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Steelers 2015 Big Board - by position

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There are a few cornerback prospects possibly available around the 22nd pick. Weigh in on others you may see rising or falling.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

STEELERS 2015 BIG BOARD - BY POSITION

HV 1:15

Marcus Peters, CB, TCU - 6'0", 198 lbs. He may have the best film of all the cover corners and he's going to look great at the Combine too. The issues are all off-field. Peters played most of his college career for the Washington Huskies, but was dismissed from the team after repeated battles with the new coaching staff. OTOH, U. of W. agreed to continue paying his scholarship at whatever school(s) he went to, which means that even the university brass knew that the problems weren't all on him. What's going on behind the scenes? Did he really try to "strangle" a coach as part of the "multiple arguments" he had with the new staff? You and I may never know, but it is the major factor that will determine how far this early-1st talent will fall.

CB

HV 1:15

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State - 6'1", 183 lbs. A player who flat-out fits the mold in every way, with one tiny exception: He grades out as a "merely fantastic" athlete rather than an "OMG did you see that!?" sort. Killing the combine would move him into top-10 consideration. As-is, in this CB class, he's not going to make it out of the 20's.

CB

HV 1:20

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - 6'2", 195 lbs. This is a kid with all the physical tools, including the quickness of a smaller man, and who seems to have the mental tools as well, such as a well respected work ethic. In other words, he's exactly the kind of prospect that makes coaches nod wisely and say, ‘I can work with that...' The drawback is that he'll need a redshirt year before being ready to take on crafty NFL guys - especially in a Lebeau defense - and that is enough to keep him out of the top half of the 1st. Here is a pre-2014 scouting report. NOTE THAT THE "OTHER LSU JALEN", SAFETY JALEN MILLS, HAS SAID HE WILL RETURN TO SCHOOL FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

CB

HV 1:20

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon - 5'9", 195 lbs. Remember Jason Verrett last year? That's IEO this year. "If he was 4" taller and 20 lbs. heavier, he'd be a candidate for the top-10." Speed, quicks, hands, head ... he's got it all except height. Translating to draftese, IEO is a ‘safe' pick because he has such a high floor that it's hard to see him being less than a really good slot corner. But how high in the 1st does that get you when a true #1 has to cover the Calvin Johnsons of the world as well as the Antonio Browns? HAD WHAT IS BEING DESCRIBED AS A "SERIOUS KNEE INJURY" ON DECEMBER 17 THAT WILL KEEP HIM OUT OF THE COLLEGE PLAYOFFS.  THE LONG TERM IMPACT BEYOND THAT IS UNKNOWN. LAST YEAR, PROJECTED 1ST ROUND CORNER AARON COLVIN FELL TO THE 4TH BECAUSE OF AN ACL TEAR. IF IEO HAD A SIMILAR INJURY, A SIMILAR DROP COULD BE IN THE CARDS.

CB

HV 1:20

P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State - 6'0", 196 lbs. You could argue that he's underperformed this year, but if he'd lived up to the pre-season hype we'd be looking at a top-10 player. A very real prospect for Pittsburgh's 1st-round pick because he's still got exactly the skillset that the Steelers like: athletic, tough, good in run support, and willing to both work and learn. The downside is that he's likely to get burned early and often if he gets on the field in year 1. But that's true for pretty much every corner in this year's class with the possible exception of IEO.

CB

HV 1:25

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - 6'0", 175 lbs. Expect Johnson's draft stock to rise during the process. He's been a solid player for several years; has the height and length teams are looking for to cover big receivers; has the feet and hips to learn how to cover shiftier guys; is a willing tackler; and has no drama in his background. All that makes for a player with a very high floor. If the workouts show someone with an equally high ceiling, Kevin Johnson could easily become a challenger for an early Steelers pick. This adoring November review comes from the normally reliable Rob Rang at CBS. This scouting report from a Bills site is less authoritative but just as nice because it includes some footage clips and discussion.

CB

HV 2:01

Alex Carter, CB, Stanford - 6'0", 200 lbs. A smart, physical, athletic corner we should really keep an eye on. His skillset and personality seem to really fit what the Steelers like to do. FWIW, his father Tom was a 1st-round pick back in 1993, who went on to an 8-year journeyman's career. A very solid 2nd-rounder based on performance, whose stock might rise even higher if the measurables come through.

CB

HV 2:01

D'Joun Smith, CB, Florida Atlantic - 5'11", 190 lbs. His name is pronounced like the mustard: ‘Dijon'. A good, solid athlete who will play in the NFL a long time but projects to be more of a William Gay "other corner" than a true #1 like Ike used to be. Of course, Gay would be looking like a fine 2nd-rounder in hindsight.

CB

HV 2:12

Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State - 5'11", 195 lbs. He's a fine athlete with decent size and decent performance, but he hasn't pushed that button to make a draftnik drool. A 2nd-day prospect who will need a redshirt year with professional coaches before he can really start to contribute. This write-up/scouting report was produced in November, after a middling game against Miami.

CB

HV 2:12

Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio) - 6'0", 187 lbs. This is one of my favorite early-process sleepers for the Steelers 2nd- or 3rd- round pick. Check out this college article on his background. Rollins is a basketball player who turned to football in his final year of eligibility, and then excelled because of his genuine athletic edge. He'll be badly out of his depth as a rookie, but sounds like exactly the sort of player who could make a huge sophomore leap, with a second one to follow the year after. The need to wait that long for a return on investment is likely to make him available in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Here is an interview he did with CBS. This is a brief scouting report from a Patriots site, and this is a slightly better scouting report from edraft.com.

CB

HV 2:12

Charles Gaines, CB, Louisville - 5'11", 175 lbs. A former wide receiver who never played defense until 2014. He presumably has okay hands, but needs more than just a year of practice before he'll really be able to view the game from a defensive point of view. Tackling, in particular, is something he needs to keep working on. That and his thin frame will tend to push him down many Boards.

CB

HV 2:24

Lorenzo Doss, CB, Tulane - 5'11", 187 lbs. A good but not great cover corner with excellent hands that have snagged an awful lot of balls. The thing is, most of those interceptions came on throws that were far more off-target than he'll see from any NFL quarterback, and if the questions about Doss' underlying athleticism have any genuine grounds he could be one of those prospects that can't carry his production to the next level. The Combine and workouts will make a big difference for his draft stock.

CB

HV 2:24

Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss - 5'9", 176 lbs. Weakness, size. He'd be yet another mighty mite in the Steelers secondary. Strength, athleticism. The Red Sox spent a draft pick on him too.

CB

HV 2:24

Doran Grant, CB/S, Ohio State - 5'11", 193 lbs. That dreaded word "consistency" seems to be the bugaboo.

CB

HV 2:24

KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame - 5'11", 190 lbs. A highly touted corner going into this season, Russell was forced to miss the entire 2014 season due to a still-disputed academic scandal. If he comes out anyway, that combination of tremendous potential and limited tape will make him a controversial candidate. According to BTSC member Ross.Mccorkle (go here and search the comments) there may be some drive and dedication issues too.

CB

HV 3:01

Byron Jones, CB/S, Connecticut - 6'1", 196 lbs. A safety who converted to cornerback in 2014, he is projected as a solid, safe zone corner with excellent height, length and speed. The Steelers could use three of those on the roster, even if the odds say that only one would work out in the end.

CB

HV 3:01

Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota - 6'0", 195 lbs. Described as a "tough and gritty man corner", the numbers will say whether he's a Round 3-4 pick, or has that special athletic genius that shows glimmers of a higher than expected ceiling.

CB

HV 3:01

Eric Rowe, CB, Utah - 6'1", 201 lbs. Eric Rowe is a converted safety with the height, length, and (reportedly 4.37) speed to make him an object of greed. His biggest test was against Michigan WR Devin Funchess, and Rowe pretty much dominated him all day. OTOH, he's still very raw as a corner. If those numbers prove to be real, expect his stock to shoot up into the late-1st to early-2nd range.

CB

HV 3:12

Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas - 5'10", 204 lbs. A four year starter from a school that produces good DB's, Diggs manages to look like a good player on the field, but not a special athlete. That will keep his draft stock down unless he can show up with better than expected numbers at the Combine.

CB

HV 3:12

Cody Riggs, CB, Notre Dame - 5'9", 190 lbs. Someone needs to write a song called the Draft Pick Blues. The chorus, which Riggs would have mastered by now, would go something like this: "They say he's a baller but the lad has been cursed / If he was four inches taller he could dream of the first..."

CB

HV 3:12

Cam Thomas, CB/S, Western Kentucky - 6'1", 190 lbs. Get past the name Steeler Fan, and look at the player! If the Steelers wait until the 3rd to target a corner, Thomas will be very high on the list. He's got the height, he's a willing tackler, he's played some Safety, and the criticisms seem to center on fixable issues of technique and on-field discipline. This December interview makes for interesting if less-than-informative reading.

CB

HV 3:24

Steven Nelson, CB, Oregon State - 5'11", 195 lbs. His play makes most of the analysts say things like "promising slot corner, but..." We'll have to wait and see what deeper analyses have to offer.

CB

HV 3:24

Josh Shaw, CB/S, USC - 6'1", 200 lbs. This is the kid who told the Big Lie about how he sprained his knees. The initial story had him leaping from a balcony to save his little nephew from drowning. Huge news and feel good story! That turned out not to be true. He just "fell" off the balcony (which, reading between the lines, hints at an altered state of mind). Aside from that, however, Shaw's got the makings of a solid prospect with experience at both Corner and Safety - something the Steelers could use.

CB

HV 4:01

Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M - 5'11", 188 lbs. A tough and physical player with a lot of potential that has never quite gelled. It's one of those cases where the coverage tools are there but there's always "something" that seems to go wrong. If the coaches see a fixable pattern, however, Everett would be a fine mid-round option. FWIW, he seems to be an aggressive personality who enjoys hitting more than tackling, has gotten a fair number of penalties for things like targeting, and (last year) got suspended for being in a bar fight.

CB

HV 4:01

Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami (Fla.) - 6'2", 198 lbs. This is one of those players I really want to see in the Senior Bowl. He looks perfect on paper, but hasn't played like a star. This scouting report from way back in October gives a good flavor, concluding that Gunter "is a smooth but nonexplosive athlete," and "a bit of an in between Corner prospect; a long, lean player without quick twitch ability or notable physicality." This write-up/scouting report after the Florida State game in November makes interesting reading too. My takeaway is that tackling can be taught, and a tall enough, long enough, and fast enough boundary corner might be a very useful addition to the Steelers squad, but explosiveness seems to be a trait that both Colbert and Tomlin value very highly. The supposed lack of "quick twitch ability" will be a major focus for the Pittsburgh scouts.

CB

HV 4:01

Damian Swann, CB, Georgia - 5'11", 180 lbs. He's an explosive athlete who had a good 2013, but in 2014 he was very up-and-down. Some weeks he looked like a future NFL starter, and others like a wide receiver's dream. At this point he averages out to "just another mid-round guy", but those are exactly the types that can make a significant rise as the process moves on. Professional coaching will undoubtedly bring out the true Damian Swann. It's just very hard to tell whether that will be a Dr. Jekyll or a Mr. Hyde.

CB

HV 1:01

Leonard Williams, DE, USC - 6'5", 298 lbs. Is Cam Heyward a great player? Yes. Is Stephon Tuitt a great prospect? Yes. Would that stop the Steelers from racing to draft Leonard Williams if he miraculously fell all the way down to their pick? Hell no. Genius makes its own rules. If you insist on pursuing hopeless dreams, this scouting report will give you a good start on evaluating Mr. Williams.

DE

HV 1:25

Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon - 6'7", 296 lbs. Pure, athletic potential in a quasi-human form. If the Steelers do the necessary research into his internals and still think enough of this young man to pick him, Steelers Nation will start to go ballistic with glee. OTOH, don't be surprised if the FO simply passes him by in favor of a less gaudy but more reliable option.

DE

HV 2:12

Carl Davis, DE, Iowa - 6'5", 315 lbs. May have extra value as the sort of swing player who could step in at either DE or NT. In many ways he reminds you of a Steve McLendon type.

DE

HV 2:24

Mario Edwards, DE/OLB, Florida State - 6'3", 294 lbs. Edwards is a heck of a player but may be too much of a ‘tweener' for the Steelers to value him as highly as his skills and potential would deserve in a different system.

DE

HV 3:24

Tyeler Davison, NT, Fresno State - 6'2", 309 lbs. Right now he's projected as a 4-3 defensive tackle by most reviewers. I haven't discounted as much in this case because the numbers suggest that he might be able to bulk up and play the Nose. We'll know more as the process plays out.

DE

HV 3:24

Travis Raciti, DE, San Jose State - 6'5", 315 lbs. He has the look of a Steelers DE, but didn't play well in college when given the chance to try out 5-technique snaps. There may also be questions about whether he's physically maxed out because he actually started school as a tight end.

DE

HV 3:24

Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State - 6'6", 270 lbs. Add 20 pounds of muscle and he'd be a perfect physical specimen for the position.

DE

HV 4:01

Christian Covington, DE, Rice - 6'3", 295 lbs. A very solid prospect who appears to be a much better fit as a 4-3 DT than a 3-4 guy. This grade reflects a discount for his lack of fit with the Steelers system.

DE

HV 4:01

Gabe Wright, DE, Auburn - 6'2", 284 lbs. Another 4-3 defensive tackle who gets discounted here by a full round or two because the Steelers play a 3-4.

DE

HV 4:16

Grady Jarrett, DE, Clemson - 6'1", 295 lbs. Too short to be a Steelers DE, and too small to be a Steelers NT. Graded dropped by a full round or two because he's really only a fit for the 4-3 teams.

DE

HV 1:20

Danny Shelton, NT, Washington - 6'2", 332 lbs. A pure Nose Tackle, and a good one. Aside from everything else, Shelton is athletic enough to create real pressure up the middle on passing downs and thus might be that elusive 3-down plug for the middle of the field. If so, the Steelers will give him a long, hard look. McLendon's contract expires after the 2015 season and Big Dan McCullers has shown enough to foreshadow a long term contributor, but not necessarily a starter. The biggest issues on Shelton seem to be clubhouse things. If the reports really do show a "selfish" attitude, he won't be a Steeler. OTOH, can it really be a coincidence that Washington's two biggest defensive starts, Shelton and Marcus Peters, both had ongoing run-ins with the coaching staff that replaced the guys who recruited them?

NT

HV 1:25

Malcom Brown, NT, Texas - 6'4", 320 lbs.  Big Jay sent him to Pittsburgh as a 2nd-round pick in one of his mock drafts, writing as follows: "Malcom Brown is a well built 6-foot-4, 320 pounds. He has tree trunks for thighs, and has surprising quickness to go along with a powerful bull rush. He is also a high character family man, and ESPN recently had a great article profiling him as such." This is one of the high-quality scouting reports you find at Football Insiders.

NT

HV 1:25

Eddie Goldman, NT, Florida State - 6'4", 320 lbs. Another pure Nose Tackle with unexpected athleticism that might be enough to make him a three-down player.

NT

HV 2:12

Jordan Phillips, NT, Oklahoma - 6'6", 334 lbs. An enormous man who played Nose Tackle in a college 3-4.

NT

HV 1:15

PICK YOUR FAVORITE OFFENSIVE TACKLE - 6'6", 315 lbs. (like all the rest). This whole band of very fine offensive tackles deserves a higher grade but the Steelers have too many other ‘needs' for their ‘want' at OL to grade any higher than the middle of the 1st. So the bottom-line answer for Peat and all his peers is the same: "No, it's not going to happen, but that's all to the good because we're likelier to end up with a top-notch prospect at a position of greater need."

OL

HV 2:01

Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State - 6'5", 315 lbs. So, if the cards fell exactly right, with free agents and signings that elevated the priority of Pittsburgh's offensive line, and there were promises made under the table to Coach Munchak... If all of that came true Tyler Sambrailo would make a tremendous 2nd-round pick. He's a three-year starter with good versatility and athleticism, who held his own (giving up no sacks but good pressure) against quality players such as Nate Orchard in their Bowl Game. Exactly the kind of player for our Hall of Fame line coach to transform into something truly special. This is a brief scouting report from a Patriots fan site.

OL

HV 2:12

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt - 6'6", 315 lbs. Does he have the foot speed to play left tackle in the NFL? If so, this local product would quickly be a major fan favorite. He's already a heck of a run blocker. This is a nice little scouting report from a Patriots fan site.

OL

HV 2:12

La'el Collins, OT/G, LSU - 6'5", 321 lbs. Collins is a massive road grader. Questions about his feet lead most analysts to project him as a better Right Tackle prospect than someone you'd put on the blind side, but he's almost a sure-fire success at that spot and maybe an even a better prospect at Guard. High floor and position flexibility combine to make him a pretty tempting option. This is a nice scouting report from Football Insiders if you want more information.

OL

HV 2:12

Cameron Erving, OT/G/C, Florida State - 6'5", 308 lbs. Erving is a remarkable athlete who started on the defensive side of the ball, moved to the offensive line, and has played both Tackle and Center at a high level. No one doubts that he'd excel at Guard as well. And therein lies his peculiar value to the Steelers. We all know how much value Mike Tomlin places on position flexibility. Cam Erving would singlehandedly cement the team's depth at every position along the line, especially with Mike Adams as an alternate tackle. Pittsburgh would be able to dress only seven offensive linemen per game, freeing up a spot for anything else the team might need. That's good value above and beyond anything he does on the field directly. But as they say in the infomercials, that's not all! Erving will drop to the late-1st or early-2nd because of various technical flaws in his game. They're all fixable, but they'll have a definite impact on how quickly he can make it onto the field. Once fixed, however... This is another young man with a truly sky-high ceiling. My personal prediction is that he'll blow up the Combine and propel himself into the 1st round for a team that's willing to bet on potential. You can find a summary scouting report here.

OL

HV 2:12

Tyrus Thompson, OT/G, Oklahoma - 6'5", 336 lbs. There's something about Tyrus Thompson that screams "Steelers." He's big and athletic enough to play tackle, but not so tall, or lanky that Guard is out of the question, and he can move well enough to play in either a "power" or a "zone" running scheme. That makes him a very flexible asset, which Mike Tomlin always loves. Thompson seems to be a mature and fairly charismatic young man, as indicated by this article and this article, both of which focus on his enduring friendship with Oklahoma's other Tackle Daryl Williams. But he still has some "nasty," as shown by a flash-in-the-pan 2012 scandal where he through a punch. Perhaps best of all, Thompson may drop a bit because this is a strong class and he has a number of technical flaws that will require skilled coaching to fix. It would be hard to design a better toy for Coach Munchak to play with.

OL

HV 2:24

Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma - 6'6", 329 lbs. Williams is the Right Tackle bookend to Oklahoma's other big prospect, Tyrus Thompson, and as indicated by this article and this article, his very dear friend. Williams is the quiet, over-achieving, hard-working technician to Thompson's brash and brilliant athleticism. He won't wow as much at the Combine and probably lacks the feet to play on the blindside, but he's the sort of guy with a very high floor on the right side and probably at Guard.

OL

HV 3:01

Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon - 6'6", 300 lbs. Fisher was pressed into service when the designated starter (Tyler Johnstone) tore an ACL in August, and performed well beyond any expectations despite having the difficult job of protecting a Heisman-candidate QB (Marcus Mariota) that opposing defenses targeted for destruction on every play. More than that, when Fisher himself was injured during the season, it really showed - so it was his play that made the difference even more than Mariota's mobility. He won't measure as well at the Combine as some might wish, but that's the only reason he might be available at a round the Steelers can afford to spend on their offensive line

OL

HV 3:01

Sean Hickey, OT, Syracuse - 6'5", 300 lbs. A technician with good feet who might take a serious step up by (a) building strength in a professional program, and (b) sucking up knowledge from a certain Hall of Fame coach. If the FO believes it's time to grab a 3rd Round developmental tackle, Hickey may well be the guy. He'd be a perfect fit and a bargain at that price.

OL

HV 1:01

Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska - 6'6", 240 lbs. He'll be long gone before the Steelers get to pick, but if he's there the Steelers rep will look like Secretariat as he gallops forward to deliver the note. Gregory may well be the #1 overall player on the Steelers Board. If you feel like torturing yourself with dreams that can never come true, this scouting report is a good place to start.

OLB

HV 1:05

Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri - 6'3", 245 lbs. A ridiculous athlete with everything you could ask for in a Steelers OLB. Back in the good old days when no one else played a 3-4 the Steelers could have fantasized about a player like Ray falling far enough to grab, but not any more. Sigh, alas, boo-hoo, and all of that. At least it's better than having a record bad enough to earn a legitimate shot at a player with this much potential. At least one opposing SEC coach compares Shane Ray's prospects to Terrell Suggs with more explosive talent than recent Missouri starts like Kony Ely, Michael Sam, and Markus Golden.

OLB

HV 1:10

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - 6'3", 235 lbs. Every report you look up will compare Beasley to Bruce Irvin. He really is that explosive, and the 4-3 Leo pass rusher is pretty much what he played at Clemson. The issues all center on Beasley's lack of size (again like Irvin), though it should be noted that Beasley has room on his frame to get bigger and stronger enough to set an edge much better than he's been asked to do in college so far. All of which means he's destined to be another pass rushing prospect on a team that won't use him as well as our Steelers would. [Harrumph]. This is a decent scouting report to get you started, including the part about his being "a horrible run defender" but (probably) an able player in coverage as well as pass rushing. The run support thing is something he'd have to fix if he wanted to play with the Steelers. This scouting report makes a similar set of points. This is a more positive scouting report, which answers some criticisms and emphasizes that high character and a great motor are usually more important for a prospect than nit-picking about the holes in his college game. The bottom line is that Beasley is (for now) a one trick pony. It's a hell of a good trick - a freakish first step that makes him extremely hard to block - but it won't be enough to make him a Steelers 1st-round pick unless the team believes (which seems reasonable) that he can pack on the extra muscle to prevent NFL linemen from treating him like a speed bump in the run game.

OLB

HV 1:10

Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida - 6'2", 260 lbs. Yet another player the Steelers will look at long and hard. He has a genuinely Steelers-ish tint to his game that's revealed in both the good and the bad. On the plus side, he's a fluid and ferocious athlete from a big program that has used his versatility to play both DE spots, OLB, ILB, and even DT. That hints at a really good football IQ as well as athletic ability. Even when he's not making plays, he's causing someone on the offense a lot of trouble. On the downside, he's the sort of guy who will consistently overrun plays, will try to do too much, and who needs coaching across the board to improve everything from his physical strength to his play recognition. The Steelers have those coaches, however, which will make Dante Fowler a serious Pittsburgh target come draft day, and probably the highest rated OLB prospect at which the Steelers have a quasi-realistic shot. This is a lightweight scouting report from a Cowboys fan site, but okay as an overview. This scouting report is also good as an overview.

OLB

HV 1:15

Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State - 6'5", 256 lbs. The Steelers are going to spend a lot of time looking at Calhoun. He's a college 4-3 DE who needs enough work on strength, timing, coverage and the like to be of limited use in his rookie year, which will cause him to drop, but those are all fixable with good coaching and he has the potential to be a great one once he "gets it." He also has ideal size to pair across from the somewhat smaller Jarvis Jones, while still having enough athleticism to cover tight ends and running backs in the flat. This article by Bucky Brooks emphasizes Calhoun's basketball background and compares him to Michael Strahan.

OLB

HV 1:15

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OLB, Kentucky - 6'4", 267 lbs. Kentucky actually had him as a 3-4 OLB for a year, but it didn't work out because the team went back to being a 4-3 the year after that. In 2014 he had a mixed season. The sack numbers weren't great, but you get the feeling that he'd be toward the top of the heap if there was a statistic to measure "ongoing disruptive annoyance." It's a situation where professional scouts who can look at every single snap will have a great advantage over Internet dilettantes like yours truly. IMHO, however, he looks like a great prospect to be a larger-size pass rusher who could be paired across the line from Jarvis Jones. Here is a nice little scouting report. This is a longer and more thorough scouting report, albeit from back in November.

OLB

HV 1:20

Danielle Hunter, OLB, LSU - 6'6", 240 lbs. A big, tall young man who will likely add some bulk as he matures into his grown-man strength as a pro. The question marks that will drop him down toward the Steelers pick all go to a first step that's sometimes awesome and other times nonexistent. Nor did it help his draft stock to get dominated by fellow-1st-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi. Do the problems arise from physical reaction time, a lack of recognition, or something else? At least one scout has compared him to Barkevious Mingo, who the Browns took at #6 overall. That implies that recognition may be the real question and that Hunter's stock will rise as the draft process moves forward.

OLB

HV 1:20

Hauoli Kikaha, OLB, Washington - 6'3", 250 lbs. His name was tied to the Steelers in a lot of early speculation and it's easy to see why. The descriptions always seem to use words like "tenacious," "hard-working," "fiery," "high motor" and the like, which are traits our Steelers really value. He might be there for Pittsburgh too because of two bad ACL tears on the same knee back in 2011 and some questions about whether he has a truly elite first step. Interesting fact: Kikaha led the nation in sacks in 2014, closely followed by Nate Orchard. Both young men are criticized in the draftnik press for excelling via motor and technique than through athletic brilliance. What does that say? Here is a good scouting report from Football Insiders that serves as a great starting point.

OLB

HV 1:20

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville - 6'4", 243 lbs. He made his bones as a pass rusher, and has a genuinely impressive first step. The question is whether he can learn to be a complete OLB. This is a fine article for background material on Mauldin's life. This November scouting report from a Bills fan site gives an introduction to his skills as a player, with some nice gifs for fun viewing.

OLB

HV 1:25

Benardrick McKinney, OLB/ILB, Mississippi State - 6'4" 250 lbs. McKinney is an odd case for this Board. He is regularly described as the #1 prospect in the country to be an inside linebacker who has the sort of fantastic athletic talent to stand out at the Combine, but with question marks about his extremely raw skillset and suspicions that his overly aggressive and downhill mindset will limit him to being a great (but two-down) thumper. The Steelers would be more interested in his ability to convert to outside linebacker. At OLB that same athletic genius would make him excellent in coverage, the size and attitude would make him excellent at setting the edge, and his pass-rush skills... Aye, there's the rub. McKinney has all the physical tools to be a fine pass rusher but he's never been pushed to develop them. He'll almost certainly go in the mid-1st to a team hungry for an ILB, which makes this moot, but if he should somehow fall to the Steelers pick life could get very interesting. Look for this to be a "what-if" debate that will heat up until Mr. McKinney blows up the Combine and puts himself thoroughly out of reach. This goes to an October scouting report. This is a more thorough scouting report from a Chicago Bears POV.

OLB

HV 1:25

Markus Golden, OLB, Missouri - 6'3" 260 lbs. Playing across from Shane Ray could (should) get you overshadowed, but Golden has been far too good for that to happen. It raises question marks about whether his numbers would be the same with a normal human as a rushing partner, but the fact is that they might be. According to all reports Golden has a very good first step, excellent size, nice hands, a good football IQ, and a top notch motor. He may not be the athletic freak that Ray is, but if you ignore those outliers he'd be all you could ask for. In sum, Markus Golden is a player the Steelers will look at long and hard, and who they'd be hard pressed to pass over is he's there in the 2nd. The only real question is coverage, where he has too little experience to project very well. The Combine could actually matter here as a measuring stick of whether he has the pure athleticism to keep up with running backs in the flat. This newspaper article is a nice place to start for background.

OLB

HV 2:01

Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia - 6'4", 250 lbs. Harold is one of those players who grows on you as an example of tantalizing potential. He flashes tremendous speed and huge athletic talents, and he has a track record of increasing success over his college career. The main problem is that flashes are not the same thing as proven results, and he's so very raw that he'll need at least one redshirt year before anyone could expect him to contribute. But if Pittsburgh re-signs Worilds and can afford that wait... well, Eli Harold would be a very serious candidate for the Steelers 2nd-round pick. This brief scouting report will help to get you started.

OLB

HV 2:24

Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah - 6'4", 255 lbs. Had a breakout 2014 that will make him a serious candidate for someone's 2nd-round pick. And it might just be the Steelers, if they believe he can carry his pass rush on to the next level while learning to drop back in coverage. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network did this excellent and well-balanced scouting report after Orchard's fine Bowl game against fellow edge-of-the-1st prospect Ty Sambrailo. This scouting report boasts some gifs in support of its conclusion that Orchard shouldn't be picked until Day 3. This brief scouting report is less useful for analysis, but makes the point that Orchard has been capable of taking over games on his own. This excellent scouting report is about Hauoli Kikaha but could have been written about Orchard since their styles are so similar. This article provides good background going back to High School.

OLB

HV 3:01

Trey Flowers, OLB, Arkansas - 6'3", 270 lbs. A prospect with enough holes to fall well down into Day 2, but enough potential to get picked that day as well. It really comes down to whether a guy that big can be projected to do the complete job at OLB. He has all the athletic talent you could ask for (see  this article on his 55" box jump (!) that hit the web before Christmas), but is he really another pre-injury Lamarr Woodley?  It wouldn't surprise anyone if the Steelers snagged Flowers in a middle round with the idea that he might be. This hard-to-load scouting report will get you going if your system will handle it.

OLB

HV 3:12

Deon Barnes, OLB, Penn State - 6'4", 255 lbs. Young and raw, Barnes will require a year of seasoning before he's ready to contribute, but he has the size, speed and power to be a good one he can learn how to use them correctly. This November article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is a nice place to start. There's also a brief write-up in this article.

OLB

HV 3:12

Devonte Fields, OLB TCU - 6'4", 250 lbs. All the talent in the world, but carrying some serious off-the-field baggage. TCU dropped him from the program before the 2014 season due to allegations rising from an alleged assault on his (now ex-) girlfriend. No details are known. To be fair, the charge was only a misdemeanor and involved a supposed threat with a gun rather than an actual battery. But... eeew. The NFL detectives have been working overtime on this one, guaranteed. His draft stock will depend entirely on that report, which we won't (and shouldn't) have access to. This grade generously assumes that the report supports his side of the story completely. Any other result would cause the Steelers to invoke the 10-foot-pole rule.

OLB

HV 3:12

Geneo Grissom, OLB, Oklahoma - 6'4", 252 lbs. Has the advantage of playing the 3-4 OLB in college, where he performed quite well if not spectacularly. If Jason Worilds signs on to a longer deal, Grissom is the exact kind of player who the Steelers might snag in the 3rd and count their blessings for such a useful find.

OLB

HV 3:24

Bronson Kaufusi, OLB, BYU - 6'7", 265 lbs. Tall enough to be a 3-4 DE, but plays 3-4 OLB instead. A solid player whose lack of fit might drop him to the early part of Day 3.

OLB

HV 4:01

Anthony Chickillo, OLB, Miami (Fla.) - 6'4", 282 lbs.

OLB

HV 4:01

Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State - 6'5", 245 lbs. An unfair grade for his performance, but required because of a season-ending ACL tear.

OLB

HV 4:01

Za'Darius Smith, OLB, Kentucky - 6'5", 264 lbs. A young man who's been tagged with that awful kind of "damnation through faint praise" description. The truth is that he has a lot of potential but is still very, very raw. IMHO that makes him one of the best developmental prospects out there. Just don't expect anything in the first year or two, since the Pittsburgh OLB position is one that's notoriously hard to learn, let alone to master.

OLB

HV 4:01

Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon - 6'3", 250 lbs. You'd think a leading pass rusher on an elite college team would get more press, and the press was willing to oblige back in the spring. But during the actual season Washington was just a constant "okay." The big question will be "why".

OLB

HV 4:16

Silverberry Mouhon, OLB, Cincinnati - 6'4", 248 lbs. Another case of potential that hasn't yet turned into performance. But what a name! It sounds like he should make a second home in the Shire. At 6'4" he'd probably have a hard time finding a suitable bed in Bilbo's guest room, but why sweat the details?

OLB

HV 4:16

James Vaughters, OLB, Stanford - 6'2", 258 lbs. A tough, smart player who lacks measurables and needs to learn some pass rush moves. But coming out of Stanford ... if what he needs to know can be learned, it will be. The Combine will be huge.

OLB

HV 6:01

Noah Spence, OLB, Ohio State - 6'3", 252 lbs. A sad tale of how recreational chemicals can foul up your life. As discussed in this article, Noah Spence is from Harrisburg and was one of the top high school recruits in the country. He had a huge sophomore year and was expected to take the country by storm in 2014, but that got sidetracked when he tested positive for ecstasy. Ohio State kept him on, presumably assuming that he would come back for 2015, but instead he tested positive a second time and got himself banned for life from the Big Ten. No one doubts that Spence has top-50 talent, but the risk is a serious one. Still... There are many worse drugs out there than ecstasy, and the Steelers have all the contacts they need at Ohio State to ferret out the absolute truth behind the scandal. If the team's sources give him a character thumbs-up it wouldn't be too surprising if Pittsburgh took a late-round flier on a kid with this much talent at a position where the team needs to build depth.

OLB

QUARTERBACKS

QB

HV 3:01

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - 6'1", 226 lbs. Let the battle commence. Gurley was considered the best running back in the country for most of 2014, and thus nothing more than a pipedream for a team such as the Steelers who need only a backup. Then he tore an ACL in November and the tobacco in that pipe took on a different flavor. Could he fall all the way into that 3-6 range where the Steelers are likely to hunt? Probably not, but it isn't impossible since there are no less than six (6) running backs on the Ain't Gonna Happen List because they deserve to go in the first two rounds. This is a nice scouting report to start with, but they'll all agree in the end. If you ignore the knee, Todd Gurley is the complete package.

RB

HV 3:24

Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State - 6'0", 216 lbs. He'd go no lower than the 2nd round but for two things: a reputation for fumble-itis at inopportune times, and a year with many top prospects. Ajayi would be a huge bargain when the Steelers pick in the 3rd, but it's hard to see this particular team going for a running back any sooner. Very comparable to Javorius Allen in size, accomplishments, running style, receiving skills, and potential. This scouting report comes from a Patriots website. This NFL article is less a scouting report than a summary news piece, but is notable because it mentions several things the Steelers would love such as "between the tackles running, paired with "outstanding vision, pitter-pat, [] toughness ... [and] home-run speed and acceleration."

RB

HV 3:24

Javorius "Buck" Allen, RB, USC - 6'1", 220 lbs. I rarely link to CBS because I use it so often that basically every player would require the reference. In this case, however, there is a video scouting report that's kind of fun. In a nutshell, Allen is another back who deserves to go higher than this but might fall to the Steelers because this year's class is so strong and he's had enough ball security issues to raise a few question marks. Very comparable to Jay Ajayi in size, accomplishments, running style, receiving skills, and potential. This October scouting report/article is notable because it compares Allen to Bishop Sankey based on a quote from Allen's position coach - who happened to be Sankey's teacher last year.

RB

HV 4:16

David Cobb, RB, Minnesota - 5'11", 229 lbs. A big, strong, reliable, and productive downhill back who would be ranked much higher if he had top end speed or just a few more shifty moves. It should be said, however, that Minnesota's offensive line was below-the-line during Cobb's career (to put it kindly). There is a real chance that he's a much better prospect than his already admirable results would indicate. Make a note to watch him at the Combine. If David Cobb can put up good numbers in the "niftiness" tests like the 3-cone drill, there is a very good chance that he'll be selected for his prospects as a 4th-quarter closer. This scouting report sums up the popular opinion well. This thorough scouting report from our sister site for the Jets gives a Day 3 grade after saying that Cobb "compares favorably to Leveon Bell."

RB

HV 5:01

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn - 5'11", 210 lbs. A back who is solid in all phases of the game but spectacular in none. His productivity would normally call for an early pick on Day 3, but given this class and the Steelers' roster he probably won't go to Pittsburgh unless the Board treats him unfairly.

RB

HV 5:01

Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State - 6'1", 208 lbs. The successor to Leveon Bell at Michigan State, Langford has a similar skill set that's just a notch below the man he was following. But if the Steelers are looking for a Bell backup what could be more natural? Note: As with most of the running backs, this is an unkind grade in general but justified because the Steelers will be looking to bargain shop.

RB

HV 5:02

RUNNING BACKS TO BE CONTINUED

RB

HV 1:20

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama - 6'0", 222 lbs. I like everything I've heard about Shamarko Thomas, but there's no doubt he's had trouble staying healthy. If the Steelers believe that will be a chronic problem, Landon Collins would be as good a prospect for "Heir to the Hair" as any fan could hope for.

S

HV 1:20

Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville - 6'2", 213 lbs. A huge, long, fast and rangy ballhawk. I'd be surprised if the Steelers really did abandon their experiment with Mike Mitchell after a single year, but if they do then Holliman would be a fine substitute in his place... assuming they believe he can learn to tackle. His college years raised some serious questions about that. Comparisons have been raised to Deion Sanders, and he's supposed to be a Safety! Here is a scouting report from Football Insiders.

S

HV 2:01

Cody Prewitt, SS, Mississippi - 6'2, 217 lbs. A big, powerful strong safety with excellent range. His issues in coverage drop him a bit, and even that depends on whether the Steelers are happy with what they already have.

S

HV 2:24

Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State - 6'1", 202 lbs. A solid, well-rounded player who has contributed for several years to an elite college defense. He's a Day 2 guy because he lacks elite speed and needs to add some bulk in order to thump at the level required for a Steelers Safety.

S

HV 2:24

Doran Grant, CB/S, Ohio State - 5'11", 193 lbs.

S

HV 2:24

Derron Smith, S, Fresno State - 5'11", 197 lbs. A solid ballhawk who could probably play either Safety position.

S

HV 3:01

Byron Jones, CB/S, Connecticut - 6'1", 196 lbs.

S

HV 3:01

Jaquiski Tartt, S, Samford - 6'1", 218 lbs. A small school prospect who reportedly ran a 4.4 forty. He'll be playing in the Senior Bowl, which will at least give some idea of how he compares to more elite competition.

S

HV 3:12

Cam Thomas, CB/S, Western Kentucky - 6'1", 190 lbs.

S

HV 3:24

Josh Shaw, CB/S, USC - 6'1", 200 lbs.

S

HV 2:01

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota - 6'4", 250 lbs. Despite what his defender-leaping touchdown run in the Citrus Bowl might make you think, Williams has seen more time as a blocker than a receiver. Which is a good thing in most ways, since the comments you see tend to emphasize his natural athleticism, uber-reliable hands, and other assets that bring Jason Witten to mind. See this solid if Seahawks-oriented scouting report as a place to start.

TE

HV 2:24

Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio State- 6'5", 255 lbs. It's a weak class for tight ends, but Heuerman may be the best of the batch. He isn't a miracle, basketball-star-turned-receiver athlete, but he is a well-balanced, multi-skilled player at one of the few offensive positions where the Steelers could do some upgrading. Or at least some future-grading, since Spaeth is nearing the end of his contract and Heath is approaching the end of his all-star career.

TE

HV 2:24

Ben Koyack, TE, Notre Dame - 6'4", 261 lbs. Another multifaceted tight end who could lay claim to being the best of a weaker class. Solid 2nd-Round value and a steal in the 3rd.

TE

HV 2:24

Clive Walford, TE, Miami - 6'4", 258 lbs. Walford is one of the well-rounded but unexceptional TE's at the top of this fairly weak class. He's got very good hands, is a good blocker, and runs good routes. His flaws are in the area of omission rather than commission. For example, Walford is "only" 6'4", which is barely average for today's athletes, his 40 time won't be blowing anyone away, and he's only a plus athlete as opposed to a great one. Good 2nd round value and excellent if you can get him in the 3rd. He had a knee injury late in the season that may interfere with his workouts but should not linger into his rookie season.

TE

HV 3:01

Jesse James, TE, Penn State - 6'7", 254 lbs. According to this ESPN article "Jesse James is a freak of nature." Height, speed, strength: he's got it all. What he hasn't got is developed skill as either a blocker or a receiver. On the other hand, Heath Miller probably has another good year in his historic career. If the coaches think a year or two of professional work can turn James' pure potential into actual reality, this local Pittsburgh boy could really be the next hometown hero. This is another fine article focused more on his background.

TE

HV 3:12

Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers - 6'5", 240 lbs. From the little I've read so far I like this kid. He's tall enough, has good hands, and has been described as a "feisty" blocker who lacks the physical mass to excel in that aspect of the game. One can't help but think that a year or two of professional strength training would fix that, leaving a prototypical, multipurpose player in its wake. There is a scouting report buried in here to supplement your reading.

TE

HV 3:24

Nick O'Leary, TE, Florida State - 6'3", 247 lbs. A superb H-back prospect who can dream of growing into a Dallas Clark type. I've applied a downgrade here because the Steelers have more use for a true tight end than another ‘versatile weapon.' I was tempted to give him the ‘bloodlines' bonus but refrained. It must mean something when you're the grandson of Jack Nicklaus, but I'm not sure what - except for the guarantee Tony Romo (a scratch golfer) is sure to be a fan of versatility throughout the early Winter. Still, the headlines would be fun. "A Nicklaus invades the land of Arnie's Army!"

TE

HV 4:01

E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State - 6'3", 261 lbs. The "standard" resources such as CBS and Walter Football give Bibbs a consistent 3rd-4th round grade, but there are some who would grade him lower. This miniature scouting report is more in line with the general consensus.

TE

HV 4:16

Wes Saxton, TE, South Alabama - 6'4", 235 lbs. Information on Saxton is hard to find at this point, but expect it to grow exponentially as the process moves forward. He seems to be an excellent athlete who is very raw in all phases of the game but catches on quickly to what he's taught. It's just... looking at the numbers it's hard to see a true tight end instead of a huge and good-blocking possession receiver

TE

HV 6:01

Jean Sifrin, TE, U. Mass. - 6'7", 250 lbs. A name thrown into the ring by BTSC member bradshaw2ben. According to this article Sifrin was very productive at U. Mass. (42 catches in 11 games with 6 TD's) and has that much desired basketball background, but he's also 27 years old (time off to take care of a son) which limits the upside a good bit. Here is another article from when Sifrin was announced as a semi-finalist for the Mackey (best college tight end) award.

TE

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.

Michael Bennett, 4-3 DT, Ohio State - 6'2", 288 lbs. Great player, wrong position.

DT

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

ILB

Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami - 6'6", 324 lbs.

OT

Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M - 6'5", 305 lbs.

OT

Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - 6'7", 312 lbs.

OT

Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa - 6'5", 320 lbs.

OT

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame - 6'5", 315 lbs.

OT

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - 6'4", 215 lbs.

QB

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State - 6'4", 232 lbs.

QB

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - 5'9", 195 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back, and is more of a scatback type anyway.

RB

Tevin Coleman, RB, Nebraska - 6'0", 210 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back. Here is a typically high-quality scouting report from Football Insiders.

RB

Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina - 5'9", 223 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back.

RB

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - 6'1", 207 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back.

RB

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami - 5'9", 206 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back.

RB

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama -   6'2", 221 lbs. Will be off the Board before the Steelers pick a running back.

RB

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - 6'1", 202 lbs.

WR

Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan - 6'5", 230 lbs. I'm actually a fan of Funchess as the Kelvin Benjamin-type "big receiver," but with the development of Martavis Bryant another wide receiver just can't be justified. Ain't Gonna Happen. Alas.

WR

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - 6'3", 209 lbs.

WR

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia - 6'3", 209 lbs.

WR

STEELERS PICK AT: #22 of the first round; #24 of the second round (#56 overall); #23 of the third round; #22 of the fourth round; #24 of the fifth round; #23 of the sixth round; and #22 of the seventh round. There will probably be a compensatory pick in the fourth or fifth round too.

SOURCES: Initial grades are based in part on my personal analysis of the Steelers wants and desires, but will be modified as needed to reflect more knowledgeable opinions (as they are published) and whatever may happen in free agency. 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: The Board is constantly updated to reflect feedback in the Comments. What you see is intended to reflect our community opinion, not the author's personal opinion about what's "right."

RULE 1 - Organized by Highest Value ("HV#") to the Steelers. Great players for other teams get downgraded here when they fail to fit the Steelers' openings, system, or other requirements, with enormous downgrades moved to the "Ain't Gonna Happen" list at the end. An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach for the Steelers 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 2 - The first five rounds are subdivided as follows:

  • 1st Round grades: HV 1:01, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd Round grades: Early (HV 2:01), Mid (HV 2:12), or Late (HV 2:24).
  • 3rd Round grades: Early (HV 3:01), Mid (HV 3:12), or Late (HV 3:24).
  • 4th Round grades: Early (HV 4:01) or Late (HV 4:16).
  • 5th Round grades: Early (HV 5:01) or Late (HV 5:16).

RULE 3 - Players with multiple positions appear in both a main listing, which has a full description, and a secondary listing written in italics that has only the name, rank & serial number stuff.