Back in February, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan was the only general manager in the NFL to attend the HBCU Combine in New Orleans. The Pittsburgh Steelers invited two players who took part in that combine to participate in their rookie minicamp this weekend in North Carolina A&T center Dacquari Wilson and Morgan State running back Alfonzo Graham. Speaking to reporters after minicamp practice concluded Saturday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about adding talent from HBCUs and guys that caught Khan’s eye at the HBCU combine.
“Just general business for us. There were a lot of quality players that got his attention and our attention and wanted to take a further look in some instances and maybe do some business in some instances,” Tomlin said via audio posted to 93.7 The Fan.
Both Wilson and Graham play positions where the Steelers lack depth. The team’s center situation behind Mason Cole is up in the air and the Steelers don’t have a reliable third running back on the roster behind Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. They got an up-close look at Wilson at N.C. State’s Pro Day in addition to the HBCU Combine, as offensive line coach Pat Meyer was in attendance at N.C. State. At 5087 and 185 pounds, Graham is a shorter back who ran for 1,150 yards and eight touchdowns at Morgan State last season.
In addition to Wilson and Graham, the Steelers have three other players who attended HBCUs at minicamp in Fort Valley State defensive back Tyler Moore, Virginia Union offensive lineman Darian Bryant, and Alabama State defensive lineman Brandon Gaddy.
Gaddy is a transfer from Maryland who had 29 tackles and a forced fumble last year. Moore is versatile and can play both safety and corner, although he’s listed as a corner on Pittsbugh’s minicamp roster. He had two interceptions last season to go along with 4.5 tackles for a loss, part of his 65 total tackles. Bryant transferred to Virginia Union after starting at Temple and then playing at Towson. His 34-inch arms are the same length as Wilson’s, and that arm size was clearly something that intrigued Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are among the most active on the scouting trail pre-draft, and maybe one of the guys they bring in here could be a hidden gem. It says a lot about Khan’s attitude towards in-person scouting that he was the only GM at the HBCU Combine. That work is paying dividends now with the Steelers potentially filling out the back end of their roster with some guys Khan scouted in February.
It’ll be interesting to see if any of the HBCU guys end up getting signed to Pittsburgh’s 90-man roster. If they do, Tomlin and Khan deserve a tip of the cap for leaving no stone unturned when it comes to scouting.