With the arrival of the defensive backs at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, we can add five more names to the list of players the Pittsburgh Steelers have met with in Indianapolis after reports of meetings with Byron Murphy, Greedy Williams, Taylor Rapp, Rock Ya-Sin and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson emerged.
Byron Murphy @byronmurphy @UW_Football discusses his role in Washington’s scheme and being a team player.— Aaron Sutton (@Suttonlacesout) March 3, 2019
He has met with the #MiamiDolphins.
CC: @PFN365 @thephinsider @3YardsPerCarry pic.twitter.com/L35sp6dFX7
Murphy was the one who confirmed a formal meeting with Pittsburgh when speaking to the media and he has been one of the most popular players to mock to the Steelers over the past few weeks. But as the hype around him grows, it looks increasingly unlikely he will be available to Pittsburgh with pick No.20.
“Byron Murphy is an elite prospect who can plug into just about any system at play at a high level. Murphy has surreal mobility and polish for a younger prospect. His explosiveness, ball skills and route recognition skills make him a great fit to play in both shallow and short zones. Murphy would have little issue stepping up and filling on the boundary or contesting shallow throws in front of his face. Murphy has the upside to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL by the end of year 3.”
Williams is another popular name for the experts to project to the Steelers as of late, with most mock drafts including him in their top four cornerbacks. While some scouts appear to have questions about his ability in run support, there is a lot to like about his coverage skills. As illustrated by this scouting report from Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network.
“Greedy Williams projects as a high impact player in the NFL, for better and for worse. Williams’ ball skills, length and speed will allow him a lot of challenges on the football. But Williams’ effort and lack of desire to play all phases of the position will impact his team as well, only in a negative light. Williams has Pro Bowl potential with a fire lit underneath his rear. He’s got the ability to be a starter fairly quickly, but team will have to be comfortable with the ups and downs...or eliminate them.”
The connection to Gardner-Johnson is a little less concrete, with the young safety claiming he had spoken with all 32 teams when talking to reporters during his media availability session. Gardner-Johnson’s name has appeared next to the Steelers in a few mock drafts so far this offseason, and the Junior prospect from Florida is expected to be one of the first safeties off the board come draft day.
Having begun his career with the Gators at cornerback, his ability to play a variety of roles in the secondary is sure to interest several teams, as is a productive final season in Florida that saw him record 71 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. While often described as rangy in scouting reports, many also appear to have questions about his consistency.
Pittsburgh apparently met with Washington safety Rapp on Friday night, as per an article written by Steelers beat writer Jim Wexell.
“A three-year starter at Washington, Rapp was a versatile piece for the Huskies, lining up at linebacker, strong and free safety throughout his collegiate career.”
“Rapp is an impact striker and hits differently than most safeties, creating multiple car pile ups that force ballcarriers to think twice. His motor is always running hot, and it shows when he is in pursuit. He is highly aggressive and intelligent in everything he does on the football field.”
“Rapp doesn’t possess the range, speed or other worldly athleticism to be a deep single high safety. Rapp is a prototypical box safety who thrives against the run from the box and in man coverage against tight ends. He’s a strong, smart and versatile defender that has elite tackling ability in confined areas.”
“Overall, the former Washington product has the traits to be a staring strong safety or nickelback at the next level.”
Details of the Steelers meeting with Temple cornerback Ya-Sin also come from the same article written by Wexell.
“A one-year starter at Temple, Ya-Sin was a standout at Presbyterian College before making the transfer. Ya-Sin wins the best name award, but is a boundary corner with key-point ball skills, whose rare ball hawk skills standout in this loaded cornerback class.”
“Tons of press-man and zone coverage at Temple dictated his aggressive opportunities, Ya-Sin is a coordinated athlete for his size. He has the lower body to mirror routes and stay on top of receivers.”
“Even though true straight-line speed didn’t usually show up on tape, through deep routes, Ya-Sin’s short burst, body positioning and twitchy agility helped him stay close to faster wide receivers down the field. Once the ball was thrown, he would locate it and use his length to disrupt the catch point.”
“Overall, good size, and agility paired with competitive toughness and spatial awareness will make Ya-Sin a starter in a heavy zone-scheme. He’s a pure cover corner who should produce right away, once he can improve in man coverage, tackling, and a few other areas.”