clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 NFL Draft: 4 Day 3 sleepers the Pittsburgh Steelers could target

The Steelers could find some gems on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Courtesy of Press Box Online

Day 3 of the NFL Draft is a time where teams look to find those true value picks they are searching for. In the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, most notably, Antonio Brown has come out of the Day 3 resume of picks. However, it does not mean they are hunting for stars like Richard Sherman or Tom Brady, but rather for good, solid players that add to the team.

If you want an example of this, think of someone like Vince Williams or Anthony Chickillo. All of these are quality players who have proven to be either solid starters or high quality backups, as well as key Special Teamers. Thus, this is what teams want to see in a Day 3 player, and the Steelers have shown lots of interest in the Day 3 pool, in terms of visits so far this draft season.

It is no coincidence they do this and end up with good players from Day 3, while other teams, such as the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, end up with players who never play a down.

Thus, here are some key prospects you should keep an eye on during Day 3 of the NFL Draft.

Jermaine Carter Jr, ILB, Maryland

We start off with a player who should remind everyone of Vince Williams, in terms of his mindset. Jermaine Carter Jr. is one of my favorite sleepers in the draft, and for good reason. There are few with better motors than Carter in the class, and he will give you his all on every play. A true leader, Carter has also been praised by coaches and teammates alike for being the hardest worker and a true leader in the locker room. He really is the guy that is there first and is always the last to leave.

However, his appeal is hardly limited to just his mentality and intangibles. Carter flashes on tape. His 4.69 40 is one of the most misleading in the class. If you see his film, you will believe he would be a sub 4.6 type of guy, and he flies around the field. A day 3 guy who can be a sideline to sideline player, Carter is always around the play no matter where he started the play. When he plays the run, he is incredibly gap disciplined and blows up plays at will due to this. You cannot shake him out either, Carter is an extremely sure handed tackler who can absolutely lay the boom at any given time. In coverage, Carter is not too shabby either, while not his specialty, he is much more advanced in this area than Vince Williams was when he came out of Florida State.

Let’s take a look at some excellent gap discipline and a fantastic tackle by Carter on the consensus number one running back in class, Saquon Barkley. Barkley is incredibly slippery, but even more so, Carter’s sure handed wrap up is even more impressive. We all know the issues the Steelers have had with tackling, but Carter will not be part of those problems. Carter is a smart football player too, he does not get filtered into unnecessary blocks and does not fall for the jukes many LBs do, he is incredibly disciplined.

He is insane. Solid coverage here by Carter and he just runs and dominates this receiver from the beginning. Carter will not only be physical at the line, but will be incredibly physical at the point of catch. In zone, he is yet again, extremely smart and disciplined. This guy can rush the passer too, he has a chop move and can power through a good deal of Tackles. If you want a starter from Day 3 at ILB, Carter is your guy through and through.

Chris Herndon, TE, University of Miami

One word — Length.

Herndon is absolutely massive. His length alone helps him with a few things, but most certainly big plays, blocking, and Yards After the Catch (YAC). Here is where you can see just how long this guy is.

The guy is nearly 6’4” and 253 pounds of raw muscle. Herndon is an incredibly raw player all around, and added on is that he suffered a severe knee injury. On tape, the guy is hardly explosive at all and lacks that burst you want, but his strides are so long he just breaks away from defenders.

He is a former WR who can just create YAC due to that, and as such can be used on plays such as Bubble Screens and TE Screens.

By no means is he a polished route runner, but he is great off the line and his release is incredibly solid. Most importantly, Herndon can can block. He is strong and has the size to block, although he is rather raw in the area, he is a decent blocker. The guy improved every season, and that is key with a raw player, as it proves they are coachable. The guy has some shimmy and shake in him too, he frequently makes people miss to create yards, and his long strides only add to that big play ability he is keen for.

The insane length and affinity to make moves is shown here. Herndon has an incredibly dangerous big play ability that few TEs carry in the league, and I firmly believe that would mesh very nicely with this Steelers team. As raw as he is, the Steelers have McDonald, James, and Grimble at TE, Grimble may be expendable for a big play type threat of TE like Herndon, who could be selected with one of team’s 5th round picks. His length and coach-ability may be too much for the Steelers to pass on in the 5th round.

Tracy Walker, Free Safety, University of Louisiana Lafayette

This right here is the safety no one is talking about. Walker has some of the best center field skills in the draft. Walker, Jessie Bates, and Damon Webb are some of my favorite FS prospects in the draft for their value and high energy level. Walker has an incredible motor, and with how smooth and loose he is in the hips, you love to this. The guy can easily get in and out of breaks to come back to the ball and make a play on it. Ball skills are great too, as he easily adjusts to balls in the air and has solid, soft hands to make grabs. The guy will go up and grab the ball at its highest point and make many impressive plays centerfielding. He is a sure tackler as well, and takes decent angles in pursuit. At 6’1” 206 and after running a 4.51 and genuinely playing faster than that on tape, Walker is an athletic player too, and he flashes it often when he closes in on balls and pass catchers incredibly fast. His play recognition in coverage is great too, and he stays disciplined at all times.

One more thing to mention about Walker is his man coverage ability. Perfectly illustrated here, Walker’s physicality at the point of attack and then the fluid break outside to stay step for step with the receiver is impressive. Walker then bats it away and proceeds to knock the receiver out of the play.

This is pretty much textbook coverage by Walker, and the Steelers have met with more and more disciplined and smart players this draft season, and this pick would accurately reflect that idea. Walker needs a year to develop to contribute, but nonetheless, a player with potential to be more than what his draft position will say.

Avonte Maddox, DB, Pittsburgh

Never doubt a player with heart and a big motor, is what most people would say. Maddox is the virtual definition of that. Maddox does not really have a position in the secondary, but he is more of a Tyrann Mathieu type of player. The guy can play outside, in the slot, and even in the box if he really wants to do it. Maddox has insane athleticism and tested extremely well at the combine.

Do not discount his effort either, the guy flies around the field, and even though he is only 5’9” he is the definition of physical. There is a lot of Mike Hilton in this guy. His speed and fluidity are some his best traits. He can bump you and be physical at the line or he can lock you down and come up to smack you in zone. He is the ultimate competitor and backs down from no one. He goes up and often gets interceptions or deflections due to this all world effort he contains. He can rush the passer too, and I would not mind having two Mike Hiltons in Pittsburgh right now. Absolutely high character and a well accomplished young man, Maddox will likely come for a local visit along with Jordan Whitehead, and it would not surprise me to see a Pitt Panther drafted by the Steelers again.

I own season tickets for Pitt and constantly got to see Maddox play up close. It was always a treat to watch the guy fly around and just make plays versus opponents best receivers. Maddox is straight up sticky to the point that he blankets guys all game, I rarely ever saw him let receivers get behind him.

Yet again, Maddox is also a disciplined player, and the Steelers have shown lots of interest this draft season in those types of high character, endless motor type players. This play here not only illustrates the coverage skills I am speaking of, but also that relentless aggression at the point of attack. He does it to one of my favorite receivers, James Washington. Make no mistake, Maddox’s size does not mean much, and he can tackle well too. A physical, sure handed tackler Maddox is, and I have him in my top 100. If the Steelers want another corner who can be Hilton-like, Maddox is their guy.


The Steelers have a history of hitting on high character, productive guys late in the draft. They have done so many times in the past and very well could again. I am guaranteeing you that one of these prospects in this article will become a Steeler. I do not know which one, but they fit the Steeler way of doing things, and would be great additions on the field and in the locker room.