With their final two selections of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers added Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III and LSU offensive lineman Derwin Gray, two players who may have a better chance of make the final roster than their draft position would suggest.
When reading the scouting reports written about them ahead of the draft, the experts appear to see two players who could yet become solid contributors at the NFL level if they can improve the noted deficiencies in their game. And while a strong training camp in Latrobe could possibly see them on the 53-man roster come opening day, the practice squad is their more likely destination.
Ulysees Gilbert III, Akron
“Productive SAM linebacker who will need to prove himself as an undersized WILL or MIKE on the next level. Gilbert is an instinctive run defender with a natural feel for maneuvering around big bodies to find his food, but despite his three-down ability, has a disappointing number of lapses in coverage. His lack of size, strength and versatility could make landing on a roster an uphill battle.”
Standout performer at the East-West Shrine Game who turned heads at his pro day with 40-yard times in the low 4.5 range.
Sure thing as a tackler who rarely lets running backs leave his grasp.
Productive tackler who can play any of the three linebacker positions after lining up on the strong side at Akron but showing the athleticism to move around.
Fast enough to cover up tight ends or backs in coverage.
High-effort player who has the speed to run clean angles to the ball and slip blockers.
Undersized linebacker at 6’0”, 224 pounds and with 31 3/4” arm length.
Doesn’t have the power to stack and shed blockers.
Will be put on skates when he attempts to step into the hole and take on a blocker.
Length and power are below average for the NFL. Might have to play at weak-side linebacker to keep him away from lead blockers.
Lacks awareness at the MAC level.
Ulysees Gilbert III is a good athlete with the movement skills to attack the ball and run in man coverage, but he’s a project who must gain strength while also working on better read-and-react skills from his perch at linebacker. He has immediate special teams value.
GRADE: 5.15 (ROUND 7 - BACKUP CALIBER) PRO COMPARISON: Matt Milano
Slightly undersized run-and-chase linebacker who makes a lot of plays on the ball. Athletic and covers a lot of area on the field. Gets depth on pass drops and shows sideline-to-sideline speed. Breaks down well, uses his hands very effectively and makes a lot of plays in space. Stays with coverage assignments, displays solid ball skills and plays to his 40 time. Forceful on the blitz, displays outstanding skill in pursuit and wraps up tackling.
Struggles to get off blocks and gets easily slowed through the trash. More of a drag-down tackler.
Gilbert is not a big or stout linebacker, but he’s a pursuit defender with next-level athleticism. He was terrific during Shrine Game practices and turned in a dominant pro-day workout, and he has positioned himself as a potential late-round choice.
With pick 207 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Steelers select Ulysees Gilbert III, LB, Akron.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Ulysees Gilbert III posted a Great #RAS with V.Poor size, Elite speed, Elite explosiveness, Okay agility at the LB position. pic.twitter.com/lc3FmM5w7i
Derwin Gray, OL, Maryland
“Teams love big tackles with movement skills, but Gray offers a little more challenge for evaluators. His lack of bend causes deficiencies in sustaining blocks and in landing blocks on the move. However, in pass protection, he makes good usage of his size and his length and he might be able to hang in as a left tackle rather than the assumed push to the right side because of his size. He could go from solid to good as a starter if an offensive line coach can improve his consistency in the run game.”
Thick build from top to bottom and has the barrel-chested frame scouts want. Beyond that, he uses his size (6’4”, 320 lbs) well and will throw his weight around in both phases when needed.
Good ability to engage his lower back and butt to anchor versus power in pass protection.
Jarring punch in pass protection that stuns defenders when it lands square and can immediately give him the upper hand in one-on-one reps.
Pulls his hands quickly after his punches and can throw them again with good timing and placement to stay active throughout the entire rep.
Lateral agility is poor, and slanting defenders will easily cross his face in the run game. Pass-rushers with decent counters will routinely be able to set him up to be unable to recover.
Clunky mover out in space who puts a tremendous amount of stress on his lower-body joints by not running with a particularly efficient style.
Does not have the overall ability to adjust his track in space and cut off second-level defenders who have a read on the play.
Grip strength in his hands is a concern, and he’s rarely able to snatch defenders and control them from start to finish in the run game.
Derwin Gray comes with size and power that will put him in the discussion for a spot on a roster as a rookie. His movement skills may entice teams to move him to the right side where they can feature him as a tackle with power and a brutish playing style. He’s got an NFL future for sure, but the ceiling will entirely be up to his ability to develop above-average footwork technique that masks some athletic deficiencies.
GRADE: 5.60 (ROUND 5 - BACKUP CALIBER) PRO COMPARISON: Tom Compton
Large, surprisingly athletic tackle with good lateral blocking range. Quickly gets off the snap and keeps his feet moving and his hands active. Bends his knees, works to block with leverage and makes good use of angles. Displays footwork off the edge, jolts defenders with explosive hand punch and rides rushers from their angles of attack. Quick, strong and takes defenders from the action on running downs. Very explosive and works to finish blocks.
Lined up at left tackle but may lack the footwork to stay there at the next level. Must learn to finish blocks. Overcommits and gets beaten by inside moves.
Gray was a solid college lineman who showed consistent progress in his game. He possesses the size and strength to develop into a starting right tackle at the next level if properly coached.
With pick 219 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Steelers select Derwin Gray, OT, Maryland.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Derwin Gray posted a Poor #RAS with Okay size, Okay speed, V.Poor explosiveness, V.Poor agility at the OT position. pic.twitter.com/N1WZaJP1qG