The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season has now been over for two months, so we’ve had plenty of time to get into the off-season mindset. Although free agency comes first on the calendar before the 2020 NFL Draft, the NFL Combine has just concluded. Heading into a lot of player’s pro days, it might be nice to have an idea as to some of the names associated with the Steelers in the second round. The Steelers’ first round pick has already been named an All-Pro player as Minkah Fitzpatrick can be thought of as the Steelers’ choice. So let’s look at prospects who may be available at the 49th selection and see what they could bring the the Steelers in 2020.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the off-season. Here are some of the projected positions of need for the Steelers in no particular order:
There could be other positions added to the list, but when it comes to what position the team will target with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest three-round mock draft by drafttek.com they have the Steelers addressing the tight end position before anything else. With many questions at the position heading into free agency, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the pick:
49. Pittsburgh Steelers | Hunter Bryant| TE | Washington | JR |
Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has concluded, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Bryant according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Route Tree - Sit routes, crossers, over routes and fades litter his tape, he’s quite good across the board here. Does well to carry quickness through the top of his routes. He’s got necessary burst and shows awareness to step routes into space to help produce larger throwing windows.
Hands - Has had some struggles with drops along the way, he can frustrate here in letting some get away from him. That said, his hand strength in contested situations is good and he’s done well to catch tough balls with significant body adjustment at the catch point, too.
Versatility - Move piece who can serve a viable role as a receiver from the slot or out of the backfield. There’s not much upside to plugging him inline and routes will be more disrupted if you ask him to work through the box. Threatens all 3 levels of the field as a route runner.
Contested Catch Ability - Good concentration and has needed size versus defensive backs to big boy defenders and work for positioning. Excelled on ball adjustments against tight coverage and showed needed catch radius to extend and finish away from his frame.
RAC Ability - His burst is something in the open field. He’s got good juice and will remain a mismatch threat at the NFL given his long speed as he’s able to open up his strides. Good contact balance and showcased a little wiggle to produce anxious tackle challenges in space, too.
Power at POA - He’s not going to be effective here given his frame/stature. Doesn’t carry a lot of mass in the lower half and doesn’t illustrate a ton of leg drive or desirable foot activity to uproot defenders. Blocking will generally need a lot of work, especially if asked to play attached to OT.
Competitive Toughness - Love what he can provide as a receiver. He’s able to get onto the body of defenders as a route runner and create some room to work at the catch point. As a blocker, he’ll get washed by defensive linemen and needs more assertive punch vs. LBs to avoid getting worked.
Flexibility - Very good body control, has made impressive adjustments on fades and wheels that require back shoulder targets. He’s got plenty of lateral mobility through the lower half to produce spring during his redirection and hard cuts.
Balance - Fluid athlete in the open field that should thrive against linebackers in coverage. Block framing is tempered by a narrow base, he’ll spin too easily off of contact and doesn’t channel linear drive to produce movement off the LOS.
Football IQ - Crisp in his routes. Appreciate his awareness of timing for looking back to the football, doesn’t tip his hand prematurely. There’s some concessions needed to protect him from raw skill set as a blocker if he’s going to find an early impact and not fall into TE transition trap.
Best Trait - RAC Ability
Worst Trait - Power at POA
Best Film - Utah (2018)
Worst Film - Stanford (2019)
Red Flags - None
Summary - Hunter Bryant should be a dynamic receiving threat at the NFL level. Bryant brings excellent quickness, run after catch skills and versatility to a flex tight end role. Plugging Bryant into a traditional inline role will water down his receiving skills — he’s best working off the LOS or as a flexed slot receiver who can serve as a H/W/S mismatch for opposing defenders. If Bryant it put in such a flex role, look for early production and long-term starter status in the pros.
For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Bryant with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or do you feel there is a better player at the position who may still be available? Let us know in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.