Western Pennsylvania serves as a hotbed of football; the Steelers reign supreme, of course, but the Western region of Pennsylvania has also produced four Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana, while the University of Pittsburgh has won nine national titles and local high schools are producing some of the finest NFL talent around.
The Steelers, possibly seeking to invest in some local talent, have interviewed a pair of players from the area using two of their allotted Combine interviews. Jesse James, a tight end for Penn State and Sean Hickey, an offensive lineman from Syracuse both could be value mid-round selections that could inject youth and depth into a seemingly depleted Steelers lineup.
James, a hulking six-foot-seven 270 pound product of South Allegheny High School could be an attractive day two or three option for the Steelers, as his frame compares favorably with Matt Spaeth, who is set to become a free agent. James also possesses the ability to serve as a receiving threat, grabbing 11 touchdowns in his collegiate career, but could project well as a dominant blocker in a two tight-end scheme and, with any luck, one day take the reigns of Heath Miller.
Hickey, a product of Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville is projected to be a mid-round pick, and has stated he can play either guard or tackle, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Syracuse standout grew up a Steelers fan, even attending their latest playoff game in 2014.
While the Steelers offensive line is front loaded with a talented group of starters, it lacks depth, and taking a mid-round flier on a local product like Hickey could prove to be a wise, relatively safe investment.
Although the Steelers have more pressing needs, specifically at cornerback and outside linebacker, offensive line and tight end are both needs the Steelers could potentially address in the draft, and a pair of local talents could help plug some of the holes on Pittsburgh's roster.