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Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Draft Prospects: College Game Day and Open Thread

Time to check in on some college prospects who might intrigue the Steelers in the 2019 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Samford at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to week 9 of the college football season. Nice Top 10 match up with the Gators and Bulldogs. As a closet Iowa fan I will be paying attention to the Iowa and Penn State game. I have said this before but I will say it again, Ferentz gets more from less and doesn’t get the respect he should as a head coach.

No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia (-7) 3:30 CBS

No. 18 Iowa at No. 17 Penn State (-5) 3:30 ESPN

No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford (-3) 7 Pac 12 Network

This weeks highlight game:

No. 2 Clemson (-14) at Florida State Noon ABC

Florida State Seminoles :

Alec Eberle #54 Center 6’3” 294

Derrick Kelly II #74 Tackle 6’5” 323

Jacques Patrick #9 RB 6’3” 236

Johnathan Vickers #26 FB 6’1” 240

Brian Burns #99 Edge 6’5” 231

Demarcus Christmas #90 DL 6’4” 308

Levonta Taylor #1 CB 5’10” 181

FSU Player Profiles:

EDGE Brian Burns

I love Brian Burns and I regret not having him in the top 10 of my big board from a few weeks ago. His footwork and bend are elite. He might be the second best EDGE in the class just because of fluid he is. His bend is combined with impeccable explosiveness off the edge and he also proves he is just stupid fast off the edge. His hands are as active as anyone’s in the class and he has a great rip-club combo as well as a great swim move. His hips are just fantastic. They rotate around the corner incredibly well, which adds to his bend and ability to not get run around the arc. As a run defender, he has great gap discipline and holds the edge well.

As for the cons, I hate to say it but he needs to bulk up. He gets blown back sometimes because he is tall and lanky. Thus, he has almost no semblance of a bull rush even if his pad level is great. I like Burns a lot, but he needs to have better timing, as good OTs will mix up their timing and it will get Burns.

Round Grade: Early 1st

NFL Comparison: Chandler Jones

CB Levonta Taylor

He is not flashy and never will be, but he is just a smart and solid football player. If you want to watch tape on him, you won’t see pass breakups, but you will see him show excellent aggressiveness at the line and excellent mirroring. His hips are just that fluid. In man he has all the tools you want, even if his length is a little lacking at 5’10”. Taylor is stupid sticky and has some of the best trail techniques when he is targeted deep, which is rare. Even when he is targeted, you see fantastic ball skills and ability to get his hands in there at the catch point.

My main issue is in zone he is a bit of a slow processor, and it leaves him susceptible to allowing passes to the flats. He gives up far too many yards after the catch, as he is a poor tackler and his lack of strength shows. Thus, he is also a rather poor run defender.

Round Grade: Late 2nd

NFL Comparison: Deshea Townsend

Clemson Tigers:

Sean Pollard #76 OL 6’5” 316

Mitch Hyatt #75 OL 6’5” 310

Hunter Renfrow #13 WR 5’10” 185

Clelin Ferrell #99 Edge 6’4” 265

Austin Bryant #7 DE 6’6” 280

Dexter Lawrence #90 6’4” 350

Christian Wilkins #42 DT 6’4” 315

Kendall Joseph #34 ILB 6’ 235

Tre Lamar #57 ILB 6’4” 255

Mark Fields #2 CB 5’10” 180

Trayvon Mullen #1 CB 6’1” 195

Tanner Muse #19 S 6’1” 230

Clemson Player Profiles:

EDGE Clelin Ferrell

I am not as high on the Clemson Defensive Line as many others are, but Ferrell is the real deal. He has natural quickness and bend off that edge and has some crazy explosiveness with his 6’5” monster frame. You can always see the guy has a plan and is quick to enact it. His explosiveness is always perfectly timed and he clearly knows how to work inside and outside. He can go through you in a bull rush or simply rip inside you. The spin move he adopted has netted him numerous sacks this season alone too. He is a polished pass rusher. Let’s talk about how insane his hands are too. They are active to no end and counter especially well. His run discipline, especially in his gap and on the edge, is one par with Nick Bosa’s. His hips are so fluid that he can just shed blocks and flip his hips towards the sideline with ease.

My biggest con would be when he deals with shifty, slippery running backs, Ferrell does have some trouble bringing them down, so sometimes throwing him out into the flat is not the greatest idea.

Round Grade: Early 1st

NFL Comparison: Danielle Hunter

IDL Dexter Lawrence

I know a lot will say I am a bit low of Lawrence, especially with how high I am on Rashan Gary, but Lawrence is just so raw. He does not display any explosiveness or quick first-step, which leads to him being stonewalled easier than he should be. He does play low, which means he can use his strength to bull rush, but he offers very little as a pass rusher. It can flash, but it just isn’t there yet.

In run defense, I do like that he keeps his gap most of the time, but at other times he gets driven straight back into the LB because his hands are simply dead. He needs to get far more penetration than he has currently, but Lawrence has gotten lighter over the season. He looks more explosive and that is what he will have to be like in the NFL, point blank.

Round Grade: Early 3rd

NFL Comparison: Star Lotulelei

IDL Christian Wilkins

Wilkins is a defensive linemen who can bend like he was playing EDGE, but he doesn’t. It really helps inside too as he just bends inside and gets pressure right up the middle. He is explosive off the snap and can win with the rip-chop combo he has displayed recently. He knows how to get skinny and fight straight through gaps.

His strength and leverage are severely lacking. Couple that with a rather tool of hand usage and it becomes clear that he does not get pass rush often. He often is blown out of gaps and leaves wide open holes in run defense. I really just have to preach playing lower, because it is why he gets beat. On top of that, his reaction is rather slow, so it leaves him out to dry.

Round Grade: Mid 3rd

NFL Comparison: Christian Covington

New Feature: Draft Sleepers

Had a chat with Nick and we decided it was time to start adding some names to the mix that don’t get the everyday attention. It’s never to early to find that diamond in the rough.

Utah RB Zack Moss

You will not see great athlete under Moss’ radar, but my goodness is he a powerful runner. He runs over guys and keep his balance while doing it. He has some of the best contact balance I have scouted in the class. He breaks tackles at will and knows how to make it hard to tackle him if you take the wrong angle. His vision is elite and he finds the hole each and every time. Moss displays effort and fight that allows him to grind out every last yard he can. He has good burst even if his athleticism is not great. Moss is a great receiver and is used out of many different alignments. Regardless, he is a 3 down back as he can also pass pro.

He really has some questions about himself in space, as even if he does break tackles, his lack of agility really does not allow him to turn the corner very often. Sometimes he overthinks the run and causes himself to quite literally end the run play, even if he hits the hole correctly. He will get out in front of his blockers a bit too often when he should be a bit more patient.

Round Grade: Early 3rd

NFL Comparison: Giovani Bernard

Auburn ILB Deshaun Davis

Davis is the smartest ILB in the class. It is not debatable. The high IQ football plays he displays are out of this world good. He knows what is going on every play and it makes up for his lack of athleticism when he can just straight up call a play from the jump. He anticipates plays with ease. His zone coverage is fantastic and he understands zone discipline about as well as any ILB. All that and he is still a stout run defender too. He gets skinny and makes tackles with ease.

That lack of athleticism still does hurt him when seam routes are run or when the athletic TEs are in the vicinity. He is not always sideline-to-sideline but takes great angles. His hips are not as fluid as they could be, but it is not terrible.

Round Grade: Mid 2nd

NFL Comparison: Zach Brown

Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden

At 6’4” with speed and absolutely insane athleticism, Gandy-Golden is going to be a problem in the NFL. It is only a matter of how well his skill set translates. You may not have heard of him, but start to get his name of your radar. He has insane release skills, as he seemingly gets separation with ease. His route running of seams is perfect as he puts his body in perfect positions to just box guys out. He is stupid good at contested catches and brings them in with ease. Liberty has used him as the ultimate red zone threat and it shows all the time. He is a clear mismatch there. He is not bullied around by aggressive corners either. He has fantastic body control.

He needs to expand his route tree and get more nuanced in and out of breaks. He has the hips to do it, but he will need to be coached up if he wishes to be schemed around more than just outside. While he is a deep threat, he can struggle with zone awareness and finding the soft spot in the zone. Does not block well at all.

Round Grade: Early 2nd

NFL Comparison: Mike Evans


Let us know who you have your eye on for the Black and Gold and what games you plan on watching Saturday. It’s still early in the process but feel free to generate some conversation about what direction you believe we should take in the upcoming draft. Also remember it is also an open thread so the conversation doesn’t have to be draft related. Just remember to keep it respectful and feed back is also welcomed.