The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who has their scouting department all over the country currently. With the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine canceled, scouting departments are relying on individual college Pro Days to get the information they need on specific prospects.
Not only is their scouting department out in full force, but specific coaches will head to colleges if they want to get a close look at specific prospects. For instance, newly promoted offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has already been spotted at several Pro Days in the past week or so.
Position coaches are one thing, but when the Steelers send the big guns, you better pay attention. The big guns would be none other than head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert. The duo doesn’t attend every Pro Day, but when they do they usually have their eye on a very specific prospect(s).
At Clemson’s Pro Day Thursday, the big guns were in attendance to watch players like running back Travis Etienne put on a show.
I’m told 31 NFL teams are at Clemson today for their pro day. Headlined by Steelers Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, Dolphins Chris Grier, Bills Brandon Beans, Cardinals Steve Keim and Saints Jeff Ireland.— Andrew Groover (@APGroover) March 11, 2021
On top of Tomlin and Colbert being in attendance, newly promoted offensive coordinator Matt Canada was there to get a glimpse of the crop of prospects Clemson is churning out this year.
Steelers HC Mike Tomlin and OC Matt Canada having a LONG discussion with Dabo Swinney at Clemson's Pro Day.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) March 11, 2021
Canada and Tomlin spent a long time with Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney during the workout.
(Photo courtesy of Steel Legends via Twitter)
So, who are some prospects the Steelers might be keeping a close eye on? Of course the list will start with running back Travis Etienne.
During the Pro Day, Etienne registered a 4.40 40-yard dash time, which you can watch below:
Travis Etienne runs a 4.40 at Clemson’s Pro-Day⚡️— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 11, 2021
After the workout Etienne said he had a virtual meeting with Tomlin and Canada, and is excited about what he could do for the Steelers if he is their pick.
Etienne: "I feel like it'd be a perfect fit. I feel like he would use me in a ways to get me into the mismatches, those one-on-ones that I feel comfortable in winning. I feel like it would be great. He's going to get me out there, in a position to make plays." https://t.co/wmfmeKxz7M— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) March 11, 2021
Here is a draft profile on Etienne, from The Draft Network:
Clemson running back Travis Etienne enters the NFL after a productive college career that resulted in him being the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. His burst and contact balance make him a big-play back that is capable of taking it the distance from any part of the field. While he’s an explosive back, Etienne is disciplined and doesn’t try to do too much and put his team in bad positions. He’s grown wonderfully as a receiver and is a nightmare matchup for linebackers in coverage. The primary area of concern for Etienne is inconsistent results in pass protection. His tape reveals too many instances where he is tardy to diagnose pressure schemes and lacks the technique needed to consistently execute blocks in pass protection. While his vision is sufficient, there are times when he can become too eager pressing the line of scrimmage where more patience and anticipation are needed to maximize his touches. Overall, the grips with Etienne’s game are minor and he has the upside to become one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
Ideal Role: Featured running back that gets plenty of chances to attack the edges and contribute as a receiver out of the backfield.
Scheme Fit: Etienne is a scheme-transcendent back.
Other prospects the Steelers could be watching closely would be:
Amari Rodgers (WR) and Jackson Carman (OT)
Below is some information on both Rodgers and Carman:
Amari Rodgers was a factor in 2018 and 2019 but saved his best for last as he hauled in 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns during his final campaign at Clemson in 2020. The veteran of the receiving corps in 2020, Rodgers was the go-to guy for the Tigers’ offense during his last season. Rodgers is a slot receiver that is built like a running back. He thrived with manufactured touches and then using his physicality, burst, vision, and decisiveness to work after the catch. As his production increased as a senior, so did his role in the offense. 2020 saw Rodgers produce more down the field in addition to his work in the short to intermediate areas of the field. He has reliable hands, plays a physical brand of football, and is a good athlete. When it comes to identifying areas of growth for Rodgers, developing his route tree and finding more consistency when challenged at the catch point stand out. Rodgers lacks length and struggles to extend his catch radius which creates some limitations. Rodgers has a chance to be a featured slot receiver in the NFL for an offense predicated on timing.
Ideal Role: Primary slot receiver that gets some manufactured touches and opportunities to create in space while providing value with his punt return ability.
Scheme Fit: West Coast, Horizontal Spread.
Clemson offensive lineman Jackson Carman enters the NFL after serving as Trevor Lawrence’s blindside protector for the last two-plus seasons in college—a role he filled quite well. Carman is a massive and powerful blocker that thrives in the run game and holds his own in pass protection. His power is notable, but he moves well for his size and features strong hand technique that he blends with a strong feel for his role in the scheme that makes him an effective blocker. Where Carman shows signs of struggles is when he is tasked with speed off the edge. In those moments, Carman is often beat to his landmarks and he struggles to recover. Should that be problematic at the next level, a move to guard will be required and Carman’s skill set suggests it’s a transition he could handle—and perhaps he can perform even better on the inside. Carman has the makings of a quality starter at the next level, but his team will need to figure out the right spot for him to grow and develop at.
Ideal Role: Starting offensive guard in a gap/power scheme.
Scheme Fit: Gap/Power
What do you think of these prospects? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 N