With James Harrison and Bud Dupree likely anchoring their respective sides of the field in 2017, the Steelers are looking for a young pass rusher who could help split time with Harrison and be an NFL ready player out of the gate.
It isn’t as if the team doesn’t have depth, but it is clear Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo are not the long-term answer as the outside linebacker position in the Steelers defense. They serve as great backup role players, but not players you can suggest the team shouldn’t be targeting a pass rusher high in the draft.
At ESPN, there are two analysts who garner the most attention when they release their mock drafts, and one of those is Mel Kiper Jr. Kiper, who has had the Steelers taking a pass rusher or cornerback since he started his mock drafts this offseason, again has the Steelers taking and EDGE rusher, but this time a lesser known player.
Take a look at who Kiper thinks the Steelers will take, and why:
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
You might remember Bowser from the time he got in a fight with a teammate and broke an orbital bone the day before a game, but he has made a name for himself from his play on the field, too. He had 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss for the Cougars in only eight games last season. Bowser (6-3, 247) is perfect for a 3-4 team like the Steelers, and he is rising up draft boards after testing incredibly well at the combine with a 4.65 40 and 37.5-inch vertical. Pittsburgh brought back James Harrison, who at 38 could be a mentor to Bowser.
Bowser certainly isn’t among the list of high-profile pass rushers who most are expecting to be taken in the first round, but would he be a good fit in the Steel City?
Taking a look at his NFL.com Draft Profile, you can see he certainly has a noticeable upside.
Explosive, quick-twitch athlete. Bursts out of his stance and challenges the edge. Good shoulder turn at the edge of rush and can dip and corner with very tight radius. Showed ability to play in variety of spots. Crisp change of direction ability. Took to his coaching and showed drastic improvement against the run this year. Played two years of college basketball at Houston which shows up with his footwork and fluidity when dropping into space. Has ability to pattern match tight ends. Light is starting to come on for him. Should have a big day at the combine.
Undersized on the edge. May not have the frame to carry much more weight. Can be engulfed by size. Needs to get better with hands at point of attack. Still has issues where he looks like a basketball guy learning football. Production as pass rusher doesn't match his explosive traits. Pass rush is built around athleticism and not enough around skill. Has to get even tougher and more skilled against the run.
So, if Bowser if available at No. 30 in Round 1, will the Steelers take him, or will they be looking at other prospects or other positions? Either way, Bowser has the look of a solid pass rusher, but the question then becomes whether he is considered a first round pass rusher or not.