This is part of a series of scouting reports on the undrafted free agents the Steelers signed following the 2023 NFL Draft. Today, I will be profiling Iowa FB Monte Pottebaum.
#38 Monte Pottebaum, FB, Iowa (Senior) – 6012, 242lb
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Monte Pottebaum||6’1 1/4”, 242lb||9||31 1/4||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
*Indicates Pro Day Results
— Has good size and a sturdy frame
— Possesses good play strength to move defenders off their spot
— Has played as a lead blocker as well as on the end of the LOS
— Plays full-speed as a blocker, looking for work in the running game
— Will be the hammer on a nail as a lead blocker on defenders
— Works well finding defenders out in space and gets a body on them
— Does a good job angling his body to seal off defenders from the ball
— Plays to and through the whistle
— Notable special teams experience
— High-character kid with a tenacious work ethic
— Can be a hammer at the goal line and in short-yardage situations
— Lacks high-end speed and explosiveness
— Pretty limited when it comes to use as a runner/receiver
— Has a lumbering running style that isn’t going to pull away from or evade many defenders
— Can do a better job staying on blocks after first contact
— Will go for the kill shot rather than locking on and staying engaged
— Needs to do a better job connecting and maintaining blocks in pass protection
— Has a tendency to drop his head when pass blocking
— Has experience playing at the end of the LOS, but isn’t going to contribute as a traditional TE
— Senior Prospect from Larchwood, IA
— Born January 7, 2000 (age 23)
— Earned first-team all-state honors as a senior in HS playing linebacker, fullback, and tight end
— Also lettered in wrestling, baseball, and track as a prep athlete
— Signed with Iowa and started out on defense playing linebacker before moving to fullback in spring ball
— Saw action in 12 games in 2019, with one rushing attempt and one kickoff return for 10 yards
— Saw action in all eight games, with three starts in 2020 and had one rushing attempt as well as three receptions for 39 yards
— Started nine games in 2021 and recorded 15 carries for 76 yards (5.1 YPC) and a TD and caught four passes for nine yards
— Started 12 games in 2022 and recorded three carries for six yards and three receptions for 37 yards
— Academic All-Big Ten for four consecutive years at Iowa (2019-22)
— One of 12 seniors named to 2022 Player Council, Brett Greenwood Award winner
Shortly after the 2023 NFL Draft concluded, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Iowa FB Monte Pottebaum as a UDFA. I had the opportunity to coach Pottebaum in 2019 at the University of Iowa in the Football Strength and Conditioning Department. Also, Pottebaum grew up 30 minutes away from me, playing for rival West Lyon High School.
Pottebaum was a stud on the gridiron as a high schooler, having the size, strength, and tenacity made for the Division I FBS level. He signed with the in-state Hawkeyes and transitioned from LB to FB his first year on campus. From there he carved out quite the niche as a lead blocker in the Iowa run-heavy offensive attack.
When you plug in the tape on Pottebaum, you see a rugged, throwback football player with the neck roll and mullet to match. Pottebaum plays the game with all gas and no brakes as he looks for opposing defenders to blow up in the running game as a lead blocker. Watch the clips below to get a look at Pottebaum’s aggressiveness as a lead blocker in the running game. He locates defenders and delivers big hits as the aggressor to spring the ball carrier into the next level of the defense.
Pottebaum does a good job in space as well, getting himself in position to make a block and seal off defenders from getting to the ball carrier on the outside. Watch this example against Northwestern. Pottebaum gets out in front of the jet sweep man on the boundary, finding the DB and unloads into him along the sideline, reengaging as he runs the defender into the end zone with runner following right behind him for the score.
Pottebaum didn’t get much run as a ball carrier during his four years in Iowa City, but he has shown he can be a viable hammer in short-yardage situations. Watch the clips below of Pottebaum getting the ball in the backfield as a runner with the first clip showing a handoff in the shotgun and the second clip a goal-line carry that he converts for the TD.
Pottebaum has the size and strength to run through arm tackles, like he famously did at the high school level for the West Lyon Wildcats. Here we see his biggest run of his college career of 26 yards against the Cornhuskers. Taking the handoff, he breaks through one tackle and gets into the secondary. Lacking the speed to run away from the defense, he still manages to rip of a nice chunk gain on the ground.
Pottebaum shouldn’t be considered an offensive weapon to rely upon at the next level. He lacks the top-end speed and elusiveness to be an effective runner. He also needs to work on sustaining his blocks both as a run blocker as well as a pass protector, often looking for the light up shot on first contact which can lead to whiffs. Here is example against Indiana. He drops his head as the defender approaches him, failing to land his punch as the defender gets off the block and pressures the QB to leave the pocket and throw on the run.
Monte Pottebaum is an old-school fullback who may not have a high ceiling as an offensive weapon but is a fine lead blocker in a traditional run-heavy system who also brings notable special teams experience to the equation. Seeing as Derek Watt is doubtful to return, the door could be opened for a new fullback like Pottebaum to step in and add to the smashmouth identity that Pittsburgh is building on offense.
OC Matt Canada has suggested TE Connor Heyward could take on more of the fullback responsibilities in 2023, putting Pottebaum’s chances of making the roster up in the air. However, after selecting TE Darnell Washington to take over the role as the team’s TE2, there could be a scenario in which Zach Gentry is the odd man out, leaving Pat Freiermuth, Washington, and Heyward as the team’s three TEs and Pottebaum as the team’s FB. He will need to earn his keep as a special teamer and impress in training camp, but Pottebaum fits the mold of what Pittsburgh is trying to do this offseason.
Depot Grade: 5.8 — Undrafted Free Agent
Games Watched: vs Indiana (2022), vs Purdue (2022), at Northwestern (2022), at Minnesota (2022).