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Narrowing the focus on Steelers prospects, and positions, after the Combine

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Could the Steelers be looking for Le’Veon’s replacement? Who will be there with the 28th pick?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine all but confirmed what I needed to know for the Pittsburgh Steelers2018 NFL Draft plans:

  • If the Steelers get rid of Le’Veon Bell, they’re going have a ton of options to choose from.
  • The linebacker class looks quite deep, and while Colbert may not say it, I’m calling his bluff.
  • The Steelers might not take a cornerback, but if they do, they’ll be picking from arguably a deeper group than last year; something I did not expect coming into this season.
  • This safety class has a lot of young explosive talent that makes a lot of sense for the Steelers.
  • The Steelers have needs, but they won’t pass up on a quarterback if the right player is there.
  • The Steelers always wind up taking a wide receiver in the draft.
  • Plenty of meetings with tight ends, but will they actually take one?

Now for some notes at several key positions which the Steelers should target in the upcoming draft:

Running Backs

We know the Steelers are keeping an open mind at the running back position with Bell’s contract situation being “difficult” to say the least. They’ve met with a 1st round running back like Derrius Guice, according to Jeremy Fowler, along with other running backs like Kerryon Johnson who are projected to go on Day 2.

I still believe teams won’t allow Guice to slip all the way to pick 28, but I could very well see Kerryon Johnson being there in the 2nd round. This is someone I’ve seen been compared to Bell stylistically, mainly because of his patience, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

For starters, I’ve noticed some similarities in the way they keep their balance through contact and the type of power they finish their runs with.

One of the bigger aspects I noticed though is how they both have “sudden” movements, particularly with how they’re able to sink their hips, sell a cut and make a defender miss in space. Take a look at some of the similarities they showed when running the Texas route at the combine.

(Via my buddy Cagen Cantrell who writes for breaking football, be sure to check out his work.)

I also want to emphasize while there are similarities to this comparison I see, it does not mean that I entirely agree with the comparison as a whole because there where aspects of Bell’s game that were far superior. For instance his ability to block is one that was special and Kerryon doesn’t really have a ton of reps in that department and is more of projection in that area. I also think Bell carried better change of direction, while Kerryon is a bit more explosive in the open field.

That said, this is a guy I’m writing “Steeler” on if the Steelers do indeed end up taking a RB and moving on from Bell. The similarities are almost uncanny in some ways and I bet the Steelers have taken note of it.


Leighton Vander Esch, am I right?

While I did expect LVE to test well, I didn’t expect him to kill the agility drills as well as he did, nor did I expect it to be at 256-pounds. He is such an absurd athlete for his size, and I’m starting to believe has a chance to get picked before the 28th pick as teams rarely see that type of athletic ability in a throwback sized linebacker.

Rashaan Evans looked absolutely terrific in the position drills, got depth quickly in his drops and looked really fluid while flipping his hips. While he didn’t run, I honestly don’t care because I know how fast he is when he’s healthy, and I don’t need confirmation for that. I know he can rush the passer off the edge too, and this gives him a lot of outside, inside versatility in a 3-4 defense which someone will have fun moving him around pre-snap. I think with LVE’s ascendance, it might not be too crazy to think Evans can fall to the Steelers at 28.

A sleeper who really caught my eye was Genard Avery, and he absolutely obliterated the combine.

First, he’s almost 250-pounds, and he tested like that?! Not to mention as I went back to go into his film, not only did that athleticism translate, but he was also used similarly to Rashaan Evans how he’d rush the passer at times off the edge (actually has been training with Chuck Smith), drop into coverage off the edge and also play off the ball as an interior linebacker.

I was quietly impressed with his film and while I did find times he over pursued, he was able to recover nicely because of that athletic ability. That’ll be an area to work on coming into the NFL no doubt.


I’m going to get this out of the way, I want Jessie Bates, but I have a feeling the Steelers won’t be able to take him in the 2nd round, nor is he the guy they will take in the 1st round. I think Jessie Bates is the perfect center fielder in this draft. His baseball background is extremely apparent, so is his obvious athletic traits, including his fluid hips and light as a feather feet. That said, the Steelers like bigger guys at safety, and for that reason, I can see them wanting a more interchangeable player similar to the mold of Sean Davis.

This is why I’m almost positive the Steelers are going to pick Justin Reid in the 1st round. Reid is someone who was raved about in media interviews by many, tested out of his mind, is a very smart player that had a lot of responsibility at Stanford and was a productive player. If I were betting man (I’m not) and I were betting on the Steelers first round draft pick, this is the guy. It makes too much sense.

Someone who shocked me in at the combine was Terrell Edmunds, who is the older brother of Tremaine Edmunds, and how well he tested.

This is not what I expected after reviewing the film of him before the combine. He jumped out of the building with how explosive he was. What shocked me though is I remember watching the positions drills and seeing him flip his hips better than I thought he would.

I need to go back and watch the film again, but I saw a raw player who wasn’t of the center fielder type, but more of a SS. Still, the Steelers love explosive, raw athletes and Edmunds is no different. They took a guy like Sean Davis, and I can very well see them taking Edmunds in the 2nd depending on how the draft flows.