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Players of Interest to the Steelers to Watch at the Combine - Part 2

In this second part, I will offer up some players on Offence that might be of interest to the Steelers. While this side of the ball may not have as many "needs" as the Defense does, there are still some "wants" out there that are tempting.

Wide Receiver:

A "Big WR" has been coveted by many Steeler fans (and Ben) for several years now. Could this finally be the year where those wishes are fulfilled?

1. Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin - these two are tied at the hip for the moment. Both measured in at the Combine a bit heavier than expected (Evans 231, Benjamin 240), so it will be interesting to see what effect this has on their speed. The two are in a competition to see who will be the first "big WR" taken. It's likely at least one, if not both, will be available @ 15.

2. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry - the two LSU WR's aren't big but they are both good, and have big hands (both over 10") could sneak into the 1st round. If one is there @ 46, they both fit the profile of a typical Steeler WR (if that's what they are looking for). Note: I didn't include Marquise Lee on my list because I see him closer to these two than Sammy Watkins, and I don't think they will use the pick @ 15 on Lee (and Watkins has no shot of falling to 15).

3. Allen Robinson - while not as big as Evans and Benjamin, he would still fit the "big" label (he weighed in at 6'2 1/2" 220). He's not a burner, so his forty probably won't be impressive but he can make the tough catch and looked good on the WR screens Haley likes to run. A strong Combine will make it less likely he's there @ 46.

4. Martavis Bryant - overshadowed by having Watkins as his teammate, he is a very good WR in his own right. He's more tall than big (6'3 1/2" 211 at weigh-ins), but he's also expected to be the fastest of the top prospects. If he blows up the Combine with a sub 4.4 forty and impressive drills, he'll probably be taken ahead of the pick @ 46, otherwise he's right there in the mix for the Steelers 2nd round.

5. Donte Moncrief and Jordan Matthews - two more who fit the "big" category. Moncrief measured 6'2" 221 and Matthews 6'3" 212 (along with over 10" hands). Neither are expected to be burners, althogh Moncrief is expected to be the faster of the two. Matthews looks like a nice possesion WR, but I don't see that as something the Steelers should take @ 46. Moncrief could be more of a deep guy than Matthews, and could be in the mix with the expected 3rd round comp pick.

6. Josh Huff - not big, as he's about the same size as the two LSU guys, but he plays like a typical Steeler WR (aggressive and a strong blocker). Huff was inconsistent, but has all the tools to be good in the NFL in he can find his consistency. Could be a sneaky late 3rd pick or even maybe with their 4th.

7. Cody Latimer - he's not among the top prospects and is a day 3 guy, but fits the mold as a good blocking WR. He's got some size (6'2" 215) and, while not a #1 or #2, could be a Cotchery-type. I see him as a possible 5th rounder.

Others - there are several names I left off, but are worth checking out. Brandin Cooks, Robert Herron, and Paul Richardson have size issues. Davante Adams was highly productive. Jared Abbrederis might be a better college WR than pro. Devon Street and Brandon Coleman are tall but not fast. L'Damian Washington could be a day three type to watch because he is tall and expected to be fast.

Tight Ends:

While not necessarily a "need" unless they think this could be Heath's last year, there are a few TEs that offer some creative possibilities...

1. Eric Ebron - he measured in a bit bigger than expected (6'4 1/2" 250) and is expected to be the most athletic TE at the combine. This could make him a near Top 15 lock. Ebron is not great blocker at this point, but uses good technique and looks capable. Where his value comes is his ability to play both inline and split out in various formations to create mismatches. He can be both the "Big WR" and the 2nd TE without having to change personnel.

2. Austin Safarian-Jenkins - labeled as the most "complete" TE in the draft as a blocker and receiver, he is certainly capable. Off-field issues are a concern with him and I have a feeling that may cause the Steelers to shy away, which is probably smart considering the recent past they've had with character issue guys. ASF weighed in at 262 which was about 10 lbs. less than expected. Many feel he came in lighter in hopes to run a faster forty as he was expected to be noticeably slower than Ebron and Jace Amaro.

3. Troy Niklas - might be described as a bigger version of a "poor man's" Heath. He measured 6'6 1/2 270 (which is Matt Spaeth territory). A better blocker than receiver, he is almost like morphing Spaeth and Heath into one TE. He probably won't run a fast forty but is probably the best fit classic TE for the Steelers.

4. CJ Fiedorowicz - somewhat similar to Niklas, but a tad smaller at 6'5" 265. Also a better blocker than receiver, he might run a faster forty than some would expect. He too fits the mold of a Steeler type classic TE.

5. Crockett Gilmore - was impressive at the Senior Bowl and brings nice size for a receiving TE at 6'6" 260. He's the opposite of Niklas and CJ in that his blocking isn't his forte. He is capable, however, and his technique has improved. While not the typical Steeler type, he would make for an intriguing early day three pick.

So why no Jace Amaro? I think other teams will value him higher than what the Steelers do.

Running Backs:

With Bell entrenched as the workhorse, I don't think the Steelers will be actively looking for a 3-down type RB, however it's quite possible they could be interested in a speedy "scatback" type who can be used as a multipurpose tool. There are several of those types available, but here are a few to watch...

1. De'Anthony Thomas - "DAT" will be one of the more popular guys at the combine because he will likely impress with his speed and agility. He measured 5'8 1/2" 174, which is Chris Rainey territory. Where he will go will be anyone's guess. A team may fall in love with him and take him on day 2, or he could slip to mid day 3. He could certainly fit the role Rainey had with the Steelers (scatback and KR).

2. Dri Archer - basically a "DAT" clone who is almost identical in size at 5'8" 173. It will be fun to see who puts up the faster forty. I have a feeling these to will be tied together on draft day as well. Whenever one is picked, the other won't be picked far behind. So if DAT goes in the 3rd, would the Steelers take Dri with the comp pick? Not sure. However, if either was availble in the 5th, I think they would pull the trigger for sure.

3. Jerick McKinnon - bigger (5'9" 209) and not as fast as the previous two, but he is a versatile athlete who can be a useful tool. He was a key part of the Georgia Southern team that pulled of the shocking upset of Florida. Keep an eye on his receiving skills at the Combine. If he looks good, he could be a late round target (6th maybe).

4. LaDarius Perkins - he's basically the same size as Larod Stephens-Howling, but don't let that fool you. He was able to do everything asked of him at Mississippi St. He won't be a between-the-tackles type runner in the NFL, but he can be a good scatback and receiver out of the backfield. He has the speed to be a good KR too. While it's possible he may go undrafted, he also makes for a sneaky nice 7th round pick.

Why no OL? It's possible the Steelers will draft one, but I have a feeling they'll let Munch work with the young guys they have and add a few vet backups via FA. I highly doubt they would use a day 1 or 2 pick on an OL. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if they don't draft one but add a few promising UDFAs. There's quite a bit of depth this year that will allow some draftable prospects to be available after the draft. Think Ramon Foster. I see them going this route, since it provides better value.

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