FanPost

STEELERS BIG BOARD - By Rank, Post Combine

SUPERSEDED - THE NEW BOARD CAN BE FOUND HERE

SAME BOARD ORGANIZED BY POSITION

SOURCES

Grades are based in part on my analysis of the Steelers wants and desires appears here, current as of New Years, this series by Bob Labriola, and on the BTSC series on Steelers Roster Projections. Most of the raw data for this Board came from BTSC articles and comments, cbssports.com, walterfootball.com, and SBNation.com. Other sources appear as links in the text.

YOUR COMMENTS MATTER!

I will periodically update this list to reflect the feedback you give. I do NOT have the skill or knowledge to rank these players on my own, so what you see results from my effort to reflect our community opinion. It may have started with raw opinions from the online pundits, but that is not where it's going to end.

RULES OF THE GAME:

The basic approach should be easy to follow:

RULE 1 - Order is based on value to the Steelers. Great players for other teams and situations would be downgraded here if they fail to fit the Steelers' openings, system, or other requirements. Positions with an enormous downgrade are moved to the "Ain't Gonna Happen" list at the end.

RULE 2 - Organized by Highest Value ("HV#"). An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach 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 at 2:14 would almost be a steal. Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent so don't sweat the order inside each grouping. I tried to group them by position: Defense, then Offense, inside to out.

RULE 3 - For the sake of easier comparisons I subdivide the first five rounds as follows:

  • 1st Round grades: HV 1:5, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd Round grades: Early (HV 2:1), Mid (HV 2:12), or Late (HV 2:24).
  • 3rd Round grades: Early (HV 3:1), Mid (HV 3:12), or Late (HV 3:24).
  • 4th Round grades: Early (HV 4:1) or Late (HV 4:16).
  • 5th Round grades: Early (HV 5:1) or Late (HV 5:16).

ROUND 1 GRADES

HV 1:01

Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/DE, South Carolina - 6'5-1/4", 271 lbs. Otherworldly talent speaks for itself. No true human can be that big and still run a sub-4.5 40 yard dash. Yes, there are questions. Yes, he would fit best as a 4-3 DE. But why bother thinking about such things when it isn't going to happen?

OLB

HV 1:01

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - 6'2-1/2", 251 lbs. A tremendous athlete that might be compared to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. Mike Mayock has him as the #1 defensive player, even ahead of Clowney. So does our own Steel34D, as shown by this BTSC Scouting report.

OLB

HV 1:01

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - 6'0-3/4", 211 lbs. The consensus pick as this year's top receiver. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "There's a difference between "fast" and "explosive" as far as scouting clichés go. Watkins isn't going to leave scorched turf after his feet hit the ground, but he has such a powerful stride, he becomes a tough cover for weak cornerbacks. He's aggressive and competitive with the ball in the air, but he can still get himself open. His development as a player will be very interesting; seems like a great fit in a Ben Roethlisberger-led offense."

WR

HV 1:05

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama - 6'2", 234 lbs. Why does he rank so high? Go here and look at the December 26, 2013 comments from Rob Rang ("a coach's dream at linebacker ... terrific diagnostic skills ... a virtual coach on the field whose athleticism and quick hands make him equally dangerous in pass coverage and run support...," etc.). Now look at Steel34D's scouting report, which ends with a comparison to Luke Kuechly. And now go look at this article on who Mosley is and what he is like. Finally, see my comment in another thread on "Why Mosley is #1 on my daydream Board." The Steelers already have Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, and Larry Foote vying for the spot next to Lawrence Timmons, so it isn't a gaping hole. But if Colbert & crew agree that Mosley's career floor is "Twilight Ray Lewis for 10-15 years" that is run-to-the-podium stuff for a #15 pick.

ILB

HV 1:10

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - 6'4-7/8", 255 lbs. A tremendous and special athlete comparable to the early 2013 picks Mingo and Jordan. He'll require a redshirt year to develop physically and skills-wise, but the general athleticism is off the charts.

OLB

HV 1:10

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State - 6'0-1/8", 202 lbs. Killing, maiming, and standing on the smoking ruins of the Combine established that he is indeed the best Steelers CB option in the draft. Add to that his value as a kick returner and you get a top-10 player. As Neal put it in his "Short List" article, "It's as if he was physically molded by Dick LeBeau. Great size and length, and while he has playmaking ability, Gilbert wants to hit. That's the part of him that really stands out. He's physical more than flashy. He can also return kicks, making him a great all-around prospect."

CB

HV 1:10

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - 6'4-3/4", 231 lbs. At the Combine Mike Evans proved that he is the best big receiver in this class. He leapt out of the building, caught everything, ran surprisingly well, and basically answered every question you could ask. He even has great body control from his basketball days, and is used to improvising for a QB who extends plays. My only remaining qualm is the question of how he got handled so easily by the 5'10" EJ Gaines (CB out of Missouri). That is not enough to keep him from being a true value pick at 1:15. Click here for a BTSC scouting report.

WR

HV 1:15

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - 6'5-1/2", 308 lbs. An elite tackle who would be a real upgrade even if we trust Mike Adams to "get it". I hate to put any offensive linemen on the Board before Round 6, but Matthews could be special.

OL

HV 1:15

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - 6'5, 332 lbs. Robinson blew up the Combine so thoroughly that he moved from "we don't need an offensive lineman" to "this kid is too good to ignore if he's there. He and Jake Matthews are the only offensive linemen I would take before Round 6.

OL

HV 1:15

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - 6'4-3/8", 250 lbs. A quote from Mike Mayock: "[Ebron] is a better athlete than Vernon Davis. Not as fast, but a better athlete. I think he'll make an impact much faster than Vernon Davis did. I wouldn't blink an eye if this kid went in the top 10." Ooookay... In this gif-supported scouting report Neal summarized him as a "phenomenally gifted athlete" with many similarities to Heath Miller, concluding as follows: "When he grows into his frame and refines his blocking technique, he'll be an excellent all-around tight end. Until then, he may just be a great receiving option. Tough to have too many of those." 'Nuff said. If you want a more skeptical view, see this review on a Ravens site.

TE

*** STEELERS PICK AT 1:15 ***

HV 1:20

Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn - 6'2-1/8", 252 lbs. A highly effective 4-3 edge rusher in college, he projects as a 3-4 conversion to OLB for the pros. Definitely a potential mid-round target for the Steelers. Here is a gif-supported Steelers Depot scouting report that admires Ford's great first step but points out the drawbacks in most of the rest of his game, including the run game in particular. More recent reviews indicate that he got better with the edge-setting part as the year when on, and that first step was impressive enough to earn repeated praise in the reports coming out of the Senior Bow. A dominant MVP performance in the actual game, plus better and better reviews as the bandwagon moves along has him all the way up here. If he kills the Combine and interviews, we would be talking a fringe target for 1:15. The Steelers could really use another pass rusher in the pipeline.

OLB

HV 1:20

Hasean ("HaHa") Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama - 6'1-3/8", 208 lbs. The consensus best Safety in a weak class, he is a natural Free Safety who can also play Strong Safety as needed. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "So what if he borrowed a few bucks from a coach? Does that even matter anymore? It certainly might for the Steelers ... Clinton-Dix [is] a talented deep center field kind of safety - the type that might actually make the Steelers' single-high coverage an option instead of a weakness. He's a willing hitter, and he can make plays on the ball in coverage." This short scouting report actually compared him to Ed Reed when he came out of college. If the Steelers think he's really going to mature into the Ed Reed who tortured us for so many years, they'll grab him.

S

HV 1:20

Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU - 5'11-1/4", 198 lbs. Fast, fast, fast, and slippery. Beckham's on the smaller side for what the Steelers want, but he is a kid who gets open, catches the ball, makes plays when he gets it, and blocks for others when he doesn't. Also a top option at kick returner, which the Steelers could use as well. His ceiling looks a lot like Antonio Brown's performance in 2013, and just imagine what Ben would do with two AB's on the field at the same time! If the Steelers think Beckham has anything like Brown's work ethic it would not be a surprise to hear his name. Frankly, he sounds a lot like 2013's Cordarelle Patterson (Vikings at # 29 overall).

WR

HV 1:20

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - 6'5", 240 lbs. The prototypical "big receiver who is not a Tight End". Just to compare, Plaxico Burress' measurables at the Combine were 6'6", 232 lbs. and a 4.59 second dash. Benjamin is an inch shorter, a bit heavier, and ran almost exactly the same (4.61 with a bad start). So...is the next Plaxico worth our 1st-Round pick? Steelers Depot did a gif-supported scouting report here. He still has a lot of puppy despite the giant size, which means he should be moldable in a good environment like the Pittsburgh locker room. The big knock in college was the occasional drop, but he looked great in the Combine shuttle and the film watchers are now saying the drops came from looking upfield too soon. I put him in the "slight reach at 1:15, but not enough to bitch about" category.

WR

HV 1:20

Marqise Lee, WR/KR, USC - 5'11-3/4", 192 lbs. People differ dramatically on whether Lee should be up there with Sammy Watkins as a top-10 pick, or back with the dense pack of receivers that will go in the 20's and 30's. The BTSC intelligentsia may be leaning toward the first opinion, as illustrated by Neal's "Short List" article: "At the risk of being too dramatic, he looks like a bigger version of Antonio Brown. Catches well, runs nice routes (and he'll only improve in that area) but he looks as fast running straight ahead as he does coming immediately out of a break. Not a tree-topping mega-freak athlete, but Lee is going to be a very solid-to-outstanding receiver. I may even be downplaying him a little bit. Lee playing the wide receiver position looks as natural as a duck in water." Steel34D described him in this way: "Lee won the Biletnikoff Award and was a unanimous All-American in 2012. He toyed with the idea to enter last year's draft. This year Lee was plagued with a knee injury causing him to miss three games and wasn't the explosive player he was in 2012. He had only 50 receptions, 673 yards and 2 TDs." A longer BTSC scouting report appears here. He is discounted slightly for having only average height, but enhanced by being an ace return guy. Heck, he even likes to block.

WR

HV 1:25

Ra'Shede Hageman, DE/NT, Minnesota - 6'5-7/8", 310 lbs. A remarkable athlete who could probably play both Defensive End and Nose Tackle in the 3-4 if he stays motivated. OTOH, he's very raw, will require a redshirt year to develop, and we already have two 1st-round picks on the Defensive Line already plus 2013 camp darlings like Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams who may take the step up in 2014. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network did a thorough scouting report right after Christmas, in which he described Hageman as an ultimate boom-or-bust prospect. Two other articles include this scouting report, compares very well to what 34D has said about Hageman, and the now-famous "freaks list" showing Hageman as #2. The BTSC consensus was that Hageman is the next best thing to Jadeveon Clowney, but that enthusiasm cooled a lot when he did very well but failed to awe at the Combine. We discussed Hageman him at some length pre-Combine in this Mock Draft post and Neal's gif-supported scouting report. A similar pre-Combine Steelers Depot scouting report is here, with the Walter Football scouting report here.

DE

HV 1:25

Kyle Van Noy, OLB/ILB, BYU - 6'3-1/8", 243 lbs. The more you read about Kyle Van Noy, the more he seems like the profile you read about Lawrence Timmons. Timmons was 6-1 and 234 lbs., Van Noy is 2 inches taller and the same weight. They are both tremendous athletes. And both create(d) "fit" issues because they are 'tweeners' who are half 3-4 OLB and half ILB. Timmons ended up on the inside and deserves a lot more national recognition than he's been given so far. Van Noy looks like he'll end up as a tremendous something too. But what? See this scouting report from nflmocks.com, and this other (more questionable) one from optimumscouting.com for longer discussions of the same thing. Here is a gif-supported scouting report by Steelers Depot, which links to this piece on Van Noy's personal background. So ... is it a lack of "fit" or the asset of versatility? I like him, so I say it's the "asset" version and peg him as a huge 2nd-round bargain.

OLB

HV 1:25

Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State - 6'1", 237 lbs. The #2 ILB prospect on the Board after Mosley. Shazier had a 3rd Round grade on this Board because he played his college ball as a slightly taller version of Sean Spence - light, fast, but very iffy as a run stuffer. The available research described him as a superb prospect to play the weakside linebacker in a 4-3 because he is fast, instinctive, and a good playmaker in space. And then went on to add that those same traits might make him a great fit as an inside linebacker for the 3-4. For a particularly thoughtful example, see this BTSC scouting report by Neal Coolong. Fast forward to the Combine, where he showed up 12 pounds bigger than his college weight, and put up vertical- and broad-jump numbers that show no loss of explosiveness. All of this makes him a very viable option at 2:14.

ILB

HV 1:25

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville - 5'11-1/8", 207 lbs. If HaHa Clinton-Dix is a natural Free Safety who can also play in the box, Calvin Pryor is his mirror image: a natural SS who has the speed to play center field if that's called for. As the process moves on Pryor has shot up draft Boards everywhere, including this one. Some of that is because the Safety class is so weak in general. People want to find someone besides Clinton-Dix to get excited about. But Pryor might have generated buzz in other years too. Check out this scouting report, for example. Here is a less enthusiastic one (that still ends up with a 2nd-round grade). And here is a scouting report from fellow FanPoster diehardsteelerfan625. One thing is clear: Pryor loves to hit. He would be a fan favorite in Pittsburgh from the moment he gets fined for "hitting too hard" on a shot to the ribs. The downside is so little coverage experience that the Web-based scouts complain about a lack of film they can look at. On the other hand, he has shown a good bit of general athleticism and that helps to make up for a lot of those "buts". Writing immediately after the Combine, I think he's played himself out of the pick at 1:15, but would still be a great option if we trade down or if he somehow falls to the 2nd.

S

HV 1:25

Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - 5'11-3/4", 190 lbs. A good, fluid and fast athlete who is willing to tackle. He also gets points for the family connection: brother Vincent Fuller who played 5 years as a Titans Safety. Fuller was lauded as a "complete" package in this nice article on a Patriots site, with a similar analysis noting his lack of elite speed in this article. The #3 CB on Mike Mayock's Board. The #2 on mine.

CB

HV 1:25

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech - 6'5-3/8", 265 lbs. Getting a true counterpart for Heath would be sooo cool. It would be almost as good as getting that legendary "tall receiver" and better than a lot of receivers who happen to be really tall. Here is a pre-Combine, gif-supported scouting report from Steelers Depot. Amaro had a Combine that was 180 degrees opposite from his film. On film, Amaro is a TE who has WR skills who is even bigger than Mike Evans (the WR) but looked just as fast. At the Combine he ran poorly and dropped passes he shouldn't have. OTOH, his film leaves a lot to question about blocking skills, mostly because Texas Tech never used him that way. At the Combine he showed up noticeably bigger than and put up a ton of reps (his blocking drills weren't shown, alas). Go figure. Look for a flurry of new scouting reports from all the experts going back to review his film in more detail.

TE

HV 1:25

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington - 6'5-1/2", 262 lbs. From what I can tell, this scouting report reflects a consensus view: ASJ is one of those newfangled basketball player/TE types, with very good speed, very good hands, fantastic size, and above average blocking ability. Compared to Amaro and Ebron, ASJ is the most "Tight-Endish" of the three, if you take my meaning. The biggest issue is that his college breakout year was 2012 while the other two peaked in 2013. On the other hand, that is explainable because teams schemed with the specific view of stopping him, and managed to keep him contained with that level of effort. It didn't help that his RB, Bishop Sankey, had a breakout year and ASJ was moved to heavier blocking duties. Or maybe it did because, unlike Ebron and Amaro, he proved that he can play both roles. ASJ won the 2013 Mackey award nevertheless, but it is a minor-league scandal because the other two outplayed him from a statistical point of view. Had a fractured foot that prevented him from running at the Combine. Just to put rumor to rest ... in March of 2013 ASJ was arrested on a DUI. That isn't good, but it happens. His reaction to that arrest speaks volumes more. Character is an asset, not an issue.

TE

HV 1:25

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt - 6'3-1/8", 212 lbs. On paper it would be hard to distinguish him from Allen Robinson. Matthews' edge is that he broke the all-time receiving record for the SEC. That has to count for something. Here is Steel34D's BTSC Scouting Report, and here is Walter Football's scouting report. The word you see most often? "Smart." If nothing else, Jordan Matthews will be a coachable player, and that is one of the most encouraging words you can attach to a prospect. Matthews cemented his 1st round grade by running an exceptional time (4.46) at the Combine.

WR

HV 1:25

Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State - 6'2-3/8", 220 lbs. He's tall, productive, has good hands and body control, and he's a local. The essential "but" is that he's a tweener. He's not quite tall enough to be that elusive "big receiver" and he's not quite fast enough to be a top receiver who also happens to be tall. Here is a gif-supported scouting report from Steelers Depot. At the Combine his 40 was only "okay" (a 4.60), but his 20 yard shuttle was excellent (4.0). According to local pundits, running about .4 seconds less in the shuttle indicates a good ability to, or to learn to, get in and out of breaks. So with a .6 differential, either Robinson ran poorly in the 40 or he will have a great natural ability to run routes. He also excelled in the vertical jump, confirming his general explosiveness. Either way he remains a definite option at 2:14.

WR

ROUND 2 GRADES

HV 2:1

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame - 6'5", 304 lbs. In his "Short List" article Neal wrote: "He's an incredibly quick and large lineman who could probably play a three-technique defensive tackle spot as well as a 5-technique defensive end. His versatility makes him so attractive - look at what Cincinnati did with pre-ACL tear Geno Atkins." Click here for the full BTSC scouting report. The thing is, would Tuitt be worth a really high pick when we already have two 1st-round picks on the Defensive Line, plus 2013 camp darlings like Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams?

DE

HV 2:1

Jason Verrett, CB/KR, TCU - 5'9-1/2", 189. If Verrett was 4" taller and 20 lbs. heavier, he'd be a candidate for the top-10. As Mayock said, he is a straight-out football player. With these size limitations, however, he will be limited to covering the slot. He's the ideal counter to a Wes Welker type (or an Antonio Brown), but would be sorely abused by any of the modern goliath-sized WR's or uber-athletic TE's. OTOH, he's an ace kick returner which restores some of that value.

CB

HV 2:1

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State - 6'1", 212 lbs. Davante Adams had an eye popping year in the wide-open Fresno State offense. For a quick summary see Steel34D's Dec. 21 article on upcoming Bowl games. He was a high school basketball star as well as a football star, and boasts some impressive film. At "only" 6-1 he consistently looks bigger and faster than the players around him and was rarely even challenged when it came to jump balls. Confirmed at the Combine when he jumped an absurd 39.5" vertical. Adams has some professional growth to do and may have issues with his route running, but he is a tremendous talent who would make a fine Steeler.

WR

HV 2:12

Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State - 5'10-7/8", 198 lbs. A BTSC favorite who has been steadily separating from his peers. At this point he is the #3 Safety on the Board. The worry was long speed, which he answered resoundingly at the Combine with a 4.42 40. An excellent athlete with a lot of agility and that special acceleration that makes a Free Safety extra effective. He also played well in a quality program, where he started out as an effective CB and 'made his bones' on the coverage side. He isn't the biggest tackler, but he's no slouch either and the only complaints I've seen are coachable matters of technique. The main issue is a bad case of "Ike Taylor hands." Brooks is so good that he gets himself into a position to make interceptions, but tends to end up with "prevented passes" instead - and some of those were gimme's so it's not a question mark you can just ignore. Here is a brief scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation; here is an even better and more thorough scouting report from our own Steel34D; and here is an enthusiastic post-Combine article on BTSC. Mayock gives him a 2nd-Round grade and so do I.

S

HV 2:12

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - 5'10-7/8", 199 lbs. Dennard ran okay at the Combine, but confirmed the BTSC opinion that he is a corner who may excel in press coverage but will struggle mightily in zone. The Steelers play a LOT of zone, which pushes him down to a 2nd-round grade. A Patriots' draft page did an adoring write up in this nice article. Profootballspot.com has a similar review here. For a more thorough, professional, reliable, and less glowing but still positive viewpoint, look at this BTSC scouting report by Steel34D.

CB

*** STEELERS PICK AT 2:14 (#46 OVERALL) ***

HV 2:24

Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech – 6’3", 252. Played 3-4 OLB as a Junior and 4-3 DE as a Senior. Another good option for a mid-round Steelers’ OLB. Had a couple of fundamental flaws in his game that may be fixable with the right coaching, like overpursuing. Very good reports out of the Senior Bowl, however, showed that he has the necessary athleticism, an ability to cover, and most of all an ability to hear, understand and implement the coaches' instructions. That is very encouraging news. Here is one scouting report to consider. Here is a scouting report from our sister site for the Eagles. And here is another, which notes that he played OLB prior to the 2013 switch to DE. That might explain his comfort in coverage at the Senior Bowl. The basic critiques are that he should add weight to hold up better against the run, and that he has to learn to control a ferocious temper.

OLB

HV 2:24

Scott Crichton OLB, Oregon State - 6'2-7/8", 273 lbs. Mike Mayock loves this kid, and calls him "a poor man's Chris Long." That matches the description contributed by NoVaBurgher: "An OLB conversion prospect ... great candidate [who was] super productive at OSU ... been known to bat down a pass every now and then and forced 10 fumbles over his 3 year career." He looked solid but not spectacular at the Combine conversion drills, which puts him firmly on the radar. Would be an ideal 3rd-round pick if we had one. Here is a longer scouting report from July of 2013 which, like several other preseasons sites, had Chrichton listed as a potential 1st-Round pick.

OLB

HV 2:24

Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville - 6'3-3/8", 251 lbs. Quick and accomplished, but undersized for a 4-3 DE. Sounds like a traditional Steelers conversion option, and he looks like one too. Some dominating practices at the Senior Bowl moved him up a small notch, in part because he proved his ability to cover and in part because he succeeded as a pass rusher against the better competition. The Combine only confirmed that he has the necessary athleticism to play OLB. Marcus Smith has a really good speed rush but few other moves. The knock is that he padded his stats against weaker teams. This scouting report from our sister site for the Eagles seems a bit amateurish but coincides with what you read elsewhere: he would have been a major bargain at 3:19, but will be gone by 3:comp. Alas.

OLB

HV 2:24

E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri - 5'10", 190 lbs. Good speed with some questions about his tackling and hands. Made a big splash toward the end of the year by shutting Texas A&M's 6'5" Mike Evans down cold. Snark erupted and continues on whether that ought to raise Gaines' stock, plummet Evans', or both.

CB

HV 2:24

Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina - 5'9", 197 lbs. This brief article at cbssports.com describes Hampton as follows: "a strong competitor [with] the foot quickness and range to cover a lot of ground. Solidly built ... welcomes contact ... aggressive ... Hampton has a good blend of awareness, ball skills and read/react ability... He lacks ideal height and [can be] overaggressive." Mayock gave him a 2nd-round grade "before off-field considerations" and so will I.

CB

HV 2:24

Bradley Roby, CB/KR, Ohio State - 5'11-1/4", 194 lbs. Roby had a lot of hype going in to the 2013 season and then underperformed. The big question is why. Profootballspot.com provides a nice, concise summary. Mike Mayock and Deion Sanders thought the problem lay with "poor eye discipline" and a lack of training in the fundamentals. If so, that would go far toward explaining how he got beat so resoundingly by the guys like Jared Abbrederis who run great routes. Bottom line: the kid has lightning speed and good reflexes, but he lacks either the neural connections (ability to split his eye concentration in multiple ways) or the training to put those talents to use. That makes him much more of a boom-or-bust candidate than I was hoping to see.

CB

HV 2:24

Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame - 6'6-1/2", 270 lbs. Everybody agrees that Niklas is a great blocker, but scouting reports such as this one raise real questions about his receiving ability. That would be a nonstarter IMO. More recent scouting reports from the like of cbssports have caused me to change my mind. Consider: "[Niklas] has height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews." Now THAT is a man I'd like to see in a Steelers uniform.

TE

HV 2:24

Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU - 5'11-1/2", 205- lbs. By the end of the year LSU had a strong theme on offense: "Find some way - any way - to get the ball into Odell Beckham Jr.'s hands (HV 20) because that kid is a weapon who can turn anything into a touchdown." But there was an addendum: "And if we get to 3rd down, throw the ball somewhere close to Jarvis Landry because he will find a way to catch it." Jarvis Landry has okay height, not enough mass, and no more than average-plus speed, but he may have the best hands in this year's draft class. He also has very superior body control and he will fight like a wolverine to get the ball. The highlight clips are filled with scenes where he went over, around and through defenders to make the catch - sometimes all at the same time on a single play. He lacks the measurables to be a killer #1 receiver, but will make some team ecstatic to have one of the league's best at the #2 role. And get this quote from Mike Mayock: "He reminds me of a faster, bigger, just as tough Hines Ward." Sacrilege. Wow. But still a sacrilege. Ran very poorly in his first 40 at the Combine and then pulled a muscle that prevented him from atoning, so that is something to keep an eye on for his pro day.

WR

HV 2:24

Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss - 6'2-3/8" 221 lbs. Good size and decent speed, great things were expected of him in 2013 but nothing seemed to happen. Moncrief is one of those players who require more study, and to date the Web has been not all that helpful. For some personal observations by a fellow BTSC member who knows Donte personally and has followed his career more closely, see the comments posted by Nozzy43 at this article. FWIW, the scout at NFL.com has him rated as a 1st or 2nd Round talent. He had a great combine, putting up 4.40 dash, an 11' broad jump and a 39.5" vertical, though he showed a few issues on the field drills designed to show how well you can learn to get in and out of breaks. Nevertheless, with that size and that speed he has earned a 2nd-round grade on this Board. He might be a bit of a reach at 2:14, but not an obscene one.

WR

ROUND 3 GRADES

HV 3:1

Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas - 6'3", 247 lbs. His Dad, Jim Jeffcoat, was a heck of a player for Dallas. The son has that level of talent too, but managed to be injured for half his college career and to underwhelm in his final season. Why? Opinions vary, but the biggest issue has been an inability to shed blocks once he is engaged. Several mocks have him going as early as the late 1st nevertheless, but he has not shown enough to bump into that range for a team with the Steelers' needs. If he falls to the 3rd, however, and the Steelers gain a pick, there will be a lot of people pounding the table. With that said, there's something I can't identify that bugs me about this kid, and I've downgraded him about half a round because of that hunch.

OLB

HV 3:1

Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford - 6'5", 250 lbs. Murphy has slipped down the Board a bit due to a poor showing at the Senior Bowl. He seems to be the sort of player who earns a 7-8 out of 10 in every category. Good at everything with few if any holes; great and nothing that he could build on to make an all-pro career. Check out this Sports Illustrated Article; Murphy is a legitimate tough guy who will add a hard edge to whichever team picks him up. This scouting report came from Walter Football.

OLB

HV 3:1

Dion Bailey, S, USC - 5'11-1/2", 201 lbs. Decent to good size, decent to good speed, and better than good performance. Profootballspot.com provides a summary scouting report that explains why he might be a target.

S

HV 3:1

Tre Boston, S/CB, North Carolina - 5'11-5/8", 204 lbs. Has played a lot of Corner, but the consensus seems to be that he's a better fit as a centerfielding Free Safety with advanced coverage skills. Sounds like just the thing we need. The big knock seems to be tackling. You can find a scouting report here. According to Mike Mayock, Boston has a "chirpy" attitude (in a good way), fine ball skills, and a very good football IQ. At the East-West Shrine Game he jumped right in and took charge of on-field organization for things like alignments and assignments. Encouraging.

S

HV 3:1

Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State - 6'1", 211 lbs. A prototypical Strong Safety who is fast enough to play Free Safety. According to Rob Rang at CBS Sports, "Physical, imposing hitter at 215 pounds who made his mark as a senior by producing big plays and turnovers. Well-built safety who delivers bone-rattling hits." According to our own Steel34D: "[Bucannon] had a great 2013 season with five interceptions, 109 tackles (1st in the PAC-12) and he earned 2nd Team All-American honors. Bucannon isn't just a one year wonder in 2012 he had four INTs and 106 total tackles, and in 2011 he had three INTs and 80 total tackles. He possesses a good blend of size and straight line speed while being a willing (and able) tackler. In fact Bucannon is known for his hard hitting ability. However he struggles with his change of direction and is not a safety that could play man coverage against a WR in the NFL." This scouting report from Walter Football also emphasizes that Bucannon is best suited to be an in-the-box Strong Safety who will struggle if used in coverage. The Steelers need their Safeties to cover, so that results in a moderate downgrade on this Board. He'd be a great pick at 3:comp but probably won't be there.

S

HV 3:1

Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson - 6'0", 185 lbs. Supposed to be athletic and a willing hitter who is leaving college as a sophomore, and is therefore very raw. Mayock has mentioned that he'll effectively need a professional redshirt year. But his talent has the various pundits singing his praises.

CB

HV 3:1

Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood - 6'1", 198 lbs. A Division II with all the measurables but no experience against the bigger players until the Senior Bowl, where he played well. A Cortez Allen waiting to be discovered? See this article for a long description of his history. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite mid-round picks because running that history and talent level through my Stereotype Machine yields a prospect who will work like a fiend to make a 53-man roster. It might take him a few years and he might bounce around, but I believe he will get there in the end. Unfortunately, he is almost certain to go in that 2nd-3rd round area where we have no picks. But 3:comp isn't out of the question completely...

CB

HV 3:1

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska - 6'2-5/8", 218 lbs. Jean-Baptiste gets top grades for size and for being a fluid, agile athlete. He played two years as a WR before moving to CB, so he probably has some decent hands as well. Some reports, such as this otherwise fawning review, suggest that he is less vulnerable to quickness than he is to pure speed. His 40 time at the Combine might actually mean something. Jean-Baptiste had a very solid performance in the Senior Bowl and supported that with a solid show at the Combine. Mayock's major knock was that he needs to learn how to use his size advantage better, which will come as he learns technique. Just don't be surprised if the Seahawks' success pushes his stock all the way up to the 2nd round, which would put him out of the. Steelers' reach. This scouting report came from December, before he showed such improvement at the Senior Bowl. It should also be noted that Jean-Baptiste has played some Safety, though everyone seems to assume his future will lie in being a CB capable of countering some of the towering modern receivers.

CB

HV 3:1

Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State - 5'9-7/8", 189 lbs. As contributed by NoVaBurger: "Decent size, decent speed, nothing that really jumps out at you, but from watching him play (which I've done a lot), the kid is a ball hawk. [I]f we're looking for a mid round flier or a double dip candidate for CB, this guy could be a steal." That is looking like a very accurate summary. Walter Football has him graded as a 2nd-3rd Round talent too, with CBS grading him as a 5th. Here is a nice scouting report from preseason (May of 2013). It describes Reynolds as a very smart player with limited athleticism and "top-notch intangibles". Sounds like a very safe pick for someone who will be a long term contributor who won't make mistakes, and possibly a starter if a professional training regime is what he really needed. Interesting trivia: his dad was Ed Reynolds, a Parcells linebacker in the 1980's. No relation to the Ed Reynolds who is coming out this year as a Safety candidate from Stanford.

CB

HV 3:1

Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers - 6'6", 225 lbs. Some people have speed, and some have size. Brandon Coleman would be one of the biggest receivers in the NFL, and they say he is faster than you'd think. The issues, as discussed in this scouting report and also in this one, go to the fundamentals; specifically, catching the ball reliably. He is very much the raw college receiver, but that's par for the course. It's just ... he will make a great circus catch on one play and then inexplicably miss an easy catch on another. And no one seems to know why! There are also a few health questions but they don't seem so severe. This preseason SB Nation scouting report is another decent place to start if you want to look into his prospects more. Bottom line: Brandon Coleman is a distinct possibility for the Big Ben's Big Receiver Sweepstakes. This rating gives him the benefit of the doubt, but Coleman is likelier to go down as the rankings progress rather than up. OTOH, show me a workout where he's catching short range fastballs from the jugs machine and Mssr. Coleman will be pushing a 1st round grade.

WR

HV 3:1

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado - 6'0-3/8", 175 lbs. Richardson is hard to grade because there are a lot of unknowns, and what is known can leave you thinking "1st Round" or "4th Round" depending on what you value. The big upsides? Liquid speed and really good athleticism. As om F-A-S-T fast. And he is plenty tall. But he's also a bare 175 pounds! Ryan Clark might split a guy like that in half the first time he went over the middle. No wonder people say he hears "footsteps," and reasonable people wonder if he could ever win a contested ball against an NFL DB. On the other hand, with that kind of speed he might not need to. For an even fuller view see this longish scouting report. The verdict here? Paul Richardson is an ideal prospect for a team that wants someone to take the top off the defense. God help us if he makes his way into Brady's hands. But I don't know if that is what the Steelers really want for a Haley offense.

WR

HV 3:12

Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama - 6'6", 257 lbs. Another player with all the physical tools but who would require a year or two under Coach Butler before we'd be sure what we had.

OLB

HV 3:12

Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State - 6'2-7/8", 251 lbs. He was certainly able to rush the passer in college, and earned some praise for holding the edge against the run. A solid 3rd-round option if the Steelers are looking for someone who could convert to OLB after a year of learning under Coach Butler.

OLB

HV 3:12

Chris Smith, OLB, Arkansas - 6'1", 266 lbs. A conversion option from DE to OLB. According to this October, 2013 scouting report, Smith has a lot of talent for rushing the passer but has been mediocre at best against the run. Sounds like one of those players whose true ranking will depend on Coach Butler's evaluation of his issues and his ability to learn.

OLB

HV 3:12

Carl Bradford, ILB/OLB, Arizona State - 6'0-3/4", 250 lbs. A conversion option from DE to OLB. The obvious knock on Bradford is his size, but the Steelers have known an occasional player to do okay at OLB despite a lack of expected inches. If memory serves, the last one even scored a touchdown on a pick-6 a few years back. Bradford has a reputation for being that kind of workout warrior too, and for the ferocious temper. OTOH, it hasn't (yet) translated into functional strength on the field. Here is a nice little scouting report. The good folks at cbssports.com suggest he might have more success as a play-making ILB than a pass-rushing OLB.

ILB

HV 3:12

Keith McGill, CB, Utah - 6'3-3/8", 211 lbs. Has all the size you could want and some good raw talent, but reported to be extremely raw skills-wise. A JUCO player for two years, he suffered a severe shoulder injury that cost him all of 2012. Reports out of the Senior Bowl had him competing very well at CB, however, so the lack of experience may be less of an issue. He ran very well at the Combine which cements him as a 3rd round grade who will get over-drafted by teams looking to copy the Seahawks' winning formula. If he falls to 3:comp I'd expect the Steelers to do some copying as well. Jean-Baptiste and McGill are the Evans and Benjamin of the CB class, albeit less polished.

CB

HV 3:12

Marcus Roberson, CB/KR, Florida - 6'0-1/4", 191 lbs. Like his teammate Loucheiz Purifoy, Roberson had a disappointing season including a suspension for "violation of team rules." Dane Brugler of CBS provides the best scouting report I've found to date. Brugler gave him a 1st-2nd Round grade as a cover corner, but that was before an underwhelming Combine. There are also indications that he isn't a willing helper in run support. That is enough to slide him down this Board a bit.

CB

HV 3:12

Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh - 6'2-7/8", 198 lbs. A good, tall possession receiver with everything but top end speed and some necessary thickness. Great hands though. The Steelers might well draft him in the middle rounds. Here is a scouting report from our sister site for the NY Jets.

WR

***[ STEELERS PRE-PICK ... SHAMARKO THOMAS. HOORAY!] ***

HV 3:24

Antone Exum, S, Virginia Tech - 5'11-5/8", 213 lbs. A very good athlete who would probably excel in a Steelers-type zone system. Described as an "over-sized hybrid CB" package in this nice article on a Patriots site. I make him a 3rd-round option as a FS, and a 4th-5th round option at CB. He missed a lot of 2013 games with a nasty and nagging ankle problem, and more games last year with an ACL.

S

HV 3:24

Craig Loston, S, LSU - 6'0-3/8", 214 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. Has a reputation as a big hitter with top measurables, but also some issues in coverage. In other words, he is a better fit at SS than FS. Profootballspot.com explains this well in a nice, short scouting report. And here is a February scouting report from Walter Football. The decision makers on this one will be Coach Lake and Coach Lebeau. If they see ways to fix the coverage questions, Loston would make a great addition. If there is more to the problem than straight technique, the Steelers would be better served going elsewhere.

S

HV 3:24

Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford - 6'1", 207 lbs. Decent to good size, decent to good speed, decent to good performance. May have some maturity issues. Had a truly lousy game against Arizona State which ended when he got ejected for targeting. Looked a lot more like a Strong Safety than a Free Safety at the Combine, including some real struggles in the coverage drills. That's something the film-watchers will now go back to study with a lot more care. Adds up to a decent to good grade. He started on my Board as a mid- to late-2nd and has dropped a full round.

S

HV 3:24

Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State - 6'2", 205 lbs. Played a very effective center field, including interceptions. Also a smart player who made the defensive calls and is noted for taking good angles, etc. If he was a better athlete, though, he would rate higher. May not have the physical tools to earn a value commensurate with his college production.

S

HV 3:24

Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke - 6'0", 191 lbs. Mike Mayock had a nice quote from a college coach: "Cockrell has all the tangibles you could want and, more important, all the intangibles too." In many ways Cockrell looks like Curtis Brown when he came out - all the physical and mental pieces you would want with questions about whether he can put them together. Curtis Brown hasn't been able to do it but there is a reason we've been so optimistic over the years. The Steelers picked Curtis Brown in the 3rd at #95 overall. If Ross Cockrell falls to the Steelers' 4th round pick this year (in the range of # 115-120), don't be surprised if they grab him.

CB

HV 3:24

Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt - 5'10-3/8", 188 lbs. A good, solid cover corner from a program that trains them well. He has played well against good, SEC competition too. Supposed to fit best as a zone or off-man cover player rather than a press corner, which also suits the Steelers typical approach. He seems to be flying under the radar. The main issue was a question about his long speed, but he answered that by running well at the Combine and demonstrating excellent quickness.

CB

HV 3:24

Loucheiz Purifoy, CB/KR, Florida - 5'11-1/2", 190 lbs. A career underperformer who was expected to blow up the Combine ... and then didn't. To my eye he looked almost clumsy in some of the field drills, which is almost shocking. I would have dropped him even further if I wasn't wary of backlash setting in because expectations were so high. Bottom line: a lot of experts saw a lot of potential, but Purifoy didn't live up to it on film and now he hasn't lived up to it in shorts. Did he deserve those early raves, or is there some reason for his current failures? The answers to those questions will determine his final ranking.

CB

HV 3:24

Jaylen Watkins, CB/S, Florida - 5'11-1/2", 194 lbs. Disclaimer: I love players with the experience and willingness to play both Safety and Corner. It shows exactly the sort of intelligence, grit, and playmaking that matter most in a Dick Lebeau defense. Jaylen Watkins is that guy. And you can assume he has good athletic genes since he's the brother of going-in-the-1st WR Sammy Watkins. Ran well at the Combine but did not participate in the field drills. He looks very slender, but the numbers indicate that "wiry" may be more accurate. Bottom line: IMO you can expect Jaylen Watkins to be a serious mid-round target for the Steelers as either a CB or a center-field FS.

CB

HV 3:24

Dri Archer, KR/RB, Kent State - 5'8", 173 lbs. Think super-fast, super-tiny, and agile as a superball bouncing around a closet lined with marble. This is Reggie Dunn all over again with a much better pedigree. Indeed, every review I've seen includes the words "Tavon Austin." The downside is size, pure and simple. He was already injured in college and there are real questions if he could survive the NFL.

KR

HV 3:24

DeAnthony Thomas, KR/RB, Oregon - 5'8-1/2", 174 lbs. Your stereotypical fast and elusive scatback. A terror in open space if he can survive the hits from NFL-sized players. Thomas had a truly spectacular career at Oregon and will probably go much earlier to a team that offers the perfect fit. Size is literally the only problem.

KR

HV 3:24

Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson - 6'3-3/4", 211 lbs. Bryant is a puzzle. He has 1st-round height, 1st-round speed (reportedly in the 4.3's), decent hands, and 6th or 7th round production playing across the field from Sammy Watkins. BTSC's Greig Clawson watched his film and thought enough of him to say make a comparison to AJ Green-lite. I've also read comparisons to the Jets' Stephen Hill-lite. Here are a number of links you can explore to get a better idea: Report #1, Report #2, Report #3, Report #4, Report #5, Report #6. It is a real shame he didn't go back for another year in college. The Combine will help his stock but the speed and height will be no surprise; what might matter would be weight (he was too thin in college) and the catching/agility drills. He may also shoot up a lot of Boards after Clemson's pro day because of all the attention that Sammy Watkins will draw. I love the way the NFL.com site put it: "A better tester than football player at this stage of his development." My bottom line: some fool will probably grab him in the 2nd Round because of his astonishing potential, but like Stephen Hill of the Jets a few years ago it is hard to imagine how he could play until at least his second year. I watched some film; I saw the hands-catching, the speed, the use of his height, and even the willingness to act as if he's blocking. Some impressive stuff against Ohio State. But even after all of that I can't see him as a Steelers pick until the end of day 2, at the earliest.

WR

*** STEELERS EXPECTED TO HAVE A 3RD-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK FOR MIKE WALLACE ***

ROUND 4 GRADES

HV 4:1

Ray Drew, DE, Georgia - 6'5", 273 lbs. He fits the physical specifications for a 3-4 DE to a tee, but is there really a need? Assuming that Ziggy isn't resigned, the Steelers could use a star to pair with Heyward and depth to train up behind him. Drew doesn't look like a probable star and is much to good to be a mere depth pick in the later rounds. That conflict is why he is devalued for the Steelers compared to where he will go in the actual draft.

DE

HV 4:1

Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford - 6'4", 277 lbs. This nice writeup at Walter Football compares Gardner to Brett Keisel without the years of experience. Gardner lacks the measurables you want for a 3-4 DE because he isn't all that long, but he moves very well and I love those major contributors whose importance becomes clear when they disappear. That is exactly what happened when Gardner tore a pectoral muscle in 2013. OTOH, while the Steelers have room for another star at DE, it isn't clear that they have a need for someone who would add no more than quality depth for the next few years. Hence the 4th Round grade.

DE

HV 4:1

Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC - 6'2", 250 lbs. USC's top pass rusher in 2013. He would be a conversion option for the Steelers. He is described as a smart player with several pass rushing moves, good but not over-the-top athleticism, and every intangible you could ever want. Downgraded a bit because of season-ending hip surgery and some earlier foot trouble, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Steelers chose him with a mid-round pick.

OLB

HV 4:1

Jadon Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech - 6'3-3/4", 259 lbs. A solid, mid-round prospect. After summarizing Gayle's tremendous physical talents, our own Greig Clawson summed it up this way: "I see a player with the physical tools to make the conversion from DE to OLB successfully. He needs to get coached up, develop some pass rush moves, and learn to convert his speed and strength into power. The foundation is there though." This link and also this one will lead you to some more background. Coachability and football IQ will be the key questions when the Steelers do their due diligence.

OLB

HV 4:1

Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida - 6'3-1/8", 237 lbs. A tremendous natural athlete with a bad knee injury that cost him all of 2012 and clearly limited both his production and his growth in 2013. Talent-wise, though, he could be a real sleeper. If Powell clears the medical checks he could be a 3rd-Round value. 3-6 is probably fair to account for that risk. He looked good at the Combine.

OLB

HV 4:1

Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State - 6'3-1/8", 240 lbs. All the measurables in the world, but repeated questions about his ability to use them. The knock you read is that his athleticism is wasted by the need to make up for bad angles, overpursuit, and a lack of "instincts." On the other hand, those are exactly the sort of things that good coaching and film study can repair. So which Christian Jones will you get? The Steelers would be looking at him for the ILB slot next to Timmons, as a taller and faster upgrade to Sean Spence and Vince Williams. Much as I love ILB's, that is a position of relatively low need, which also drops his grade a bit.

ILB

HV 4:1

Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford - 6'2", 245 lbs. A player who deserves a solid 2nd-round grade but is discounted a lot because the Steelers have no need at ILB for anything but a 3-down "special" player. A very good ILB prospect with a Stanford-level brain that can learn a complex defense. As shown in this scouting report, Skov is the sort of player who is more than his physical parts. Had an ACL which seems to be all better. But does he even have enough of that special explosion to pick an ILB before the 2nd Round? And is he an upgrade on the combination of Spence, Williams, and Garvin?

ILB

HV 4:1

Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut - 6'2-1/4", 246 lbs. A very good ILB prospect with an edge in the athleticism department. He deserves a solid 2nd-round grade but is discounted a lot because the Steelers have no need at ILB for anything but a 3-down "special" player. At the Combine he showed acceptable short range speed but a severe lack of longer speed. That makes him a 2-down thumper who will have to come off the field for passing downs.

ILB

HV 4:1

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois - 5'9, 189 lbs. Click here for a scouting report to get you started. Ward is a player who comes with a series of question marks but not so many that he'll make it very deep into Day 3 in a year where the class at Safety is so weak. Basically, he is fast and fluid, which makes him a great centerfielder from the pass defense point of view. He has very good speed and agility, and a few sites also commented on his quick acceleration which is an underrated asset. Not a big hitter, though, and they say he needs to work on tackling and run support in general. And not as physically big as you'd like. Nevertheless, we could use a center fielder and he is a good prospect to be that guy. This will take you to a scouting report from a self-avowed Jimmie Ward fan on our sister site for the Jets.

S

HV 4:1

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty - 6'0-1/2", 205 lbs. The second small school gem who might be the next Cortez Allen. I have him ranked just a little behind Pierre Desir, but they both had tremendous showings at the Senior Bowl and its practices. Definitely a candidate to watch for the Steelers' mid-round picks. Here is the closest thing to a scouting report that I've found. "He's moldable clay" may be a nice takeaway.

CB

HV 4:1

Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M - 6'0", 185 lbs. A tough and physical player with a lot of potential and also some baggage. Got ejected from a game for targeting, and had a one game suspension arising out of a bar fight. To be fair though, the fight involved men (i.e., it wasn't a domestic violence thing) and may just a young-and-stupid event. The questions are more about lack of discipline than "bad character."

CB

HV 4:1

Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon - 5'11-1/8", 192 lbs. He had a lot of opportunities because he played opposite from next year's 1st-round pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and he took advantage of them to get five interceptions. Here is a cbssports.com scouting report. He had to show long speed at the Combine and came back with a 4.63. That's not terrible, but it is a resounding "meh." The CBS report made a note that Mitchell was a little grabby in coverage at Oregon; this level of long speed may shift the bar a bit from "lack of technique" (teachable) toward "compensating for a physical weakness" (not).

CB

HV 4:1

Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State - 6'3", 298 lbs. According to Steel34D: "Richburg has NFL size at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and nice display of athleticism. In a weak class for his position he may very well be the second center taken in the draft. He excels in pass blocking showing a good ability to mirror his opponent. Richburg needs to improve his strength but could be an intriguing pick for a zone team around the third round." If Velasco goes, Cody Wallace finds a full-time position, and Beachum becomes a full-time Tackle ... [whew] ... the Steelers would have a hole at backup Center. With Pouncey's contract coming up in 2016 it wouldn't be a bad idea to have someone there to learn.

OL

HV 4:1

CJ Fiederowicz, TE, Iowa - 6'5", 265 lbs. and his school listed him as running a 40-time of 4.85. The #4 Tight End on most boards, with a lot of notes about his powerful blocking. The reports sound an awful lot like Matt Spaeth to me, but I'm willing to be convinced if someone shows he also knows how to be a receiver.

TE

HV 4:1

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin - 6'1", 195 lbs. Everyone talks about his "lack of athleticism," but he still gets open an awful lot. And he was a walk-on, so he earned his way up to being the #1 target and a major producer. He made the news as a Senior Bowl success story, so it's looking like he has the requisite physical skills. (One reporter even noted "superb route running skills"). The question is whether he could ever be more than good-to-very-good and, if not, whether the Steelers will pick any receiver without the promise to be a #1 or #2 starter to pair with Antonio Brown. Any receiver picked in the 4th has got to be a notable improvement on Moye and Justin Brown. Here is a Walter Football Scouting Report.

WR

HV 4:1

Mike Davis, WR, Texas - 6'0", 197 lbs. Another player who's started to stand out at the Senior Bowl practices, with notes about crisp cuts and good routes. I found this scouting report floating around the Web, but it doesn't solve the confusion about Davis' actual height: the school says 6-2 but CBS and some other sites have him at 6-0 even. I'm going with the taller number because of all the remarks about how he is slender. My bottom line on Mr. Davis? He looks suspiciously like the sort of mid-round WR gem the Steelers have found so successfully in recent years. If the first two picks are Defense, he wouldn't be much of a reach at 3:Comp or 4:18.

WR

HV 4:1

Bruce Ellington, WR/KR, South Carolina - 5'9-3/8", 197 lbs. On the measurables he is almost a clone of Robert Herron. Herron reportedly caught the eye of Kevin Colbert at the Senior Bowl, but Ellington couldn't because he was a Junior. On the other hand, as CBS put it, Ellington was the guy who "proved a difference-maker at receiver and returner while also juggling starting point guard duties for the Gamecocks' basketball team." Quoting that same scouting report, "Ellington is shorter than scouts would prefer and lacks polish in some of the most elementary phases of playing wide receiver. He is tough, instinctive and cat-quick, however, making him one of more intriguing slot receiver and return specialists of the 2014 draft."

WR

HV 4:1

Robert Herron, WR/KR, Wyoming - 5'9-1/8", 193 lbs. Herron is plenty fast and he flashed some good, precise route-running at the Senior Bowl practices. The only issue is height. Not size, just height. He is 5'9" but a very stocky 193 lbs. If the Steelers go Defense in both the 1st and 2nd rounds, Herron could be on the radar as a combination slot receiver and kick returner, just like his measurables-clone Bruce Ellington.

WR

HV 4:1

Josh Huff, WR, Oregon - 5'11-1/4", 206 lbs. Huff came onto the Board because of a great first day of practice at the Senior Bowl. He continued that as the week went on, earning praise for his good body control and overall level of effort. After searching around the Web for a scouting report, the information shows a solid prospect who doesn't excel or fail in any particular aspect. Fast but not very fast; neither tall nor short; a good but not great route runner; etc. If the Steelers go Defense with all of their first four picks, Huff would be a very interesting prospect for one of the picks at 4:Comp. The FO has found gems in that range before.

WR

HV 4:16

Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford - 6'5-7/8", 271 lbs. Just about the ideal build for a 3-4 DE, but supposed to have average physical skills. He would make a great depth pick in any of the later rounds. Here is a scouting report.

DE

HV 4:16

Shaquil Barrett, OLB Colorado State - 6'2", 250 lbs. A candidate to convert from DE to 3-4 OLB. Barrett was one of the better pass rushers in the NCAA in the 2013 season putting up 12 sacks and five hurries. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds he projects nicely as a 3-4 OLB. He has a good first step, active hands and a great motor. He was used as both a stand-up OLB and a hand in the dirt pass rusher for Colorado State. Barrett had the chance to go against elite competition when his team played Alabama this season. He was primarily match-up against Cyrus Kouandijo (a potential top 15 pick in the 2014 draft). Barrett gave Kouandijo all he could handle putting up 1.5 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 1.5 TFL and 5 total tackles. [Lifted from Steel34D's Dec. 21 article on upcoming Bowl games]. Here is a comparable scouting report from the guys at Steeler Depot. They note that Barrett has a good first step but is inconsistent and could really benefit from professional strength training. Very good at setting the edge and a student of the game who was coached by Joey Porter in his Senior year.

OLB

HV 4:16

Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida - 6'5", 249 lbs. All the talent in the world, but some serious questions about the internals. See this article from National Football Post for a list of the reasons why a 1st-round talent gets a questionable 4th-round grade. CBS has similar things to say: "Questions abound as to whether or not he has the attitude, team-first mentality and dedication required to succeed at the next level. Does not play to the whistle, and often cuts his pursuit short when a play is moving away from him." Etc. He is exactly the sort of player who needs to be thoroughly vetted by a professional scouting staff - which we of course don't have.

OLB

HV 4:16

Jordan Tripp, OLB/ILB, Montana - 6'2-3/4", 234 lbs. Dominated the competition at a smaller school. Supposed to be a superb athlete and a top "sleeper" as a 4-3 OLB. Questions arise about where he would fit in the Steelers system, but he is firmly on the radar screen. Performed well at the Combine, albeit a little stiffly in the change of direction drills.

OLB

HV 4:16

Ethan Westbrooks, OLB, West Texas A&M - 6'3-1/2", 267 lbs. Westbrooks dominated during 2013 but against inferior Division II competition. Earning the defensive MVP at the East West Shrine Game put him firmly on the map with the big boys. As discussed in this scouting report, Westbrooks is totally raw but demonstrates both the athleticism and the raw talent you want to see. That makes him an ideal candidate for a 3rd day pick. He didn't move particularly well at the Combine, though such a statement has very limited value with a kid who has so much left to learn.

OLB

HV 4:16

Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin - 5'11-1/2", 248 lbs. Here is a nice scouting report from Walter Football. It basically says he is a great 2-down thumper against the run, a great player to have on your team, and a smaller guy who has the potential, but faces very long odds, of maturing into a Zach Thomas or London Fletcher. I give a lower grade than he deserves on talent alone because that sounds a lot like Vince Williams to me.

ILB

HV 4:16

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor - 6'0", 212 lbs. Known as a big hitter with good athleticism but some sloppy technique. Excellent speed for playing center field. If he was 2" taller and 20 pounds heavier he might be a 1st round pick. Here is a quick scouting report. The only physical complaint I've seen are vague references to be less fluid than the ideal, but the same people tend to enthuse about how he makes up for that with closing speed and decisiveness. Dixon may have a temper that will require some exploration. He was cleared by a grand jury from assault charges but it sounds like he really did punch the guy - just not at a level deserving criminal prosecution.

S

HV 4:16

Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt - 6'0-1/8", 207 lbs. Ladler has everything but speed, but that is enough to lower his value into a mid-round pick. Here is a brief scouting report. People were hoping he'd run a 4.4-something at the Combine, which would have made a huge difference since he is expected to run closer to 4.6. In the end he ran a 4.7. I don't dock him for that so much as being a straight Strong Safety in a year when the Steelers are focused more on a roving centerfield Free Safety.

S

HV 4:16

Deion Belue, CB, Alabama - 5'11", 182 lbs. A decent cover corner with some much needed speed.

CB

HV 4:16

Brandon Dixon, CB, NW Missouri State - 5'11-1/2", 203 lbs. A Division II prospect who shined at the Combine enough to thrust his way onto the Board. Ran a 4.41 40, etc. According to the reports he dominated the competition at his level, including a great game against WR prospect Jeff Janis. He will be high on the Steelers' watch list as a Round 5-6 pick.

CB

HV 4:16

Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor - 5'11", 194 lbs. Interesting guy. He played 3 years of basketball as a starting Forward at Gonzaga, and then transferred to Baylor where he became a starting CB. Clearly has the athletic talent he needs, including the necessary speed, which he demonstrated at the Combine. Supposed to be quick and sure handed too. And he even has good genes - his older brother is Mike Goodson, a starting RB for the Panthers and now for the Jets.

CB

HV 4:16

Dontae Johnson, CB/S, North Carolina State - 6'2-1/8", 200 lbs. This ranking may be a little high because Johnson is quite raw, but I am giving full credit for size, exceptional speed, and general athleticism; he was also a fine college basketball player. Here is a quick scouting report from a Cowboys fan site. He played several DB positions in college but will probably make his money as a tall CB capable of countering goliath WR's in a defense bent on copying the Seahawks.

CB

HV 4:16

Xavier Grimble, TE, USC - 6'4", 257 lbs. He can block, and he does it very well. But can he run and catch? Walter Football acknowledges some decent speed and "natural receiving ability with quickness and athleticism." Definitely someone the Steelers will carefully scout.

TE

HV 4:16

Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia - 6'5", 258 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. If Lynch can be that guy he might be a mid-round target. Walter Football describes him as a "reliable" but not a "big play" receiver who "did a nice job of blocking in the ground game." Other scouting reports have called him compared him to a poor man's Heath Miller or Ben Coates, a "throwback player stuck in a modern era." That probably goes way over the top, but it at least lands you a grade in the 4th Round.

TE

HV 4:16

Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State - 6'2-7/8", 219 lbs. The top Division II Wide Receiver in the draft. He has the size and he can run in the 4.4 range. He flashed those talents effectively at the Senior Bowl, the East/West Shrine Game, and the Combine. But he also showed that he's still heavier on the potential than anything else. He gets half a round of bonus here for being on the tall side.

WR

HV 4:16

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana - 6'2", 215 lbs. Seems to be a good, solid receiver who keeps getting lost in a very deep class. As described in this scouting report, Latimer could be a steal for someone in the start of Day 3. He gets half a round of bonus for being on the tall side.

WR

*** STEELERS PICK AT 4:18 (#___ OVERALL) ***

HV 4:24

Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma - 5'11-3/8", 186 lbs. at the Senior Bowl. [DOWNGRADED FOR INJURY] Early mocks had Colvin going as high as #16 and as low as the Steelers pick at 2:14. The excitement peaked after the 1st-day reports from the Senior Bowl had scouts "raving about his cat-quick feet." Then, on the 2nd day he blew an ACL. In addition, subsequent scouting reports like this one from Walter Football argue that his lack of size would have knocked him out of the 1st round anyway. So...Where does he grade post ACL? In 2013 the Niners chose Marcus Lattimore in the 4th Round. Lattimore was an even better prospect than Colvin, but he was coming back from a second catastrophic knee injury. So I put Colvin, with injury, at about the same spot. With modern medicine a knee injury like this will force an involuntary redshirt year as a pro, but that would have had anyway in the Steelers system - both because he needs to bulk up and for the mental side. He can do both of those from the IR List so it's not as big a problem as it could have been for other teams. Going into 2015 we will have a 1st- or 2nd-round talent back and ready to compete, hopefully obtained with a 4th- or 5th- round pick.

CB

HV 4:24

Philip Gaines, CB, Rice - 6'0-3/8", 193 lbs. Excellent speed (2nd-fastest CB at the Combine) and comparisons to Cortland Finnegan get him on the Board. Per Mike Mayock: For a guy that's going to be a mid- to late- developmental corner, I'm not sure you're going to get any better value than Phillip Gaines."

CB

ROUND 5 GRADES

HV 5:1

Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech - 6'2", 357 lbs. - 5.34 - Do you believe in a Nose Tackle who ought to shrink? The thought is that he might have the athleticism to be really special if he could only shrink to around 330. A fine Day-3 flyer for depth.

NT

HV 5:1

Ego Ferguson, NT, LSU - 6'3", 310 lbs. The Steelers might have a slot for the next Casey Hampton, but between Steve McLendon, Ziggy Hood, Al Woods, and Hebron Fangupo there is little room for another player who would "only" be good.

NT

HV 5:1

DaQuan Jones, NT, Penn State - 6'3", 320 lbs. A potential Nose Tackle out of Penn State? Expect the drums to start pounding. But the odds are very low that he will end up a Steeler because he is not a big enough improvement on McLendon and Woods to be worth an early pick, and he will be long gone before the Steelers would be ready to pick another "solid contributor" at that position (no sooner than the 4th imho).

NT

HV 5:1

Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon - 6'6", 281 lbs. Based on this cbssports.com writeup, Taylor Hart is one of those players who Coach Mitchell would take apart completely and then reconstruct into something totally unexpected. But he's shown enough to believe that the "unexpected" might be pretty good. Given the Steelers' needs, that makes him a 3rd-day prospect.

DE

HV 5:1

Brent Urban, DE, Virginia - 6'7", 295 lbs. He has the measurables and the talent, but as cbssports put it, he "is not yet the sum of his parts." If there is room on the roster, Urban sounds like an ideal 5th-round pick for coach Mitchell to take apart and reconstruct.

DE

HV 5:1

Devon Kennard, OLB, USC - 6'3", 255 lbs. If you care about bloodlines, his father Derek played 11 years in the NFL as an Offensive Lineman. Missed the 2012 season with a torn pectoral.

OLB

HV 5:1

Kareem Martin, OLB, North Carolina - 6'5-7/8", 272 lbs. A very athletic guy with up and down performance that improved over the course of the year. He has the measurables, and the talent is in there somewhere, but can he convert from a college DE to a pro 3-4 OLB, and put it all together? A lot of people thinks so, since Martin keeps sneaking into the late 1st as an analyst's 'surprise pick for pure potential.' Here is a decent preseason scouting report from July of 2013. Here is a more recent scouting report. This is a Bleacher Report version, but it's consistent with the others and clearly written. And here is a fourth spot. The reason for so many links? Kareem Martin is such a tantalizing prospect that he will get a really thorough look from the Steelers FO and coaches. This Walter Football scouting report summarizes the issues nicely. Martin is very inconsistent and projects much better as a 4-3 DE than he does as a 3-4 OLB. I have downgraded him from a 3rd to a 5th round option because of the questionable fit.

OLB

HV 5:1

Elhadji Ndiaye, OLB, Nebraska-Kearney - 6'5, 255 lbs. Out here in boom or bust land you can find some very strange critters ... like 255 pound linebackers that run a 4.48 40-time. Ndiaye is a true, late-round flyer but if he booms instead of busts he could be an all-star. Check out this article for some background. As a draftnik's analysis said, if the reports are true then Ndiaye is this year's Ziggy Ansah. If my amateur opinion matters, I view him as a pure redshirt year OLB option. I see no way he will even sniff playing time in 2014 on anything but special teams. But that is not a serious price to pay for the Steelers because it is equally true for players with vastly more playing experience. Come Year 2 he might be ready to be a backup and situational player, but I acknowledge that a LOT can change in a year if you have a kid who is willing to learn. And he's had some training from a cousin who played D-Line for several teams - Ogemdi Nwagbuo, who saw the potential in Elhadji and got him into football.

OLB

HV 5:1

Roosevelt Nix, OLB/ILB, Kent State - 5'11, 250(?) lbs. Roosevelt Nix may be the most puzzling player on my Board. His upside? James Harrison, right down to the height (within an inch), the same college, and even the chance that he could fall out of the draft completely to be a UDFA. By every account, including this one, and this one, and this one, Nix has one of if not the best first steps in all of college football. But he is ridiculously short to play OLB (like Harrison) and it's hard to even tell how big he is. Different sites report him anywhere from 235 lbs. up to 265. And yet, despite the lack of height and weight he played a lot of 4-3 Defensive Tackle, as opposed to edge-rushing Defense End, and earned praise like "elite interior penetrator." I project him as a linebacker, but beyond that it's baffling. But if the Steelers believe he can overcome the size thing, Roosevelt Nix would be a fantastic prospect for wherever he manages to fit. Like the rest of my boom-or-bust sleepers, I am sticking him in with a good but third-day rating.

OLB

HV 5:1

Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah - 6'5", 245 lbs. Here are the downsides: Reilly may be very athletic but he is also an underperformer and according to cbssports a "finesse" player. Because of serving his Mormon years-abroad mission, he is also 26 years old. The positives? He seems like one of those players who could blossom under an NFL strength & conditioning regime, and there is little doubt he has the athleticism to move from DE to OLB. For once, it is the pass rushing ability that raises more question marks than the conversion itself. He would be solid value at 3:comp for a team that really needs some bodies in the OLB pipeline.

OLB

HV 5:1

Michael Sam, OLB Missouri - 6'2", 261 lbs. A candidate to convert from DE to 3-4 OLB. Michael Sam was one of the better pass rushers in the SEC and beat out CJ Mosley as Defensive Player of the year. Seems to be smart and experienced, but may lack elite athleticism. He needed a good Combine and had exactly the opposite, looking very like an undersized DE who lacks the athleticism to play OLB. In case you somehow missed it, Michael Sam is also the player who just came out about what he likes to do with whom in his bedroom, which makes him a potential press & chemistry issue. Still, if the Steelers see some hidden abilities that we did not, he might be in the cards as a 5th or 6th round pick. Here is a pre-Combine scouting report from Gang Green Nation, our sister site for the NY Jets.

OLB

HV 5:1

Chidera Uzo-Diribe, OLB, Colorado - 6'3", 250 lbs. A very solid 3rd-Day pick for OLB depth. See this article for a brief but decent writeup.

OLB

HV 5:1

Larry Webster, OLB/DE, Bloomsburg - 6'5-3/4", 252 lbs. Long and lean. He is the son of Larry Webster, Jr. who played DE for the 2001 Ravens among others. He had only one year of college against inferior competition, which makes him hard to judge. But as you can see from this scouting report, there is something there that's worth developing. From the Steelers point of view he would only be an option if he can transition to OLB.

OLB

HV 5:1

Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA - 6'4", 235 lbs. Grade based on this National Football Post article, and the fact that he sounds an awful lot like Vince Williams - who is already on the team.

ILB

HV 5:1

Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State - 5'9-7/8", 211 lbs. The consensus seems to be, "solid but unremarkable." And well coached. That is more than enough to get him drafted in this year's class.

S

HV 5:1

Kevin Pierre-Louis, S, Boston College - 6'0", 232 lbs. He is actually a 4-3 Will linebacker, and possibly a very good one. Fast, smart ... and so severely undersized for the Steelers system that he would have to convert to an oversized Safety for sub packages. I've kept him on the Board because he would be a great prospect for that role. Telvin Smith is in a similar bind.

S

HV 5:1

Telvin Smith, S, Florida State - 6'2", 218 lbs. Telvin Smith is a fine player, but how does a 220 lb. linebacker fit in any version of the Steelers system? Answer: he doesn't. If Telvin Smith runs well the Steelers might be interested in picking him up as a Safety, but he will go far before that point to a 4-3 team dreaming that he might turn into the next Jack Ham (i.e., a Will linebacker). Kevin Pierre-Louis is in a similar position.

S

HV 5:1

Chris Davis, CB/KR, Auburn - 5'10", 203 lbs. Chris Davis will go down in SEC legend as the guy who made the big, last-second return to win the 2013 game against Alabama. But he also started for three years as a Cornerback. In that capacity, however, he has flashed more potential than achievement. He is "not accomplished" at man coverage, zone coverage, tackling, and run support. According to reports, he was holding for dear life at the Senior Bowl practices. If Coach Lake thinks he is trainable, Chris Davis will be a target on Day 3. If he wasn't an ace kick returner the ranking could be even lower.

KR

HV 5:1

Joe Jon Duncan, TE, Dixie State - 6'3", 268 lbs. It's not often a Tight End at any level can be called "the focal point of the offense." I hesitate to use any Bleacher Report hyperbole as a reference, but I think that means he can at least be relied on to catch the ball. Beyond that, at 267 pounds you'd hope he'd block better than David Paulsen. He also had a very impressive Combine. Definitely a person the Steelers will scout if they want to spend a third day pick on a TE.

TE

HV 5:1

Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State - 6'6", 260 lbs. Crockett Gilmore began to appear on draft boards after a good showing at the East/West Shrine Game, then continued to rise when he shined at the Senior Bowl too. All the news reports said basically the same thing. He is a very good pass catcher, a good blocker, and an okay route runner who lacks the speed and athleticism that would move him into contention for a top-100 pick. OTOH, he is a true multi-purpose TE in a class where that is rare after the. Big Three who will go in the 1st. It would not be a shock if the Steelers called his name in the first half of Day 3.

TE

HV 5:1

Richard Rodgers, TE, California - 6'4", 257 lbs. A receiver who blocks well - for a receiver. As a Tight End, not so much. If he has even the potential to learn, he would be a solid mid-round pick. Should he get extra points because Rebecca Rollett would call him the 20th century's greatest writer of waltzes?

TE

HV 5:1

Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest - 5'9-3/8", 192 lbs. As summarized by cbssports.com, "Campanaro is a smart football player and has an extremely detail-oriented skill-set. Flashes natural hands with excellent focus and tracking ability." He ran an above average 40 at the Combine too. The downside is a low ceiling. He's the size of Antonio Brown without the blazing quickness. That drops you down, in this class especially.

WR

HV 5:1

Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane - 6'0-3/8", 199 lbs., and neither particularly fast or particularly slow. This HV rating is unfair and some team will probably snap Grant up by the early or mid-4th. But the Steelers are in an unusual position for Wide Receivers. We could use a true #1-quality weapon to pair with Antonio Brown or Heath Miller, but we actually have good depth after that with Wheaton, J-Co and Moye. Hence the lower HV # than he probably deserves. According to our own Steel34D: "Grant catches the ball well. He also runs good routes but there are concerns about his overall athleticism and level of competition he faced in college. He also has dealt with issues of holding on to the football after the catch. Overall Grant is a late round WR prospect with some upside to make a roster." He impressed at the Senior Bowl practices too. This scouting report from our sister site at Gang Green Nation says much the same thing.

WR

HV 5:1

Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU - 6'3-7/8", 223 lbs. Who is Cody Hoffman? If he lived up to more of his promise he would be the receiver that the Ravens would draft in Round 2 if they go O-Line in the 1st. This is a particularly admiring scouting report. But others such as this one and this one and this one from our sister site for the Eagles more or less agree. Everything you read reminds you of an unfinished Anquan Boldin. Good size, very physical, good route runner, good work ethic; but only average for long speed and not a quick accelerator. But, as the NFL.com scouting report put it , Hoffman can be a "monotone route runner" who displays "limited agility to shake defenders releasing and does not create in space." In sum, if it 'clicks' he can become a dominant possession receiver and go-to guy, but it hasn't clicked yet. In particular, he did anything but live up to his promise at the Senior Bowl and was constantly stuffed at the line by smaller men. Nevertheless, the size is there, someone is going to bet that his coaching staff is up to the job, and if they're right then Cody Hoffman could be a genuine steal in the middle rounds.

WR

HV 5:1

T.J. Jones, WR/KR, Notre Dame - 5'11-5/8", 188 lbs., and neither particularly fast or particularly slow. To quote from the cbssports.com scouting report, "He has strong, aggressive hands and attacks the ball at the catch point, selling his routes with coordinated footwork and a veteran presence. Jones lacks ideal size, strength or speed for the NFL game, but is reliable at all levels of the field and there is a place at the next level for him." Speed may have been answered at the Combine with a 4.48. That's very good, if not great, which may explain why he's been such a sneaky-good kick returner. That prowess also speaks well of his spatial awareness, a subtle but important skill for receivers who will make their living finding a hole in the zone. Would rank a lot higher if he was 2"-3" taller.

WR

HV 5:16

Deandre Coleman, DE/NT, California - 6'5", 314 lbs. A mass of potential who never managed to be more than that. Here is one very brief scouting report, and here is a slightly longer one.

DE

HV 5:16

Cassius Marsh, OLB, UCLA - 6'4", 252 lbs. He's a fine athlete but maybe more of a 4-3 DE. For the Steelers he would have to convert to OLB. That is asking a lot, but it is hard to imagine what other position he would fit on a Steelers defense. Here is a newspaper puff piece with some background.

OLB

HV 5:16

Alden Darby, S, Arizona State - 5'11", 195 lbs. In another year he'd get a lower ranking, but Darby is actually two things: a genuine football player and a young man who plays safety. That will ensure he gets drafted in this class. At the East-West Shrine Game he snagged two interceptions and showed a fine range. That will get the Steelers attention too.

S

HV 5:16

Marqueston Huff, S/CB/KR, Wyoming - 5'11-1/8", 196 lbs. Huff has great measurables, played well statistically, and he is versatile. In college Huff played running back, cornerback, safety and return man at different times. But there appear to be some issues with a physical appearance that struck at least one person as overly casual to the point of looking indifferent or even lazy. Is that an actual attitude or just the way he looks to a single reviewer?

S

HV 5:16

Bennett Jackson, S/CB, Notre Dame - 5'11-7/8", 185 lbs. A classic DB 'tweener' who ran well at the Combine. Notre Dame is pretty good about requiring at least a modicum of smarts, so I assume he has a good football IQ as well. That would make him a fine developmental candidate for a 3rd-day pick.

S

HV 5:16

Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern - 5'10", 198 lbs. Played QB in college but will convert for the pros. According to this very entertaining puff piece he is a very smart kid and every inch the 'winner' who will find his way on to the field. Supposed to have okay speed and good quickness, but he's never played WR so there is a good bit of projection in this rating.

WR

HV 5:16

Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo - 6'3", 205 lbs. Good size, good hands, questionable speed. Don't know much more.

WR

HV 5:16

Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama - 6'2", 198 lbs. A decent prospect from a top notch program. The biggest knock is that he's a 5th year Senior and never managed to stand out in Alabama's run-first offense. Moved up a tad on this Board because of a good performance at the Senior Bowl. Seems to know something about how to get open.

WR

HV 5:16

Jalen Saunders, KR/WR, Oklahoma - 5'8-7/8", 165 lbs. I believe he is the smallest player in the draft, which means he might get killed if anyone can catch him. But that's a big "if." As you can see in this scouting report, and this smaller one, he is a flat-out electrifying presence on the field who plays a lot bigger than he measures. And he is not the next coming of Reggie Dunn. The reviews emphasize that he is a good route runner (improvable, but good) who has reliable hands despite their tiny size. He would make the team as a kick returner but would actually have a chance to contribute as a slot receiver too.

KR

HV 5:16

L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri - 6'3-7/8", 195 lbs. In other words, he his tall and thin. According to this scouting report, he also suffers from having good long speed (ran a 4.46 at the Combine) but poorer agility (only a 4.35 in the 20 yard shuttle) and a severe lack of polish. For better or worse, he's also had to play in the long shadow cast by his Sophomore teammate, the soon-to-be-a-1st-round Dorial Beckham-Green. Still, that kind of height is hard to teach.

WR

*** STEELERS PICK AT 5:17 (#___ OVERALL) ***

*** STEELERS EXPECTED TO HAVE A 5TH-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK FOR KEENAN LEWIS ***

ROUND 6 GRADES

HV 6:1

Daniel McCullers, NT, Tennessee - 6'7", > 352 lbs. A massive run-stuffer. He won't be catching any quarterbacks, but on true running downs he'd be ideal. A question for the film-watchers will be if his height causes leverage problems that will make him vulnerable at the next level. Here is a Steelers Depot scouting report complete with gifs.

NT

HV 6:1

Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia - 6'6-1/8", 271 lbs. He has the build and athleticism to be a 3-4 DE, but hasn't shown that he can put it all together. From the Steelers point of view he would be an ideal FA developmental prospect similar to Brian Arnfelt last year. If the D-Line becomes an area of need, however, he could definitely creep up into the Day 3 draft. Here is a gif-supported Steelers Depot scouting report.

DE

HV 6:1

George Uko, DE, USC - 6'2-1/2", 284 lbs. The sort of player who will put on weight and make an effective 4-3 defensive line contributor. CBS has him as a late-3rd round talent in that capacity, but he is not a fit for our system.

DE

HV 6:1

Howard Jones, ILB/OLB, Shepherd - 6'2", 234 lbs. One of those "potential small school gems" we always want to know more about. Supposed to be very fast, but it will be hard to judge how he would compare to people who played in Division I. It is even hard to tell if he would fit better as a 3-4 ILB, or an OLB in the 4-3, or a 3-4 OLB who needs to add a lot of size.

ILB

HV 6:1

Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville - 6'1", 180 lbs. The consensus seems to be, "solid but unremarkable." That is more than enough to get him drafted in this year's class.

S

HV 6:1

Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State - 6'0", 205 lbs.

S

HV 6:1

Marcus Williams, S/KR, North Dakota State - 5'11", 192 lbs. Poster bmoody gets credit for the find. Here is a scouting report. And here is an earlier one from September. He was a CB in college, but based on the reports he sounds like a better candidate to learn the Free Safety slot. Played okay as a CB in the East-West Shrine Game and practices, but didn't stand out - and that might be because he ought to move inside at the pro level. I am quite sure there is a file on him at Steelers Central. We have room for a developmental ballhawk who might be able to return kicks, and would be useful as a gunner.

S

HV 6:1

Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue - 5'9-1/8", 187 lbs. This is an unfair grade since most sites have him graded as a Round 4-6 talent, but the Steelers traditionally prefer bigger CB's.

CB

HV 6:1

Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State - 5'10-3/4", 195 lbs. Supposed to have some decent athleticism and coverage ability, but also quite raw and maybe lacking in top-end speed.

CB

HV 6:1

Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State - 5'09-1/2", 190 lbs. At the Combine he proved to have adequate long speed (4.48) but didn't wow in any particular way. A nice 3rd-day developmental prospect in a very strong class

CB

HV 6:1

Ryan Groy, OL Wisconsin - 6'5", 316 lbs. Ran a very fast 10 yard split at the Combine - a 1.75. That's as good as top talents like Joe Thomas! Groy has played every position on the O-line as well as FB. Is he Kelvin Beachum 2.0? That wouldn't be a bad pick at all.

OL

HV 6:1

Austin Wentworth, OT, Fresno St. - 6'5", 306 lbs.

OL

HV 6:1

Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State - 6'6", 259 lbs. The Steelers have two working Tight Ends: Heath Miller, who can both block and catch, and Matt Spaeth, who can block well enough but (to put it kindly) is a bit lumbering as a receiver. Any Tight End would be expected to be the next Miller, not the next Spaeth. If Jensen can be that guy he might be a mid-round target. Random reports have said that he is nimbler than you'd expect, but Fresno State runs a wide open offense and that significantly reduced Jensen's playing time. That leads me to believe he's more of a blocker than a catcher, which is why I've moved him below some other players who offer more balance. If he really is a dual purpose guy, the grade is unfair.

TE

HV 6:1

Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor - 6'6", 256 lbs. According to cbssports.com, he is a "bruising blocker with soft hands." You could do worse. Somewhat less reliable sources tout his tremendous athleticism and length. The Steelers may well be looking for a late-round Tight End who can catch and can at least learn to block. Najvar could be that guy.

TE

HV 6:1

J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU - 5'11" 271 lbs. Former DT converted to FB. According to our own Greig Clawson, Copeland moves really well for a guy with his size. Would probably get a 5th round grade if the Steelers didn't have a good Fullback already in Will Johnson. Still, a man that size who moves that well is definitely going to find his way onto the field somehow, in Special Teams if nowhere else.

RB

*** STEELERS PICK AT 6:16 (#___ OVERALL) ***

ROUND 7 GRADES

HV 7:1

Jamie Meder, NT, Ashland Univ. - 6'2", 305 lbs. This is a tiny Division II school, but Meder earned some serious recognition as a guy who can bench press 500 pounds. He was also productive - a four-time All-GLIAC (the conference) first team pick and the GLIAC defensive lineman of the year in 2012 and 2013.You could do worse with a late round flyer. Bmoody gets credit for the find.

NT

HV 7:1

Denicos Allen, S, Michigan State - 5'11", 218 lbs. Another player who is really a 4-3 OLB. Might fall to the Steelers if he is fast enough to convert into a Safety, but otherwise he is simply a bad fit.

S

HV 7:1

Kendall James, CB, Maine - 5'10-1/2", 180 lbs. This preseason scouting report emphasized that he is primarily a zone player (which is the Steelers forte) and that the primary question marks had to do with long speed. He answered that with a resounding 4.44 dash in the Combine. He is still a late-3rd or UDFA candidate, but I include him because the Steelers may want to stock up on prospects late in the draft.

CB

HV 7:1

Josh Stewart, KR/WR, Oklahoma State - 5'9-7/8", 178 lbs. Fast and elusive, he would make the team as a kick returner who might also become a decent receiver. Looked surprisingly poor at the Combine, with subpar results for both the 40 and the agility drills. He'll have to make that up at his pro day or look to be a UDFA.

KR

*** STEELERS PICK AT 7:15 (#___ OVERALL) ***

THE AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN LIST

More than a third of the first two rounds will likely go toward prospects who play a position where the Steelers have little or no need. Giving them a Steelers HV # is silly, but they should be listed to provide examples of the many prospects that will prevent other teams from snapping up our favorites.

Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S/KR, Florida State - 5'8", 184 lbs. Joyner is a football player through and through. He is a legitimate 2nd round talent and should be picked there. He's off my Board because he's only 5'8", Shamarko Thomas is only 5'9", and it is a lot easier to compensate for one short player than it would be for two. If you want more information Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network did a thorough scouting report in November, 2013. He compared Joyner to a slot-corner Wes Welker, a playmaker like Troy Polamalu, and then ended up giving a 2nd round grade.

CB/S

Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri - 6'4", 273 lbs. Kony Ealy is a natural 4-3 DE who will go to a 4-3 team well before the point when he would be a value pick for the 3-4 Steelers. He has enough talent that he could probably be a pass rushing 5-technique too, but it ain't gonna happen. In addition, while he flashes some fantastic athleticism, he's not a realistic candidate for converting to OLB.

DE

Dominique Easley, DE, Florida - 6'2", 288 lbs. Great talent. Blew out both the ACL and MCL in his right knew in September of 2013, after coming back from an ACL in his left knee during 2011. So there would be a downgrade anyway. But with the added questions about his fit with the Steelers ... Ain't Gonna Happen.

DE

Kelcy Quarles, DE, South Carolina - 6'3-3/4", 297 lbs. if you play opposite Jadeveon Clowney and he is getting triple-teamed all the time, you should rack up some impressive stats. Quarles' stats were okay. Sort of. The bigger issue is a lack of fit for what the Steelers need.

DE

Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt - 6'0" 285 lbs. A potentially great Tackle in the 4-3 that doesn't fit the Steelers 3-4. It's almost a shame to say that because (a) he is a hometown boy, and (b) the NFL Network's Bucky Brooks went so far as to describe him as someone with a real chance to be the next Geno Atkins.

DT

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State - 6'2", 290 lbs. Jernigan will probably go to a 4-3 team in the 1st, but will certainly be gone by the end of the 2nd.

DT

Ed Stinson, DE/DT, Alabama - 6'4", 280 lbs.

DT

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State - 6'0", 280 lbs.

DT

Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame - 6'2", 340 lbs. The Steelers will only pick a Nose Tackle who either (a) can play all three downs and rush the passer, or (b) will be available in the 4th round or later. Nix can't do (a) and is way too good for (b). Ain't Gonna Happen.

NT

ALL OFFENSIVE LINEMEN WITH A 1ST-5TH ROUND GRADE

OL

Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame - 6'1", 258 lbs. Shembo's rep at the beginning of the process was ‘great motor; tough kid; but limited athleticism.' He answered some of the athleticism questions at the Combine and would have gone up to a Round 3-4 grade, but that good news was offset by huge red flags when stories like this one confirmed that he was the player involved in the Lizzy Seeberg sexual-assault-and-suicide case. I apologize for the breach of due process, but he has to come off this Board because we lack the ability to answer those questions.

OLB

ALL RUNNING BACKS WITH A 1ST OR 2ND ROUND GRADE

RB

Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky - 6'2-3/4", 190 lbs. Great physical tools, lots of off-the-field problems.

S

Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (before being dropped) - 6'4", 242 lbs. Great physical tools, lots of critical off-the-field problems.

TE

Brandin Cooks, WR/KR, Oregon State - 5'9-3/4", 189 lbs. Great, great prospect. 1st-2nd round talent. Love him to bits. His size moves him down the Board too far to keep him up there.

WR

Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan - 5'7", 185 lbs. Here is a (somewhat iffy) scouting report that summarizes Jeremy Gallon as "Brandin Cooks without the speed." If Cooks himself is off the Board, then so is Gallon.

WR

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