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BTSC 2019 Post-Combine Big Board (EDGE and DL Prospects)

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the final small scale Board before we return to doing versions with the entire class at once on a more-or-less weekly basis. It's a big one, however, because I am jamming together both the Defensive Line talent and the Edge Rushers, both of which are full of star power at the top. And both of which cause sharp arguments among the draft cognoscenti of Steeler Nation.

Does the team need another Edge Rusher? The easy answer is, "You can never have too many great ones." If Josh Allen or Brian Burns fall to 1:20 it will be all but impossible for the team to pass them by simply because that level of talent is so rare that you have to seize it whenever you can. The tougher question comes up for the rest of the class and depends on your personal view of Bud Dupree. I respectfully decline to get in the middle of that argument but for the sake of setting the stage I will summarize my basic belief: I view Bud Dupree as a solid NFL pro who plays a position where fans want "special", and who was drafted in Round 1 with inflated expectations that he would live up to those hopes. T.J. Watt has done so. Bud Dupree has not because he may be big, strong, explosive and athletic, but he lacks that final piece of bend to get around the edge. No one would complain about Dupree if he wasn't looking at an enormous payday based on the obscene salaries that even average Edge Rushers can now command.

In any case, the Board places a slight premium on Edge Rushers who have that ability to bend around the corner while casting a dimmer eye on those who are "merely" extraordinary athletes in the Dupree/Chickillo category. Ola Odeniyi is the great wild card of this equation based on some fabulous film as a preseason rookie sensation in 2018, together with a physique that reminds us all of a young James Harrison. For the present time he is being ignored, just like other unproven wunderkinder on the roster.

On the other side, discounts have been liberally applied for lack of system fit and this makes a huge difference because the top and middle tiers of this class include many players who are only suited for a 4-3 DE role and/or a role as hybrid 4-3 DL's who can move up and down the line. The text should specify whenever a grade is artificially low for one of these reasons.

The Defensive Line talent of this draft class is probably the best in living memory at the top, with adequate depth that reaches down into Round 4. After that you're looking for steals more than likely targets. And once again it is a situation where the fans are bitterly divided about the level of need and/or want. The Steelers use 2½ starters in the modern NFL, with the traditional Aaron Smith 5-tech DE's having converted into multipurpose DT's who play anything from a 1- to a 5-tech, and the traditional Big Snack, 0-tech NT having been converted into a 1-tech penetrator. Those starting positions are better-than-ably manned by Heyward, Tuitt and Hargrave, none of whom are showing signs of age.

But DL depth is vital, right? The primary backup is the able and recently re-signed Tyson Alualu, but he is 32 and bound to start showing signs of age sooner or later. And the primary sub package need is for a true immovable object who can soak up double teams while holding his ground in short yardage situations. The recently re-signed Dan McCullers has flashed that ability from time to time but has never been reliable about it and faces the added challenge of being so tall. What does all that mean when it's sifted and sorted? Reasonable minds can disagree - especially when the amount of talent at the top sends greed-rapture spasms through our more vulnerable comrades.

The current grades on this Board assume that (a) the Steelers will be willing to bargain shop in Round 2 if a truly major steal appears in Round 2 or three; (b) there will be no interest before Round 4 in the absence of a steal; and (c) from Round 4 on the team will view D-Linemen with few if any blinkers because of the depth questions. Players who don't fit a desired profile get more of a discount but that is a pretty broad category since it includes anyone who fits the above definitions for a modern Steelers DE, NT, or sub package run stuffer.

As always, your comments and suggestions are not only welcome but urgently requested. I have described the premises of the Board in such detail for the precise goal of inviting the hive mind to revise them if y'all (yinz?) believe I've got it wrong.

Aaaaand... They're off!

HV

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Edge Rushers

1:01

EDGE/BUCK ILB Josh Allen, Kentucky. 6'4⅞", 262 lbs. Remember the debates about LVE in 2018? Get ready for a repeat. As an Edge player Allen has all the assets you could want in a Top 10 guy limited by only-adequate technique and strength - which are exactly the things good NFL coaching and training can fix. As a hyper-athletic Buck he features range, ability to play in space, and of course an exceptional talent blitzing when necessary. This great, gif-supported scouting report from former NFL player Stephen White captures the essence. Do a Google search if you want to find dozens more. Here is a solid November scouting profile.

1:05

EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio St. 6'3¾", 266 lbs. Ain't Gonna Happen, thank heaven. Bosa is a superb prospect as a 4-3 DE, good enough to shape a defense around. The Steelers play enough hybrid formations to do that, and would for this talent, but the complications would drive us fans crazy as we tried to follow along. Steeler Nation is nutty enough already!

1:05

EDGE Brian Burns, Florida St. 6'4¾", 249 lbs. The top sack artist in college football, designed by nature to play 3-4 OLB, and probably an irresistible steal if he falls to 1:20. People suspected that he'd played around 230 lbs. in college, so coming in to the Combine 20 pounds bigger, moving like a DB in the field drills, and posting a 94th percentile SPARQ score was huge. To top it all off, here is no question about his ability in run support and he's young in the way that Pittsburgh prefers (turns 21 in April). It would be hard to design a better Edge prospect from a Steelers POV. Consider: the NFL.com scouting profile had one real issue, namely that "his skinny frame and lack of play strength are absolutely concerns moving forward." Not anymore! He answered every question, and did so resoundingly. Nick Farabaugh's gif-supported BTSC scouting report argued that he'd be a steal at 1:20 and it's looking like he was right. Here are equally glowing scouting profiles from The Draft Network that praise his versatility above all else: bend, strength, length, moves - he triumphs most as a brilliant player in all facets than a pure and unique genius in any one area. Alex Kozora's pre-Combine gif-supported scouting report is less positive, citing "inconsistency" and lack of upper body strength.

1:20

EDGE Montez Sweat, Miss. St. 6'5¾", 260 lbs. with insanely long 35¾" arms (that is not a typo) and huge 10½" hands. Honesty time: Montez Sweat is very hard to grade on a Steelers-oriented Board because he could easily be a Top 10 pick for every 4-3 team in the league, and the athletic testing suggests he may be able to function as a Size XL 3-4 player as well. His Combine performance displayed fabulous movement skills for a man this big, his overall SPARQ score in the top 3% even for NFL Edge Rushers, and the 4.41 dash he ran is in the Shazier stratosphere of statistical weirdness. Wild! Woodley was a good bit bigger if you think about it... At the same time, there is no getting around the fact that in Pittsburgh he'd be a 4-3 talent squeezed into a role that doesn't quite suit him.. at least not as well as playing with his hand in the ground. This gif-supported scouting report from former NFL D-Lineman Stephen White calls Sweat a "nearly perfect prospect" as a 4-3 DE, and only a bit less so as a 3-4 rush OLB. Here is a gif-supported scouting report from January. The NFL.com scouting profile could not be more complimentary of his 4-3 prospects, but sounds similar warning notes about his ability to thrive in space. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles, which are equally positive. It's been reported that Sweat has a minor heart condition, but it appears that everyone knew about it before the Combine and the doctors obviously cleared him to perform.

2:01

EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida {Meeting at Combine}. 6'2½", 258 lbs. Polite dropped 20 pounds in 2018 in order to play in the 230's, where he excelled as a pure speed rusher with enough bend to seize the edge after he gained that quarter step edge. People worried about the lack of size, however, so he came into the Combine back up at his natural weight in the 250's... and the explosiveness was G.O.N.E. Was he injured? He did pull up complaining of a hammy after an absurdly awful time in the 40. But he also scored poorly in the leaps that measure his main asset on tape (explosiveness). What is going on? Will he will have to play in the 230's? What will that do with his ability to set the edge? And could he maintain an athletic edge that narrow as the NFL grind sets in over the course of a 16-game season? What about a multi-year career? The bottom line: some had touted his prospects as high as the Top 10 but his stock has now dropped considerably, especially with the questions about why his motor seems to run hot and cold. The NFL.com scouting profile, which ends in a strong "instant starter" grade, hints that some of the issues may be related to "scouts' [concerns] about maturity and character." But who knows? At this point it's a puzzle that we may never be able to answer before he hits an NFL field. Here is a good, gif-supported Draft Network scouting report from October along with the Draft Network scouting profiles. This gif-supported January scouting report from our sister site for the Jets examines his tremendous burst, bend and overall athleticism. This Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report describes a magnificent and bendy speed rusher who suffers from limited play strength and ability to convert speed to power (an issue pointed out by BTSC readers too). Here is a February scouting profile from Draft Wire.

2:12

EDGE Christian Miller, Alabama. 6'3⅜", 247 lbs. with extraordinary 35⅛" arms. The Draft Network scouting profiles and this excellent gif-supported January article from Brad Kelly combine to say Miller has all the athletic tools that Pittsburgh will look for but in measured amounts; i.e., almost-great burst, bend, ability to play in space, sophistication as a pass rusher, ability to set the edge, etc. He's also known as a real team leader whose absence was a genuine issue in the big Bowl game. The only red flags are health related: a bad bicep tear that ended 2017 and an equally severe hamstring that ended 2018. He's also suited only to a 3-4 scheme like the Steelers. 4-3 teams won't have much interest. He did little testing at the Combine other than some exceptional leaps that confirm the burst, and some field drills where he looked a bit clumsy. The NFL.com scouting profile adds some concerns about his ability to anchor against the run and to turn strength into power on rushes. Here is a February scouting profile from our sister site for the Lions. This gif-supported March scouting report has no particular criticism aside from being a one year starter, but nevertheless ends in a fringe-3rd grade. This brief March scouting profile from our sister site for the Chiefs ends in a Round 2 grade as a 4-3 Sam with pass rushing chops.

2:12

EDGE Chase Winovich, Michigan {Meetings at Combine & pro day}. 6'2¾", 256 lbs. One of the Combine's most pleasant surprises came when Chase Winovich, known mostly for playing on the edge of crazy, put up a very respectable top-third SPARQ score, with top-few percentile scores in the dash and C.O.D. drills. Read the NFL.com scouting profile and you'll see why everyone roots for his success. "Relentless, determined... rabid, physical... plays the game like he has zombie blood pumping through his veins... plays his role in the scheme and willing to do dirty work... etc." The question marks went to his pure athleticism, as indicated by the comparison to Markus Golden, who is a 110% football player with terrible raw scores in anything that can be measured. Winovich's Combine performance put that "athletically limited" concern to bed. The Draft Network scouting profiles are very similar to Lance Zierlein's: grit, effort, motor, leadership and football IQ off the charts, but flexibility, bend, and overall fluidity in space not so much. This post-Combine, Arizona-oriented scouting profile praises his "uncanny ability to knock down offensive lineman's hands quickly and cleanly," but does not see the tested athleticism. This goes to an excellent March article from the Detroit Free Press, which mentions a Round 2 grade at ESPN.

3:01

EDGE Clelin Ferrell ("Furl"), Clemson. 6'4⅜", 264 lbs. A potential Top 15 player but only as a 4-3 DE. Period. You can admire his array of pass rushing moves, exceptional length, and power all you want; and his productivity; and his leadership; and his ineffable knack of finding a path to victory when he needs it most; but Clelin Ferrell simply would not function half as well in a system like Pittsburgh's that would require him to move in space. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles, along with a scouting profile from DraftWire and a gif-supported scouting report from Trevor Sikkema. This goes to an admiring NFL.com scouting profile.

3:01

EDGE D'Andre Walker, Georgia. 6'2⅜", 251 lbs. with long 34⅜" arms. An athletic specimen who could test out of the building and needs to if he wants to hear his name on Day 2. And thus, in strict accordance with Murphy's law, he did none of the Combine tests. Arrgh. The Steelers and other 3-4 teams may like him more than the 4-3 ones. The Draft Network scouting profiles describe a player who has all the individual assets you want but has never managed to unite them into an organized pass rush. The NFL.com scouting profile suggests that he "could find early work as a rotational edge-bending rush specialist" while he works on various technical shortcomings. He's reported to be good but inconsistent at setting the edge in the run game and capable of dropping into space. This goes to a DraftWire interview. This solid looking March scouting report compares him to a bendier Kyle Van Noy.

4:01

EDGE Jaylon Ferguson, LSU. 6'4⅜", 256 lbs. Incredible, record-setting sack production (particularly in the games where LSU faced inferior competition), he gets an added discount for Pittsburgh because he fits much better a 4-3 scheme. The Draft Network scouting profiles describes him as a less athletic but more refined version of what Bud Dupree has become: a strong, edge holding, but linear athlete with good burst (not as good as Bud's) and excellent hands (even better than Bud's). The downsides are very little bend and less than ideal athleticism in space (much worse than Bud). The NFL.com scouting profile is more positive and ends in an "instant starter" grade, but only for a 4-3 team that uses him in the right way. This gif-supported December scouting report ends with an early Day 2 grade based on excellent hand usage. This Steelers-oriented, gif-supported January scouting report ends with a Round 4-6 grade for a team like Pittsburgh that asks its Edge rushers to drop into coverage.

4:01

EDGE Justin Hollins, Oregon {Meeting at the shrine game}. 6'5¼", 248 lbs. His calling card is strength and he also has some explosion to his game, but Hollins is exceedingly raw as a pass rusher and suffers from moderate bend. That combination projects him as an ideal run stopper with some coverage skills (he played 3-4 OLB in college and did this acceptably), nice versatility, and some theoretical upside. More Bud Dupree than TJ Watt. Rose up a bit after a great week at the Shrine Game where he won a lot more than most in the 1-on-1 challenges and also did well in space. Here is a Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report from February. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

4:16

EDGE Ben Banogu, TCU. 6'3½", 247 lbs. Banogu ("BAN-oh-goo") has the athletic assets you want but has shown little in the way of a pass rush plan or the technique to use those assets. He put up an amazing top 3% SPARQ score at the Combine with results heavily skewed toward C.O.D. skills and explosion, while also moving remarkably well in all the field drills. Impressive enough to really stand out! The Draft Network scouting profiles all worry about the lack of bend and flexibility, which makes you wonder why the tape and the testing show such a big difference. They do, however, describe him as the sort of gritty, blue-collar player who will find a way to scrape, claw, bite and outwork the world if that's what it will take to make a roster. The NFL.com scouting profile does not knock his bend but does observe that he can't seem to turn his good upfield burst into a threat against the edge. This gif-supported September scouting report from our sister site for the Cowboys (remember that TCU is a local school to them) mentions that Banogu was getting some Round 2 hype at the time. This goes to a useful Mid-March DraftWire interview. This Bears-oriented February scouting profile pegs him as a likely Round 4 pick who'd be great boom or bust value later on for a team with limited need and picks. This post-Combine scouting profile from our sister site for the Giants has him in the Round 3-5 value range. This March scouting profile makes what could be an apt comparison to former TCU and current Bills Edge player Jerry Hughes.

4:16

EDGE Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma St. 6'2½", 252 lbs. Summing up, Brailford profiles like a slightly more explosive Anthony Chickillo held back by a history of injury problems like a broken leg. He stood out as a real star of the Shrine Game. At the Combine he put up a top 17% SPARQ score based purely on speed and explosion numbers because he did not do the C.O.D. drills (which Chickillo excelled at FWIW). The NFL.com scouting profile praises his effort, motor and burst; complains of missed tackles and a variety of technical flaws that coaching might be able to fix; and ends with a mid-round developmental grade. The Draft Network scouting profiles as more of a Round 5-7 prospect with good upside. This gif-supported scouting report from our sister site for the Redskins sees instead an unpolished but supremely versatile athlete who can play multiple Edge and LB positions. This Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report basically describes a multifaceted Buck ILB.

5:01

EDGE Jamal Davis II, Akron. 6'3⅛", 243 lbs. A small school, SPARQ score star (top 20%) that was held back significantly by height and weight concerns compared to 4-3 DE's - issues that concern the 3-4 oriented Steelers less than his exceptional burst and bend. The NFL.com scouting profile is an interesting read: it notes an exceptional spin move in both directions, worries about his athleticism (no longer at issue), but most of all focuses on coachable issues like giving up his chest and poor hand usage. Interesting note: he is a former Pitt player and good friends with James Conner.

5:01

EDGE Darryl Johnson, North Carolina A&T. 6'6", 253 lbs. A very raw small-school wunderkind with the raw athletic ability to succeed in the NFL as a 3-4 OLB in the Steelers' system. Our own Nick Farabaugh calls him, "crazy bendy... [a guy who can] just slither around the edge [], run a tight arc and use his size and length [] with amazing ankle flexibility." The NFL.com scouting profile sort of agrees, but emphasizes that he really is incredibly raw, has very limited small-school experience, and suffers from serious lack of play strength. The same thing goes for the Draft Network scouting profiles: the bend is real but everything else screams "practice squad."

5:01

EDGE Shareef Miller, Penn St. 6'4½", 254 lbs. Possesses a flashy and explosive first step that he can combine with decent bend around the edge and some pop in his hands, but the testing confirmed a lack of grown man strength, his vertical leap was a worst-in-class warning to all, and his overall SPARQ score came in at the bottom 10% despite a good 40 time and his length. Those are awful numbers for a kid touted as winning on his athletic edge. See the NFL.com scouting profile for an example: "good size and athletic traits but a lack of functional skill at this point." If the traits are less than real he will be in trouble. The Draft Network scouting profiles page echoes the technical complaints and worries about his fundamental toughness.

5:01

EDGE Malik Reed, Nevada {Meeting at the NFLPA Bowl}. 6'1", 250 lbs. A badly undersized but absurdly productive 4-3 Defensive End in 2016 and 2017, Reed moved to OLB in 2018 as part of a unique 3-3-5 system. His stats went down but your humble author contends that it was still good training for the 3-4 OLB position he'll have to play in the NFL. No kidding here: Reed looks exactly like the pass rushers that Pittsburgh used to steal in the drafts of 20 years ago. You aren't going to stop him if he gets even an inch around the edge, which he does a lot. The main assets are an amazing ability to bend around the corner, a great get off that only makes it more lethal, and an obsessive work ethic to keep getting better. It's the lack of size & strength, raw hand usage, and new-to-the-position klutziness of 2018 that lower his stock. If a lineman locks him up, he stays locked up, and his film looks a lot less than good moving in space. Reed stopped being a sleeper after dominating the NFLPA Game but he's going to be the secret crush for a lot of fans who see the highlight film. This Lions-oriented scouting profile from February sees him as a pass rushing specialist who could grow into a full time star. Here is the Draft Network scouting profiles page.

5:16

EDGE Mathieu Betts, Laval. 6'3". 244 lbs. Let the battle begin! Our own Nick Farabaugh is a fan who sees this Canadian prospect as a truly superior Edge prospect. "I think he has it all in terms of an explosive first step and bend around the edge, though some high pad level does temper the excitement." The well respected and Pittsburgh based Jon Ledyard would beg to differ: "Not explosive and won't threaten the edge with his first step or the speed thereafter. Appears athletically lacking in this area... Stiff in the hips and doesn't show the bend to work through contact... Unbelievable motor [that] chases down every single play and rarely hesitates for a second from snap-to-whistle." What thinks the rest of BTSC? He looked okay but not special at the Shrine Game.

5:16

EDGE Markus Jones, Angelo State. 6'3", 255 lbs. A small school standout who flashes good straight line burst, pad level, hand usage, and the ability to win inside. The bend isn't all that striking and the speed-to-power aspect needs work, but Jones made a real name for himself at the Shrine Game against superior college talent.

5:16

EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion. 6'3½", 253 lbs. This year's small school phenom features tremendous hand work and general athleticism but hasn't shown the extraordinary bend of an elite pass rusher. The process will tell us a lot more about his ability to step up to NFL caliber competition. This gif-supported scouting report sees him as an undersized 4-3 DE with real potential but a desperate need for both coaching and at least one redshirt year before seeing any defensive snaps. The Draft Network scouting profiles seem to agree with that take. The NFL.com scouting profile is also positive and also viewed him as a 4-3 DE who might be on the "3-4 teams [] radar depending on his athletic testing." Well, the testing came back at "not so much" with a 34th percentile SPARQ score and klutzy looking field drills.

6:01

EDGE Austin Bryant, Clemson. 6'3⅞", 271 lbs. He'd get a much higher grade on a 4-3 team looking for a solid, reliable DE who could push for playing time. Not a fit for Pittsburgh.

6:01

DL/EDGE Joe Jackson, Miami. 6'4¼", 275 lbs. Big, strong, athletic, explosive and driven by a relentless, tenacious motor, but far from polished and not particularly bendy. Nature has designed him to be a 4-3 DE but he is included here because he is long and strong enough to have some vague potential as a penetrating DL in Pittsburgh's hybrid system. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

6:01

EDGE Wyatt Ray, Boston College. 6'3¼", 257 lbs. with short (32½") arms. A decent but not great athlete who plays with good pad level and a good motor, but suffers from a distinct lack of bend and counters. He has a pretty good bull rush but when that fails there are few tools left to call on. He also looked downright poor in the Combine field drills so falling back in coverage isn't likely to be his game either. Run support is solid but not good. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the NFL.com scouting profile.

6:16

EDGE Jesse Aniebonam, Maryland. 6'3", 260 lbs. Looked like a quick, explosive, and strong 4-3 DE prospect in 2016, but a serious ankle fracture ruined 2017 from the first game on and he did not look like his old self in 2018. Also tends to plays with a high pad level. Not a good fit.

6:16

EDGE Jalen Jelks, Oregon. 6'5⅜", 256 lbs. The film shows a very good first step but problems putting it all together at the same time. The Combine performance certainly didn't help his prospects since he came in with a bottom 8% SPARQ score that was redeemed only by height and length. This Bears-oriented scouting profile explains that Jelks is a double projection because he actually played in college as a hugely undersized Defensive Tackle. This January scouting profile compares his physical potential and upside to Jason Taylor (!), but while the NFL.com scouting profile sees the potential, Zierlein nevertheless ends with a comparison to career journeyman George Selvie.

7:16

EDGE CeCe Jefferson, Florida. 6'1½", 266 lbs. A lesser version of Bud Dupree; big, strong, athletic, but challenged when it comes to bend. Flashed a bit in earlier years but lost almost all his snaps this year to two clearly superior talents (Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga). SPARQ score in the bottom 5%. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

9:99

EDGE Carl Granderson, Wyoming. 6'4¾", 246 lbs. Serious criminal charges were filed in February. He has real life issues to deal with and will be considered undraftable unless they are dropped.

Defensive Linemen

1:10

DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama. 6'3", 285 lbs. A Top 5 talent for almost any other team, Williams is the perfect model of a 3-down NT who can double as an interior pass rusher. The comparisons to Aaron Donald and a prime Geno Atkins flow hot and heavy, are deserved, and IMHO there is no higher compliment. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the NFL.com scouting profile. Just for fun, here's a gif-supported October comparison of Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver. For the opinion of someone who genuinely knows, consider this gif-supported scouting report by retired NFL D-Lineman Stephen White: "a full can of whup-ass [] with free refills ... Williams is so good and so unique that I don't think I can come up with a current or former NFL player to compare him to." Wow.

1:15

DL Ed Oliver, Houston. 6'1⅞", 287 lbs. A Top 5 talent for almost any other team. The comparisons are all to HOF players like Warren Sapp or future ones like Aaron Donald. Here are the Draft Network's set of scouting profiles, the NFL.com scouting profile ("a twitched up ball of explosive fury"), and just for fun a gif-supported October comparison of Ed Oliver and Quinnen Williams. Retired NFL D-Lineman Stephen White is a huge fan, ending with a comparison to a better and more technically accomplished Robert Nkemdiche. This goes to the Walter Football scouting profile.

2:12

DL/EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan. 6'4⅜", 277 lbs. A 1st Rounder all day long who our own Nick Farabaugh has described as follows: ‘a combination of a bigger T.J. Watt and a smaller Stephon Tuitt but just as raw as either one.' The scary thing, in both directions, is what the NFL.com scouting profile emphasizes: Rashan Gary has been so much better than everyone else at every level that he has never really learned the technical side of the game, and will require an NFL coach who can figure out how to get in his head and realize the (no exaggeration) HOF potential. Physically he profiles as an ideal 4-3 DE or a tweener DT which, alas, is not a great fit for the Steelers. For that reason he's been discounted by a full round on this Board. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles.

2:12

DL Jeffery Simmons, Miss. St. 6'4", 300 lbs. An easy Top 10 talent in most years, Simmons would be a dream target for the Steelers if Heyward or Tuitt gets chewed to death by carnivorous nanobots during the offseason. And it could actually happen! He tore an ACL in February and that rehab time could be just enough to drop his stock down to where a draft steal would make sense for the Steelers. There was an off field incident from his time in High School where he pushed a woman to the ground (apparently for calling his mother certain particularly insulting words) but all reports say he has been a model citizen in college. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the NFL.com scouting profile.

2:24

DL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame. 6'6½", 295 lbs. with the best SPARQ score in the class. Built like a Steeler D-Lineman and plays like one too. He singlehandedly destroyed a good Stanford team. Round 1 talent for any team that can teach him to keep his pad level down and to use those long arms effectively. He does, however, come with a warning tag the Walter Football scouting profile describes as follows: "His pre-draft meetings and visits are going to be crucial [] because even scouts who like him as a player say that Tillery's personality is a problem." What could that mean? Well, the Combine coverage explored that at length. Here's the issue: Tillery is an exceptionally smart and well rounded young man, a deep thinker who subscribes to ‘radical' publications like The Economist and The New Yorker, and thus the scouts in question are worrying about whether he's too uppity to dedicate himself to the NFL grind. Aaaargh! I only keep that in here to hold the idea up for the public scorn it deserves. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the NFL.com scouting profile ("should become an instant starter").

2:24

DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson. 6'3¼", 315 lbs. This gif-supported scouting report from retired NFL D-Lineman Stephen White is as entertaining and helpful as ever. White describes Wilkins as sturdy, quick, and exceptionally good at beating double teams, though other reviewers have said he could use some sand in his pants if he wants to simply fight them. Great movement, bend and agility for a man that size suits him for the 1- and 3-tech roles. He is so renowned for high character, brains and leadership that his head coach once said, without joking, that "He's either going to be the president, or he's going to know him." Round 1 prospect discounted for lack of need. Here is the Draft Wire scouting profile and the set of Draft Network scouting profiles. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile, which lauds his "face of the franchise personality" while noting ways he could instantly improve with better conditioning.

3:01

DL Charles Omenihu, Texas. 6'4½", 274 lbs. with 36" (not a typo!) arms. A super explosive, amazingly long, but undersized penetrator who could conceivably go in Round 1 to a 4-3 team looking for a DE who can shift inside for sub package work. Not a good value or system fit for Pittsburgh. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the slightly less complimentary NFL.com scouting profile.

3:12

DL Dre'Mont Jones, Ohio State. 6'2¾", 281 lbs. A 1 and 3-tech prospect with tape sort of like slightly smaller version of Javon Hargrave with experience at Ohio State instead of Nowhere U. Projects as a terrific interior pass rusher but needs more sand in the pants to handle run defense. OTOH, Hargrave's athletic testing put Jones' to shame. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles, a Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report, and the NFL.com scouting profile.

3:24

DL/NT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson. 6'4½", 342 lbs. with long 34¾" arms and big 10½" hands. The best two-down, run stuffing immovable object in the class, Lawrence combines his size with good pad level but no pass rush to speak of. He earns major discounts for both the limited utility Pittsburgh would get from a pure run stuffer, however good, and also for a PED issue in December. Fans should argue that his ideal weight would be in the 320's and getting there might make him more explosive, which is a valid but speculative point. Like most scouting profiles, the Draft Network pages view him as the clearly best 0-tech Nose Tackle in the draft but no more than that. The NFL.com scouting profile gives him an "instant starter" grade on the understanding that two-down NT's are still to be seen as ‘starters.'

3:24

DL Gerald Willis, Miami. 6'1¾", 302 lbs. The Draft Network scouting profiles, including a particularly good one from Jon Ledyard, describe a player who is explosive and strong, but has severe pad level problems. He has a sky high ceiling if good coaching can help him to fix that. His backstory can cut both ways. The Bad: he displayed terrible team- and self-destructive immaturity early in his college career. The Good: he took a voluntary year off, came back, and proceeded to earn glowing reports from everyone on his newfound locker room demeanor and work ethic. A 2018 hand injury kept him out of the Bowl game. This Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report from February ends with a Round 4-5 grade.

4:01

DL/NT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M. 6'1", 327 lbs. A 5-star recruit who fizzled and underperformed through his college career until he suddenly started to get it in the back end of 2018. A dazzling and dominant performance at the Shrine Game started buzz to the effect that he's finally arrived. The Senior Bowl only pushed the buzz up. Could Daylon Mack be the defensive line steal of the draft with so many obvious superstar prospects to absorb the DL picks in Rounds 1 and 2? Maybe. This Steelers-oriented, gif-supported scouting report describes a straight line, explosive run stuffer who will occasionally push the pocket when his bull rush wins. The Draft Network scouting profile agrees on both the description and the mid-round grade.

4:01

DL Khalen Saunders, W. Illinois. 6'⅜", 324 pounds. Want a small school superstar who first hit this Board for a very good reason having nothing to do with football? Watch this and you won't even think of disagreeing. Last time I saw something like that it was Jason Pierre-Paul at the Combine, and he turned out okay... Senior Bowl practice reports lauded his "rare blend of power and quickness," and then he dominated the game as well. Here is The Draft Network scouting profiles page, along with a gif-supported scouting report ("Khalen Saunders does rare things"). This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile, which raises concerns about his ability to anchor. For all the press we have to remember that Khalen Saunders comes from a small school, needs a lot of work with both NFL coaches and NFL training staffs, and may turn out to be an extraordinarily well-wired athlete who isn't as straight-line explosive as you could wish for. Bad leaps and very moderate length kept his overall SPARQ score at middle-of-the-road status.

4:16

DL Trysten Hill, UCF. 6'2¾", 308 lbs. The Draft Network scouting profiles make you think of a much more raw version of Javon Hargrave. The explosion, agility and potential are there but he will need some serious coaching before he could really help - particularly when it comes to keeping his pads down and using his hands. Those skills will be essential for him to (a) function in the NFL and (b) make use of his natural advantages when it comes to leverage. His other big asset is a white hot, neverending motor. Hill was one of two players featured in Jon Ledyard's February article on mid-round DL sleepers, which also suggested a Round 4 grade. He got a bump from an excellent Combine that put his SPARQ score in the NFL's top 20% and yielded reports of good interviews. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile, which questions his coachability and makes those interviews even more important.

5:01

DL Zach Allen, Boston College. 6'4⅜", 281 lbs. with 34¾" gorilla arms. You've got to love smart, football-loving, tough-guy grinders who stand up Offensive Tackles in the run game and beat them on passing downs with grit, persistence and an array of subtle but nasty hand fighting and leverage techniques. He also put up a shockingly good top-20% SPARQ score that answered a lot of the questions people had about his ceiling. Alas, but he's a pure, Day Two DE for a 4-3 team who'd be stuck between roles in Pittsburgh: too small for a DE and too stiff for an OLB. The grade would be even lower if there was no chance he could bulk up into a smaller Defensive Tackle. Here are the Draft Network scouting profiles and the NFL.com scouting profile. Sad thought, but he sounds like a perfect Patriot even down to the Boston connection.

5:01

DL Isaiah Buggs, Alabama {Meeting at Senior Bowl}. 6'3⅛", 306 lbs. The Draft Network scouting profiles describe a refined technician who uses his hands well and has good, low pad level, but suffers from a reputation of taking plays off and possesses only moderate explosion in that key first step. Notably short (30⅞") arms won't help him at all against NFL linemen. Here is a gif-supported scouting report.

5:01

DL Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M. 6'2⅝", 288 lbs. with long (34½") arms. It's a question of fit. He's a fluid, athletic guy for his size but a bit short compared to the Heyward/Tuitt prototype, a bit light compared to Hargrave, and he lost some of his movement skills in prior years when he'd bulked up to the size Pittsburgh would need him to play at. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile. The Draft Network scouting profiles echo the questions about where he would fit on an NFL roster. This goes to a pre-Combine gif-supported scouting report.

5:01

DL Anthony Nelson, Iowa. 6'6⅞", 272 lbs. A good looking 4-3 anchor-type DE who will fit some other team a lot better than Pittsburgh, where he'd be asked to bulk up into a mobile Defensive Tackle rather than a Size XL Edge player. His biggest flaws are a lack of bend and ability to play in space, both of which make him unsuited to the 3-4 OLB role. This goes to a gif-supported pre-Combine scouting report.

5:01

DL/NT Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin. 6'2", 345 lbs. A Day 3 immovable object.

5:01

DL/NT Armon Watts, Arkansas. 6'4⅝", 300 lbs. The Draft Network scouting profiles page and the NFL.com scouting profile add up to describe a technically advanced, country strong player who understands how to play with leverage. That means he is very hard to move backward even with double teams, and will often reset the line of scrimmage a yard into the backfield. But that is most of what he offers. Almost no pursuit or pass rush ability unless the QB gets chased into the pocket he just pushed. A good D-Lineman but only a two-down contributor. Watts was one of two players featured in Jon Ledyard's February article on mid-round DL sleepers, which also suggested a Round 4 grade.

6:01

DL Greg Gaines, Washington. 6'1⅛", 307 lbs. A short, stocky and strong player who understands leverage and is therefore hard to move, but he offers no real pass rush ability.

6:01

DL/EDGE Joe Jackson, Miami. 6'4¼", 275 lbs. Big, strong, athletic, explosive and driven by a relentless, tenacious motor, but far from polished and not particularly bendy. Nature has designed him to be a 4-3 DE but he is included here because he is long and strong enough to have some vague potential as a penetrating DL in Pittsburgh's hybrid system. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

6:01

DL Daniel Wise, Kansas. 6'2⅝", 281 lbs. A pure penetrator with good 1st-step explosion but questionable ability to hold up if that trick fails. A standout at the Shrine Game where he regularly beat up on Centers and Guards alike.

6:16

DL/NT Edwin Alexander, LSU. 6'3", 339 lbs. A massive, fairly explosive NT who fills up space but greatly needs to work on his pad level.

6:16

DL/NT Khairi Clark, Florida. 6'1", 315 lbs. Rawer than raw with little to no explosive ability off the line. His ability to bull rush may earn a roster spot somewhere but he has massive work to do if he ever wants to be more than a gap plugging run stuffer.

6:16

DL/NT Renell Wren, Arizona St. 6'4⅞", 318 lbs. A "toolsy" prospect loaded with explosiveness, strength, and power that could let him play anywhere from the Nose to a 3-tech. But his technique is outright bad, he got dominated at the Senior Bowl practices, and rumor has it that questions arose about his coachability and other fuzzy matters. Expect him to fall much lower than he would in other years because of this class's incredible depth at the position. Here is a 3-reviewer January scouting profile.

7:01

DL Demarcus Christmas, Florida St. 6'3⅜", 294 lbs. A stout if short-armed DT who earned infamy at the Combine with a hideous bottom 3% SPARQ score based on terrible scores almost everywhere. The NFL.com scouting profile and the Draft Network scouting profiles acknowledge decent power and results far better than the testing would suggest, but see his ceiling as a Day 3 backup.

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