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Steelers scouts attend Middle Tennessee State Pro Day to watch little-known wide receiver

The Steelers are spreading their scouting base by sending personnel to Middle Tennessee State to get a glimpse of Richie James.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of football power houses, Middle Tennessee State does not come to mind. Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh Steelers, among others, attended the University’s Pro Day to get a glimpse of wide receiver Richie James recently.

According to DNJ.com, the Steelers were one of handful of teams who have spoken with him, and he plans to meet with more leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. However, according to reports, the receiver didn’t do a whole lot while on his home turf:

James, a 5-foot-10, 183-pounder who owns the program’s career records for catches (244), receiving yards (3,261) and receiving touchdowns (23), participated only in receiving drills but said he was healthy after being hampered by injuries and playing in only five games last season.

This isn’t his first rodeo, not after participating in the NFL Scouting Combine just over a week ago. There he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash time, and combined with his receiving drills it was enough to draw some attention from NFL Scouts.

After all, if there is a team out there who knows how to draft receivers, the Steelers would be at the top of the list, and maybe James is the next late round diamond in the rough for the black-and-gold.

Below are his strengths and weaknesses, per his NFL Draft Profile:

Strengths

  • Competitive personality on the field
  • Took on heavy workload and produced results as pass-catcher and wildcat quarterback in 2016
  • Gets out of the blocks in a flash off snap
  • Plays with rapid-fire foot quickness to work around early pressure
  • Able to plant and make lateral slide around defensive backs and tacklers
  • Able to uncover on first and second levels
  • Can be very shifty at the route stem
  • Has separation quickness to create throwing windows out of breaks
  • Talented runner with ball in his hands
  • Willing to look up and engage corners and safeties as run blocker in space

Weaknesses

  • Lacks NFL size
  • Thin frame broke down this season
  • Played just five games due to ankle injury and broken collarbone
  • Play strength is below average
  • Plays with good quickness but routes lack polish
  • Needs better elusiveness at the top of his routes
  • Too upright in breaks and stems allowing defenders to get hands on him
  • Lacks focus and catch radius to consistently pluck throws outside his frame
  • Has frequent bouts with balance even when untouched
  • Athletic but still raw

While the Steelers will be doing their homework on all prospects, often time these late round, or Undrafted Free Agent, picks can turn into role players on the team. This might be a player to keep your eye on.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news as the 2018 NFL Draft creeps closer.