existing roster]
  • DT = 7 names
  • EDGE = 14 names, including overlap for ILB/EDGE Drew Sanders [discounts for style]
  • ILB = 4 names, including overlap for EDGE/ILB Nolan Smith
  • SAF = 5 names
  • CB = 15 names, including overlap for SAF/CB Brian Branch

The strength is at O-Line, QB, TE, EDGE, and CB, with good but backloaded numbers for WR.

I am fairly comfortable with these grades, but the operative word there is “fairly.” Help and commentary isn’t just welcome, it is actively requested. If you can, please explain your issue with a particular grade. E.g., I have WR Zay Flowers on the board at 3:01, explaining that he’s gotten a discount because his skillset overlaps with Diontae Johnson, Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski, and Calvin Austin III. “Zay Flowers is too low” misses the boat compared to “Zay Flowers is so good that he shouldn’t be compared to the returners, and we can use that skillset despite the overlap because…” You get the idea.

I look forward eagerly to your thoughts and comments!

NOTE TO FELLOW WRITERS: Please, please, please let me know if I have mischaracterized any of your work, and accept my apologies in advance for the mistake.

1:01 DT Jalen Carter, Georgia (Junior). 6’3”, 310 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. A Colbert Special all day, every day, as anything from a 1-tech to a 5-tech. The running mate for Cam Heyward since he can also handle duties as a NT. The #1 prospect in the draft on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:01 EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama (Senior). 6’4”, 245 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in September. Slick as you-know-what flying out of a goose, he is a field-tilting threat that offenses plan around on every snap.
1:05 OT/G Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio St. (Junior). 6’6”, 315 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. A 5-star athlete all day and every day, the only complaints would be that his technique (the punch in particular) and gut-level understanding of the position need work. Tyler Wise’s gif-supported Depot scouting report shows a huge man who moves as smoothly as many TEs, and maybe even most TEs. Special stuff. Also has experience at both RG and LT, which bodes very well. Came in at #14 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:05 EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson (Junior). 6’5”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 21 in January. A devastating 4-3, pass rushing Edge who’s also athletic enough to play 3-4 OLB so long as he is asked to play a shallow zone rather than actually cover. And why would anyone want to use him in any other way? The thought of Murphy on one side and Watt on the other is enough to make me feel sorry for opposing QBs. There wouldn’t be a 7-step drop in the playbook.
1:10 OT/G Broderick Jones, Georgia (RS Soph). 6’4”, 315 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 just before the draft. The anchor OL for a dominant team, with plenty of power and experience, plus the 5-star athleticism to become truly special. Superb ability to mirror, match, and ride speed rushers beyond the pocket. May not “hit” right away because he needs to work on his hand fighting (clapping habit in particular) and would benefit from building to superior play strength instead of just good; but those are typical complaints and also highlight the fact that he has room to improve. Michael Rochman’s gif-supported Depot scouting report is darned close to a rave review. Came in at #15 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:10 G/T/C Peter Skoronski, Northwestern (Junior). 6’5”, 310 lbs., with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. The most intriguing OL in the draft, Skoronski comes from the same program that trained up Rashawn Slater and has everything you want in an OL but pure size and length. Came in as the #6 overall player on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. His technique is extraordinary for a college player, his foot speed and agility are special, and his hand-fighting technique looks like it’s straight from an Ip Man teaching session. He is also as versatile as they come: a Center all through HS, a day one LT all through college, and built like a speed-oriented OG. What will he be as a pro? The NFL.com scouting report by (OL coach’s son) Lance Zierlein sees a safe, high floor Tackle who may be capped at the very top by his length limitations, but a first-year starter and future all-pro at Guard. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report would agree with that assessment. Both end in solid, early- to mid-1st grades.
1:10 DT Bryan Bresee (“bru-ZEE”), Clemson (Soph.). 6’5”, 300 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in October. Another Colbert Special for the DL. If Jalen Carter wasn’t sucking up all the odes, the same draftniks would be writing about Bresee. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting profile emphasizes Bresee’s over-the-top, 5-star athletic profile, but offsets that against a number of technical flaws, bad habits like playing high, and what appears to be a lack of wind (most likely explained by a heavy snap count after losing several weeks early on to a bad kidney infection). Those who like him note that all of those issues can be fixed with good coaching and physical training, which suggests he will end up being even better as a pro than he was in college. Immerse him into the Three Steelers C’s (Culture, Coaching, and Conditioning) and you have a very good chance of seeing the next great D-Lineman. Those who’d push his stock down to the late-1st emphasize that NFL opponents will dominate him until those errors get fixed, which will probably take until at least Year 2 and maybe Year 3; i.e., on the Cam Heyward plan. The medicals need to be checked too, since his 2021 season ended with both a torn ACL and shoulder surgery, while 2022 was hampered by that kidney infection. Came in at #43 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, but has been as high as #5 on others. Pretty wide variation!
1:10 CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon by way of Colorado (Junior). 6’2”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 20, turns 21 in June. This is going to feel like I’m jinxing the kid, but my take is HOF potential with a starter floor. He’s had success outside and in the slot, and in press man, off man, and zone. Despite his youth, he’s got three years of starter experience (though he didn’t ‘arrive’ until his final one in 2022). He’s even got good hands. Extremely fluid, plenty fast, very young, and on a distinct upward curve. Tom Mead’s gif-supported Depot scouting report does find some nits to pick, particularly in the area of pure-play strength. Big men like Tee Higgins and jump ball experts like George Pickens will give him fits early in his career, and he is an eager tackler with so-so skill at the job. But those are all things that good coaching can fix, which only means his potential is that much higher. It’s hard to find a scouting profile that doesn’t come close to a rave review. This goes to the “early pro bowler” TDN scouting profile. “Arguably the best cover corner in this class… beyond smooth along with having top-tier size and athleticism,” says this Vikings-oriented January scouting profile. Here’s another solid-looking January scouting profile. This January scouting profile is the most critical I’ve found, arguing that Gonzales can be too conservative at times, can be susceptible to double moves, and may lack ball skills (which everyone agrees was an issue until 2022, when he cleaned that up and suddenly became good at it).
1:10 CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn St. (Junior). 6’2”, 192 lbs. with insanely long ___” arms and ___” hands. 22, turns 23 in July. Don’t be sold by the hype, or put off by the backlash against that hype, because this is actually an easy grade in the larger sense. Joey Porter Jr. is a Round 1 lock with great upside, but not a Colbert Special. Done. If he achieves his potential, Joey Porter Sr. (a/k/a J. Peezy) could end up being remembered as Joey’s Dad, but that is not a small “if.” Junior is built like a pure press man expert, and is very good at that job but also athletic enough to play the other techniques too. Pure movement skills seem to be in the B+ range on the NFL scale, but he’s a solid A if you factor in size and length. If there’s a weakness it would be a sudden reaction against DJ-level quickness or foot speed against 4.2 speed, but both are mitigated by his extraordinary length, leaping ability, and his skill at reaching in/over to tip-away passes. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report adds that he’s also a willing tackler and a physical presence in the secondary who’s very good at run support. Came in at #1 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, which makes him the clear CB2 based on “elite size, length, and speed” combined with good tackling and fluid COD skills.
1:10 CB Cam Smith, S. Car. (Junior). 6’0”, 188 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in December. Sudden, shifty, smart, ultra-aggressive, very physical in space, and all but violent in run support. You name it, he does it, and Smith has also played and excelled in all types of defensive coverage and scheme against SEC competition. He’s even got an excellent backpedal that many college coaches won’t even try to teach. You could summarize Owen Straley’s gif-supported Depot scouting report as, “A- athlete with A+ skills and attitude.” A true day 1 starter with a round 1 floor (ignoring the ever-present bust/injury factor), but some will argue for a ceiling set at all-pro rather than HOF. Totally absent from Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list!
1:10 CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois (Junior). 5’11¾”, 180 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 22, turns 23 in December. A quality Corner through and through, in every facet of the game, with exceptional coverage ability, tone-setting physicality, and the playmaker’s gene. You might think, “more athletic version of Cam Sutton,” which is high praise indeed. Like Sutton, his floor appears to be a “tremendous slot Corner.” The ceiling is “do it all CB1.” All he lacks as a prospect is great long speed (his is only good) along with the extra size and heft to excel in press man as well as he does in off and zone. Some also question whether his body will hold up to the pounding his physical playing style creates. Daniel Jeremiah’s initial CB1 at #5 overall! Josh Carney’s gif-supported Depot scouting report likewise grades him out as a “Day 1 Starter” and “Pro-Bowl Talent.” Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com scouting profile sees all the upside, but also sounds like some warning notes before ending with none other than Levi Wallace (the finished version) as his pro comp.
1:15 QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio St. (RS Soph.). 6’3”, 218 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in October. Big, tall, tough, smart, and athletic, with a big arm and extensive experience playing against the best competition in the country. Has some issues with fundamentals like consistent footwork, but that problem simultaneously suggests an as-yet-untapped upside.
1:15 QB Bryce Young, Alabama (Junior). 6’0”, 195 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. Won the Heisman in 2021 and returned to school anyway, which was smart because he’s been a better QB in 2022 even if his results were less startling. Very accurate, with a decent but not great arm, he has a remarkable ability to see the field and make quick, smart decisions. The issues go to a distinct lack of size (he really looks small on a football field), somewhat erratic throwing mechanics, and NFL-quality arm strength that isn’t any better than that.
1:15 WR Jordan Addison, USC by way of Pitt. (Junior). 6’0”, 175 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 21 in January. The WR who made Kenny Pickett look like a genius in 2021, and won Caleb Williams a Heisman Award in 2022. Addison is the sort of guy who makes opposing DBs look like they’re playing in boots; amazingly quick, slick, and sneaky, with a sudden burst that creates separation at the catch and RAC points. He also has tremendous hands, all of which adds up to an extraordinary “create separation and then make yards” talent, who will kill you deep if you rely on him using those brakes. Could use some extra size and grown-man strength, but has the frame to do it. Will benefit greatly from a QB who can hit him in stride. Game is more about burst and quickness than top-end speed, so he can probably be covered by a Joe Haden-level technician; which makes him a CB1 prospect but not a CB1++ like a Colbert Special. Came in at #10 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:15 Slot DB (FS/CB) Brian Branch, Alabama (Junior). 5’11”, 190 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in October. Plays a hybrid position located directly between Slot Corner and Safety, and does it as well as anyone you could ask for. Came in at #25 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list when viewed as more of a Corner. Could go as high as the 10-20 range for just the right team. Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report uses Jamal Adams as the likely pro comp for this “certified hitman.” A terrific prospect who needs to be used correctly.
1:20 QB Will Levis, Kentucky (Senior). 6’3”, 232 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 23, turns 24 in June. He throws missiles that go where he wants them to go when the mechanics are on; is a very good athlete with NFL size and strength; has the “it” factor when it comes to leadership; and his team runs a modified pro system. But the mechanics aren’t always on, especially under pressure; which leads to some head shaking throws; and the “modified” involves a ton of half-field reads. Has admitted to the shocking sin of putting mayonnaise in his coffee – which may disqualify him from the human race, but won’t stop him from being a Round 1 QB.
1:20 QB Anthony Richardson, Florida (RS Soph.). 6’4”, 232 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in May. Should have returned to college because improved fundamentals and decision-making would have put him in line to be #1 overall in 2024. Shows a lot of Josh Allen in terms of size, arm, and running ability, but he is even more raw as a prospect. The highest ceiling in the draft, no doubt, but there isn’t any reliable floor to back it up. The gif-supported Depot scouting report by Chandler Stroud calls him an “elite runner who breaks tackles against DBs and LBs alike,” and who also understands how to extend a play instead of taking off. Stroud agrees on Josh Allen as the comp, and awards a very solid Round 1 grade.
1:20 EDGE Derick Hall, Auburn (Senior). 6’2¾”, 252 lbs. with exceptional 34⅜” arms and 9⅞” hands. 22 years old as of March. Team captain. Tremendous speed-to-power and burst; very good at run support; very able to play in coverage; and undeveloped enough to improve when it comes to hand fighting and overall pass rush plans. Everything you want in a 3-4 OLB with the exceptions of bend around the corner and developed expertise. Came in at #24 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview at a Browns’ site. Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com scouting profile describes him as a “team captain with tremendous character” who deserves a comparison to Carl Lawson.
1:20 EDGE/DT Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech. (Senior). 6’6”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 22, turns 23 just before the draft. NOTE: A Top 10 talent for teams that don’t ask their pass rushers to double as OLBs. A pure 4-3 DE with the ability to slide inside at times, sort of like a supercharged version of DeMarvin Leal in last year’s draft.
1:20 CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia (RS Soph). 6’2”, 205 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 20 years old on draft day with a birthday in late June. One of the easiest players in the draft to see as a HOF’er in 20 years, and also easy to see as a great “If only…,” Ringo is a physical marvel who dominated even the most athletic college WRs (see the CFB championship where he shut down Quentin Johnston completely), but been exposed by truly slick route runners (see Marvin Harrison Jr. in the CFB semifinal). The bottom line is clear: he will get cooked on a regular basis in the NFL until he learns his trade, but that HOF career will be very reachable if he does. Getting there will take at least 2-3 years, and there’s no way to know if he has some hidden gap in the profile that college WRs couldn’t sniff out. Came in at #40 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list
1:25 OT/G Anton Harrison, Oklahoma (Junior). 6’5”, 310 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 21 in February. Started as a true Freshman, he has been consistently good at LT with a sterling record of preventing sacks or even pressures. He also comes to the league Steelers-young. Built like he was designed to be an NFL Tackle, Harrison has all the assets you want: quick feet, a nasty (if sometimes less effective) approach to the run game, good length, and hands that are fast, fairly accurate, and strong. He’s just… unfinished, as you might expect from his age. He either ‘knows how to play within himself’ or ‘could use a nastier edge’ depending on your POV. Will benefit from both an NFL conditioning room to fill him out, and NFL coaching to fully internalize the essentials, but with that profile he seems to be an easy projection. A fantastic pick for Year 3, and probably someone who will perform solidly in Year 2, but unlikely to shine as a rookie because grown NFL professionals will figure him out.
1:25 OT Dawand Jones, Ohio St. (Senior). 6’8⅛”, 375 lbs. with absolutely absurd 36⅝” arms and 11⅜” hands. 21, turns 22 in August. Those seemingly impossible measurements are official results from the Senior Bowl. Wow. Jones is a brutal giant of a Right Tackle who has every asset you want except good COD skills. Jones also has the two-sport basketball background that Pittsburgh prefers, and experience at both left and right Tackle. According to Ross McCorkle’s gif-supported Depot scouting report, Jones is actually better at pass protection than he is at run blocking because his crazy length, overall size, and smooth vertical set make it extremely hard to get the edge. May be a particular fit for the Steelers because his aggressive approach and independent hand usage line up perfectly with the philosophy of O-Line coach Pat Meyer. Mirrors well, especially for a man his size, but can get grabby. Too slow to be good at pulling and climbing in the run game, but he does handle reach blocks well, pins an edge just fine, and his size/strength combination should eventually make him good at digging people out.
1:25 OC/G John Michael Schmitz (Senior). 6’3⅜”, 306 lbs. with very short 32¾” arms and 9⅝” hands. Turns 24 in March. One of the best interior offensive linemen of the draft, and he’s even got C/G versatility! Big and strong enough to handle even AFC North NTs, and excellent at reach- and other forms of angled, get-in-the-way blocks. Not crazy mobile like Pouncey or DeCastro, but still above average. Some have compared him to draft favorite Creed Humphrey from 2021. Indeed, the main knock against Schmitz would be that he’s actually a few months older than Humphrey, who would be entering his Year 3 while Schmitz is a rookie. Jon Heitritter, in a particularly good gif-supported scouting report, prefers a comp to the Titans’ Ben Jones, who got picked in Round 4 but has severely outplayed his draft position. Probably the single best player at the Senior Bowl regardless of position, he looked like a pro playing against college kids. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Jonathan Heitritter.
1:25 TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame (Junior). 6’4”, 251 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turns 22 as a rookie. Here’s a lazy but true comp: Pat Freiermuth, but better (at least in college). Mayer does everything you could ask as a receiver and is even a good, solid blocker albeit a little inconsistent when it comes to pure strength and technical details like hand position. Bottom line? Nothing but injury will keep Michael Mayer from a decorated, 10-year NFL career, and he could be better than that. The TE3 (#26 overall) on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, but a clear TE1 who deserves a Round 1 grade according to Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report: “An old school Tight End body but plays like a new school tight end” similar to Mark Andrews.
1:25 WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio St. (Junior). 6’0”, 200 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 21 in February. There is a perfect comp out there, I just can’t think of it. Who can you remember with a rock solid physique, impeccable route running, smooth & deceptive movement skills, and truly special hands; i.e., every asset a WR could want except towering height or breakaway speed? That’s your man. Used by Ohio State as a ‘big slot,’ and set all kinds of records doing so. Actually had a better 2021 than either Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave, but was hampered by injuries all through 2022.
1:25 EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzoma, Kansas St. (Junior). 6’4”, 252 lbs. with 32¾” arms and 9¾” hands. Turned 21 in January. Marry excellent but not eye-popping burst, bend, and COD with good and still improving technique, solid power, and comfort rushing from both a 2- and a 3-point stance. What do you get? A player who should mature into the next Highsmith, and could grow into something even better. Criminally misused as a DT in the K-State defense, which fouls up any hope to measure by production stats but does say he knows how to hold an edge on running plays. Here is a good interview from November. Came in at #38 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:25 EDGE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame (Senior). 6’4⅞”, 262 lbs. with 33¾” arms and 10” hands. 22, turns 23 in October. A wonderful straight-line athlete with tremendous burst and often-overwhelming speed-to-power, but not as bendy as you’d like and unsophisticated when it comes to actual moves. Has played 3-4 OLB in college, with decent coverage ability for a linebacker. Also an ace special teamer who once blocked two (2!) punts in a single 2022 game. This year’s poster boy for Draftnik Backlash Syndrome. Foskey had a spectacular 2021 that created wild-eyed predictions of pushing toward the Top 10, but then he looked like “only” a 1st-rounder. The disappointed expectations have made many fans forget that he’s still a very special athlete.
1:25 EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa (Soph.). 6’5”, 269 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. NOTE: Grade might be 1:15 for a 4-3 team. Features a sick bull rush that has blown up many top OTs including Peter Skoronski and Paris Johnson, with good speed and power around the corner too. Oddly inexperienced because he played all of 2021 as an undersized DT rather than in his natural Edge position. My personal analogy has to be Lamarr Woodley, who certainly proved that the coaching staff could find a way to make this profile work. Can LVN fill the same kind or role, or is he limited to being a 4-3 DE? Came in at #22 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. The gif-supported Depot scouting report by Jonathan Heitritter is an interesting read, ending in a mid-1st to mid-2nd grade.
1:25 EDGE Keion White, Ga. Tech. (Senior). 6’4¾”, 280 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and big 10 ⅝” hands. Turned 24 in January. NOTE: This grade would be higher if he was 2-3 years younger and/or better suited to being an OLB. The profile reminds you a bit of Lamarr Woodley; a big, strong, A+ athlete who looks like a potentially great 4-3 DE with enough movement skills to fake it as a 3-4 OLB, and enough size to move inside from time to time. If you think that is excessive praise, please look at Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, where White came in at #8 overall! He played like a Top 10 guy at the Senior Bowl too. Played TE until 2019 (how TJ Watt of him!), so he’s still learning his position and has developmental upside. Famously hit 21 mph on a gps tracker, which is faster than many WRs. The gif-supported Steelers Depot scouting report awards him a Round 1-3 grade even on the assumption that he will be a hybrid DT/EDGE like DeMarvin Leal rather than functioning as a full-time pass rusher.
1:25 ILB Trenton Simpson, Clemson (Senior). 6’3”, 235 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. Just as long as he is tall, Simpson was a hybrid player in college, taking snaps from Edge on out to Strong Safety, but would be a sideline-to-sideline, cover-capable Mack ILB in Pittsburgh. He is the clear #1 of the class on basically every board toward what Pittsburgh wants. A tough kid with an ideal build, Simpson has the discipline of someone who comes from a military family. The downside? He hasn’t played ILB with the single-minded focus needed to really learn its intricacies, and may take several years to “get it.” A late 1st bargain if he ever does, and a pretty safe Round 2 pick if he only develops an average understanding of the NFL game. My personal shorthand has evolved into “an ILB-ish equivalent to SS Terrell Edmunds in 2018;” both for the lack of depth in his current football IQ, and as a versatile, intelligent, SPARQ’y athletic talent who fits the profile of what Mike Tomlin prefers. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes him as a tremendously versatile puzzle piece with all the tools to be a fine Mack, including the ability to set an edge when playing as an OLB. He ends with a fringe-1st grade and a comparison to a larger version of the Browns JOK. This January scouting profile is one of several that admires his explosion and burst, but believes “Simpson lacks the ability to drop weight and anchor against the run, getting manhandled at the point of attack.” The relatively thorough TDN scouting profile agrees that he has been a super versatile, almost positionless player with “Electric range, [] explosive hitting power, [impressive finishing ability, and [rare] passing-down value for a player of his stature.” The worry being his “reduced impact in 2022 when moved into a more traditional stack role” that would require him to read and get off blocks. Came in at #30 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
1:25 CB Emmanuel Forbes, Miss. St. (Junior). 6’0”, 180 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 22 in January. A long and wiry Corner who makes up for his lack of oomph with an impressive combination of ferocity and off-the-charts ballhawking talent. We’re talking more than half a dozen INTs in 2022 alone! Could also be called “skinny” instead of “wiry,” which is where the question marks arise. Excellent on special teams too as a kick block rusher. One of those guys who always manages to be right near the ball. Came in at #21 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. The gif-supported Depot scouting report by Chandler Stroud calls him an improvable press man talent who is “potentially elite” in zone, ending in an enthusiastic late 2nd grade.
2:01 OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee (Senior). 6’5⅛”, 342 lbs. with 34⅛” arms and small for his size 8½” hands. 21, turns 22 in August. Your classic people-moving Right Tackle in 2021 who played LT in 2022 and did surprisingly well. Or at least it seemed surprising until he looked so good that he won the Senior Bowl OL Practice Player of the Week, which seems to have triggered/confirmed some specific interest on Pittsburgh’s part. Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes a player who is big, long, strong, and smart enough to use all those assets well. He’s also a splendid athlete who mirrors well, which suggests that dropping some weight might give him extra movement skills and help with his endurance. Tends to get upright or be a waist bender when the gas tank runs low. Can be more of a technician than a bully despite his size. Has shown the ability to dig out stubborn opponents in the run game, and can reach, pin, and hold the edge quite well, but not very good at pulling or climbing to the second level. Came in at #32 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. This scouting profile from the well-respected Brandon Thorn ends in a later-1st grade as an athletic and physical tone-setter who would fit best in a downhill running game.
2:01 T/G/C Cody Mauch, N. Dak. St. (Senior). 6’4⅞”, 305 lbs. with very short 32⅛” arms and 9⅝” hands. Turned 24 in January. A good college Tackle who would fit better in the NFL as an IOL because of both his issues (short arms) and his assets (mobility, skill at reaching defenders on the second level, sound pass protection technique, effortless lateral mobility, white-hot motor, and very impressive aggression in run blocking). Yes, that is quite a list of assets! Kevin Colbert would have frowned hard about the small school background, but that is one of the assumptions that Omar Khan and Andy Weidl may upend. Began his college career as a 221 lb. Tight End. A real character with long red hair, missing front teeth, and a Brett Kiesel beard, Mauch would quickly become a fan favorite. Came in at #45 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50, and that grade would have only gone up with his Senior Bowl performance. This thorough December scouting profile from PFN reached a similar grade, emphasizing that Mauch is “an elite athlete on tape with a rare mix of corrective agility, explosiveness off the line, and range in space.” This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Tyler Wise. His skill set seems to fit well with the movement-oriented duties of Pat Meyer’s blocking scheme even though he lacks the length that Meyer prefers. Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends in a fringe-1st grade based on his “extremely hot motor” and “unheard of” flexibility, quickness, and versatility. Don’t go too far, however. Stroud also warns that good bull rushers have been known get into his chest to take advantage of the short arms, and Mauch has an unfortunate tendency to end up on the ground. This solid-looking February scouting profile from a Giants POV ends in a late-2nd to early-3rd grade. This February OL big board from Sports Illustrated lists Mauch with a Round 1 grade. This briefer scouting profile agrees with that grade. Here are two pre-Senior Bowl interviews, one from a Bears-oriented POV and the other a more general interview from TDN.
2:01 C/G Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin (RS Junior). 6’6”, 317 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 22 years old as of March. The TDN scouting profile describes him as follows: Tippmann projects as a day-one starting center for multiple NFL offenses and schemes. Tippmann is a scheme-versatile blocker that impresses on both running and passing plays. And then it somehow ends with a Round 3 grade. Huh? Came in at #22 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, which made him the clear IOL1 of the class. The NFL Draft Buzz scouting profile add that Tippmann was the #28 Feldman Freak based on, “a terrific combination of strength (635-pound back squat and 455-pound bench) and athleticism, clocking a 4.31 pro agility time and a 1.65 10-yard split, which would’ve been faster than any O-lineman at the [2022] NFL combine.” Critical evaluations point to some balance concerns, and complain that he doesn’t maintain his blocks as well as he should. Hand placement could use work, and he needs to be more consistent getting off the ball, but that is almost always the case for college players, and he’s also unusually young.
2:01 TE Darnell Washington, Georgia (Junior). 6’7”, 265 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turns 22 as a rookie. A height/weight/speed phenom who can genuinely block and has room to improve? Definitely worth keeping an eye on. 2022 production was only okay, but he had a foot injury for the first half of the season, plays for a notoriously run-first offense, and had to compete with a Sophomore phenom named Brock Bowers who was good enough to win the Mackey Award as an underclassman. Came in at #17 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, along with a description as ”a sixth offensive lineman in the run game and he’s a moving billboard in the passing game.”
2:01 WR Quentin Johnston, TCU (Junior). 6’4”, 212 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in September. The best of the big & tall, move the chains, X receivers in the draft. Particularly effective at breaking tackles, but he definitely needs to work on his craft. Georgia’s Kelee Ringo shut him down completely in the national championship game because he had the rare talent to match up physically. Discounted on this board because of the similarities to George Pickens.
2:01 EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa St. (Senior). 6’3½”, 241 lbs. with amazing 35” arms and 9” hands. 23, turns 24 in June. Good burst with an insane amount of bend that pairs dynamically with his unusual length. The issues go to his need to add some grown-man muscle, which would definitely help him convert speed to power better. But will adding that bulk hurt his speed and burst? Early, pre-process grades had him down as a Round 3 talent, but he’s risen steadily – especially after a great Senior Bowl showing. Came in at #29 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. Note that his team asked him to play right on the line in a 4i-technique – the spot regularly occupied by Cam Heyward in Pittsburgh. That was an absurd misuse of talent since it suits neither his body nor his skill set. McDonald will live or die as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Accepting that role speaks well of his toughness and team-first attitude, but does not help his draft stock. Run defense is still a weakness rather than a strength. His technique is also quite raw from an NFL perspective, which could make his age an issue for the youth-loving Steelers. Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a fringe-1st grade, based on his Round 1 potential offset against a severe need to develop more playing strength and to get better at shedding blocks. This goes to a nice, football-intensive TDN interview before the Senior Bowl, and this to an excellent interview/article with Alex Kozora, which contains a lot of personal background and perspective.
2:01 EDGE B.J. Ojulari, LSU (Junior). 6’2”, 250 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turns 21 a few weeks before the draft. An explosive, sudden athlete who can also bend the edge, but a little undersized compared to the Steelers model (excluding James Harrison, of course). Enjoyed a dominant 2022 against top SEC competition. The lightning half of LSU’s killer pass rush, with Ali Gaye as the thunder. His brother Aziz plays Edge for the Giants. Came in at #39 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
2:01 ILB/EDGE Drew Sanders, Arkansas via Alabama (Junior). 6’5”, 232 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. An undersized Edge at Alabama who morphed into a successful ILB at Arkansas, his combination of athleticism, measurables, and blitzing make him the highest-ceiling Buck ILB in the draft, but the fan base that gets him should be prepared to exercise real patience as he limps through an extended learning curve. He’s flashed all the physical talent you could want, but is still a newbie to the position with a double steep learning mountain to climb. The motor is fantastic, and he has that sudden burst you look for. Also a good, violent tackler with the rare knack of knocking the runner D.O.W.N. to prevent any squirming, fall-forward yardage. The coverage skills are barely acceptable if that, but his combination of pure athletic talent and exceptional length suggest that he ought to end up being competent in a shallow zone and could theoretically carry a TE up the seam. Gets off blocks relatively well due to his background at Edge, but does not read plays well enough to reliably hit the proper hole. Came in at #33 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
2:01 S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M (Junior). 6’3”, 195 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 22 as a rookie. The closest I can come is ‘SS who covers.’ Johnson has mostly lined up in the slot as a ferocious, if overly lanky, tackler who uses his length and instincts to be adequate in coverage too, especially against TEs and big-slots who are used to winning with size. Has played Cover 2 Safety as well, but less often. A fine prospect if Edmunds departs.
2:01 CB Deonte Banks, Maryland (Junior). 6’2”, 205 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a __ year old rookie. A big, long, strong press man Corner who came in at #42 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list with the only complaint being “only average COD skills;” something that is extraordinary for a man this size. Also adept in zone and off skills. Would be an all world prospect if he ran in the 4.3’s, but long speed is an issue. Here is a good PFN scouting profile.
2:01 CB Clark Phillips III, Utah (Junior). 5’10”, 185 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in December. The sort of Corner who could use a sound effects bubble over his film. It would feature a lot of flick!, whoosh!, boing!, snap!, and grrr!, but not much bang! or pow!. The best Nickel CB in the draft if he can improve his tackling, which we can safely assume given his attitude. The impact of his actual height and weight will decide whether he has the potential to play outside as well. The TDN scouting profile catches it well: “his impact and elite competitive spirit are impossible to deny. He is a dog!… continuously showed up with impact plays in the biggest stages [but] while he competes well above his weight class, teams were not shy about forcing him to play off contact and tackle.” This Vikings oriented January scouting profile lauds his “incredible click-and-close ability” and ends in a late-1st grade. This January scouting profile describes Round 1 quickness, savvy, and film, but ends in a mid-late 2nd grade based on play strength concerns. In a parallel vein, this terse January scouting profile sees a wonderful zone/slot corner due to his reaction time, instincts, quickness, and attitude, but again worries about the actual size and length.
2:01 CB DJ Turner, Michigan (Senior). 6’0”, 180 lbs. with long ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 23 as a rookie. Long, smooth, quick, fast, and technically sound. He’d be ranked a solid half round higher if he had the frame to stick his nose into the run support fan. Showed flashes of real dominance as a pure coverage player, even against all-star WR/QB combinations he faced against Ohio State in both 2021 and 2022.
2:12 G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida (Junior). 6’4⅞”, 337 lbs. (down from 347 in college) with 33⅞” arms and huge 11¼” hands. Turned 23 in January. Very solid at the Senior Bowl. Imagine a really good NT in reverse: he prevents any bulge in the middle when they attack you, and creates a bulge when you attack them. That’s what you get with Torrence, a two-trick pony who is good at both. An enormous man with gigantic breadth, he fires off well and plays nasty, which makes him a people mover par excellence, but has a limited range for pulling and other movement-oriented jobs. (Could he lose 20 pounds and get quicker?) Has a tremendous anchor to keep the middle of the pocket solid, though he can sometimes be outquicked by DT’s with exceptional agility. The descriptions remind you of Kevin Dotson when things are clicking. May have issues with the movement-oriented duties of Pat Meyer’s blocking scheme.
2:12 WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee (Junior). 6’0”, 175 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in September. A certified deep threat with speed, twitch, hands, and the ability to make acrobatic catches. Won the Biletnikoff Award in 2022. He looks like a twig waiting to be snapped, and hasn’t played in a system that would allow his physicality to be challenged, but there aren’t many field stretchers this dangerous. Not a bad route runner for a college WR. Came in at #23 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. The gif-supported Depot scouting report by Tom Mead ends in a Round 2-3 grade based on the speed, hands, and overall skill level, offset by his very slight build, the accompanying lack of play strength, and technique deficits like rounding off too many routes. Tom also offers an interesting double-comp: John Brown on the low end, and Tyler Lockett at the upside.
2:12 NT/DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (Senior) [Mtg. at Senior Bowl]. 6’3½”, 312 lbs. with 33¾” arms and 9⅞” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. A national-level wrestler in addition to football. Benton ain’t goin’ nowhere that he don’t wanna go, even on double teams, and don’t be surprised when he tosses some poor Center a few yards back with sheer, brute strength. The college film showed little in the way of pass rush ability. His Day 1 performance at the Senior Bowl suggests that he’s been learning, though his declining results on Day 2 and 3 brought the expectations back to earth. Definitely on the Steelers’ radar, which Mike Tomlin specifically told him according to this Senior Bowl interview with Jonathan Heitritter. Alex Kozora identified Benton as a “perfect fit” for Pittsburgh in this January video.
2:12 DT Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida (RS Soph.). 6’5”, 320 lbs. with [>34”?]” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in October. A young man with all the physical gifts required to dominate the line of scrimmage, but also enough niggling technical issues to make that a rare occurrence. In particular, his red-hot motor tends to burn out later in games, and he has a terrible habit of losing his pad level, especially against double teams or when his first pass rush move fails. Those are fixable problems, but it typically takes a few years of diligent work under good coaching. More of a DT than a NT despite the size, but you’d be drafting him to be the next Heyward or Tuitt, not the next Big Snack, and maybe that’s a role he can learn. A case where you’re betting on what his Round 1 tools and youth will become, not the Round 3 player he is right now. Jonathan Heitritter’s gif-supported Depot scouting report agrees on the Round 3 grade, calling Dexter a player who “has the measurables and physical traits to become a plus starter but needs time to hone his skills.”
2:12 EDGE/ILB Nolan Smith, Georgia (Junior). 6’2”, 235 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 21-year-old rookie. NOTE: deserves a 1:20 grade on an all-teams board. Discounted here for lack of size. A brilliant athlete who plays as an Edge but has a Buck ILB physique. The leader of men for CFB’s best 2022 defense, who injects emotion, violence, and physicality into the scheme. In the ideal (Pittsburgh) world he would be a Micah Parsons type, a/k/a Vince Williams with a 5-star athletic profile and major pass rush skills. Sounds great, but he’s never actually played as an ILB, it is a complicated position, and we’d need to assume a few growth-curve years if he can do it at all. As a pure pass rusher for the Pittsburgh defense…? The size just isn’t there, and it shows. Came in at #19 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, with an honest player comp to a better-prepared Haason Reddick.
2:24 OT/G Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse (Senior). 6’4⅞”, 323 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and 9½” hands. Turned 23 in February. A four-year starter on both the left and right sides, he is a fine mover and good technician who will benefit a lot from NFL strength training, and from coaching on all the subtleties of the position. Originally from Quebec. Has played both RT and LT. One of the best performers at the Senior Bowl, where he was nice and steady, proving that he could mirror anyone there, and also looking good when moved inside to Guard. This goes to a TDN Senior Bowl interview.
2:24 OT Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland (Senior). 6’5½”, 298 lbs. with 33½” arms and 9⅜” hands. 22, turns 23 in July. Do you remember that scene with the strafing run at the end of the original Star Wars? “Almost there. Almost… there…” Duncan is a near-elite athlete with moderate size, and only-good experience, technique, and overall conditioning. His movement skills are so good that he’s not going to lose an edge to anyone, but he needs coaching to avoid getting beat by pro-level strength and infighting technique. Expect a lot of holding penalties until he does. One of those really fine prospects who has great tools but needs to raise or compensate for every part of his game, yet every part is almost… there… One can also question his fit vis a vis the size/length assets Coach Pat Meyer prefers; Duncan is more of a supersized TE in the Chuks Okorafor mold, and his arm length is acceptable rather than special. Played extremely well at LT during Senior Bowl week, but very unnatural when shifted to RT.
2:24 G Cooper Beebe, Kansas St. (Junior). 6’2¾”, 326 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 just after the draft. An accomplished OL who has played across the line, but is built to be either a Guard or an oversized Center at the next level. Moved inside to Guard in 2022 and looked great. Very athletic and technically sound. Seems to fit well with the movement-oriented duties of Pat Meyer’s blocking scheme.
2:24 G/C Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama (Senior). 6’2¼”, 317 lbs. with 33⅜” arms and 9⅜” hands. Turned 23 in January. Excellent experience at Guard in a very well-coached unit against top opposition, played Center when Najee Harris was the RB1 at Alabama, and also played a lot of Center in the Senior Bowl practices, where he looked good. Excellent power, agility, and burst along with excellent mobility to pull and to reach second-level defenders. Smart and nasty. Extremely aggressive to the point where he can get over his feet and lose his balance. Could use some extra strength. The TDN scouting profile ends in a Round 2 grade.
2:24 G Andrew Vorhees, USC (RS Senior). 6’6”, 320 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 24 in January. Tough, strong, nasty, and about as good a Guard prospect as you get short of the unicorn types. Plays like a wrestler in the good sense; i.e., with very good balance, taking advantage of opponents’ errors in balance and movement, and with surprising agility. Would be an even finer prospect if he learned how to use his hands well enough to wrestle without holds, and had no lapses in his anchor. Alex Kozora put up this brief video back in January, and then this gif-supported scouting profile. Seems to fit exceptionally well with the movement-oriented duties of Pat Meyer’s blocking scheme.
2:24 C/G Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas (Senior). 6’4”, 313 lbs. with 33⅛” arms and 9⅝” hands. 22, turns 23 in November. A powerful D-II player with excellent size and an anchor to match, but limited athleticism and foot speed when measured on an NFL scale. Chandler Stroud’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes a “smart, athletic center who moves really well [and excels] in both pass protection and the run game… Impressive and technically sound… he does the small things well.” The player comp is no less than Jason Kelce because “they are both guys that move bodies off the line of scrimmage, are cerebral assassins, and climb to the next level really well.” Wow. The TDN scouting profile is nowhere near that complimentary, saying “he’s capable of pretty high-level reps” and holds up “fairly well when tested with power,” but also got regularly beat by the array of Round 1 talent who tested him with extra-special size and/or quickness. This long PFN scouting profile ends in a Day 2 (Round 2-3) grade, and contains some fairly detailed analysis.
2:24 TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah (Senior). 6’4”, 242 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and 10⅛” hands. Will turn 24 as a rookie. The sort of player you like to root for because he seeks out ways to put his face in the fan. Came in at an astonishing #9 overall on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, based on exceptional quickness, route polish and run-after-catch ability that led DJ to describe him as a more explosive version of Zach Ertz coming out of college. Has proper TE hands, and genuine “wanna” as a blocker, but with very suspect size when it comes to fighting off NFL athletes.
2:24 TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa (Senior). 6’4”, 250 lbs. with __” arms and __” hands. Turned 22 in January. A fiery tough guy with an unending motor, he loves to block (with moderate but real success) and has good but criminally underused receiving skills because of how the offense worked. Runs good routes with secure TE hands. Measurable athleticism at the Combine is going to matter in this case. Came in at #36 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list. The TDN scouting profile (Round 3 grade) notes that he was Iowa’s offensive MVP (amazing for a Tight End), but worries about his ability to hold up against pure power, and also the number of combat catches he has failed to make (50/50 balls being true 50% results).
2:24 TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon St. (Senior). 6’5½”, 255 lbs. with 32⅝” arms and big 10½” hands. 22, turns 23 in September. Went into Week 3 on a white-hot streak of two fantastic games, and then injured a knee and was out for the season. Nephew of NFL QB/coach Bill Musgrave. An elite athlete with ridiculous speed among the other assets, but you are betting on those physical tools because his snakebit college career included little in the way of stats. Blocking in college was smart and basically effective – more positional than violent – but it looked more physical at the Senior Bowl. Proper TE security blanket hands. Here is a solid-looking PFN scouting profile from December.
2:24 RB Bijan Robinson, Texas (Senior). 5’11¾”, 220 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 21-year-old rookie. Here is the dilemma: people on this very site have compared Bijan to a generational talent like Saquon Barkley, who quite rightly got picked in the Top 5 of the 2018 draft; but RB is probably the strongest single room on the team if you account for the lack of depth at OLB. Thus the entirely stupid question about what would happen in an impossible case. This is my ridiculous grade for that absurdly silly question. Argue about it with yourself, not with me. Came in as the #4 overall player in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list.
2:24 WR Josh Downs, N. Car. (Junior). 5’10”, 170 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a __ year old rookie. Plays bigger than he is, but that doesn’t say too much. The real point is simpler: he gets open, makes catches, and can turn short crossers into big gains. Consistent, high-level production.
2:24 WR Andrei Iosivas (“yo-shee-vas”), Princeton (Senior). 6’2⅞”, 212 lbs. with 31⅝” arms and 8⅝” hands. 23, turns 24 in October. It’s become fashionable to use last year’s small school sensation Christian Watson as the player comp, and it makes some sense. Similar size, pure athletic talent, good hands, small school question marks, etc. The TDN scouting profile ends in a Round 2 grade, with the LOC as by far the biggest concern.
2:24 WR Rashee Rice, SMU (Senior). 6’0½”, 200 lbs. with 32⅛” arms and 9½” hands. 23 years old as of April. Big, tall, fast, shifty, and physical in both the receiving game and run support. Appears to be a technician too, with a solid understanding of how to run routes that could be developed to pro levels with less work than some of his peers. The drawbacks? SMU is not what you’d call a pro-style offense, which limits the technique evaluation, and he’s occasionally shown signs of the dropsies, especially in combat catch situations. Jacob Harrison’s gif-supported Depot scouting report (Round 2 grade) employs words like “sturdy” and “tough”, but expresses concern about his skill at making those contested catches in traffic.
2:24 NT/DT Siaki Ika, Baylor by way of LSU (Junior). 6’4”, 358 lbs. with [>32”?] arms and ___” hands. 22, turns 23 in November. The size is real and shows up when he plays with proper technique, but that is far from reliable and OLs can control him when they win the leverage or hand position battles. At the same time, technique is learnable, and it misses the point. Ika was a 250/300 snap per year run stuffer in college, but what would happen if he dropped 25 lbs. and gained some quickness, endurance, and a step to help in the chase? Early Round 2 talent if you lean on the “it will happen” side of that question. Mid- to late-3rd if you think he will only be what he was at Baylor. Had a much more impressive 2021 than 2022. Why?
2:24 DT Mazi Smith, Michigan (Senior). 6’3”, 326 lbs. with 33¾” arms and 9⅞” hands. 21, turns 22 in June. The #1 entry on Bruce Feldman’s 2022 Athletic Freaks list, Mazi Smith played 0- and 1-tech in college, but questions exist about whether he can do it in the pros. There’s no doubt that he’s built like a brick, strong as a bear, and can move in ways a man his size should not. The issues are (1) arms of moderate length, and (2) smoke from a concealed weapons charge from a traffic stop back in October. The first is a real concern, especially for a would-be NT, and it is also a measurement that Pittsburgh has cared about over time. [WE CAN DISCOUNT THE LEGAL THING: It involved driving with a licensed gun in the car, but in a state other than the one that issued the license. I see this scenario all the time in my professional life. He may lose his carry permit forever, but the act carries no moral stain and is irrelevant to his football prospects. The charge was dropped in December when he pled out to a misdemeanor version, receiving a penalty of 12 months probation.]
2:24 EDGE Zach Harrison, Ohio St. (Senior). 6’5”, 265 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in August. Keep your eye on this one because there are a lot of Blues Clues between his profile and the things that Pittsburgh looks for. He is a tremendous, Ohio State-level athlete whose only real flaw is a moderate amount of bend at the top of his rush, many more pressures than sacks, and the need to build both strength and technique. At the same time, those are fixable issues and he has extraordinary length that he’s only beginning to master. Also known as a classy young man off the field.
2:24 ILB Noah Sewell, Oregon (Senior). 6’2”, 253 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turns 21 a few days before the draft. A tremendous athlete and brutal force in the traditional, thumper role now occupied by Spillane and Robinson. Athletic enough to avoid being a true liability in coverage against college athletes and offenses, but he’s going to be a two-down player in the NFL unless he can achieve a Spillane-level football IQ. Comes from an amazingly athletic family with two brothers who are also in the NFL. Samoan background.
2:24 S Jordan Battle, Alabama (Senior). 6’1”, 206 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 23 as a rookie. A ballhawking Safety who can succeed at any task from run support to single-high. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends with a strong Round 3 grade based on a very high ceiling offset by uncertainty in his own reads, which can cause both delay in starting and a little hesitation in finishing.
2:24 CB Julius “Juju” Brents, Kan. St. (RS Senior). 6’3”, 202 lbs. with very long 33¾” arms and 9½” hands. Turned 23 in January. Cue the “Richard Sherman stereotype” music. Brents is huge for a CB, physical, and knows how to use both in his very effective press-man game. But he’s also a half-step slower than you want for dealing with WR’s who can really burn, and not as nimble as super-shifty WRs who can turn on a dime. Sherman proved that this profile can succeed in the NFL, but he did it in the Seattle-style Cover-3 base that Pittsburgh doesn’t rely on. Does Brents have the speed and COD to succeed in the Steelers’ scheme? One of the most dominant CB’s at the Senior Bowl, where this position looked especially strong. Tyler Wise’s gif-supported Depot scouting profile says his feet are surprisingly nifty for a man his size, the speed is good enough, and he seems to be an especially smart player, all of which puts him squarely in the crosshairs for the picks at 2:17 or 3:18.
2:24 CB Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford (Senior). 6’0⅛”, 193 lbs. with 31¾” arms and 9¼” hands. 21, turns 22 in May. Son of CB Brian Kelly, an Interceptor Supreme who won a Super Bowl in 2003 with Tampa Bay when Mike Tomlin was his Defensive Backs Coach. The son is a smooth, sticky, press man specialist with four years of starting experience and a very professional approach to the game. Good hands and fiercely competitive once the ball is in the air, but may be vulnerable to exceptional speed or twitch; both of which are abundant in the NFL. (Jordan Addison won big and ugly in their competition). This goes to the TDN scouting profile, which says he is much better in press than zone or off man. Had a tremendous Senior Bowl week. Tyler Wise’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes Kelly as a very skilled prospect with good speed and athleticism, who prefers press coverage, feels uncomfortable in off, and plays well in zone but with mistakes based on triggering too hard. It ends with a Round 4 grade based on poor play in run support, and those question marks in zone and off-man coverage schemes. This Top quality, Giants-oriented S.I. scouting profile grades him out as a Round 2 talent. Here is a pre-Senior Bowl interview worth reading because of what it shows about his thought process. This February scouting profile ends in a Round 4 grade due to concerns about tackling and possible limitations to man coverage only. This Vikings-oriented pre-Senior Bowl scouting profile calls him a solid CB2 to be picked on Day 2. This Bucs-oriented scouting profile agrees that he is a press man specialist with a Round 2 grade, whose tackling needs work.
2:24 CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami by way of Georgia (Senior). 6’0¼”, 204 lbs. with long 32⅜” arms and 9⅝” hands. Turns 23 a day after the draft. A freakish H/W/S player with good length. May be enough of a straight-line athlete to be limited to a Seattle-type defense with a Cover 3 base that would protect him against quick COD routes. Came in at #36 in Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, who particularly praised his “outstanding speed and aggression.” Had a tremendous Senior Bowl week. A CB who takes risks because covering alone isn’t enough for this much motor, he’s also been known to have that backfire. In college, he usually had the speed and athleticism to make up for those mistakes. In the NFL…?
3:01 OT Tyler Steen, Alabama by way of Vanderbilt (Senior). 6’5½”, 325 lbs. with 33” arms and big 10¾” hands. 22, turns 23 in June. First, he has all the athletic talent needed to play Tackle in the NFL. His feet are nimble enough to do the job against anyone, and he has tremendous range for getting to the second level. He also made significant and continuing gains as the season went by, which bodes very well if you project the same sort of thing moving forward. The downsides come down to a moderate amount of country strength, only acceptable length, and the normal inconsistencies to be expected of any OT outside of Round 1.
3:01 QB Jaren Hall, BYU (Junior). 6’0⅛”, 211 lbs. with 29⅞” arms and 9½” hands. 25 years old as of March. Has all the arm you want short of a Josh Allen, long range cannon; accuracy, touch, velocity, arm angles, etc. A fine overall athlete too. The big issues are his average size and his age. Plus learning the NFL game, of course
3:01 QB Cameron Ward, Wash. St. (RS Soph.). 6’2”, 220 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 21-year-old rookie. Has that whip action throwing motion that generates shocking velocity, which survives even when he’s on the move. Top notch athlete too. The issues? He’s now played one year in an air raid offense, with 2 years before that in junior college. Lots of potential but he is way behind the curve on the football IQ front.
3:01 WR Zay Flowers, Bost. Coll. (Senior). 5’9¼”, 182 lbs. with 29¼” arms and fairly big 9⅛” hands. 22, turns 23 in September. Discounted here because this skill set is already on the team. Almost a stereotype of the small and shifty WR who gets open with sharp, turn-on-a-dime route running, and decent but not great speed. Might be compared to a smaller, poor man’s version of Diontae Johnson, though Alex Kozora preferred the Bears’ Darnell Mooney as the comp. Note that Pittsburgh will have some extra insight on Flowers since he’s a teammate of fellow WR Dino Tomlin.
3:01 WR Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa St. (Senior). 6’1⅞”, 207 lbs. with 31” arms and 9” hands. 22, turns 23 in June. A classic, high-floor WR2 who could dominate in college but looks to be only “very good” in the NFL; as in very good size, speed, hands, savvy, technique, etc. Dead reliable. Fine route runner.
3:01 WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma (Junior). 5’11”, 180 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 21-year-old rookie. A somewhat undersized receiver with very good hands who would grade higher if his route running or shiftiness was up to the standards of his killer straight-line speed.
3:01 WR Michael Wilson, Stanford (Senior). 6’1⅝”, 216 lbs. with 31” arms and 9⅞” hands. 23 years old as of February. Tore up the Senior Bowl with his impressive combination of size, route running, and hands. A multiyear team captain, Wilson film is scarce on the ground because he’s been so snakebit on the injury front, including whacky things a broken foot that he re-broke the day after he was cleared to go back to work.
3:01 DL/EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, USC (Junior). 6’4”, 290 lbs. with [33”?] arms and ___” hands. Only 20 on draft day, turning 21 in September. That’s Juju-level young! A bigger and stronger version of DeMarvin Leal in 2022. Double-T has played every DL position from 1-tech NT out to 4-3 DE, relying on a potent combination of strength, burst, nonstop motor, and surprising agility for a big man; all of which seem to be top 80% but not top 90% if that makes sense. Comes from a football family, with a brother currently playing DL for the Eagles. The PFN scouting profile is definitely worth a read.
3:01 EDGE Tavius Robinson, Ole Miss (Senior). 6’6”, 257 lbs. with 34” arms and 9¾” hands. Turned 24 in January. Originally from Ontario. A natural athlete with good burst, bend, and motor, the length is almost special. Has room to add some good muscle, which would help because holding the edge is one of his weakest spots. Rushes better when he can put his hand in the dirt, but has the native athleticism to play standing up as well.
3:01 Mack ILB Henry To’o To’o, Alabama (Senior). 6’2”, 228 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Turned 22 in January. A modern-day coverage ILB who likes to hit and is tough for linemen to catch, but lacks the size to be a genuine thumper even though he views run stuffing as job #1. Had a 2021 reputation for being slow or guessing on his reads. We will need careful scouting reports to judge how far he progressed in 2022. Has always had trouble getting off blocks, which would really annoy a traumatized Pittsburgh fan base.
3:01 SS J.L. Skinner, Boise St. (Senior). 6’4¼”, 211 lbs. with 32½” arms and 8⅜” hands. 21, turns 22 in April. An enforcer in the middle who can turn and run with TE’s all day, but can be beaten by pure shiftiness. Tom Mead’s gif-supported Depot scouting profile used Kam Chancellor as the player comp.
3:01 FS Christopher Smith, Georgia (Senior). 5’10¼”, 188 lbs. with 31⅝” arms and 9⅝” hands. Will be 23 as of May. Minkah-Lite skill set with size concerns will chase him forever. Could go as early as late 2nd to the exact right team.
3:01 CB Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn (Senior). 6’1”, 182 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. A long, wiry press man CB with 3 years of starting experience that allows him to use other techniques as well. Understands defense and does many things well, but lacks that one, special superpower to fall back on when he gets overwhelmed by freakish speed, agility, or size. He’ll likely be close enough in all cases to make the window small, but is that good enough for the NFL? A try-hard tackler but not a good one.
3:01 CB Darius Rush, S. Car. (Senior). 6’1⅝”, 196 lbs. with 32¾” arms and 9½” hands. Turned 23 in February. Very impressive at the Senior Bowl, where he showed better technique and athleticism than expected, recorded the fastest GPS time by a generous margin (21.6 mph!), and played Steady Eddie ball. A converted WR who really understands route concepts and what the offense is trying to do to him. Played across from Cam Smith, this year’s technical wizard at Corner. This goes to a Senior Bowl interview with Jonathan Heitritter, who describes Rush as an energy bringer who also takes pride in his special teams ability. This good-looking February scouting profile describes him as a tough, physical, and competitive player who also has some Safety experience, but ends in a Round 5-6 grade based on how new he is to the position, and also some questions about whether he could handle quick NFL receivers.
Organized by Highest Value (“HV#”) to the Steelers. Great players for other teams get downgraded here, as do positions where Pittsburgh has limited “want.” An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach for the Steelers if they pick at any point before Pick # 25 overall but good value at any point from the end of the 1st on. Getting that player in the early 2nd would be fine, while getting him in the late 2nd would start to look like a steal. Yes, this system results in a certain amount of grade inflation for positions of need because we are talking about the “highest” grade, not the one where a player is expected to go; but grades are never pushed up just because of need. Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent and organized alphabetically. Boards organized by HV are sorted within each grade by position: Offense and then Defense, inside to out.
Rounds are subdivided as follows:
  • 1st Round grades: 1:01, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd & 3rd Round grades: Early (#:01), Mid (#:12), or Late (#:24).
  • 4th to 7th Round grades: Early (#:01) or Late (#:16).
To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!