The Pittsburgh Steelers, and all other NFL teams, are hot on the Pro Day trail as they prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Since the NFL Scouting Combine was canceled in 2020, the NFL put the onus on individual Pro Day workouts to get teams the one, and only, chance to see these prospects up close and personal.
Throughout the offseason there have been big name schools who have hosted their Pro Days, and this upcoming week has a few huge Pro Days fans should be keeping tabs on as these prospects are put through the proverbial ringer to show scouts and coaches what they can do.
This week schools like Alabama, Penn State and Michigan State all have their individual workouts, but Florida State had the Steelers’ attention Monday. In fact, the Steelers sent their big guns, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, to Florida State Monday to see the prospects.
NFL representatives at Florida State pro-day include:— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 22, 2021
☑️Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and HC Mike Tomlin
☑️Bills GM Brandon Beane
☑️Packers GM Brian Gutekuenst
☑️DL coaches from Steelers, Cowboys, Bengals
☑️DB coaches from Patriots, Cardinals, Dolphins
Of the many prospects the Steelers could be watching, defensive back Asante Samuel Jr., yes the son of Asante Samuel, was the big name to keep an eye on.
For those wanting to know more about Samuels, check out the profile on him via The Draft Network:
The son of four-time NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, Asante Samuel Jr. enters the NFL after a strong career in the ACC on a struggling Seminoles defense. Samuel Jr. is a touch undersized, but he is outstanding in man coverage where his natural pattern matching instincts, loose hips, and quick feet make him tough to separate from. Despite not having ideal size, Samuel Jr. is a competitive run defender and tackler that gets his work done and isn’t a liability. While his frame may suggest to some that he’s slot only in the NFL, he’s in the mold of a Brandon Flowers/Denzel Ward and fully capable of playing wide in the NFL like he did in college—although he does have some experience in the slot. Where Samuel Jr. has room to grow is in his zone coverage reps and ball skills. He played mostly man coverage in college and he isn’t nearly as comfortable in zone reps. From a ball skills perspective, he isn’t consistent finding the ball in the air and getting his head around, creating issues when challenged with his back to the line of scrimmage. Samuel Jr. has the potential to start at the next level for a defense that plays a lot of man coverage and is willing to move him around to maximize his strengths.
Ideal Role: Starting outside cornerback that can also play in the slot in a defense that features plenty of man coverage.
Scheme Fit: Man-heavy defensive scheme.
Florida State wasn’t the only Pro Day the Steelers were represented. Inside linebacker coach Jerry Olsavsky was present, and active, at the University of Missouri’s Pro Day to get a glimpse of linebacker Nick Bolton.
Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky here visiting with Nick Bolton’s family & agent Tommy Condon. He’s going to run the linebacker drills. Steelers pick at No. 24 & 55.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) March 22, 2021
For those who don’t know much about Bolton, here is a draft profile on him too, this also from The Draft Network:
Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton projects as an impact starter at the NFL level thanks to his linear explosiveness to trigger and attack between the tackles and his ability to deliver jarring hits to ball carriers. Bolton has a pro-ready build and carries himself with confidence in traffic—for better and for worse. Bolton was a standout in Missouri’s defensive front and his role as the leader and enforcer of the Tigers’ defense has groomed him well for a featured role in the heart of an NFL defense. Bolton’s prowess in the passing game shines in zone coverage, as he can drive on shallow routes that flash in front of his face and make receivers think twice about coming over the middle. But there’s plenty of room for improvement in Bolton’s game in space, both with angles to attack throws and his decision-making process to work overtop of the play versus shooting gaps to try to get home and create a splash play in the backfield. Bolton has come on strong after entering his sophomore season in 2019 as a first-year starter, so there should be plenty of optimism that Bolton can continue to hone his decision-making process and develop into a more consistent fill player and coverage option. Teams who implement a lot of green-dog blitzes and pressure schemes up the middle will love the leverage, twitch, and hitting power that Bolton brings to the football field.
Ideal Role: Starting MIKE linebacker.
Scheme Fit: Single-gap penetration front with shallow zone tendencies on B-level.
With some other big Pro Days coming up this week, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.