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Steelers doing their diligence on offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl

The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing their work on the offensive linemen, and one in particular.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 01 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of team needs when evaluating their 2022 roster, and those needs stretch on both sides of the football. While the Pittsburgh offense turned things around in the second half of the season, it doesn’t mean they are a finished product. In fact, there are plenty of positions which could use an upgrade this offseason.

One of those positions would be along the offensive line, mainly on the left side of the line. With Dan Moore Jr. and Kevin Dotson not setting the world on fire with their play, the Steelers are doing their diligence at the 2023 Senior Bowl with the offensive linemen in Mobile, Alabama for the All-Star week.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Steelers haven’t just been keeping tabs on offensive linemen, there is one player who is not just position versatile, but someone the Steelers have their eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to be keeping close tabs on offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. One name to watch is Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright, who Pittsburgh could see as more of a guard.

Wright played all four seasons at tackle for the Volunteers, but split his time throughout his collegiate career. In his first two seasons he started at right tackle, before switching to left tackle in his Junior and Senior seasons. There are many who believe he could be flexed to guard at the NFL level if needed.

If you are like me, and don’t know much about Wright as a prospect, here is a scouting report on him from The Draft Network:

A consensus five-star recruit, Darnell Wright delivered a highly productive career at Tennessee. He became a starter as a freshman at right tackle in 2019 and started every game there in 2020 before moving to left tackle in 2021 and then finishing his career back at right tackle in 2022. His experience against top competition, ability to play both sides, and growth in every season is a notable part of his evaluation.

Wright features an appealing blend of size, power, and tenacity. He has the functional strength and mass to create displacement in the run game. I really like the power in his hands and overall grip strength. His hands are not easily displaced and it’s impressive how his punch is able to stun opponents. He displays the ability to operate his hands independently and vary his strikes. Wright’s anchor is stout in pass protection and opponents won’t find success attempting to play through him. He’s a competitive blocker with ideal temperament. He is confident in pass pro, rarely getting overeager, and trusts his ability to frame, anchor, and utilize his length to keep opponents at bay.

Wright is a big-bodied blocker with only sufficient foot speed and tight hips. I believe he could benefit from dropping 10-15 pounds to improve his movement skills. Wright struggles to get good depth in his vertical sets and likes to quick set and get his hands fit while dropping his anchor to stymie rushers before they can get multiple steps into their rush. He has some tendencies to get top-heavy, duck his head, and fold at the waist when engaged with blocks—he needs to play with better bend and leverage. Wright’s range as a run blocker is underwhelming and he hasn’t proven to be effective on longer pulls or climbing to the second level while being tasked with connecting with moving targets. His modest lateral range creates challenges when attempting to execute reach blocks. In addition, he isn’t the most fluid when required to hinge and pivot when passing off rushers and adjusting to pressure schemes.

Wright has the makeup of a quality NFL starter in a run scheme that is willing to accept his modest range. His experience against top competition, power, and mass give him the chance to be a starter early in his career.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

  • Experience and performance at both LT and RT against top competition
  • Hand technique and length
  • Functional strength and patience in pass protection

Top Reasons For Concern:

  • Range in the run game
  • Modest footspeed and tightness in the lower half
  • Bend and leverage

Size (TBD):

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 330lbs

Ideal Role: Potential early starter at right tackle

Scheme Fit: Gap-heavy run scheme that is mindful of his modest range

Prospect Comparison: Cordy Glenn (2012 NFL Draft)

To be fair, the Steelers will have their eye on every prospect at the Senior Bowl, not knowing who might be available to them when they make their draft selection during the 3-day process. Nonetheless, the Steelers also haven’t been shy about showing interest in specific players before selecting them.

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.