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A Pittsburgh Steelers "Small Board" for the NCAA Championship Game

The current version. Enjoy!

If wishes were horses...
If wishes were horses...
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

DISCLAIMER: This year's Big Board is in far too preliminary a state to deserve that name. It's almost completely based on the invaluable groundwork provided by the good folks at Walter Football and CBS Sports, with very little extra research to support it. And it's limited to top prospects at Corner and Safety, where I think we all expect the Steelers to spend at least two of their top three picks. So I'm choosing to call it the Small Board instead.

Nevertheless, I plan to keep it close by as I watch the upcoming games and figured you might want to do the same. Enjoy!

* As always, polite comments and suggestions will be eagerly received and incorporated. Pile on in. At the very least it will ensure a higher quality product when draft season gets into gear.

Organized by Highest Value ("HV#") to the Steelers. Great players for other teams get downgraded here when they fail to fit the Steelers' openings, system, or other requirements, with enormous downgrades moved to the "Ain't Gonna Happen" list at the end. An HV of 1:25 means the player is a reach for the Steelers at any point before Pick # 25 overall but good value at any point from the end of the 1st on. Getting that player in the early 2nd would be fine, while getting him at 2:14 would almost be a steal. Yes, this system results in a certain amount of grade inflation for positions of need because we are talking about the "highest" grade, not the one where a player is expected to go; grades are never pushed up just because of need, however. Players with the same HV# are more-or-less equivalent so don't sweat the order inside each grouping. I tried to group them by position: Defense, then Offense, inside to out.

Rounds are subdivided as follows:

  • 1st Round grades: 1:01, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, or 1:25.
  • 2nd & 3rd Round grades: Early (#:01), Mid (#:12), or Late (#:24).
  • 4th to 7th Round grades: Early (#:01) or Late (#:16).

HV

Info

Pos.

1:05

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida - 5'11", 192 lbs. The best cover corner in the draft. There are some minor knocks on his physicality, but give me a break. Or don't. In fact, I heartily recommend that you focus entirely on the negatives, downsides and other sour-grapes components because there's not a prayer in the world he falls out of the top 10 short of catastrophic injury or some weird scandal.

CB

1:05

Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State - 6'1", 204 lbs. The only question marks for Ramsey are measurables like straight line speed, cone drills, and other SPARQ components. If those only "okay" you're looking at the best Safety in the draft, bar none. If they're exceptional, you're looking at someone who could remind people of Rod Woodson - a superb Corner prospect who will eventually move to Safety as his career winds down. From the Steelers' point of view, the only question is where he would be "more" special. Alas, but it's not a problem they're likely to have.

This January scouting report from the Draft Wire emphasizes that Ramsey is an athletic genius who deserves all the raves, but also a player who will continue to improve as he masters more of the technical subtleties and intellectual aspects of the game.

CB

1:15

Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor - 6'2", 310 lbs. An overpowering fireplug who reminds this writer a lot of the mountain formerly known as Big Snack, right down to his origins in the heart of Texas. This long news/interest article provides a ton of background and is worth a read. This early-process scouting report will get you started, even though it projects Billings more as a penetrating 3-technique than a true O-technique Nose Tackle.

DL

1:15

DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon - 6'7", 290 lbs. If you could design the perfect physical specimen to play 3-4 DE he'd be something like 6-6" to 6'7", weigh just short of 300 pounds, and have the movement skills associated with an NBA star. If you fudge a little on the movement skills that's pretty much what you get with DeForest Buckner. He's every bit the prospect that Stephon Tuitt was coming out and maybe better. In fact that analogy may be the best way to imagine why he's ranked so high. How good would the D-line be with Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and a Stephon Tuitt clone? That's how good it would be with DeForest Buckner. Awesome.

This is a nice scouting report to start with. The summary would be, "an ideal 3-4 DE who's terribly raw on pass rushing skills." For a more enthusiastic version, try this scouting report that pegs Buckner as no worse than a top-15 draft pick. Likewise this scouting report from retired NFL exec Greg Gabriel, who may have provided the best one-liner we'll see all season: "WEAK POINTS: He doesn't have a twin brother."

DL

1:15

Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - 5'11", 195 lbs. This younger brother of the Bears' Kyle Fuller (#14 overall and a BTSC favorite) has been described as slightly less polished than his brother but with even more upside. Holy Four Letter Word Batman, could the Steelers ever use someone with those qualifications! He'd be another "don't be silly" candidate were it not for a season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Doctor Internet says it takes about 6 weeks before a person can resume training after an operation of this kind. That means Fuller may be able to do drills at the Combine, but should certainly be ready to participate fully at training camp. Personally, I sort of hope that he can't - it's just about the only way I can imagine him falling all the way down to Pittsburgh's eager hands.

Here is a summary scouting report from December that pegs Fuller as a Round 2 prospect. This December scouting report is a little more generous. This December article from a local paper provides some nice if shallow background.

CB

1:20

Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA - 6'2", 310 lbs. Another short, uber-powerful run stuffer with the potential to raise Pittsburgh's D-line toward best-in-the-league status. I particularly like his background as a High School wrestling champion, though I do acknowledge the possibility that he'll never have the stamina/speed to be a 3-down lineman rather than a straight, 2-down run stuffer. Here is a nice late December scouting report from Bucky Brooks to get you started. This scouting report summarizes Clark as a great run-stuffer who'll have to come off the field on passing downs.

DL

1:20

Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama - 6'4", 313 lbs. He and his teammate A'Shawn Robinson are all but clones from the draft perspective, and the biggest question for both is the extent to which the other has artificially enhanced the film. This Draft Wire scouting report ranks Reed as the better of the two, summarizing his game as follows: "Reed is a dominant two-gapper who plays with exceptional leverage and power at the point of attack"

DL

1:20

A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama - 6'3", 320 lbs. Robinson could easily go in the top 10 and probably will. He offers a little less value to the Steelers because Defensive Line is a "want" more than a "need," but the talent is so immense that he'd probably be worth it anyway. Robinson has the ability to play both DE and NT - basically a bigger, stronger, but slower version of Steve McLendon who ought to mature into that true 2-gap run stuffer we've missed since Casey Hampton retired. But opinions are not unanimous. As ably presented in this Draft Wire scouting report (which concludes with a 4th-Round grade!) there are serious and talented film watchers who think Robinson has a slew of flaws that were hidden by having so many great talents around him. Compare that with this rosy scouting report, which argues that any grade out of the top 15 would be a shock. This scouting report presents a fairly balanced viewpoint.

DL

1:20

Tre-Davious White, CB/KR, LSU - 5'11", 191 lbs. He has a reputation for being more quick than fast, so a good 40 time at the Combine could actually make a difference. Right now he projects to be a Willie Gay type, who belongs in the slot but could conceivably learn to play the boundary as well. Note that he has experience as a punt returner, which could make him extra attractive for Pittsburgh. Big_Jay71 sent him to Pittsburgh with the #23 pick in this November mock draft. Here is a nice little scouting report from back in October.

CB/KR

1:25

Austin Johnson, DL, Penn State - 6'3", 325 lbs. Your basic immovable object at the center of the line with just a touch extra in the speed and motor departments, but without the quick-twitch fibers that would elevate him to the realm of would-be legends. This is a scouting report from way back in August but it wouldn't change much if you added in the 2015 year. Monstrously big, massively strong, and faster than you'd expect with a long record of nonstop effort. He doesn't take plays off, which is unusual for a man that size. In another year he'd be a clear target in the back of the 1st. This year he's on the fringe between 1 and 2. Here is a nice article on his decision to go pro.

DL

1:25

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson - 5'10", 195 lbs. Built more like a running back than a defensive back, he's been quite solid in 2015. A somewhat controversial candidate because he has some technique issues that make him less effective in zone coverage - a problem usually associated with overall football IQ. He may need a teacher as much as a coach. Grades range anywhere from Round 1 (CBS) to Round 4 (Walter Football). This November scouting report hints at issues with his willingness to tackle. This glowing December scouting report sounds eerily like a description of Ike Taylor, albeit shorter and thicker. This summary scouting profile from December adds a few more details, repeating the observation that Alexander has yet to master zone coverage and needs to work on his tackling.

CB

2:01

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State - 6'1", 200 lbs. An aggressive, physical Corner with good size, good speed, nice balance and fluidity, excellent skills in run support, and who comes from the Steelers' favorite hunting ground. There's a lot that's good about Eli Apple from Pittsburgh's point of view. The not so goods? They're solvable. For one, he's young - a redshirt sophomore. But the Steelers haven't hesitated about youth in the past. At this point he's also much better in man coverage than off- or zone, indicating a lack of football IQ that's probably tied to his youth. If he has the native candle power that will also be easy to fix. Eli Apple could easily rise into contention for the Steelers' first round pick.

Here is an early scouting report to get you started.

CB

2:01

Artie Burns, CB, Miami - 6'0", 193 lbs. On pure talent he's a first rounder, with extraordinary track speed, good hands, nice tackling skills, etc. As a Corner, however, he's very much a work in progress. If I was Mr. Burns' agent I'd be praying for him to land in a system with just the right coach because the real question is going to be whether someone can help him harness the potential greatness that's tucked away inside. This scouting report from retired NFL GM Greg Gabriel pegs Burns as a 2nd Round talent who could rise higher if he gets his 40 time into the low 4.4's.

CB

2:01

Cameron Sutton, CB/KR, Tennessee - 5'11", 186 lbs. Physical and willing to tackle, but with some technique issues that will need to get coached up before he could play in the pros. Some people considered him a top-3 Corner going into the season, but his stock has fallen a bit. He earns a ‘full retail' grade for the Steelers because he's also an ace return man.

CB/KR

2:12

Vernon Butler, NT, Louisiana Tech - 6'3", 310 lbs. Butler fits the perfect profile of a Round 2 nose tackle. He has the size, strength, energy, and surprising quickness you look for, combined with enough technical flaws to require expert coaching. The particular problem appears to be a tendency to play a bit high, which is exceptionally common in men his size and something Coach Mitchell is good at fixing. A good performance at the Senior Bowl would solidify his 2nd-Round grade and might have been enough to push him even higher in a class that was less stacked at the position. A poor showing could drop him into the 3rd, where the Steelers would be more than just interested. Here is an optimistic scouting report to get you started.

DL

2:12

Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State - 6'6", 270 lbs. This is the sort of kid you root for. He graduated from a Philly-area High School as a 215 beanpole, walked on at Penn State, and by dint of sheer, hard work has turned himself into a full sized, NFL caliber player who led the nation in sacks. Even his coach didn't believe it was possible - at first. But he did - as nicely discussed in this article. Now he faces questions about whether he can make the next step. This scouting report focuses on the key question: what is his upside? This scouting report agrees that the main limitations come down to pure physical talent. Nassib is something of a straight-line, non-explosive athlete whose SPARQ scores aren't going to wow you. I tend to be an upside-oriented reviewer who values athleticism a bit more than he should, but in this case I'm setting that aside. Carl Nassib is a kid you've got to root for.

Besides, there's something to be said for having an extraordinary floor even if your ceiling could be debated. As discussed in the CBS scouting report, this is a kid who's all effort, all the time, and leaves absolutely nothing on the field by the end of the day. There's more in the way of sheer, tenacious "Wanna" inside that former beanpole than you're likely to see from anyone else in the draft. To my mind that equates to someone who won't end up worse that a solid journeyman for a good many years.

Finally, there are legitimate questions about what position he could play in the Pittsburgh scheme. Would he be an oversized, edge-setting OLB? Or will he pack on another 20 pounds of muscle and turn into a particularly nimble Defensive End? This scouting report from retired NFL exec Greg Gabriel favors the 3-4 DE position, and suggests starter potential from Year 2 on.

DL

2:12

Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss - 6'3", 300 lbs. This is a shockingly low grade for a player who many see as the best player in the entire draft. The issue is off-the-field stuff, as touched on in the Walter Football summary and addressed in more detail by this ESPN article, and this article from NFL.com that uses words like "bizarre" and "strange". Or this article from Bleacher Report citing a scout who says Nkemdiche is: "really a different kid. He may scare some people. He's strange strange." It doesn't help that his even stranger older brother seems to be attached at the hip. Not the kind of support network an immature but super-talented kid really needs. Here's a video discussion from Bleacher Report that might also help to understand the off-field concerns. Basically, there's a lot of marijuana smoke floating around and a good amount of the general, juvenile stupidity that's been getting so many players in trouble over recent years. As this surprisingly good scouting report from NFL Draft Geek concludes, "We put Nkemdiche's chances of succeeding at 33/67; with no middle ground. 33% chance he's a superstar, and 67% chance he completely flames out."

This is a nice summary scouting report on the football skills (more of a DE than a NT from the Pittsburgh point of view). This nice December scouting report is similar.

DL

2:12

Emmanuel Ogbah, DL/OLB, Oklahoma State - 6'3", 275 lbs. Don't get me wrong - I think Emmanual Ogbah is a solid Round 1 talent for the right team. I just believe that he's a Round 2-3 talent for the Steelers, and there's not a prayer that he'll fall that far. His ideal fit would be as a 4-3 Defensive End. From the Pittsburgh point of view his ideal use would be all the unique packages Keith Butler would design around Ogbah's ability to shift between being an undersized (Steeler) DE and an oversized (Steeler) OLB in the Lamarr Woodley mold. Here is a quick scouting report from back in November. This goes to a gif-supported scouting report from our sister site for the Giants.

OLB

2:12

Tony Conner, S/CB, Ole Miss - 6'0", 217 lbs. Injured for most of 2015 (a meniscus, just like Kendall Fuller), Conner projects best as a cover-capable Free Safety with the athleticism to pair up well against tall & fast receivers but maybe not the great & shifty route runners. Or to put it another way, if the college-based projections hold up he'd be a good matchup for someone like DHB, Sammie Coates, or a Tight End; an okay matchup for Martavis Bryant; and a lunchmeat sandwich with fixings for Antonio Brown.

S

2:12

Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson - 6'4", 220 lbs. Look at the size of him! And there's room to grow, though hopefully not to the size of his Uncle - the original "freak" Jevon Kearse. Maybe more like his cousin Philip Buchanan. Ahem. Jayron Kearse is likely to rise on the Board as the process moves forward because he's also flashed good range and a willingness to hit. The issues will be coachability, because it's going to take a lot of well-refined technique for a man that size to maintain the maneuverability he'll need to cover shifty NFL running backs. This November scouting report notes a lack of consistency that appears to come from slow play recognition. This December scouting report notes a tendency to take bad angles, which also hints at recognition questions.

S

2:12

Darian Thompson, S, Boise State - 6'2", 210 lbs. A well rounded player who's only real flaws are "impressive but not awesome" athletic talents, and the normal need to raise a good college game up to professional standards. Could fit in at both Free and Strong Safety.

S

2:12

William Jackson III, CB, Houston - 6'2", 195 lbs. Another prospect who projects nicely as a press-man Corner, but only with the proviso that projections are very unreliable when it comes to DB's of any kind.

CB

2:12

Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas - 6'6", 255 lbs. A nice, well-rounded TE, widely acknowledged as the best in class, who can block, catch and run at equally high levels. The only thing he's not is the sort of athletic genius that pushes modern TE's into the first round. Or is he? May scouting reports such as this one contain phrases such as "barely scratching the surface of his potential," and "underutilized as a receiver in his system." It wouldn't surprise me at all if Hunter Henry outperforms expectations at the Combine and boosts his grade a notch or two. I found this to be an unusual and thought provoking scouting report because it highlights a few statistical oddities. Does Henry's reputation derive from a few big games, or was he underperforming/held back for others?

TE

2:24

Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida - 6'3", 283 lbs. Downgraded for lack of fit with the Pittsburgh defense. As you can see from  this adoring scouting report from the Draft Wire and this more measured scouting report from retired NFL exec Greg Gabriel, Jonathan Bullard's best asset is a tremendously quick first step, which gets him an initial advantage his long arms, decent technique, and excellent strength can build on to produce results. That makes him a late-1st talent for a 4-3 team in need of a good Tackle. From the Steelers POV, however, he's not quite big enough to play Nose Tackle and not quite long enough to play end. He'd be dropped even lower if there wasn't room  (and talent) for him to grow into a "hybrid" instead of a "tweener."

DL

2:24

Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State - 6'4", 290 lbs. Something of a tweener from the Pittsburgh point of view, Washington has good but not great length, size, strength and quickness. The combination makes him a solid candidate from the Steelers' favorite school, but maybe a better fit as a 4-3 DT than a 3-4 end or nose tackle. There was a minor kerfuffle at the end of the year when he was arrested for misdemeanor solicitation of a supposed "lady of the street." It's hard to see how that bears on his draftability.

DL

2:24

Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State - 5'11", 205 lbs. Good hands, tough physicality, high football IQ, and a nice amount of overall athleticism. The issue is size - he's not all that big and doesn't have a frame that would allow him to pack on a lot of extra. Big_Jay71 sent him to Pittsburgh in Round 2 in this November mock draft, ahead of Jayron Kearse (who went to Cincinnati). Dani Bostick did this brief BTSC scouting profile way back in October.

S

2:24

Jeremy Cash, S, Duke - 6'1", 208 lbs. A smart, tough, cover-capable Safety who's willing to hit. Excellent but not awesome athletic talents. There's an injury concern based on a broken wrist that ended his season in December and required surgery. Here is a nice early-process scouting report from the Draft Wire.

S

2:24

Keanu Neal, SS, Florida - 6'1", 216 lbs. A solid and instinctive player who would probably fit best at Strong Safety due to relatively average coverage skills.

S

2:24

Justin Simmons, S, Boston College - 6'3", 201 lbs. A solid all-around safety with no particular holes except a limited upside (athletic gifts that are good but not special) and the need to pack on 20 pounds of grown-man muscle. Simmons' prospects could rise or fall drastically with the Combine, anywhere from the top of Round 2 down to a floor in Round 4-5. Here is a somewhat optimistic scouting report from the Draft Wire. This scouting report from ex-NFL executive Greg Gabriel is pretty darned positive too.

S

2:24

KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame - 5'11", 190 lbs. He's got the native stuff to be a good Corner but has had enough lapses to raise question marks. Corner is a terribly hard position to project because so much has to do with intangibles like intelligence, emotional stability, study habits, discipline and coachability. KeiVarae Russell is one of the harder prospects to measure on all of those factors. Take from this what you will, but he was suspended for all of 2014 due to "academic dishonesty," which is a big deal at Notre Dame. He could have gone pro but instead chose to return. What does that say about his internals...? I don't know. But that is the key question for Pittsburgh's scouts to answer. A broken leg in November may limit his performance at the Combine.

CB

2:24

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama - 6'6", 242 lbs. A superior blocker with all the tools to excel as a receiver too, but who hasn't put those tools together in a series of actual games and doesn't seem to really understand how to run routes. Here is a scouting report from our sister site for the Jets. Here is a brief but adequate scouting report that raises questions about whether he takes plays off.

TE

3:01

Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama - 6'0", 195 lbs. A Corner who's converted to Safety and projects to be a good centerfielder. More a Ravens target that one for the Steelers since he hails from Alabama.

S

3:01

Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah - 6'2", 225 lbs. An athletic marvel from a tiny school who supposedly runs a 4.45 40. The buzz started with a note in this article by the well respected Daniel Jeremiah, which began by quoting an area scout: "He's a better football player than [1st-rounders] Shaq Thompson and Deone Bucannon were when they came out." Jeremiah also touts his supposedly "impeccable" character. The obvious question marks are (a) how much of this is true, and (b) how will he perform against better competition, particularly if he's going to continue at Safety where above-the-neck recognition and reaction times are the only thing keeping Shamarko Thomas out of the lineup. One might also wonder if he'd be better suited to play weakside OLB in a 4-3 than Safety. He'll be one of the bigger attractions at the Senior Bowl.

Here is an interview to get you started (he does like to use the word "pray" a lot). This recorded interview at Field Gulls and this companion article with a highlights reel from Seahawksdraftblog.com may help too.

S

3:01

Jalen Mills, FS, LSU - 6'1", 189 lbs. Noted for an exceptional football IQ with good coverage skills but not a lot of oomph in his tackling. There was a domestic violence issue that got minor press but seems to have had no legs.

S

3:01

James Bradberry, CB, Samford - 6'1", 213 lbs. A height-weight-speed marvel from a teeny school (anyone remember Nick Williams?). The Senior Bowl could make a big difference in his prospects

CB

3:01

Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State - 6'1", 184 lbs. Gritty, with a good record for solid tackling and work on special teams. The sort of guy who's likelier than most to have a long NFL career but might have to do it as a member of the squad rather than a #1 Corner.

CB

3:01

Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia - 6'2", 195 lbs. Projects as a poor man's Richard Sherman, with great height, excellent intelligence, and questionable straight line speed. His native skill set screams "press-man" but don't count on it - Corners are just to hard to project.

CB

3:01

Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech - 6'2", 191 lbs.

CB

3:01

Deiondre Hall, CB, Northern Iowa - 6'2", 190 lbs. Can he succeed as well against first-rate competition?

CB

3:01

Harlan Miller, CB, Southeaster Louisiana - 6'1", 180 lbs. Another tall, small-school Corner who needs to be tested against better competition.

CB

3:01

Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota - 6'0", 194 lbs. A gritty, physical Corner who's been plagued by pass interference calls when pressed by better receivers.

CB

3:01

Brian Poole, CB, Florida - 5'10", 210 lbs. Poole is the guy who was supposed to play across from Vernon Hargreaves, but got pushed down to #3 on the chart by Sophomore Jalen Tabor (a candidate for top-10 in the 2017 draft). Even #3's see the field a lot, however, so there's a lot of film in which Poole got targeted mercilessly throughout the college year. He held up... okay. His stock is likely to rise at the Combine based on measurables, but as always with the Corners it will be the unmeasurables that matter most.

CB

3:12

Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State - 6'0", 185 lbs. He'd be a solid Round 2 prospect were it not for a season-ending ACL tear.

CB

3:12

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma - 5'11", 175 lbs. A steady riser as his technique slowly improved over his college career, but that technique still has a long way to go. He's noted for "outstanding ballskills and hand-eye coordination," but is something of a mighty mite. The Steelers got one of those last year in Senquez Golson, which lowers Sanchez' stock a good bit.

CB

3:24

Cyrus Jones, KR/CB, Alabama – 5’9", 185 lbs. This is a full retail grade because Jones would slot into the Pittsburgh lineup like a jigsaw puzzle made for exactly that purpose. First, he is a genius punt returner who would finally relieve AB from that duty. Second, he is an able Cornerback with good hands, whose only problem is a distinct lack of inches. The Steelers have never cared as much for height as some other teams, but even if that limits Jones to the slot and for particular packages, his return skills re-elevate him toward starter value. Alabama kids also know how to compete and how to win. Say what you will about Nick Saban, he knows how to coach the talent he so ably recruits. Jones also played offense until his Sophomore year, so there’s certainly room for him to keep getting better from the technical standpoint.

As discussed in this scouting profile Jones was briefly involved in a domestic violence swirl but the charges were dropped when it became clear that he was the one seeking police help to deescalate the fight. The scouts will no doubt explore the mess in detail, but from the outside it may even be spun in a way that makes him look better. This adoring and clever article from a local paper discusses one of Jones’ better performances as a Corner, against the tall and productive Mississippi State squad. This is a similar article from the same paper except it’s about the Cotton Bowl performance. This is a fun ESPN puff-piece article interviewing his parents. This goes to a very summary scouting profile.

KR/CB

3:24

Kevon Seymour, CB, USC - 6'0", 185 lbs. Here is a glowing preseason (August 2015) scouting report lauding Seymour's size, fluid hips, and willingness to tackle. Number 2 in this guy's preseason rankings after Vernon Hargreaves! After that things went downhill. Seymour suffered a series of nagging injuries and generally seemed to play a step or so worse than his physical talents should have allowed. Those things are hard to judge, and one has to give USC players something of a pass this year because of their coach disappearing in September, but combined with a few drops there is enough smoke to push his ranking down into the late Day 2 or early Day 3 range.

CB

Developmental Players On The Roster

Why draft what you already have? Here are the lesser-known players that are waiting to compete with this year's incoming draft class.

Info

Pos.

Rob Blanchflower, TE - 6'4", 256 lbs. A multi-purpose tight end. Maybe. Rumors say the coaches like him.

TE

Jordan Dangerfield, S, Reserve Contract - 5'11", 200 lbs. A fan-favorite UDFA who's made big preseason splashes but couldn't make the team.

S

Matt Feiler, OT - 6'6", 330 lbs. - A 2014 UDFA for the Texans who spent a year on their practice squad, got cut, and was then signed by the Steelers.

OT

B.J. Finney, C/G - 6'4", 318 lbs. - Spent 2015 on the practice squad.

C/G

L.J. Fort, LB - 6'0", 232 lbs.

LB

Isiah Frey, DB - 6'0", 190 lbs.

CB/S

Clifton Geathers, DE - 6'8", 300 lbs.

DE

Xavier Grimble, TE - 6'4", 261 lbs.

TE

Ray Hamilton, TE - 6'4", 262 lbs.

TE

Micah Hatchie, OG - 6'4", 297 lbs.

OG

Caushaud Lyons, DE - 6'5", 284 lbs.

DE

Tyler Murphy, WR/QB - 6'1", 214 lbs.

WR/QB

Rajion Neal, RB - 5'11", 220 lbs.

RB

David Nelson, WR - 6'5", 211 lbs.

WR

Kelvin Palmer, OT - 6'4", 290 lbs.

OT

Shakim Phillips, WR - 6'2", 204 lbs.

WR

Byron Stingily, OT - 6'5", 315 lbs.

OT

Jordan Todman, RB - 5'11", 200 lbs.

RB

The Ain't Gonna Happen List

NOTE: This list isn't meant as a "garbage slot" for players who aren't worthy of an exalted spot on the Steelers roster. Most of the following prospects are more like Tiffany window jewels that the Steelers lack the draft-capital to buy at a proper price. Or to look at it another way, these are the players who, if they fall far enough to be worth the pick for Pittsburgh, would be worth more yet as trade bait that would net a premium price from a team with greater needs at his position. Plus its just plain silly (and a little offensive in some ways) to give these guys a Steelers # that is so much lower than where they should (and almost certainly will) get picked.

Any WR before Round 4, and then only for one who doubles as an exceptional return man

WR

Any ILB before Round 6

ILB

Any OLB after Round 2. Pittsburgh might pull the trigger on a special steal, but not on anyone who projects to be merely good)

OLB

Any RB before Round 3

RB

Any QB before Round 4. Landry Jones acquitted himself well.

QB