The 2021 offseason will look a lot different than most fans are accustomed. At this point the NFL Scouting Combine is usually just wrapping up and teams prepare their roster for free agency and eventually the NFL Draft.
The NFL decided to cancel the Scouting Combine, except for medical checks, which means there has been an increased focus on individual college Pro Days. The Pro Day circuit has been quiet the past few weeks, but in the months of March and April are when things heat up.
Recently, schools like UW-Whitewater and Northwestern held their Pro Days, and the Pittsburgh Steelers had one, or more, scouts at both of these events. First, the UW-Whitewater pro day for offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz.
Almost every NFL team is here at the Pro Day for UW-Whitewater OL Quinn Meinerz— Lorin Cox (@CoxSports1) March 9, 2021
Teams that sent more than one scout include the Packers, Steelers, Panthers and Washington. pic.twitter.com/lTBrJcatPt
Among the NFL officials at UW-Whitewater Quinn Meinerz’s pro day today in Whitewater is Adrian Klemm, a former Packer who is the Steelers off. Line coach.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) March 9, 2021
For those who might now know much about Meinerez, here is a draft profile on him from The Draft Network:
Quinn Meinerz is a well-developed player from the Division III ranks who’s appeared in 33 games for one of the more historic programs across the country. An exact guard body type, he plays just as strong as his frame indicates. Playing strictly left guard (based on 2019 film), he’s found a comfortable home on that side of the line. He’s a below-average athlete, but he makes up for it with his knowledge of concepts and strength levels. Constantly showing Herculean-like strength against his surroundings, he’s been able to create and sustain high levels of production during his time as a starter. Despite his experience, Meinerz is an extremely raw prospect overall. A below-average athlete, there are often times where he will sacrifice his technique in order to use his strength to bully targets. Balance has also been a constant issue for him, as he makes frequent trips to the ground because of his eagerness to overwhelm the opposition at the point of attack. Proving to be much more comfortable in a man/gap/power scheme, he’s a blocker that is best suited in a downhill scheme that allows him to perform quick pulls and kick-out blocks frequently. A system that revolves around quickly getting a body on a body with lots of single blocks in order for him to exhibit his strength to impose on defenders would be ideal. Technical aspects and footwork of the position will need to be instructed to him as he was taught some unconventional techniques during his collegiate career that may not be as effective on the next level. He has a background as a wrestler while at Hartford Union High School (WI).
Ideal Role: Developmental guard that will need time on the practice squad to develop in hopes of eventually becoming a rosterable player by the tail end of his rookie contract.
Then there was the Northwestern Pro Day. The Steelers were present for this event as well, and likely were looking at a pair of prospects, among others.
The two prospects most are keeping a close eye on would be:
DB Greg Newsome and OT Rashawn Slater
Here is a breakdown of these two players:
Rashawn Slater is a scheme diverse and positional flexible prospect who should offer a little something to everyone depending on what specific needs and traits are prioritized for any given franchise. Slater, who opted out of the 2020 college season and has not played since the end of the 2019 campaign, is well regarded for his fundamentals and functional athleticism along the front. Slater manned the left tackle position for the Wildcats. For teams that don’t prioritize certain measurable thresholds, he appears to be a viable candidate to do the same in the NFL—based specifically on his work against 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in pass protection. But Slater’s ceiling is likely lowest on the edge and the further into the heart of the line he transitions, the higher his potential is to become a perennial Pro Bowl player and potential All-Pro candidate in my eyes. Slater has tremendous cutoff abilities and clean, patient footwork working space and the necessary functional strength to hold his own on the interior. The position flexibility he offers ensures he can be a part of any NFL offensive line’s combination of best five players to start up front from Day 1.
Ideal Role: Starting center (teams will be well within rights to let him fail outside and work in if preferred).
Scheme Fit: Inside/outside zone heavy rushing attack to optimize lateral mobility, West Coast passing tendencies (if playing tackle).
Greg Newsome II is an exciting cornerback prospect who will offer an NFL franchise plenty of appeal as a potential starter on the perimeter. Newsome II has showcased strong ball skills and length to pair with high-end levels of flexibility and functional athleticism—that’s a blend that is going to get Newsome II drafted sooner rather than later. This young cornerback prospect did miss a golden showcase opportunity against Ohio State in the 2020 Big Ten Championship Game to put an exclamation point on his resume, but nevertheless, this is a prospect who saved his best football for last. Newsome II is instinctual and offers suddenness in split decisions in coverage; frequently driving to the target and attacking the football in the air. He brings the right kind of attitude to perimeter play both in collision routes and in run support and tackling at the line of scrimmage, but his aggressive angles will need a little work to ensure he’s secured tackles at the catch point before attempting to attack the football and undercut throws. Durability will be a big missing link for those on the outside—Newsome II is yet to play a full season of college ball. Now, he’ll look to sell a pro team that he can play 16 games (or more) in a year. If he can, this is a very gifted player.
Ideal Role: Starting perimeter CB.
Scheme Fit: Zone-based secondary with C-3 principles.
What do you think of these particular prospects? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.