This is part of a series of scouting reports on the undrafted free agents the Steelers signed following the 2023 NFL Draft. We continue to look at the UDFAs with Iowa State interior offensive lineman Trevor Downing.
#52 Trevor Downing (R. Senior) — 6034, 299 Lbs.
2023 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl participant
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Trevor Downing||6034, 299||8 7/8″||32 1/2″||79 1/2″|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
-Experienced offensive lineman with double-digit starts at all three interior positions
-Good functional athleticism to move laterally and re-position quickly; quick out of stance to land reach blocks
-Plays with good pad level in run game; lands good run fits and drives legs in duo
-Displays high-end awareness to handle/pick up stunts and twists on the interior
-Able to get to underneath defenders and shock initially with good, quick punch that packs some power
-Flashes arsenal of different pass sets; at his best on quick sets to attack defenders
-High pad level in pass sets and gives up chest far too easily
-Power a real problem; does not have the strength to anchor against power rushes
-Arm length a real concern; struggles on his own in run game to land hands and displace
-Despite experience at center, struggles with consistency with snaps – a lot of low or high snaps on tape
-Appears rushed and uncomfortable when dealing with odd-man fronts with nose over him
-Played in 40 career games at Iowa State, starting 38 games for the Cyclones
-Made 13 career starts left guard, 13 career starts at center, and 12 career starts at right guard
-Named first-team All-Big 12 in 2021 at left guard and second-team All-Big 12 at center in 2022
-Made first career start at center in Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson after 2021 season
-Was named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, Rimington Trophy Watch List and Outland Trophy Watch List in 2022
-Injury in first game of 2020 season ended year; redshirted in 2019 after playing in two games
-Chose Iowa State over Iowa, Kansas State, Minnesota, and Missouri
-Was the No. 3 recruit in Iowa behind current Baltimore Ravens and former Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum
When it comes to undrafted free agents in the NFL, teams often look for guys with experience and some semblance of upside. That’s where Iowa State center Trevor Downing comes in for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who inked the 24-year-old interior offensive lineman as an undrafted free agent Sunday.
Downing, who started 38 career games for the Cyclones at left guard (13 starts), center (13 starts) and right guard (12), mulled offers from the Steelers and two other teams, on top of potentially starting his farming career, before ultimately joining the Steelers.
Now, he’s aiming to be the next B.J. Finney for Pittsburgh.
Finney, of course, was undersized like Downing, but also had the experience Downing has, starting 51 games for Kansas State before becoming a serviceable swing interior lineman for the Steelers for five seasons.
Downing started out at left guard for the Cyclones, playing two seasons at the position before switching to right guard in 2021. He slid into center in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson, becoming the long-term starter at the position for Iowa State.
He has good functional athleticism and really thrives in the run game when he doesn’t have a defender head up on him. He’s good in duo and comes out of his stance with explosion when nobody is on his nose. In duo, he gets a good run fit consistently and is able to create space.
You can see the explosiveness out of his stance at the snap. He does a good job of reaching the defensive tackle, in this case Baylor’s Siaki Ika, to create some displacement, opening up a lane in the zone run. He has a good feel for when to peel off, too, as you can see his eyes watching the flowing linebacker the whole time, coming off at just the right time for the block.
Downing has some power to his game on the move.
Watch him fold the Baylor interior defender in traffic, racking up the pancake block, one of the few on tape I was able to find in five games.
In his first start as a center, coming against Clemson in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl, Downing looked quite comfortable. He was good on the move in space in the run game, again working well in tandem with his guards in duo.
Nice job here of displacing the defensive tackle initially and then picking up the linebacker coming downhill, creating a path for the running back for the nice gain.
He showed good athleticism and overall balance to recover on this stunt, too. The defensive tackle makes a beeline for him, aiming to take him out. Downing is able to hook the defensive tackle and gain control while passing the stunt off to the guard. This makes for a sound block, creating a clean pocket for the quarterback to step up into before ultimately scrambling.
Good recovery here from Downing too, this time in 2022 against Oklahoma. Great awareness to see the looper coming from outside the tackle, holding onto the defensive tackle just long enough to let the guard get into position before picking off the looper, leading to a pocket to throw from the quarterback.
Downing just really struggles with power in pass protection. Short arms and a high pad level allows players to get into his chest and take him for a ride.
It happened far too often on tape.
You can see him stand straight up at the snap and keep his hands relatively low, which allows the defender in both instances to get into his chest and take him for a ride. With his lack of length and being light in the pants, combating power is going to be a real issue for Downing at the next level.
He’s at his best in pass protection when he quick sets guys, much like he does here against Oklahoma State at left guard in 2021.
The experience and versatility with Downing certainly is intriguing. He was one of the few interior offensive linemen with double-digit starts at all three interior spots in the draft. That experience and versatility should help him at least stick around until training camp on a depth chart that is relatively light behind the likes of Mason Cole and seventh-round draft pick Spencer Anderson.
The Steelers have had some success going to the Big 12 to find a versatile, experienced interior offensive lineman as a UDFA, that being Finney. They’re hoping Downing can be that next guy. He projects as a guy who is much better as a run blocker in zone and inside duo than as a straight-up blocker in power. He doesn’t have the strength to displace on his own.
Depot Draft Grade: 5.7 (Undrafted Free Agent/Practice Squad)
Games Watched: Oklahoma State (2021), Clemson (2021), Baylor (2022), Oklahoma (2022), Texas (2022)