The entire NFL, and their scouting departments, are in Mobile, Alabama for the 2023 Senior Bowl, but there are always those teams and coaches who make the presence felt every step of the way.
One of those coaches would be Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin isn’t just present in Mobile, he is always visible and interacting with players every chance he gets. To say he is making an impression might be an understatement. How much of an impact? How about the kind where prospective players are starting to use his ever-famous “Tomlinisms” when speaking to the media.
”It’s kind of like Mike T said, “‘Your best ability is availability.’ So, if I’m available all across the board, that should help,” Georgia Tech defensive lineman Keion White said after one of the many Senior Bowl practices this week.
Tomlin isn’t coaching any of the teams, although the Steelers secondary coach Grady Brown is the defensive coordinator for the National team, but he is out there making his presence felt.
“He’s been out at practice, so I was bouncing ideas off him a little bit,” White said of his interactions with Tomlin.
It is undeniable when you consider the impact Tomlin has on players at every level. Regardless of whether the Steelers draft a player, they always remember Tomlin and their interactions with the long-tenured coach of the Steelers.
As for White, he is hoping to put his best foot forward this season, and showing what he can do after injuries hampered his college production. However, some of those injuries actually have helped him in his overall preparation for the NFL.
“The injuries have made me become a better player in refining my technique instead of relying on my athleticism and just learning the game a little bit more,” White said.
In 2022 White recorded 54 tackles, including a team-best 14 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks. As a player, he is an interesting prospect for a team looking to bolster their defensive front. It just so happens the Steelers would largely be considered one of those teams.
For those who don’t know much about White, here is a break down of him as a player, via the Draft Network:
White is a “hop off the bus” type of prospect. Meaning, he looks every bit like an NFL player and garners your attention immediately. White is an incredible athlete and moves in ways that a 290-pound human being should not be able to. There is a rep versus Virginia where White turns and runs with a running back down the sideline on a wheel route and was step-for-step with him. On tape, he can operate with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up edge. White has the positional flexibility to reduce inside and pressure the quarterback from the interior. He possesses the power to soften edges and flatten angles to the football. White can drive blockers backward with his heavy punches and lower-body strength. White has a high motor and does not give up on plays.
White is a tantalizing prospect with so much untapped potential and upside. Being relatively new to the position leaves him a bit raw with his technique. White does not consistently use proper punch timing to strike blockers first and disrupt leveraging/balance. Due to the late hands, he allows blockers to gain initial contact, putting him behind the eight ball. I believe White has ample room to grow in terms of deconstructing blocks. On the edge, he has the capability to set hard edges but tends to work inside of the blocks, surrendering outside versus the run.
As an overall prospect, White brings an outstanding combination of physical size and athleticism. White is scheme versatile too—you can move him all over the defensive front line. As far as run defense is concerned, I believe you will get the best out of White by placing him on the edges—outside shade of offensive tackles and versus tight ends. He is still a work in progress from a technical standpoint. I can envision White being a developmental, yet, toolsy pass-rush prospect with a high ceiling.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Freakish athleticism
- Positional versatility
- Three-down skill set
Top Reasons For Concern:
- New to the position
- Unrefined pass rush package
- Raw technique
Weight: 290 lbs
Ideal Role: 5-technique defensive end
Scheme Fit: Scheme versatile
Stay tuned to BTSC for more on the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.