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7 players mentioned by Andy Weidl in Friday’s press conference

In his press conference following his first Steelers as assistant general manager, Weidl was obviously asked some questions about their newly drafted players.

NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After three exciting days of the 2023 NFL draft, Steelers fans were finally able to hear from assistant general manager Andy Weidl almost a week later. Based on the questions, the “Players Mentioned” article is able to make a brief return! Remember these are players mentioned in response to specific questions during the Q&A period. Since responses were quite lengthy, I’ll keep things strictly to what questions were asked.

Joey Porter Jr. & Cory Trice Jr.

Weidl was asked about adding big people and tall cornerbacks and if that was part of the plan.

“Yeah, our plan, we want to be a big, physical team. We’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I think the way the board is set up and how the Draft felt, it really benefited us. Now, we still have to see these guys. They have to come on the field and perform and produce, but there’s a toughness, a physicality, an athleticism. You touched on the corners. When you have big corners that are long, they have range, they can run, they can locate the ball, that’s advantageous. We’re aware of the players that we have in our division, the receivers that we have to defend against, and I think with Cory [Trice Jr.] and with Joey[Porter Jr.], as we say, speed and length can shrink the field on an offense, and these guys have speed,and they have length.”

Broderick Jones

Weidl was asked, as a former lineman, about what intrigued him about Broderick Jones and some areas where he’ll continue to evolve. In his response, Weidl also brought up Darnell Washington who will be addressed later.

“Broderick is an interesting guy. He’s a big, explosive athlete. I had a chance to see him play twice this year. Went to the South Carolina game, and then I saw him later in the season at the SEC Championship, him and Darnell [Washington]. To watch him grow — he is a one-year starter, but to watch his arc of performance and his trajectory and how he kept getting better as the year went on. He is a guy with tremendous feet, balance, ability to pass protect in space, and he also has the explosive power to displace people off the line of scrimmage. He can get up on the second level. He can execute blocks in space. I think you’ve seen the highlights of it, but he is a guy who can get out there. With his range you can do different things in your offense. He can open up your offense more.”

In a follow-up question, Weidl was asked if he was surprised in being able to move up to get Jones.

“Well, you never know what’s going to happen draft night. You are always just being prepared. Credit to Omar and our staff, being prepared, having the strategy meetings. They saw an opportunity to go up and get a player that typically – left tackles, if you are going to get them, let’s say, in free agency or in a trade, you’re going to pay a lot of resources. To give up a fourth-round pick to get a player of Broderick’s caliber, I thought it was a brilliant move by Omar and seizing the moment.”

In the next question, Weidl was asked if he felt there was a falloff in left tackles after Jones was off the board.

“It depends how you see it. Different people are going to see the board differently. He is just a player that we really valued. We spent a lot of time with him. We had a lot of evaluations on him. A lot of exposure to him down at Georgia. A lot of exposure to him in games. We brought him in for a 30 visit. We had a formal interview with him at the Combine. Got a chance to see him work out in the field with coaches down on the field. Just developed a comfort level.”

Weidl was asked the same question again.

“Well, you know, we liked him a lot. He was a guy that we were happy and excited to get.”

Asking almost the same question one more time, Weidl was asked if he was nervous that Jones might have been the last guy.

“It was an opportunity, and we seized the moment. Credit to Omar for doing that. It was great to see him do that. We gave up a fourth-round pick, but then we come back in the third round, and we trade back and recoup that pick and were able to get a player of Nick Herbig’s caliber. I thought you saw aggressiveness, and I thought you saw patience from Omar. It was a remarkable way he worked the board draft night.”

In a later question, Weidl was asked about upside when considering draft picks.

“Yeah, I think the way we stacked it and how we vetted these players, we went through the process when we looked at them, in the meetings that we had starting in December and then in February and then with the coaches coming in in April. We went through it. We noticed that. I mean, that was something, but it was the talent first. Then the player, their makeup, their football character. That was a nice thing that happened. I think most of our players are under the age of 22. Broderick is going to be 22 in 11 days. But it’s a young class, and it’s a class that you take, you grow with, you watch them develop and get them in the program. Where they are now as opposed to where they’re going to be at 24 or 25 is exciting, the projection of it when you are forecasting with where they’re going to be down the road.”

Darnell Washington

Weidl was asked about Washington’s role and the type of potential he has as a pass catcher.

“Well, Darnell, he is an unusual player. First with his size, his length, his athleticism and his speed. He is a guy defenses are going to — it’s going to be interesting how they account for him because it’s one of the things we talked about in the evaluation process, how are you going to treat him? Because he’s so flexible and versatile in what he can do. He can line up in the slot. He can line up on the line of scrimmage. He is a weapon in the run game. He is a guy you have to account for in the pass game because he has the ability and the speed to clear the second level. Heis such a forgiving target and it’s a rare catch radius that he has and his ability to adjust to the football. He is just a unique player.”

In a follow-up question, Weidl was asked how they handle grading a player with injury concerns.

“Well, we rely on our doctors. They have a lot of experience. They’ve been doing this a long time, Dr. [James] Bradley and his staff, John Norwig. They’re tremendous. They’re some of the best in the business. They give the okay, we give the okay. We lean on them. Sometimes with a player like that, sometimes you catch a falling star in a draft. He is a guy we really liked. For whatever reason, he was there, and we just saw a moment, an opportunity to go ahead and acquire him. We couldn’t be happier or more excited to bring him in here because not only of the talent, but the person that he is. The football character, the personal character, his path, his journey here. We think he will be a tremendous fit with our operation.”

Kenny Pickett

Weidl was asked about building around quarterback Kenny Pickett as much as possible in this draft.

“We’re excited about Kenny. Obviously, the way he finished the season, one of the things you want to do is take care of a quarterback up front. Not just in the run game, but in the pass protection. Every great passing game, good passing game, starts with protection. You want to protect the quarterback. You want to surround him with weapons. We’re going to do that. We’re going to bring in talent. We’re always going to try to help him out because we believe in him, the quarterback, the person, the leader he is becoming. Any opportunity we have to help him out, we will.”

In a follow-up question, Weidl was asked if the improvements made will allow them to expand the playbook for Pickett and the rest of the offense.

“That’s Coach [Matt]Canada. That’s up to him. That’s his area. We havean effort with the coaching staff. We bring them into this process, and we collaborate with them, and we make sure there’s a vision there and that we’re all on the same page, which we are. There is, I guess, a synergy with us, with the coaching staff. As I’ve said in the past, we are an extension of Mike and his staff, and we are going to bring in players that fit their system, and they’re going to add to the culture. Any time we can do that, add a player with talent, we will.”

Nick Herbig

Weidl was asked if his vision for Nick Herbig is outside, inside, or both.

“We think he is a guy that can do both. He has that ability. He has a high football IQ. I think you saw a little bit there in playing on the line of scrimmage, his ability to get off and rush the passer and also his ability as stack backer to drop into coverage with the awareness he has. He is a high-energy, relentless football player. Very physical. The one thing with Nick that jumps off is he is always passing people to the ball. He is looking for work. He makes plays. He is capable of making negative plays. He is capable of winning off the edge. He is capable of winning in the rush game. He is capable of making negative plays in the run game. So, we’re excited. We saw him as a Steeler type of player and Steeler type of person.”

In a follow-up question, Weidl was asked if Herbig will have to get bigger in order to hold the edge.

“He is a 21-year-old. We think he will get bigger and will let that happen naturally. When you have a guy that’s tough and that loves football, usually those guys hit their ceilings. They maximize their potential, and a lot of times they’ll go above it. He is one of those guys, we feel.”

Keeanu Benton

Weidl was asked if when they studied Wisconsin if they were looking at both Keeanu Benton and Herbig.

“I got to see them play at Ohio State. I got there early, and I was there for the pre-warmups about three hours before the game. And Chris Herring, who coached my brothers at Mount Lebanon High School, he coached all three of them. I’ve known him a long time and have a really good relationship with him. He was a special teams coach. Got to catch up with Chris before the game and get insight on Keeanu and then through the process, once Nick declared, talked to him about Nick Herbig. He was a great asset to get the insight from him on the players. And then just to see them physically move around, the body type, the agility, the athleticism they had. It wasn’t a great night for their team, but you’re there to watch the players and watch them perform and watch them move around and how they handle themselves and the warmups and just get some information from are the coach before the game if you are able to.”

In a follow-up question, Weidl was asked about Benton struggling against Ohio State.

“I think they all did. It was a bad night for the Badgers. I think it got out of hand early, but we watched Keeanu. We saw him through the season, saw him perform at nose tackle and the ability to win an edge. The ability to make negative plays, the ability to strike, unlock his hips. He is a powerful guy. He could be a 318, 320-pound guy. He has good length. He has the wrestling background. He is a guy that’s comfortable being uncomfortable due to the conditioning that’s instilled in him. Then we saw him at the Senior Bowl, and we saw the pass rush ability. Him being able to go from the B gap to the A gap and win an edge and get across the face. We think that he has upside as a rusher. I think what they asked him to do in that defense, he did it. He controlled the nose. He played the point. And if you need him to win as a rusher, he would. You saw snapshots of it, and we saw it at the Senior Bowl.”

The entire press conference can be seen here: