The Pittsburgh Steelers are officially in full offseason mode, with their season wrapping up over two weeks ago with a 9-8 record. While the winning record didn’t equate to a playoff berth, the organization now turns its attention to the rest of the offseason, mainly free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft.
Free agency officially begins on March 13th with the start of the two-day legal tampering period. March 15th being the first official day of the new league year. As for the NFL Draft prep, well, it’s already begun.
Since the college football season has been done for weeks, the annual All-Star games are gearing up. This means you’ll hear plenty of rumors and reports swirling about players who are meeting with the Steelers at a multitude of games.
The Tropical Bowl, which took place this past Saturday, wasn’t the first such event of its kind. The Hula Bowl took place on the 14th of January, and the Steelers reportedly were present and making their rounds. At the Tropical Bowl they met with several players, most notably Bethel defensive tackle Nick Andrews.
Bethel DT Nick Andrews, the only NAIA player at the @TropicalBowlUSA, is making an impression. He’s talked with the Saints, Bears, Steelers, and the Edmonton Elks.— John Vogel (@DraftVogel) January 20, 2023
Andrews, and his NAIA school, don’t garner much attention, and getting to know more about him as a player can be a challenge. Nonetheless, here are the basics surrounding the large defensive lineman.
- Position: DT
- College: Peru State College
- Height: 6’4
- Weight: 310
Another defender the Steelers had their eye on was Virginia Tech linebacker Dax Hollifield.
LB Dax Hollifield (VA Tech) has been a popular name at the Tropical Bowl this week.— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) January 20, 2023
Versatile second level defender that’s shown improvement in coverage, he’s met with the Steelers, Dolphins, Bears, and Jaguars, per source.
For Hollifield, playing at an ACC school it was easier to find more information on him as a player. He is a draft profile of Hollifield, via Fan Nation.
Pros: Hollifield primarily aligns as the Hokies’ starting MIKE linebacker, with some snaps on the outside. He has sufficient athleticism - solid burst off the snap and loose movement skills. When he is able to make contact with a running back, displays adequate technique and uses his functional strength to make the play. Not many whiffs on tackles in his film. Straight-line speed is nice, and his frame is ideal for an inside linebacker in today’s game. Displays patience when covering in the flats.
Cons: One of the more disappointing run defenders I have ever come across. Doesn’t have a plan when attacking the play - will aimlessly run into the offensive lineman and get washed out in mere seconds. When used as a blitzer, his vision is poor and will elongate his path to the football by taking wide turns around the edge. Fails to showcase proper instincts across the various portions of his positional duties. Takes some egregious angles in coverage and his COD skills are severely lacking as well.
Summary: Dax Hollifield has some juice in his skillset, and if he can smarten up as a linebacker he has the potential to be a surprisingly good player; however, his athleticism doesn’t take away from the fact that he is a putrid run defender who is still incredibly raw in coverage. He’s a former 4-star recruit so his ceiling is theoretically high, but he needs boatloads of coaching to be anything more than a special team’s gunner at this stage.
Whether these individuals end up wearing black-and-gold remains to be seen, but it should be noted most of these types of players could end up being either late round draft picks or Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs). This is just the Steelers getting to know these players and doing their proverbial homework on them.
As for the upcoming All-Star games, here is the rundown of the schedule:
Shrine Bowl: Thu, Feb 2, 2023 8:30 PM
Senior Bowl: Sat, Feb 4, 2023 2:30 PM
There will be a lot of information coming from both of these events and the lead-up to both, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.