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2015 Senior Bowl rosters: North offense vs. South defense

Information on players the Steelers might be interested in, drawn from our Big Board.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

NOTE: BTSC Rank organized by the current Highest Value rating (HV) to the Steelers. The specified position refers to what the prospect would play in Pittsburgh, not what he plays in the mandatory 4-3 defense at the Senior Bowl. Click here for the full January 19 Big Board (By Position).

TEAM NORTH OFFENSE - ORGANIZED BY JERSEY NUMBER

No.

BTSC RANK

Information

Pos.

4

HV 5:16

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State - 6'5-1/2", 229 lbs. There are very few QB's on this year's Board because the Steelers have a very specific need: a late-round bargain who might mature into something special and save the team from having disaster strike when Ben finally reaches the end of his career. Sean Mannion makes that list because the elevator-pitch scouting report reminds me of someone: ‘Plenty tall enough but so rail-thin that you have to worry. Limited mobility but has the arm to make every throw look easy, if not enough of an arm to stand out. Pinpoint accurate except when he's not, intelligent, a coach's son, and able to read defenses, but work on the basics could make all that even better.' The guy I'm reminded of went to the Patriots in the 6th to back up a 30 year-old star named Drew Bledsoe. I will not complain if the Steelers do almost as well with a backup for the almost-33 Ben Roethlisberger. Most sites project Mannion to go in the 3rd or 4th Round but it's hard to see the Steelers spending a pick that high on anyone who would be a pure, 3rd-string backup.

Had a really lousy week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

QB

28

HV 3:01

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - 5'8-1/4", 198 lbs. He's short but not small, runs hard between the tackles as well as outside, and imho will have a great career if he's allowed to share carries with another good back. Like a Leveon Bell, for example. Like every other one you'll find, this scouting report projects Abdullah as a 3-down workhorse for whatever team is lucky enough to get him. The CBS scouting report compares him to "a better version of Andre Ellington [with] the skill-set to have a Warrick Dunn-type career," and notes that he's an exceptional human being on top of everything else. This scouting report adds that he's return-capable. The only drawback is that he's a total unknown at blocking and lacks the ideal size to excel in that capacity. On the other hand, he's definitely the sort of player who will devote himself to learning that part of job as well as everything else he'll need to be a complete pro. Warrick may be an apt analogy for Ameer when all is said and Dunn.

Reportedly ran well but suffered a lot in pass blocking during the Senior Bowl practices.

RB

33

HV 3:24

Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State - 5'11-1/2", 211 lbs. The successor to Leveon Bell at Michigan State, Langford has a similar skill set that's just a notch below the man he was following. He's a big, strong bruiser who can run people over when he wants to but also has enough wiggle to make people miss and great hands out of the backfield. He doesn't have Bell's top end speed, but for a backup he's just about everything you could ask for.

The news coming out of the Senior Bowl practices was consistently positive, if measured.

RB

37

HV 3:24

David Cobb, RB, Minnesota - 5'10-3/4", 229 lbs. A big, strong, reliable, and productive downhill back who would be ranked much higher if he had top end speed or just a few more shifty moves. He may well be better than his already-admirable numbers suggest, however, because it would take a generous man to describe Minnesota's offensive line as "below the line "during Cobb's career. A more realistic appraisal would use a number of harsher words. David Cobb's stock could easily shoot up if he puts up good numbers in the "niftiness" tests like the 3-cone drill and/or excels in the receiving tests. This scouting report sums up the popular opinion, and this thorough scouting report from our sister site for the Jets gives a Day 3 grade after saying that Cobb "compares favorably to Leveon Bell."

One of the real stars of the Senior Bowl practice sessions.

RB

50

HV 5:01

Ari Marpet, G, Hobart - 6'3-3/4", 307 lbs. Well, well, well! Perennial D-III lacrosse powerhouse Hobart has produced a football player, and according to the vast amount of buzz coming out of the Senior Bowl he's got the potential to be a good one. Reports lauded his quickness and mobility, while noting that he was one of the few players (along with Laken Tomlinson) who anchored well enough to give the 343-pound 1st Round NT prospect Danny Shelton a genuine run for his money.

OL

66

HV 6:01

Max Garcia, C/G, Florida - 6'4-1/2", 305 lbs. On the Board after showing an ability to handle the monstrous Danny Shelton one-on-one at the Senior Bowl. Garcia would make a nice Day 3 option if the team believes he has the versatility to back up at both Guard and Center.

OL

78

HV 6:01

Donovan Smith, OT/G, Penn State - 6'5-3/4", 341 lbs. with 34-1/4" arms to match. As discussed in this January Post-Gazette article, Smith should probably have stayed in college for another year to hone his skills. At this point there is nothing else but the measurables to recommend him as a draft pick. The Combine, and any evidence that he could move inside to Guard, will be essential to his chances of actually landing on a team.

Had a quiet, apparently so-so week of practice at the Senior Bowl

OL

77

HV 4:16

Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke - 6'3-1/4", 323 lbs. Four year starter, smart kid, coachable, etc. but there are questions about his athleticism. He's only played at RG, which may say something. A fireplug for sure, but if he can move in space he might be worth a Day 3 flier.

Looked good enough at the Senior Bowl practices to kick his grade up a notch, and it might have gone higher still if Guard was a bigger need.

OL

78

HV 6:16

Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin - 6'7-3/8", 332 lbs. Havenstein's a perfect demonstration of how different eyes can see different things even when they all belong to reliable experts. The folks at CBS project Havenstein as a Round 5-6 guy. Walter Football doesn't even list him in as a draftable talent. But the nfl.com scouting report gives him a Round 2-3 grade. The common thread is that he possesses excellent strength and extraordinary length, but doesn't move as well as you'd like and can have (obvious) problems playing low enough. He's downgraded here because the Steelers already have size XXL backup Tackles in both Mike Adams and the 6'9" Alejandro Villanueva.

Had a very strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

OL

88

HV 3:24

Ben Koyack, TE, Notre Dame - 6'4-3/4", 249 lbs. Another multifaceted tight end who will rise in the draft because he's among the best of a weaker class. As you can see from the nfl.com scouting report, Koyack offers a lot of as-yet untapped potential that makes him a more intriguing pick than most.

A poor week of practice at the Senior Bowl dropped him down the Board a little.

TE

TEAM SOUTH DEFENSE - ORGANIZED BY JERSEY NUMBER

No.

BTSC RANK

Information

Pos.

6

HV 3:01

Jaquiski Tartt, S, Samford - 6'1-3/8", 220 lbs. with nice long arms on top (32-5/8"). A small school prospect who reportedly ran a 4.4 forty but has shown more ability in run support than in coverage. The nfl.com scouting report is a good place to start.

Played well in the Senior Bowl practice sessions.

S

14

HV 5:01

Nick Marshall, CB, Auburn - 6'1-1/2", 205 lbs. An almost-successful-enough quarterback at Auburn, Marshall surprised everyone by changing his position to corner at the Senior Bowl. This article will give you some background. He apparently played some CB in High School but comes to the position totally raw from the Steelers point of view - other than having an intimate familiarity with route trees and the like from the other side of the ball. Marshall might prove to be a real find on Day 3 if his general level of athleticism and football IQ are enough to carry over. Keep an eye on the pundits for this one - we really have no information on whether Marshall possesses the loose hips and other physical traits required to excel in coverage. This NFL.com article from November contains additional background and deserves extra credit for ‘calling the shot' before anyone else.

The word out of the Senior Bowl practices can be summed up as "fluid, fast, and offering very intriguing potential."

CB

20

HV 5:01

Kevin White, CB, TCU - 5'9-3/8", 180 lbs. Kevin White of TCU had a good game against 1st Round WR prospect Kevin White of West Virginia, which raised his stock while no doubt causing the announcers constant fits of heartburn. OTOH, the NFL.com scouting report suggests that despite his moderate size White is the sort who would have more difficulty handling a jitterbug receiver than a really big one. You've got to love this summary: "[A] cornerback with mismatched parts. Has temperament and play of an outside corner, but lacks size and deep speed. Has size of a slot corner but lacks foot quickness and twitch to consistently cover speed in space." LOL. A Day 3 pick who will need to do something at the Combine to distinguish himself from his peers.

The word out of the Senior Bowl practices was good but not special

CB

21

HV 2:12

Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss - 5'8-1/2", 178 lbs. with short, 29-1/2" arms. Weakness: size, both in height and overall mass. He'd be yet another mighty mite in the Steelers secondary. Strengths: pretty much everything else. Golson is athletic enough that the Red Sox spent a draft pick on him too. This scouting report from the NFL site is more positive than some but is a good place to start.

Golson's skill set really impressed former NFL strong safety Matt Bowen (and everyone else) at the Senior Bowl practices.

CB

23

HV 5:01

Anthony Jefferson, SS, UCLA - 6'1-1/8", 194 lbs. Impressed former NFL Safety Matt Bowen at the Senior Bowl with his footwork, movement skills, flexibility, and speed coming downhill. Nice size on him too.

S

25

HV 3:12

Cody Prewitt, S, Mississippi - 6'2-1/8", 212 lbs. with 33" arms. A big, powerful safety with good but not great range, and who seems to be willing but not eager to stick his nose in on tackles. Combined with some issues with coverage that's enough to drop him a bit, and even this ranking depends on whether the Steelers are happy with what they already have.

Matt Bowen (retired NFL safety) commented on a "good range" toward the end of this article on a Senior Bowl practice.

S

27

HV 4:01

Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami (Fla.) - 6'1-3/8", 200 lbs. with longish arms (31-7/8"). Gunter looks perfect on paper, but didn't play like a star on the field - which may say more about his Miami coaches than him because the same could be said of teammates Clive Walford (TE) and Philip Dorsett (WR), who were the best at their positions during the Senior Bowl practices, and Anthony Chickillo (4-3 DE) who split that honor at the Shrine Game. This scouting report from way back in October gives a good flavor, concluding that Gunter "is a smooth but nonexplosive athlete," and "a bit of an in between Corner prospect; a long, lean player without quick twitch ability or notable physicality." This write-up/scouting report after the Florida State game in November makes interesting reading too. My takeaway is that tackling can be taught, and a tall enough, long enough, and fast enough boundary corner might be a very useful addition to the Steelers squad, but explosiveness seems to be a trait that both Colbert and Tomlin value very highly. The supposed lack of "quick twitch ability" will be a major focus for the Pittsburgh scouts.

Performed well enough at the Senior Bowl practices to be called "the most impressive outside cornerback" there.

CB

28

HV 4:16

Imoan Claiborne, CB, Northwestern State (La.) - 5'11", 187 lbs. As described in the NFL.com scouting report, Claiborne looks like a classic Steelers mid-round Corner prospect. He has the underlying physical tools such as fluid hips and the ability to mirror a receiver, a series of coachable flaws, and some overblown questions about his size that might cause him to drop into bargain territory. The Combine could make a real difference in this case since long speed is one of the concerns.

Had a good week at the Senior Bowl practices, earning the description "feisty" from a few commenters.

CB

33

HV 2:24

Markus Golden, OLB, Missouri - 6'2-1/4", 255 lbs. Playing across from Shane Ray could (should) get you overshadowed, but Golden has been far too good for that to happen. You still have to wonder, though: would Golden's relatively modest numbers be even that good with a normal human as a rushing partner? Golden is said to have a very good bull rush, a solid first step, excellent size, nice hands, a good football IQ, and a top notch motor. The questions, as neatly summarized in the nfl.com scouting report, boil down to whether he has the native talent to play as well in the pros as he did in college. In sum, Markus Golden is a player the Steelers will look at long and hard, with particular attention to whether he's athletic enough to drop back in coverage. He's one of those players who could actually rise and fall on professional Boards depending on his results at the Combine, which means he's almost certain to do so on this one. This newspaper article is a nice place to start for background.

Had an okay week of practice that didn't make the news one way or the other.

OLB

54

HV 2:01

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, OLB, UCLA - 6'3-1/2", 266 lbs. Nice, long 33-1/8" arms. I've heard him described as a bigger, just as strong, but not quite as bendy James Harrison, which also sounds a lot like Lamarr Woodley if you think about it. I'd take either of those guys in a heartbeat as a 2nd-round pick, and Owa too if he clears the medical check (a hip surgery in 2013). The OLB drills at the Combine will be key here. Can he play in space or not? The CBS summary scouting report is dead on point and raises an interesting question: Odighizuwa's primary position in college was 3-4 DE, shifting to a pass rusher for situational football. He's too small to play that position in the NFL, but does he transition better to a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB? This typically excellent scouting report from Football Insiders presents the same issue - he's a great prospect, but is he an OLB? The NFL.com scouting report adds that Owam... err ... Odigh... the young man should excel at run stopping from opening day.

He had an exceptional week at the Senior Bowl practices.

OLB

85

HV 3:12

Geneo Grissom, OLB, Oklahoma - 6'3-1/8", 264 lbs. with long, 33-7/8" arms. Has the advantage of playing the 3-4 OLB in college, where he performed quite well if not spectacularly. If Jason Worilds signs on to a longer deal, Grissom is the exact kind of player who the Steelers might snag in the 3rd and count their blessings for such a useful find.

Had an okay week of practice that didn't make the news one way or the other.

OLB

86

HV 2:24

Trey Flowers, OLB, Arkansas - 6'2-1/4", 268 lbs. Long 33-7/8" arms. Trey Flowers is a player who will grow on you, especially if you like the idea of getting both a speed rusher (Vic Beasley?) and a so-called "elephant OLB" for run-downs. It really comes down to whether a guy that big can be projected to do the complete job at OLB. On film he shows some genuine athleticism and a good motor, though the explosion isn't as obvious as you'd expect for a man who can do a 55" box jump (!).The nfl.com scouting report projects him as more of a 5-technique than an OLB, which is a little surprising given what other people have to say. This hard-to-load scouting report will get you going if your system will handle it. Flashed some pass rushing ability at the Senior Bowl with a "smooth inside swim move," as well as extremely solid ability at stopping the run. Could he potentially be another pre-injury Lamarr Woodley?

He practiced very well before the Senior Bowl

OLB

90

HV 4:01

Gabe Wright, DE, Auburn - 6'2", 284 lbs. Another 4-3 defensive tackle who gets discounted here by a full round or two because the Steelers play a 3-4. Probably ought to be on the "Ain't Gonna Happen List" instead.

Had some good days at the Senior Bowl practices but hurt his foot on Thursday.

DE

91

HV 2:24

Preston Smith, OLB/DE, Mississippi State - 6'6", 270 lbs. An excellent 4-3 DE prospect who is climbing into a solid 2nd Round grade... or maybe even higher. For the Steelers he'd be a tweener. Add 20 pounds of muscle and he'd be a perfect specimen to be a pass-rushing DE. Trim 5 pounds away and he might be a perfect "elephant" OLB. If he does well on the in-space drills at the Combine look for Preston Smith to be a mini-tempest in our little teapot. Not that it will matter - a 4-3 team is going to scoop him up before the Steelers pick at 2:24, and it's hard to imagine him as a serious candidate for 1:22. NOTE: This grade is up in the air because Preston could be valued more highly as a DE/OLB hybrid if Coach Butler is really going to wander away from the approach that Coach Lebeau preferred.

Had a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

OLB/DE

94

HV 2:12

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville - 6'3-1/2", 256 lbs. Mauldin is very strong and will have no problem setting the edge. But can he learn to dip around it and defeat NFL tackles? And to cover RB's in space? Those questions are all unanswered. This is a fine article for background material on Mauldin's life. This November scouting report from a Bills fan site gives an introduction to his skills as a player, with some nice gifs for fun viewing. The NFL.com scouting report is another must-read, with good information on both strengths and weaknesses.

Had an okay week of practice that didn't make the news one way or the other.

OLB

95

HV 4:16

Grady Jarrett, DE, Clemson - 6'1", 295 lbs. Too short to be a Steelers DE, and too small to be a Steelers NT. Grade dropped by a full round or two because he's really only a fit for the 4-3 teams, which is a shame because he looked almost dominant in some of the Senior Bowl practices. Probably ought to be on the "Ain't Gonna Happen List" instead.

Looked like a decent 4-3 DT at the Senior Bowl practices.

DE

96

HV 6:01

Joey Mbu, NT/DE, Houston - 6'2-3/4" 315 with 34-1/2" arms. Supposed to have tremendous character (as a person and a football player) and was a locker room leader. What he hasn't done is establish either the level of power you'd want from a NT or the athleticism you'd want from a 3-4 DE. But he has been sort of in between the two and a versatile backup has to be up there on the Steelers list of "wants..." Mbu might make a nice Day 3 pick on the idea that professional training could help him to become an Al Woods-ish utility backup.

Had an okay week of practice that didn't make the news one way or the other.

NT

97

HV 3:24

Lynden Trail, OLB, Norfolk State (transfer from Florida) - 6'6-1/4", 262 lbs. with crazy-long, 34-7/8" arms. A long, athletic, highly recruited prospect who was recruited to Florida by Urban Meyer and left at the same time his coach did. He's played very well, if not dominantly, at his new FCS school. With all that length Trail looks more like a 4-3 DE but Norfolk State actually plays a 3-4, giving him plenty reviewable experience as a stand-up OLB. Here is a nice scouting report and interview from Dane Brugler at CBS, and a similar, equally complimentary scouting report from nfl.com. It would surprise no one if the Steelers double-dipped at OLB and picked a prospect for the pipeline in Round 5-6. Lynden Trail would fit that role perfectly.

Looked very impressive at the Senior Bowl practices.

OLB