2023 NFL Draft

Pavelle: Exploring The Steelers’ 2023 Options On The Edge

It’s almost a cliché to say that pass rushers matter more to a defense than any other position. And who can argue when the rusher in question is a player like T.J. Watt? I only demur because one can make a similar claim for several other positions. The defensive line trench warriors who free up everyone else to do their job; the Inside Linebackers, who bring all the disparate parts of the defense together into a unit; even the Corners, where one great player can ruin an offensive game plan. And Safety, of course, as Pittsburgh fans who follow Minkah Fitzpatrick and Troy Polamalu know better than anyone.

It really is the ultimate team game, and greatness matters more than position. But even so, Edge may have a slight claim to preeminence. Just look what happened to the 2022 Steelers when T.J. got hurt! From dominant to dumps in one pectoral tear.

Steelers draft history also suggests that Mike Tomlin and the front office agree on this priority. How many times have we seen the team emphasize pass rushing OLBs over other positions? At the very least it’s clear that nothing else is more important. And certainly not the depth player! On that front edge rushers and defensive linemen clearly matter most. Pittsburgh, like everyone else, has a vital interest in rotating the starters out during the middle parts of the game in order to keep them fresh for the all-important snaps at the end. The OLB3 and DT3 aren’t subordinate positions, so much as part-time semi-starters equivalent to a Nickel Corner, Buck ILB, or the WR3 on offense. Heck, even the OLB4 and DT4s see a significant number of snaps, and I’m pretty sure there have been times when the team kept a nominal OLB5 who excelled as a special teams ace.

All of which means the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers could, and probably will, have Edge Rusher right up there in the list of positions that would be worth a Round 1-4 investment if the BPA calculation suggests a particular name. All the moreso when you factor in the upcoming negotiations with Alex Highsmith, whose home must smell like Upcoming Money as much as mine smells like cookies in the run up to Christmas. Highsmith’s rookie contract expires after this season, making him an unrestricted free agent free to sign anywhere unless Pittsburgh uses the franchise tag (probably  $21 Million or so, fully guaranteed). The team is no doubt hard at work on an extension in the range of $16 Million/year with significant upfront money in the form of a bonus. That would be around 60% of what Watt gets paid, which sounds about right. But it’s still a lot of money! Can the team afford it? And can the deal get done? Adding an Edge Rusher in the draft would make those negotiations a lot easier, while also providing a good developmental talent for the pipeline. But it would come at the cost of some other position, of course, where other needs exist… [Sigh] The trials and tribulations of draftniks never end. We few. We happy few. We band of brothers. For he that sheds his opinions with me today shall… [Eek. You fill in the rest. I have an article to write].


  • T.J. Watt. 6’4”, 252 lbs. with 33⅛” arms and big 11” hands. 28, turns 29 in October. The best defensive player in the world, and smack in the middle of his prime. What, you think that’s hyperbole? I have three answers. First, I am a Steelers fan, so you can put your objections where the sun don’t shine. Second, look at the 2022 defense in the games when Watt was healthy, versus the games when he was not. And third, the fact that others can argue for the crown does not detract from TJ’s genuine greatness. If you need a fourth reason, go back and reread the first. The only concerns with TJ Watt go to health and to cost. His brother J.J. held the #1 spot for several years until the injuries started to pile up, with the first really nasty one (his back) at age 27. As to cost, T.J. Watt alone will consume about 13% of the Steelers’ annual salary cap in each of the next few years [Bryan-confirmed #’s], which can be reduced in any given year, but only at the cost of increasing the percentage in later years. I will leave the number manipulations to you, and will satisfy myself with a single word: Ouch. Worth it if he stays healthy, but ouch.
  • Alex Highsmith. 6’4”, 242 lbs. (probably bigger by now) with 33⅛” arms and 9⅛” hands. 25, turns 26 in August. The Steelers’ 2020 Round 3 pick has played like a nigh-perfect OLB 2, even beating out Melvin Ingram for the job in 2021. The issue, as discussed above, comes down to the lack of a rotational OLB3 behind him, and the high price he may demand when his rookie deal expires after this season.
  • Malik Reed [UFA]. 6’2”, 235 lbs. with 31¼” arms and 9⅜” hands. 26, turns 27 in August. A 2019 UDFA for Denver who played quite well as a pass rusher, but proved to be too small for that role in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme. The acquisition gained Reed and a 2023 7th Round pick for the Steelers, in exchange for Pittsburgh’s 2023 Round 6 pick.
  • Quincy Roche [RFA]. 6’2⅝”, 243 lbs. with 32¼” arms and 9¼” hands. Turned 25 in February. Pittsburgh’s Round 6 pick in 2021, he flashed in camp and then got poached by the Giants when the team tried to sneak him onto the practice squad. He played okay for New York, but not great. Pittsburgh resigned him in January.
  • Jamir Jones [ERFA]. 6’3”, 256 lbs. with 32¼” arms and 9¼” hands. 24, turns 25 in June. A 2020 UDFA for Houston, he moved to Pittsburgh in 2021 where he beat out Quincy Roche for a roster spot with pure hustle and special teams prowess. Got poached by the Rams in 2021 before he could make it to the practice squad. Returned to Pittsburgh in 2022. A try-hard, deep depth special teamer.


Pittsburgh goes into 2023 with a Battle Armor Batman and an ideal Robin as the two starters. After that comes… who? Everything we’ve seen of Quincy Roche suggests that he will be a fine OLB4, but one has to question whether he can be that all-but-a-starter OLB3.

The ideal solution would be a quality draft pick good enough to give Pittsburgh a strong rotation for the next several years (and coincidentally some leverage for the negotiations with Alex Highsmith). A truly great prospect could also fit, giving Pittsburgh an overpowering pass rush in 2023, strong leverage for those negotiations, and the chance of continuing dominance into the foreseeable future. Another late-round Quincy Roche would be… okay. It wouldn’t make me happy, but maybe one of the two will grow into what we hope. Stranger things have happened.

This could also be a position the team tries to address in free agency. That would make particular sense if Omar Khan plans to make a hard run at resigning Highsmith, since this year seems to be a pretty solid pool of relatively inexpensive rotational talent.


The 2023 class of pass rushers has only a few stars at the very top, but the depth appears to be quite strong. I count three players who are likely to go in the Top 10, and then an empty gulf until we approach the end of Round 1. After that comes a generous but not unusual number of good-looking prospects in Rounds 2 and 3, with the same pattern continuing on through the draft; steady, above-average numbers without any particular clusters to target.

It’s a little grimmer from the Pittsburgh point of view, of course, because the Steelers system weeds out whole categories of otherwise desirable talent. It isn’t friendly to undersized speed rushers. Nor to 4-3 DEs, prospects who might struggle with coverage duties, and those who’d feel uncomfortable rushing from a 2-point stance. There are also a few pass rushing DLs this year, who echo the skill set possessed by last year’s Round 3 selection, DeMarvin Leal. All of those players, along with the ones who are on the older side, have been discounted by a bit on the following list. On the plus side, the same winnowing out applies to every other team. Only the special talents are universal.

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. Often considered the best player in the draft regardless of position, though I would personally prefer some of the EDGE #1’s from the past few years like Chase Young, Myles Garrett, etc.
1:15 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? An inconsistent player who flashes in some games and disappears in others. The flashes are brilliant, but can they be relied on?
1:25 EDGE/DT Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech. (Senior). 6’6”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 22, turns 23 just before the draft. NOTE: Probably 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. Extremely powerful as a pass rusher, but can be late off the snap. Has pad level issues that need to be solved.
2:01 EDGE Derick Hall, Auburn (Senior). 6’2¾”, 252 lbs. with exceptional 34⅜” arms and 9⅞” hands. 22 years old as of March. 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.
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, and also hold up in the run game. 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 (Cam Heyward’s position), which was an absurd misuse of talent that suits neither his body or his skill set. McDonald will live or die as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Accepting that 4i 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 ILB/EDGE Drew Sanders, Arkansas via Alabama (Junior). 6’5”, 232 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie.
2:12 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.
2:12 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.
2:12 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. Ridiculously rocked-up physique who has reached his maximum size. The leader of men and energy bringer for CFB’s best 2022 defense until he tore his pec in late October. If you want pure emotion, violence, and physicality, this is your guy. All the fundamentals are there. 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 in his lack of a pure bull rush. Came in at #19 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list, with an honest player comp to a better-prepared Haason Reddick.
2:12 EDGE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa (Soph.). 6’5”, 269 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. Oddly inexperienced because he played all of 2022 as an undersized DT rather than in his natural Edge position, and was a part-time player at that. Should be able to rush from the inside in certain formations, but his wiry build does not support the idea that he could add 30-35 pounds and continue to play as a full-time Tackle. As a pass rusher, he features a sick bull rush that has blown up many top OTs including Peter Skoronski and Paris Johnson. But he isn’t bendy and does not test opponents around the edge. It’s all power, all the time, going through the O-Lineman until the QB comes into reach. That said, if you must rely on a single trick for your pony, speed-to-power is one of the best, and that same asset makes him really good in run support. From a Steelers POV the questions are (a) can LVN be an elephant OLB in the Lamarr Woodley model, and (b) does he have hidden COD depths and other pass rushing moves that simply haven’t been tapped? There are flashes, and he is a decent athlete in space, with experience rushing from a 2-point stance. Came in at #22 on Daniel Jeremiah’s initial Top 50 list based on “ideal traits.” The gif-supported Depot scouting report by Jonathan Heitritter is an interesting read, ending in a mid-1st to mid-2nd grade.
2:12 EDGE/DT 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.
2:24 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.
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.
3:12 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. A little on the older side for the youth-loving Steelers.
3:24 EDGE Karl Brooks, Bowling Green (Senior). 6’3⅜”, 303 lbs. with 32¼” arms and 9” hands. 22, turns 23 in May. A dominant 4-3 DE from the MAC who wracked up big plays like pennies in the change jar, his combination of size, burst, power, and an array of counter moves was just too much to handle. But is that first step good enough for the NFL too? Doesn’t have the length and pure power to double as a DT, which makes it hard to see how he would fit in Pittsburgh.
3:24 EDGE Andre Carter II, Army (Senior). 6’7”, 260 lbs. with 34” arms and 9⅝” hands. Will turn 23 in June. Awfully raw, but he has a solid multisport background, and assets that include both burst and bend to complement his startling length. Plus whatever credit you care to award for West Point levels of character and leadership skills. Had a great 2021, but looked only good in 2022. “Why” will be a big focus of the predraft studies, especially since Army didn’t play a whole lot of powerhouse opponents. His Senior Bowl performance suggests that it may well be a simple need to focus on a football-specific training regimen rather than the broader conditioning required for military service. In any case, Carter will not offer any real help to his team in 2023, though one may expect a giant leap in 2024 after a full year in a professional weight room. His run defense leaves a lot to be desired, but a lot of that is learnable, he has the tools, and rebuilding his body would go a long way to answering those questions all on its own. A new, impending law will allow him to defer the service obligation until after his NFL career. The TDN draft profile ends in a Round 4 grade based on “super-high intangibles” and athletic potential, offset by concerns over the level of football-specific physical and technique training. This brief January scouting profile ends in a Round 2 grade based on the tools, offset by “struggles to get low and anchor in the run game.” This January scouting profile ends with a nice player comp to HOF’er Jason Taylor as a pure athlete, but without the developed football muscle and technique.
3:24 EDGE/ILB Nick Hampton, App. St. (Junior). 6’3”, 235 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 23-year-old rookie. A pass rushing OLB in college who wins on pure twitch, burst, bend, and overall athleticism that’s simply better than his opponents. But he’s built like an ILB who is far smaller than the likes of Watt or Highsmith. Is he a hybrid or a tweener?
3:24 EDGE K.J. Henry, Washington (Senior). 6’4⅛”, 247 lbs. with 32¾” arms and 10¼” hands. Turned 24 in January. A tremendous but somewhat straight-line athlete with great strength in his hands to hold the edge. A fine rotational prospect for early downs where he can focus 60/40 on run support and outlet passes, he would be 40/60 effective in pure pass rushing situations.
3:24 DL/EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, USC (Junior). 6’4”, 290 lbs. with [33”?] arms and ___” hands. Only 20 on draft day, turning 21 in September. 
4:01 EDGE Dylan Horton, TCU (RS Senior). 6’3¾”, 265 lbs. with 32¾” arms and 9½” hands. 22, turns 23 in August. A tricky evaluation because TCU plays an odd 3-3-5 defense that forced him to be a pretend DT when he’s actually more of a classic 4-3 Edge. Excellent burst and very good strength/power, but he is a linear athlete with very little bend. Has a decent array of initial moves based on a solid long-arm technique, but not much in the way of developed counters. Often moved around the DL, and has proven the ability to rush from a 2-point stance. Fine motor and excellent run defender, but profiles much better as a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB. I urge you to read this tremendous January interview with TDN, in which Horton goes into the different positions he played in college and his preferences. Here is the companion TDN scouting profile, which ends in a Round 3 grade as a 4-3 DE. This January PFN scouting profile reaches a similar conclusion: Round 3-4 grade as a linear, power-oriented, 4-3 DE who can occasionally slide inside to attack the B gap.
4:01 EDGE Isiah McGuire, Missouri (Senior). 6’4⅜”, 271 lbs. with 33⅜” arms and 8⅝” hands. 21, turns 22 in July. Alex Kozora’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes a high-floor Edge Rusher who can absorb a lot of snaps when run defense is a priority, but who may do better as a 4-3 DE. Would grade even higher if he had good twitch and coverage skills rather than merely adequate. Team leader who gets better results than a part-by-part breakdown says he should.
4:01 EDGE Byron Young, Tennessee (Senior). 6’2¼”, 248 lbs. with 32⅛” arms and 9⅝” hands. Turns 25 just before the draft. An overachieving JUCO walk-on who played so well that he was able to transfer up to Tennessee in 2021, where he’s been tremendous. Great bend and COD with a red hot motor. Might have graded a solid round better if he was 3-4 years younger.
4:16 EDGE/DT Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (Senior). 6’1”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 22 just before the draft. A great athlete who overwhelms college athletes with his straight-line burst, strength, length, and nonstop motor. From the Steelers’ POV he is sort of like DeMarvin Leal; a hybrid DL/Edge to move all around the alignment. Not an OLB because he lacks the flexibility needed to bend the corner or succeed in coverage.
4:16 EDGE Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska by way of TCU (Senior). 6’4½”, 257 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be 24 on draft day. List the assets and you’ll say, “Oh boy, a natural Steelers OLB!” Burst, bend, length, decent technique, and the smooth athleticism to fall back into coverage. But there is a major flaw. Everything falls to pieces when his opponent lands a blow too; enough so to see phrases like “startling lack of play strength.” A fine pick despite the age if you think he can add enough strength, but a do-not-touch if you believe it can’t.
4:16 EDGE Mike Morris, Michigan (Senior). 6’5”, 275 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. A natural 4-3 DE who played OLB in college. His main assets are size, strength, length, aggression, and violence but may have trouble playing in space as much as Pittsburgh requires for its OLBs. Not as bursty or bendy as most pass rushers who achieve similar results.
4:16 EDGE Colby Wooden, Auburn (Junior). 6’5”, 284 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will turn 23 late in his rookie year. A 4-3 DE, plain and simple. Not a bad one either. Discounted on this board as a poor fit for Pittsburgh.
5:01 EDGE Brenton Cox Jr., Florida by way of Georgia (RS Senior). 6’3¼”, 253 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be 23 on draft day. An easy Day 2 talent who got thrown off the Florida team for throwing a punch, which was apparently the final straw after several unspecified reasons. The on-field physical profile is a great fit to the model Steelers OLB. The off-field profile? That’s where the questions come up, and we are in no position to penetrate that fog.
5:01 DT/EDGE Brandon Dorlus, Oregon (Junior). 6’3”, 285 lbs. with ___” arms and ___” hands. Will be a 22-year-old rookie. 
5:16 EDGE Truman Jones, Harvard (Senior). 6’2¾”, 251 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and 10” hands. 22, turns 23 in May. Tom Mead’s gif-supported Depot scouting report describes Jones as a smart, athletic prospect who projects as a true 3-4 OLB. The issues come down to all the unknowns of targeting an Ivy League player whose film shows absolute domination of opponents who won’t ever sniff an NFL backup position. A nice developmental prospect who should be able to play special teams while he tries to get up to speed.
5:16 EDGE Eku Leota, Auburn by way of Northwestern (RS Senior). 6’3”, 255 lbs. with 33⅞” arms and 9⅞” hands. Turns 24 just after the draft. A nice Day 3 depth pick but that’s about it. Has good quickness and a proper NFL physique with good length, combined with solid overall athleticism; but he doesn’t bend well, and is still very raw despite his extended college career.
6:01 EDGE Ali Gaye, LSU (Senior). 6’5⅝”, 263 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and 9⅜” hands. 24, turns 25 in November. A junior college player, originally from Gambia, who stepped up to become the Size L half of LSU’s pass rush, with B.J. Ojulari as the finesse guy. Relies on length, a feeling for others’ balance point (despite his own issues in that department), and an array of counters; but is he a true NFL athlete as well? Some professional strength training could also make a big difference, since it fits his profile and approach but pure power hasn’t been his forte. Grade gets a slight discount due to age.
6:01 EDGE Lonnie Phelps, Kansas by way of Miami (OH) (Junior). 6’2⅛”, 251 lbs. with 32⅛” arms and 9⅛” hands. 22, turns 23 in August. One of those overachieving pass rushers who win by pure will, an endless motor, and the ability to string moves together until the cows come home. Has all the athletic assets, but none at a special level. Good enough burst to often win the edge, and good enough bend to dip and rip if he gets that edge, but neither is eye-popping. Good enough speed-to-power to win on bull rushes if the Tackle is looking for a move. Etc. The weakness is in run support. He’ll annoy OL’s to death when they have to receive him, which makes it a joy when they get to throw him out of the bar; which many of them can. Needs some serious strength training.
6:01 EDGE Jose Ramirez, E. Michigan (RS Senior). 6’1⅞”, 249 lbs. with 33¼” arms and 9 hands. 23, turns 24 in May. Team captain. A Shrine Bowl standout who displayed a decent set of pass rush moves to take advantage of good burst and excellent bend, both of which are actually enhanced by his stature just like James Harrison used to do (without the unearthly power). This goes to a Shrine Bowl interview with Steeler Depot’s Joe Clark, which points out his knack for creating forced fumbles.
6:16 EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado, Pitt (Senior). 6’5”, 255 lbs. with ___ arms and ___ hands. 23, turns 24 in September. Native of Rome, Italy who played only one year of football in HS after moving to the U.S. in 2017. A multi-sport athlete who projects best as a 4-3 DE with good burst and a strong bull rush, offset by limited bend, and superior skill at setting the edge in run support. May be a little too linear to play well as an OLB, though he has rushed from a 2-point stance without any real loss in effectiveness. Still very raw when it comes to all the technical aspects like hand fighting, rush plan, etc.
7:01 EDGE Jeremiah Martin, Washington (RS Senior). 6’2⅝”, 267 lbs. with ___ arms and ___ hands. __, turns __ in _________. A natural 4-3 DE with experience playing from a 2-point stance, Martin presents a difficult combination of strength and toughness vs. what is expected to be poor overall athleticism on the speed, burst, and bend fronts. Made a huge jump in 2022 over 2021, which offers hope that the college film is just a prelude to what he could become.
7:16 EDGE Jordan Wright, Kentucky (RS Senior). 6’5”, 231 lbs. with 33⅝” arms and 9” hands. 24, turns 25 in December. An athletic 3-4 OLB who can play in space and has good burst off the edge, Jacob Harrison’s gif-supported Depot scouting report ends in a UDFA grade because the natural assets are offset by a lack of play strength, lukewarm motor, overall rawness, and relatively advanced age.
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).
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