As all the BTSC faithful already know, I believe that the offensive line is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest area of need heading into next week's 2021 NFL Draft. Not only do the Steelers need to improve their talent along the line, they need an attitude adjustment across the frontline also. A powerful, punishing rushing attack is usually the byproduct of an aggressive, attacking offensive line. That's something Steelers Nation hasn't been privy to since the Bus was rumbling, bumbling and stumbling down the field.
I have made no secret about my desire for the Steelers to utilize multiple selections on offensive line prospects in a draft fortunately deep in talent at both interior and exterior positions. Another surprising development with this offensive line class is their impressive versatility, with multiple prospects having position flexibility.
Prospects like Quinn Meinerz from Wisconsin Whitewater, Trey Hill from Georgia, Kendrick Green from Illinois. All can potentially man any interior position, making their additions optimal for a Steelers franchise desperately needing to improve their strength and power across the interior of their line. All of these young men are powerful run blockers, who could be available in the third or fourth round.
One huge question mark for the Steelers heading into the 2021 NFL season happens to be standout right guard David DeCastro. DeCastro dealt with an undisclosed injury to start the 2020 campaign, and he never looked quite up to par at any point during the season. He has never been known as a powerful run blocker, but excelled at his craft through superior athleticism and technique. He wasn't as explosive off the snap last year, and therefore failed to generate any push in the running game. Many have speculated he was still dealing with the aforementioned injury, but we won't know for sure till he gets back on the field.
With the Steelers best lineman also being arguably their biggest question mark, the Steelers would be wise to select at least a couple insurance policies. Considering the Steelers have eight overall selections heading into the draft, the Steelers maybe tempted to gamble on a raw but talented lineman in the later rounds. Low risk, high reward type of developmental project. That brings us to the subject of this article, South Carolina guard Sadarius Hutcherson.
Hutcherson first caught my attention because he has a burgeoning fan base already forming amongst the BTSC community, particularly with the amateur scouting community eternally on the lookout for the Steelers next diamond in the rough. These people are my BTSC family, as I consider myself one of them. A kinship if you will, although many invest far more time and effort than me. We are connected by our love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Hutcherson is as polarizing a prospect as you will find in this draft class, grading anywhere from a fourth round selection to going undrafted. He measured in at a shade under 6'3" and weighed 321 lbs. He is lauded for his strength, aggressiveness, and attitude; both on and off the field. He has received recognition for his commitment to strength training and conditioning, after playing at 230 lbs in high school.
This commitment allowed him to hit 35 reps on the bench press at his pro day. He was timed anywhere from a 4.95 to 5.01 in the forty, with a 31" vertical. His explosive athleticism allowed him to achieve a 9.86 RAS score, which stands for relative athletic score. This metric measures a prospects athleticism on a 0 to 10 scale. Needless to say, 9.86 is pretty good.
Most scouts are equally enthusiastic about his strengths as a prospect, but they are also in agreement concerning his weaknesses. His weaknesses are numerous, but most can be improved through good coaching and a little patience. The biggest issue listed on every evaluation is his lack of balance, with limited lateral movement coming in a close second. He also has shorter arms and smaller hands than preferred, but those shortcomings aren't as debilitating on the interior. Reading over multiple evaluations words like top heavy, stiff, and difficulty reaching the second level started to sound all too familiar. I read the same comments about Kevin Dotson last draft cycle, and when I was researching Quinn Meinerz recently.
I will leave you with this little information nugget. One evaluator noted that Hutcherson looked like he was tossing aside candy wrappers in his effort to describe Hutcherson dominating Kentucky defenders in a 2019 game. That description does remind me of how Dotson goes about handling his business on the football field, and having another road grader of an offensive lineman sounds awfully good to me. Maybe even a couple more.
Hutcherson may be long gone before the Steelers sixth round selection comes around, but I would definitely pull the trigger if he is available. He will need time and coaching to clean up his technique and fundamentals, but he potentially could develop into a devastating run blocker and a long term starter at guard for the Steelers.