clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2017 Pittsburgh Steelers Big Board - By Position (Feb. 1)

New, comments

Let's start the conversation with a post by position to make it easier to compare players of the same position.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

STEELERS PICK AT: # 30 of the first round; # 30 of the second round; # 30 of the third round; # 29 of the fourth round; # 29 of the fifth round; # 30 of the sixth round; and # 30 of the seventh round. A compensatory pick is expected in Round 5 or 6 and will be added when it's officially announced.

SOURCES: Analysis of needs is based on the discussion at BTSC together with published opinion from people who ought to know what they're talking about. Most of the raw data for this Board came from BTSC articles and comments, cbssports.com, walterfootball.com, the NFL's Draft Tracker site, and SBNation blogs.

YOUR COMMENTS MATTER: The Board is constantly updated to reflect feedback in the Comments. What you see is intended to reflect our community opinion, not the author's personal opinion about what's "right."

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).

Players with multiple positions appear in both a main listing, which has a full description, and a secondary listing written in italics that has only the name, rank & serial number stuff.

HV

Info

Pos.

1:15

Jonathan Allen, DL/Edge, Alabama -€” 6'3", 291 lbs. A pure 4-3 Defensive End, but so good at it that he'd be worth the pick anyway. The distinctions between 4-3 and 3-4 systems have been slowly dissolving in any event, so it wouldn't be as big a leap in this year as might be true for a decade ago. It's all moot, however. Jonathan Allen is a Top 10 pick all day, every day, and I've seen him as the #1 overall on some outlying Boards. There are concerns that could lead to a drop: he does not get off the line fast enough and there are injury concerns. Six months ago, he was projected mid to late first round, but his late season performance has given him a bump in the eyes of the press. He's a real student of the game, and the Steelers would be lucky to have him, despite his not fitting mold as a real run stopping D-Lineman; more of a pass rusher, but he doesn't limit himself. Here's the NFL scouting profile if you want a link to look at.

DL

1:25

Solomon Thomas, DL/Edge, Stanford -€” 6'3", 273 lbs. Solomon Thomas is a smart, tenacious, workaholic who may or may not have that natural genius going around the edge. If Thomas can show some dip and the ability to play in space as an OLB, he gets an easy 1st-Round grade. If he's more of a defensive end, discounts will have to be applied... though he's talented enough to play with the system rather than just ignore. The process will reveal all. Here is a glowing NFL.com scouting profile. This New Year's scouting report ends with a Top-15 grade as a 4-3 defensive tackle/end hybrid -€” not at all what the Steelers would want. This January scouting report from a reliable Seahawks site emphasizes that Thomas is a SPARQ score wonder, and also views him as a Top 10-15 if he's treated as a 4-3 defensive lineman. Thomas does well with his strengths, using his size and power to bully smaller blockers while slipping away with good lateral agility, but the knock on him being polished is also what could hold him back in the NFL.

DL

3:16

Daeshon Hall, Edge/DL, Texas A&M -€” 6'6", 270 lbs.

DL

1:01

Myles Garrett, Edge, Texas A&M -€” 6'2", 255 lbs. A quote from our own Nicholas.Martin: "Myles Garrett is what people wanted Jadeveon Clowney to be. The way to describe him is if I gave Khalil Mack, Clowney's body and gave him the ability to the bend the edge. I don't need to say anymore about him." [Sigh] Here is the NFL scouting profile, which concludes with a comparison to Julius Peppers. Never mind the other links -€” why torture yourself?

Edge

1:15

Jonathan Allen, DL/Edge, Alabama -€” 6'3", 291 lbs.

Edge

1:20

Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee -€” 6'3", 268 lbs. Derek Barnett had an incredibly productive career in the SEC based largely on having one tremendous skill -€” the dip & rip move -€” combined with great hands, a knack for guessing snap counts, and top notch fundamentals across the board. He is a very advanced football player, but not the same miracle athlete as some of his peers. Thus Derek Barnett is an easy 1st-Round pick based on his exceptional floor, but his grade has to be modified a bit by the moderate ceiling; especially for the athleticism-obsessed Steelers. The Combine will matter a lot for Derek Barnett, establishing once and for all whether he is (i) a dream pick we have no chance of getting, or (ii) Jarvis Jones with the ability to bend around the edge. The latter describes a darned good player, and would make for some fun debates here on BTSC, but it's the former that we want. The NFL.com scouting profile details the high floor but moderate ceiling features. Similar details emerge in the CBS scouting profile. This DraftWire scouting report ends with a Top 15 grade. This scouting report from our sister for the Jets comes in at Top 10.

Edge

1:20

Takkarist McKinley, Edge, UCLA -€” 6'2", 265 lbs. Keep an eye on this one! McKinley is an odd case for the Steelers because his college coach is Tom Bradley, the long time Penn State coach who later worked for West Virginia and regularly consulted for the Steelers in the meantime. The team knows Bradley enough to rely completely on his insider's view. We at BTSC obviously don't have that resource, but it seems likely that McKinley will have either a much higher or much lower grade for Pittsburgh than he will for other teams -€” and maybe all the way up at the very top with the prospects who get stratospheric grades on the public sites you and I rely on. In terms of skills, McKinley is super fast (he swears to having run a 4.4) and insanely athletic, but questions exist about whether he has that unique gift for bending around the edge. We will have to wait on the process to tell us more. The NFL.com scouting profile loves his prospects overall, but does sound a cautionary note about McKinley's bend around the edge. This goes to a scouting report from November, and this to a Steelers oriented scouting report from mid-January.

Edge

1:25

Taco Charlton, Edge, Michigan -€” 6'6", 272 lbs. A 1st-Round pick if he can play OLB, but that is the big question. Is Charlton more of a 4-3 Defensive End, or a target the Steelers might want? If the SPARQ scores come in where many expect, and he shows an ability to move in space, this grade will end up somewhere in the back half of Round 1 instead of where it started, at the very end. It should also be noted that Charlton's "style" is a lot like Bud Dupree's; he is a very fast, very long, can become very strong, etc., but does not have a great deal of bendiness around the edge. If you are one of those who wants to have two different types of pass rusher, Charlton may need to get an extra discount on your personal Board. The NFL.com scouting profile pegs inconsistency and various intangibles as the biggest issues. The CBS scouting profile is similar, but considers him a pure 4-3 DE. This January scouting report praises Charlton's exceptional speed and the fact that he has a lot of untapped ceiling, ending with a Top 20 grade. This similarly thoughtful January scouting report ends with a late-1st grade due to his extremely raw skill set and questions about why he didn't appear on the scene until his Senior year.

Edge

1:25

Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri -€” 6'3", 260 lbs. As summarized in this January scouting report, which compares him to Ryan Kerrigan, Charles Harris has real talent and willingness when it comes to run defense, and a ridiculous amount of foot speed, acceleration, and explosion that makes him terribly dangerous as a pass rusher. A hell of a bull rush too. The thing he might be missing is fluidity and dip around the edge. Expect to see a lot of work focusing on that particular question. OTOH, that description ends up sounding a lot like Bud Dupree before he blew the Combine into tiny, glittering fragments. A second Bud Dupree... Yes, it would be nice to have different pass rushing styles for opponents to worry about, but how serious a concern is that in real life? The NFL.com scouting profile has some nice observations about both the good and the bad, with a heavy emphasis on some questions about attitude and coachability that only an interview could really answer. This December scouting report comes from an Arizona Cardinals site.

Edge

1:25

Carl Lawson, Edge, Auburn -€” 6'2", 257 lbs. A fully healthy Lawson might be a Top-15 talent, but he hasn't been healthy, and it's hard to judge how many of the technique issues will still be there once he's back to 100%. He tore his ACL as a sophomore, and last year had a hip injury that cost him six games. The medicals will matter more for Lawson than almost any other prospect on the Board. On the plus side, he is a tough guy and a gym rat who will excel in run stopping even if everything else fails to mature. Here is the CBS scouting profile. The NFL.com scouting profile makes for more interesting reading, because it assumes that what you saw in 2016 is what you will get: "[A] linear player with natural power and aggressiveness, but a lack of flexibility could hamper his potential as an NFL rusher." This goes to a mid-January scouting report, which concludes with a Day 2 grade based on the injury concerns. This mid-January scouting report from DraftWire gives him a 1st-Round grade, noting "good but not great bend." This New Year's scouting report is a bit more critical, concluding with a 3rd-Round grade.

Edge

1:25

Joe Mathis, Edge, Washington -€” 6'2", 255 lbs. First things first -€” here is the early process BTSC Scouting Report from Nicholas.Martin. You should also start your study with this equally good and equally early scouting report from the well respected Jon Ledyard. Mathis is an extremely well rounded and productive pass rusher, whose absence from an injured foot made a huge difference to a very good defensive unit. The issues come from unknowns. How much dip does he really have around the edge? There's a lack of film to tell us. How fast is his first step compared to some of the freak athletes we're comparing him to? There's a lack of film to tell us but this is a gushing youtube film review by Matt Waldman. The Combine and Pro Day results will really matter for the evaluation of Mr. Mathis.

Edge

1:25

Solomon Thomas, DL/Edge, Stanford -€” 6'3", 273 lbs.

Edge

2:01

Dawuane Smoot, Edge, Illinois -€” 6'3", 255 lbs. Slippery, quick, and what every offensive tackle would describe as ‘a pain in the butt'. Dawuane Smoot has all the assets you look for: a tremendous first step, that much-desired ability to dip around the edge, good strength, the size to hold up against the run, and the ability to convert speed into power. But he's also as raw as can be, and athleticism alone won't do the trick in the NFL. The interviews will be a big key for Mr. Smoot. If he's got the right internals, there's little doubt that he will become a star once the coaches get done remolding his game. "If." We, of course, can't be sure of that. Regardless, he will also require a redshirt rookie year while he struggles to learn his trade -€” and will no doubt fail a lot in the meantime. The CBS scouting profile is lukewarm. So is the NFL.com scouting profile, though the drawbacks it describes all fall in the category of "coachable problems if the student can learn." This goes to a mid-January scouting report, and this link goes to a second scouting report (comparing him to a raw Tamba Hali).

Edge

2:01

Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama -€” 6'4", 252 lbs. A really great edge rusher with all the speed and dip around the edge you could want, and with swirling rumors about potential problems with the Evil Weed. Without those question marks he'd be a Top-15 pick all day, every day. With them... We will have to wait and see. Memories of Randy Gregory loom large.

Edge

2:12

T.J. Watt, Edge/ILB, Wisconsin -€” 6'5", 243 lbs. T.J. Watt gets some pushback from people who think his stock gets unduly inflated because of his older brother J.J. To which we can collectively say, "Oh, poo." The family connection obviously means something -€” athletic talent does have a genetic component, and they were raised in the same household, which bodes well for his ability to be a pro's pro -€” but beyond that it can be ignored. T.J. is a heck of a good prospect taken all on his own. The descriptions make him sound like a bigger, faster, and more athletic Arthur Moats -€” a genuine talent with the ability to play every linebacker position on the field. That's a pretty darned good player who should definitely go in Rounds 1-3. Where he fits on that scale depends on the testing. Does he have the freak numbers we want for a Round 1 guy? And if he's just a hint too limited for that lofty status, how significant are those limits compared to everything else? The NFL.com scouting profile has little but good to say, describing a very high floor for a player who is "not very twitched up."

Edge

2:24

Demarcus Walker, Edge, Florida State -€” 6'3", 281 lbs. Bud Dupree if the SPARQ testing works out and he drops down to this weight, Anthony Chickillo if he tests out more like a human being, and not that interesting if he lacks the ability to play in space. Walker has sometimes flashed all-star talent, but usually in a more lineman-like way. Ability to play in space as an OLB is THE question from a Pittsburgh point of view. This goes to a thoughtful New Years scouting report. This late December, gif-supported scouting report concludes with a Round 2-3 grade as a standup OLB, which would suit Pittsburgh well. This New Year scouting report considers Walker a fringe-1st prospect, but only as a 4-3 defensive end with the ability to drop down inside every once in a while.

Edge

3:01

Ryan Anderson, Edge, Alabama -€” 6'2", 255 lbs. A really solid "other guy," but not the one who will force opposing offensive coordinators to game plan around his threat. Very high floor, but the ceiling isn't that far above it. Anderson is a very good but not great pass rusher, an excellent run defender, a team leader, and all those other good things, but he also suffers from the "Alabama Problem" of having such great coaching and so many stars around him that it raises questions about whether he'll improve as much as other college players might. The NFL.com scouting profile is a great place to start.

Edge

3:01

Josh Carraway, Edge, TCU -€” 6'4", 250 lbs. The NFL.com scouting profile seems to be in line with the general consensus that Carraway is a brilliant athlete who has the physical tools to succeed, but needs some good coaching and strength training to get him revved and focused. He came off as a "wow" athlete in college, but never developed that sense of being a scary engine of destruction.

Edge

3:01

Devonte Fields, Edge, Louisville -€” 6'4", 240 lbs. Devonte Fields reminds me Martavis Bryant as a prospect. He has that same kind of astonishing athletic skill and flashes of genius, combined with so much off field smoke that it makes you pause. Round 1 talent below the neck, UDFA above it. But when he's on... wow. The NFL.com scouting report lays the pluses and minuses out very nicely, concluding that the physical talents are all there but the amount of "football character" may not be, and without that his prospects would be very grim indeed. The CBS scouting report is a bit less clear, but seems to be hitting the same points: the physical talent is there, but that doesn't mean he will live up to his athletic potential.

Edge

3:01

Noble Nwachukwu, Edge, West Virginia -€” 6'2", 275 lbs. The NFL.com scouting profile describes a serious young football player with good explosiveness, twitch, acceleration, and even some bend around the edge. What's missing is length, which he can't do anything about, and enough technique to get around the physical limitations, which he's yet to learn. His assets got him a lot of attention in 2015, but he did less well in 2016 because opposing tackles made some adjustments that Nwachukwu never learned to counter. It would be interesting to see his SPARQ scores if he dropped 10-15 pounds... Gets two thumbs up and more for his character on the field, off the field, and in the locker room.

Edge

3:01

Carroll Phillips, Edge, Illinois -€” 6'3", 240 lbs. Dawuane Smoot's running mate at Illinois, Phillips is a good bit smaller and maybe even a little quicker. His NFL.com scouting profile is currently somewhat sparse.

Edge

3:01

Ejuan Price, Edge, Pittsburgh -€” 6'1", 255 lbs. A true terror in college who doesn't have the length people look for in the pros. Can he carry the success into the NFL and be the next undersized pass rusher in the mold of James Harrison? Or will he be another in the long line of casualties who discover that those standard physical prototypes are used for a reason? Note that Price is a 6th-year, 23 year old Senior due to injuries a few years ago, and thus a bit older than Tomlin prefers. This goes to the CBS scouting profile, which ends on a 5th-Round grade despite its comparison to Elvis Dumervil (who was, admittedly, a Round 4 pick). The NFL.com scouting profile compares him to James Harrison for burst and explosiveness, but seems to doubt whether he can develop the same kind of dip that turned Deebo's lack of inches into a pass rushing asset.

Edge

3:16

Tarell Basham, Edge, Ohio -€” 6'4", 262 lbs. The small-school pass rushing phenom of this year's class, the CBS scouting profile describes Basham as "a man among boys" in the MAC who simply overwhelmed opposing tackles with his speed, explosiveness, and bend around the edge. Like Javon Hargrave last year, the question is whether small school triumphs will translate to NFL success. This less-optimistic December scouting report from our sister site for the Jets also questions Basham's ability to play in space, thus justifying a Round 6 grade. Here is an article from his hometown paper.

Edge

3:16

Daeshon Hall, Edge/DL, Texas A&M -€” 6'6", 270 lbs. People sometimes like to talk about the "elephant OLB" who's sort of a hybrid between a 3-4 defensive end and a 3-4 OLB. This year's prototype for that position is Daeshon Hall, who needs a huge amount of coaching but seems to have exactly the right kind of physical talents to walk that line. A 4-3 Defensive end that's big enough to work in a 3-4. Memories of Ziggy Hood spring to mind, when thinking of an athletic, pass-rushing, DE plugged into the Steeler's defense. Hall is a tenacious pass rusher, able to split two blockers using his size, strength and athletic ability. Consistency is an issue as his stellar 2015 season was tempered with a disappointing 2016 run. The question is whether the Steelers would want a player of that description. The odds favor more of a true, Edge-rushing OLB. This goes to an informative NFL.com scouting profile.

Edge

5:01

Hunter Dimick, Edge, Utah -€” 6'3", 266 lbs. Hunter Dimick plays a great game. He's a very good technical pass-rusher, and reliable run-stopper as well. I'd like to gush about how he would be a great Steeler, playing tenacious, hard-nosed football, but he doesn't fit with the athletic freaks Pittsburgh has stacked in the Linebacker core, and I'm not sure if he could survive a scheme change. His attention to detail and size might find him a place as a DE, but it's hard to see him any sooner than the 4th round. Probably 5th round choice, unless his measurable really pop. Check out some of the scouting reports on him if you get the chance, could be a great hidden value in the later rounds.

Edge

6:01

Jordan Willis, Edge/ILB, Kansas State -€” 6'5", 250 lbs. The NFL.com scouting profile could not laud a player's heart and character any more, but the weaknesses are pretty damning compared to what the Steelers are looking for. "[A] straight-liner mover... Very deliberate... one-speed rusher lacking dynamic qualities to turn corner for tight loops." Honestly, he sounds like a clone of Arthur Moats. That is a very good and valuable player, but not one the Steelers will be drafting. Pittsburgh needs either a dynamic pass rusher or a Mack ILB, not a jack-of-all-trades who can double as a merely-okay pass rusher or Buck ILB.

Edge

6:16

Lewis Neal, Edge, LSU -€” 6'2", 264 lbs. The NFL.com scouting profile has a late Day 3 grade based on the conclusion that he is a "marginal threat as a rusher off the edge." Ouch.

Edge

7:01

Ken Ekanem, Edge, Va. Tech -€” 6'3", 255 lbs. Ken might provide some late round padding as an outside linebacker. More likely a practice squad player or special teams contributor, going by his stats. I think he might surprise some people with his measurable and creep up the draft boards a little. Check out his highlight film and see if you agree that his speed is there when he's playing well, but he needs to be consistently fast and he needs polish. Good candidate for a small combine bump.

Edge

7:01

Peter Kalambayi, Edge, Stanford -€” 6'3", 245 lbs. Peter Kalambayi interviews well and played well at times. He rarely seems to be the first to make a hit and often ends up on the ground before the ball carrier. It may be he's not fast enough, it maybe he's not strong enough, but it doesn't sound like his skill set becomes anything more than a situational or depth. Take his scouting report with a grain of salt. 14.5 sacks is good but I wouldn't call him a ‘sack machine.'

Edge

7:16

Austin Calitro, Edge, Villanova -€” 6'0", 250 lbs. [Meeting at the EW] Currently not on most draft sites radar. He was one of two defenders that the Steelers met with at the East/West game. You can see his highlight video on this linked BTSC article.

Edge

7:16

Garrett Sickels, Edge, Penn State -€” 6'4", 249 lbs. First impression is that he's underrated. It's hard to see a lot from him, because he doesn't get a lot of coverage except from the local press. That being said, he put up some decent stats, performed on a good team against good teams, and his highlight reel (took me three tries to find it) looks pretty good. Let's see how his combine numbers are before assuming he will even get drafted, but from the little I've seen, he's undersized, but plays with a big heart.

Edge

1:10

Jabrill Peppers, SS/ILB, Michigan -€” 6'1", 208 lbs.

ILB

2:01

Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt -€” 6'3", 225 lbs. People have compared Zach Cunningham to Ryan Shazier because he comes out of college with a similar game based on lightning acceleration through the hole, tremendous speed for covering sideline to sideline, excellent football IQ, and flawed tackling technique that will drive his coaches crazy. But Ryan Shazier ran in the 4.3's at the Combine, which linebackers simply do not do. How will Cunningham measure on the SPARQ scale? That, as they say, is the question. If he comes even close to sniffing what Shazier accomplished, he will be the #1 non-rush linebacker in the class. Period, end of story. If he's just a bit behind... it might create an interesting situation for Pittsburgh if a couple of free agency cards fall in such a way that ILB becomes a bigger need. Here is the CBS scouting profile. This thorough, gif-supported scouting report from our sister site for the Rams pegs him as the clear #1 ILB, but still just a fringe-1st guy. As noted above, that will only change if he drops a few jaws at the Combine. This January scouting report agrees: fringe-1st, and a better prospect than Reuben Foster if you're looking for the prototype Mack rather than the classic Buck. This gif-supported January scouting report could have come from the same author. The consensus is that solid.

ILB

2:12

Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama -€” 6'1", 245 lbs. Remember how we loved C.J. Mosley on draft day, and the battles about whether he or Shazier would fit the team better? Foster is at least as good a prospect as Mosley was. Think, "A faster and more athletic version of Vince Williams." If the team had an actual hole at ILB, he'd be ranked in the Top 10 on our Board. But there is no hole. Yes, Timmons will probably retire in the next few years. And yes, Vince Williams falls in that damned-with-faint-praise category of "very good but not quite great." So a really great prospect, like Foster, would be someone with a potential role. But unless he runs a 4.4, Foster is "merely" a better version of Williams and Matakevich rather than someone who would add a complementary new piece to the puzzle. That earns enough of a discount to make it a certainty that his services will be more valuable to some other team. This goes to a glowing NFL.com scouting profile. Here is a gif-heavy January scouting report from NinersNation. This goes to a New Year's Eve scouting report. This January NBC scouting report compares him favorably to Navorro Bowman, while this January scouting report settles on Bobby Wagner.

ILB

2:12

T.J. Watt, Edge/ILB, Wisconsin -€” 6'5", 243 lbs.

ILB

2:24

Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida -€” 6'2", 238 lbs. Another natural fit for the Mack ILB position if the Steelers feel a need to add a second version of Shazier. The comp used in this scouting report is Sean Lee, which actually seems fair. Davis may not be the athletic miracle that is Ryan Shazier, but he's not that far behind. The issues revolve more around a need for lots of focused training and coaching to discipline his wild, playmaking impulses into something that won't disrupt the rest of the defense. Once that happens... watch out. This goes to an entertaining and interesting CBS scouting profile, with gems like this: "Davis plays with an Energizer bunny's motor..." The NFL.com scouting profile describes a tremendous athlete with an incredible need for advanced coaching -€” just the kind of person the Steelers might be able to steal at the end of Round 2.

ILB

2:24

Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State -€” 6'2", 240 lbs. Darned near the physical prototype of what you look for in a Buck ILB with the possible exception of some suspicions about his sideline-to-sideline speed, McMillan also comes from the Steelers' favorite hunting ground. If Pittsburgh is looking for a physically superior athlete to compete with Vince Williams and Tyler Matakevich, this is the kid the F.O. will target. If he's fast enough to play the Mack, he'd be a great addition. Other than speed, there's the fact that ILB is not the biggest need on the team, and McMillan is probably too good to fall even as far as our Round 2 pick. Here are the CBS scouting profile and the NFL.com scouting profile. This goes to a useful December scouting report.

ILB

2:24

Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple -€” 6'1", 230 lbs. This is another intriguing prospect worth reading up on. Reddick started out as a defensive back who outgrew that position and ended up as an undersized, pass-rushing defensive end in Temple's 4-3 scheme. This December scouting profile describes him as a "poor man's Bruce Irvin" in that capacity. In the pros he's expected to move to ILB (OLB in a 4-3). Read the NFL scouting profile if you want to get excited: it views Reddick as a step-slower Ryan Shazier in the making. The question for Pittsburgh is whether than background as a DB means he could function as a true cover-LB. If the cards fall exactly right he could be just the guy to back up Shazier, and to earn current snaps by replacing our run-stuffing Buck ILB's on passing-likely downs where you still want an actual linebacker on the field to pair with Shazier.

ILB

2:24

Anthony Walker Jr. , ILB, Northwestern -€” 6'1", 235 lbs. He did a good job covering Christian McCaffrey, so it's fair to say he's a true Mack ILB prospect. That's the one we have room for, even if (like Walker) they've shown some trouble getting off blocks. Note that reports say Walker lost half a step by gaining 10-15 lbs. for his 2016 season. This might be one of those prospects where a professional training program could really help by finding that physical sweet spot where he'd have all his quickness while still possessing the requisite pop for run support. This goes to one of those classic Sports Illustrated profiles and is a must-read if you want to know about the kid as well as his talents. This scouting profile barely deserves the name, but is too entertaining to just ignore. The NFL.com scouting profile compares him to Kiko Alonso, which might be fair if he gets his weight back down.

ILB

3:01

Jalen Reeves Maybin, ILB/SS, Tennessee -€” 6'0", 230 lbs. A true hybrid who leans slightly more ILB than Safety. There is a probably minor injury concern due to a banged up shoulder he suffered in September of 2016. Here are the CBS scouting profile and he NFL.com scouting profile.

ILB

3:16

Kai Nacua, S/LB, BYU -€” 6'2", 215 lbs.

ILB

4:01

Tanner Vallejo, ILB, Boise State -€” 6'2", 238 lbs. Vallejo's a guy who might be a hidden gem because his Senior year was crippled by torn wrist ligaments suffered in the early part of 2016. He played through it, but the results were well below what he'd done in prior years. The big question mark for us is speed: can he be a true, cover-heavy Mack ILB or is he someone who'd compete with the huge Steeler depth at the Buck position? Here is a December scouting profile. This goes to a local news article on his Combine invitation.

ILB

5:01

Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU -€” 6'2", 252 lbs. A run-stuffing Buck ILB who'd grade higher if the Steelers didn't have Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, A.J. Fort, and Arthur Moats ready to play that position already. Here is the CBS scouting profile. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

ILB

6:01

Calvin Munson, ILB, San Diego State -€” 6'1", 245 lbs. A sleeper for someone, but probably not Pittsburgh because he seems to be more of a Buck ILB than the Mack we have room for.

ILB

6:01

Jordan Willis, Edge/ILB, Kansas State -€” 6'5", 250 lbs.

ILB

1:01

Jamal Adams, S, LSU -€” 6'1", 211 lbs. Jamal Adams has been seriously compared to Troy Polamalu and is often described as a better version of Tyrann Mathieu. The Steelers have two very solid safeties in Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis, and two solid backups in Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield. Adams is better than any of them, and there's so much Nickel in the modern NFL that three rangy, cover-capable safeties can regularly see the field at the same time. He's a Colbert "Special", and you simply don't pass those up if they fall into your hands -€” which Ain't Gonna Happen, so don't waste your time dreaming. This December scouting report is one of the most critical you'll ever see, basically reserving judgment until a SPARQ score can be determined. This is a gif-supported, Bills-oriented scouting report that's also from December.

S

1:01

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State -€” 6'2", 205 lbs. I'm not making this up: Malik Hooker gets compared to Ed Reed even more often that Jamal Adams gets compared to Troy Polamalu. It's just that kind of a year. No better Free Safety prospect has come out in recent memory, and when Colbert "Specials" are there, you take them. He won't be there. There isn't a chance in you-know-what barring some catastrophic injury or off-field scandal. But if he was, Kevin Colbert will forget everything else and draft the sort of talent that defenses get built around. He wouldn't fill a hole -€” he would be the mountain that covers all other dips in the terrain. This goes to the CBS scouting profile.

S

1:10

Jabrill Peppers, SS/ILB, Michigan -€” 6'1", 208 lbs. This entry could get long because there is an outside chance that Peppers will be available to Pittsburgh at the end of Round 1, in which case the "First Edge Available" crowd may have to change their tune. This may be the single best athlete in the draft, and he would be the ideal Hybrid LB/SS puzzle piece that would allow Coach Butler to create a defense comparable to any since the Steel Curtain itself. So how is it even conceivable that he'll fall so far? It's because he's a player with two lower-priority positions, Safety and ILB (OLB in a 4-3), who's the #3 talent at both of those spots. At Safety you have the extraordinary talents of Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, plus a lack of interceptions red flag. At ILB you have Reuben Foster and Zach Cunningham. Peppers just... might... have enough room to squeeze through some cracks into Pittsburgh's waiting arms.

There are enough scouting reports on this guy to make you sick, but they all say the same thing: athleticism is literally off the charts, but he needs some good coaching to reach his full potential, and a coordinator/system that can find the best ways to use his remarkably varied skill set. Here is the CBS scouting profile, which will be updated as the process moves forward. This January scouting report is a good place to start. This goes to a full scouting report (January) from Walter Football. This January DraftWire article describes the pairing between Peppers and Pittsburgh as "a match made in football heaven." This scouting profile comes from a Steelers site, and would definitely agree. If that's not enough he also might be able to take some of the load off AB for kicks and has experience as a CB. Unfortunately he is probably on the edge of being an Ain't Gonna Happen player.

S

2:01

Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M -€” 6'0", 200 lbs. Justin Evans is a versatile Safety who can play center fielder using his tremendous speed and ball skills, or drop into the box to deliver some serious hits and counter the quickness of running backs and slot receivers. His only flaw? He'll probably measure out as a mere mortal compared to the likes of Adams, Hooker, and Peppers. In other words, he sounds a lot like the description you'd give of both Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis. Is there room for a third Safety at that level of fringe all-pro production? You'd have to say "yes" since so many snaps are spent in Nickel. Three Safeties and two Corners would work just as well as two Safeties and three Corners, if all the Safeties are really that good. This January scouting profile seems fair enough before ending with a stunningly low 4th-Round grade (odd enough that I suspect a typo).

S

2:01

Kevin King, CB/S, Washington -€” 6'3", 192 lbs.

S

2:12

Budda Baker, S, Washington -€” 5'10", 192 lbs. What are the flaws? He's small. That about covers it. This excellent, gif-supported scouting report from a Bills site explains why people ‘in the know' like him so much. Phrases like "coach on the field" and "young Bob Sanders" catch the essence. This New Year scouting report uses Tyrann Mathieu as the comparison and uses phrases like "undersized heat seeking missile". Both seem apt.

S

2:12

Desmond King, S/CB, Iowa -€” 5'10", 203 lbs. Many of us have focused on the idea of a hybrid SS/LB who could serve as a puzzle piece to help Coach Butler fill in the gaps of his various Nickel packages. A hybrid Safety/Corner would serve much the same purpose, but from a coverage-first angle rather than a run-focused approach. Enter Desmond King, a big hitting, quality-tackling slot corner whose lack of elite foot speed will limit his options on the outside. This goes to the CBS scouting profile, which deserves a quote: "an instinctive, passionate defender with the agility, ball skills and quickness to handle coverage duties in the NFL, as well as the physicality and open-field tackling skills necessary to hold up in run support... [but] a better football player than athlete [who] doesn't possess elite agility [and] doesn't possess the makeup speed to recover if he's beaten initially." That's it in a nutshell. This November scouting report from our sister site for the Eagles gives King an easy Round 1 grade due to system fit and need. Neither are quite as true for the Steelers. This January scouting profile is very similar -€” so much so that both authors ended up with a strong comparison to Antoine Winfield, the 3-time all-pro CB for the Bills and Vikings who had everything except supreme athletic talent.

S

2:12

Marcus Maye, S, Florida -€” 5'11", 215 lbs. Maye would be getting more press if he hadn't lost the back end of his 2016 season to a broken arm. That sucks, but it's not a long term threat to his career like concussions or an ACL. And there is little doubt that Marcus May is going to have a long and productive career. The descriptions sound exactly like a younger version of Mike Mitchell; fast, rangy, good hands, loves to hit, able to play in center field or the box with equal facility, smart, occasionally flawed with his tackling angles... and capable of losing his cool enough to result in terrible, boneheaded penalties. This is an older but still useful scouting report from another Steelers site.

S

2:12

Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut -€” 6'3", 215 lbs. BTSC's film watchers have unanimously predicted that Melifonwu will measure out as a SPARQ score wonder when the result of the Combine come in. This goes to a New Year scouting profile that catches the gist: Melifonwu is right on the edge of being a hybrid SS/LB in the Jabrill Peppers mold, but without the extraordinary foot speed. And that last seems to be the only real issue: is Melifonwu fast enough to play center field, or is he condemned to being a box safety in the Kam Chancellor mold? Not that that's a bad thing.

S

2:24

Jonathan Ford, S/CB, Auburn -€” 6'0", 203 lbs. A good, versatile, fluid athlete with potential as both a Corner and a Free Safety; i.e., exactly the sort of hybrid guy who could perfect coverage-oriented Nickel and Dime packages.

S

3:01

Jalen Reeves Maybin, ILB/SS, Tennessee -€” 6'0", 230 lbs.

S

3:16

Nate Andrews, S, Florida State -€” 5'11", 210 lbs. Has done everything you could want on the few occasions when he hasn't been injured. That bad luck forces him down the Board, where he may be the steal of the draft according to our own Nicholas.Martin.

S

3:16

Kai Nacua, S/LB, BYU -€” 6'2", 215 lbs. Nacua has a knack of producing turnovers, and a reputation as a monstrously ferocious hitter. For Pittsburgh he would fit in as an ideal Nickel LB -€” that elusive mix between an in-the-box Safety who loves to hit, and an undersized linebacker with exceptionally fine coverage skills. Keep an eye on this one -€” if his SPARQ scores turn out as high as hoped, he could easily shoot up into Round 2 consideration.

S

3:16

Fish Smithson, S, Kansas -€” 6'1", 210 lbs. Great size with a reputation for excelling even more in coverage. Some sites have him going as early as Round 2.

S

3:16

Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado -€” 6'0", 205 lbs. A hard hitting, multipurpose safety with good coverage skills and excellent ballhawking powers (7 interceptions as a senior).

S

4:01

Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama -€” 6'0", 194 lbs. A bit undersized, Jackson was a real team leader on the nation's best defense until he broke his leg partway through the season. His football IQ is unquestioned, like the leadership part, but was he a product of playing behind and around so many other great talents? Those will be hard questions to answer.

S

7:16

Damarius Travis, S, Minnesota -€” 6'0", 211 lbs. [Meeting at the EW] Another close to FA prospect that was met with at the East/West game. Position flexibility could be a boon to him. His NFL.com scouting profile is a little sparse.

S

1:20

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State -€” 6'0", 192 lbs. The scouting reports on Marshon Lattimore, a redshirt Sophomore due to injuries, are going to remind you a lot of last year's Ohio State CB, Eli Apple. Lattimore is an athletic marvel -€” an "elite prototype prospect" -€” with every physical tool and measurement you could ask for. But his tape as a cover CB basically rates a grade of "very promising but unfinished". Reports were that the Steelers loved Apple last year, and they ended up picking a very similar type of player in Artie Burns. They will no doubt feel the same about Lattimore, but with Burns on the roster the level of need has seriously declined. If past history is any guide, Lattimore will be long gone before the Steelers' Round 1 pick in any event. This goes to a nice December scouting report. This January scouting report speculates that Lattimore might even go in the Top 5! This January scouting report strikes a similar note: Top 15, with the only knocks being inexperience and the injury history. Lattimore was #3 overall on Daniel Jeremiah's January Big Board.

CB

1:25

Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State -€” 6'1", 195 lbs. Gareon Conley would have a Round 1 grade on this Board if the Steelers needed a starter rather than wanting someone to compete for the #3 spot. According to our own Nicholas.Martin:

Gareon Conley might be the most underrated player in this draft. I really thought [] I was going to walk away thinking Eli Apple (not a bad thing), but I saw something much better. [He's] fluid, [] he's got a nicely built frame, tackles nicely in run support, [] he's very sticky in man coverage, ... [and his] play recognition in zone coverage was some of the best I'd seen from this class.

Sounds like a recommendation to me! This December scouting profile is a bit less enthusiastic about his tackling (it ends with an early-2nd grade), but agrees when it comes to the tools.

CB

2:01

Adoree Jackson, CB, USC -€” 5'11", 185 lbs. Adoree Jackson is a playmaker who happens to be of moderate size, and located at the cornerback position. Playmaker first; corner second. There are those who wonder whether his lack of inches and pounds will deprive him of the ability to play press coverage. Maybe that's true, though he isn't exactly tiny. Others complain that he can be undisciplined, and take risks that will get him roasted, toasted, and burned to a crisp on an NFL field. That is certainly true, though it's a flaw that coaching and work will fix. But the bottom line remains: he is simply too fast, athletic and twitchy to fail even in the NFL without some kind of off-field issue, and nothing like that has ever come to light. Jackson is one of those players who might tempt the Steelers to make a big move up in Round 2. P.S. He is a brilliant return man.

This goes to a gif-supported scouting report from our sister site for the Bills, which concludes that Jackson would be an all-star in off- or zone coverage, but wasted on press man. This goes to the CBS scouting profile, which is worth a look.

CB

2:01

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington -€” 6'0", 180 lbs. Jones is one of those long, fast, smart corners who is going to go somewhere in the back half of Round 1 because he is a "merely great" athlete rather than a SPARQ score wunderkind. He'd be ranked higher if the Steelers needed a starter. But if he drops to Round 2... expect the Steelers to seriously consider a run at him. Pittsburgh's defense wants one more piece in the secondary to complete the rebuild, whether at Safety or Corner. Jones would do that. Sidney Jones was #12 overall on Daniel Jeremiah's January Big Board.

As summarized in the January scouting report, Jones has all the length and talent you look for, combined with a very high football IQ and character that give him a higher floor than we're used to seeing in CB prospects. Washington's defensive scheme left Jones on an island for a lot of the time so that Safety Budda Baker could gad about and be a playmaker. Jones, playing off coverage, was inevitably up to the task. That football IQ will translate to zone coverage as well. He's a bit on the slight side for press coverage (some weight room work will be in order), but is a willing tackler despite that. This December scouting report is very similar.

CB

2:01

Kevin King, CB/S, Washington -€” 6'3", 192 lbs. King is exceptionally raw, but reputed to be an astonishing athlete. If his Combine equals some of the predictions, his stock will shoot up to stratospheric levels and well beyond the Steelers' reach. If not, he would be an absolutely ideal final piece for the secondary as a guy who can hold down the #3 CB and #3 Safety spots with equal ability as a sort of "ultimate cover Nickleback." This goes to the CBS scouting profile, which is worth a read.

CB

2:01

Jalen "Teez" Tabor, CB, Florida -€” 6'0", 191 lbs. Teez Tabor is not going to fall to Pittsburgh, despite the off-field issues that have led to multiple suspensions. His talent is just too good. That said, you can also expect to see him getting savaged as the process moves forward, most of which will be unfair. It's because he came into 2016 as the Seminoles' Heir to Vernon Hargreaves, and was easily the most touted CB in the country. Then he performed up to standard but not really beyond it, disappointing all those with Top 5 stars in their eyes. The reality is that he's an excellent college corner with all the size, speed (on the field if not the track), and quickness you could ask for. He's also a potential headache, but it will be someone else's headache when all is said and done. This goes to the CBS scouting profile. This gif-supported January scouting report seems to be both thorough and competent. This January scouting report from a Cowboys site is also worth a read.

CB

2:01

Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU -€” 5'10", 191 lbs. White is one of those quicker-than-fast types who thrives on sticking to the hip pocket of virtually any college receiver he came across. Can he continue that in the NFL? Perhaps. He has the fluidity, balance, and quick feet required to do the job. But it will take him some time to refine his college technique down to the exacting requirements needed to take the next step, and depending on his study habits that could taken a couple of years. OTOH, White had some very impressive Senior Bowl practices that raised a lot of eyebrows, and he'd already been placed at #19 overall on Daniel Jeremiah's January Big Board.. This goes to a very brief scouting profile from November. Here is the CBS scouting profile.

CB

2:12

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama -€” 6'1", 198 lbs. A big, tall corner with a knack for very "sticky" coverage, but well-known problems getting his head around and finding the ball in the air. How solvable is that? Hard to say. For some players it's simply a matter of professional-level coaching (a poor excuse for a kid from Alabama). Others never quite get it. This goes to a January scouting report that concludes with a mid- to late-1st grade. That seems to be about the average. We've applied a bit of a discount due to the "Alabama factor" that you need to assume their players have already gotten better and more professional coaching than their peers.

CB

2:12

Desmond King, S/CB, Iowa -€” 5'10", 203 lbs.

CB

2:12

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan -€” 5'10" (officially -€” many people bet on 5'8"), 170 lbs. Jourdan Lewis, like Senquez Golson two years ago, is a 1st-round cover corner in a body small enough to drop his likely draft position down to Round 2. This December scouting report sums the assets up nicely:

Perhaps no corner in the country has the ability to mirror receivers the way Lewis can... Lewis may have the quickest and most disciplined footwork of anyone in this class. He changes directions and explodes out of his breaks. Because of this, he may be the best player in the country playing inside against the slot.

If there really are doubts about Senquez Golson's ability to play in 2017, Jourdan Lewis would be an ideal replacement. As summarized in this December scouting report, Lewis has a physical style of play and enjoys press coverage despite his size. There are some technical issues to fix, like the tendency toward grabbiness noted in this scouting report. This January scouting report from CBS agrees with all that, as does this January scouting report from a Titans site.

CB

2:24

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado -€” 5'11", 205 lbs. Experience as a boundary corner, slot corner, and safety combine to make Awuzie a particularly desirable prospect for a team like Pittsburgh that can use puzzle pieces as much as players who fit the standard profile. His stock would be even higher if he was just a bit more "special" at any of those jobs. Here is the CBS scouting profile.

CB

2:24

Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia -€” 6'1", 208 lbs. A corner with the much-coveted size to match up to Size XL receivers and receiving TE's. Senior Bowl reports suggest that he might have more trouble covering quick and flashy guys with a lot of sudden change of direction. Is this what the Steelers need? Here is a nice, gif-supported scouting report.

CB

2:24

Jonathan Ford, S/CB, Auburn -€” 6'0", 203 lbs.

CB

2:24

Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee -€” 5'11", 186 lbs. [Meeting at the Senior Bowl] He came into 2016 as a solid Day 2 prospect with the potential to claim a 1st Round slot. He ended 2016 as a solid Day 2 prospect. Take from that what you will. Sutton could benefit from an explosive Combine, but he's expected to continue the trend and be "almost special, but not quite." Sutton is a fine, fluid athlete with good technique and a mild aversion to run support that may be explained by his lack of imposing stature. He will be a very legitimate target for a Pittsburgh team with an opening for one more piece of prime young talent in the secondary -€” on Day 2, of course. The CBS scouting profile is a fine place to start your research. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile, which makes Sutton sound like a slightly smaller and slightly faster version of Ross Cockrell.

CB

2:24

Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson -€” 6'1", 195 lbs. Tankersley is your classic Fringe-1st corner, a guy with excellent size, a good attitude when it comes to run support, and the ability to stick to almost any receiver he came across in college. His limitations include good but not awesome speed, and a number of technical issues that need to be cleaned up, such as a tendency to get handsy. All that spells "boundary corner", which lowers his stock a bit since the Steelers will more likely be focused on a twitchy slot-corner type to compete with Golson after Willie Gay's career finally comes to an end. This goes to the CBS scouting profile, always a good place to start. This glowing January scouting report suggests that Tankersley could double as a Safety. If so, his stock would definitely go up on this Board.

CB

2:24

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida -€” 6'1", 213 lbs. Quincy Wilson is an interesting case. He has great size, but as deftly summarized by the CBS scouting profile,"is more smooth than sudden and struggles to stick with wideouts at the top of routes, especially if he doesn't disrupt the route at the line of scrimmage". You'd think that would be a great recipe for playing Free Safety, but his tackling, while fine for a Corner, isn't up to Safety standards. He checks all the boxes other than sheer quickness and will likely go fairly high to a team interested in training up a press-man specialist. One other box is worth noting: his father is Chad Wilson, the former Miami CB, and the son is reportedly a technique junkie even though he's still learning his craft. So the NFL lifestyle won't be as big a shock to Quincy as it is for so many others. This optimistic scouting report is from one of the many that believes Wilson is has enough quickness to get by in the NFL, and therefore joins those others in giving him a very solid Round 1 grade.

CB

2:12

Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech -€” 6'3", 220 lbs. A BTSC favorite, Mahomes is "the best of the rest" when it comes to this year's somewhat poor class. A good start would be the in-depth breakdown our own Nicholas.Martin put together on the quarterback. He has tremendous arm talent but is a bit on the smaller side and has footwork that needs to be completely revamped. Nevertheless, those who watch his film come away wowed because he flashes every kind of skill you could want in a QB. The problem is that those "flashes" come with way too many ho-hum and what-the-heck plays in between.

QB

3:01

Nathan Peterman, QB, Pitt -€” 6'3", 225 lbs. Absolutely top notch arm talent, with accuracy and strength as good as any in the class. Commenters at the Senior Bowl said he stood out for the way the ball leapt out of his hand. The NFL.com scouting profile has him as the #3 quarterback in the class, ahead of DeShone Kizer, so there's clearly something there worth considering. Once again, however, his feet and lower body mechanics are awful, which results in way too much inconsistency. Peterman has a chance to be a good NFL quarterback -€” maybe even a very good one -€” but there will be a lot of work he needs to do between now and then.

QB

3:01

Davis Webb, QB, California -€” 6'5", 230 lbs. Webb is a guy who seems to have that "it" factor you need to really excel in the NFL, along with the over-the-top work ethic that turns so many ho hum prospects into genuine keepers. The problem is that his mechanics are a mess, which has caused him to be inconsistent to the point that it's fair to use the word "erratic." This goes for both his throwing accuracy, and his decision making. He started out at Texas Tech but lost the job to Patrick Mahomes, which may say something. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

QB

3:24

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami -€” 6'4", 210 lbs. Prototypical QB size, prolific college stats, but the tape tells a tale here. Draft analysts predict that QBs will be over-drafted yet again, which could serve to give Kaaya a better projected spot. While many praise his deep ball and how quickly he gets the ball out, his negatives paint a fuller picture. His tendency to throw too much air on his passes have people questioning his arm strength, and his struggles under pressure might allude to his quickness in getting the ball out of his hands. Middle of the road pocket presence makes this guy a reach for anyone wanting to risk a draft pick on him.

QB

4:01

Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee -€” 6'3", 210 lbs. Makes plays with his feet at the QB position. He has shown some the ability to make pro-style throws but his sample size is still small. I see few short, bullet passes in his highlight reel, but then again, it's the runs and the bombs that people like to put on those tapes, right? When I say few, I mean none; his passes have too much arc on them. Unless he's faster than he looks(he's pretty fast) he shouldn't go as early as the fourth. CBS had him going in the 7th.

QB

5:01

Antonio Pipkin, QB, Tiffin -€” 6'2", 210 lbs. D2 QB with huge numbers. Watch the tape, and see that he's far better than the level of play that was around him. Pipkin can make the throws, but due to the lower level of competition, he gets away with putting touch on throws that would have to be rifled into his receiver's hands at a higher level of play. And it remains to be seen: how fast is he really? Could be value late round pick, but definitely a gamble whenever you take him.

QB

6:01

Jerod Evans, QB, Va. Tech -€” 6'2", 240 lbs. He had a pretty monster year and surprised everyone by declaring for the draft following his top two targets. I'd like to see more from him, despite his tendency to put the ball up high and let his receivers make the play. Good receivers benefit from a QB who puts them in a position to make big plays, and Evans certainly did that in college. Watching his game film was almost like watching highlights for his receivers. Unless the Steelers go early rounds for a QB, my thinking is: why not?

QB

6:01

Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss -€” 6'2", 225 lbs. Chad Kelly is well known as one of the most talented QB's of this year's crop but he is graded as a 7th round pick. His character issues seem to be a constant, unlike his inconsistent play, and while he has NFL legend pedigree(see Jim Kelly), Jim Kelly was also known for having his off the field distractions. His knee injury may have insured that he won't be an early draft pick, but it would be surprising if no one took a chance on him. Maybe a veteran QB legend who had some early career character issues could mentor him so he could take advantage of that first round talent he's squandering?

QB

1:25

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama -€” 6'6", 251 lbs. O.J. Howard dominated the 2015 national championship game so thoroughly that he came into 2016 as the clear #1 Tight End in the country. He's leaving for the 2017 draft as the even clearer #1, despite playing in a run first offense that treats TE's as an afterthought. That says something. Many believe that Alabama players seem to be better than they really are because of the talent around them, but no one says that about Howard. He is the real deal -€” a hyper-athletic superstar who can block and receive with equal facility. The CBS scouting profile is a great place to start your research. This January scouting profile provides another good introduction, in part because it emphasizes that Howard has room to get better in all aspects of his game. He is a kid who achieved stunning success through athleticism, not by having better skills and coaching. This January scouting profile provides an equally dispassionate "late 1st" grade. This January scouting profile from our sister site for the Panthers has an interesting comp: Julio Jones, rather than another Tight End. Read it; there's some logic to the comparison. See this scouting profile for an opposing point of view from an author who uses statistics to show that Howard's production didn't come close to the draft ranking his athletic skills would appear to justify. This goes to a scouting report from a Broncos site discussing the very real chance that Denver will target Howard in Round 1.

TE

2:01

David Njoku, TE, Miami -€” 6'4", 240 lbs. O.J. Howard is the consensus #1 TE in this draft. Redshirt sophomore David Njoku is rapidly emerging as the consensus #2. By all accounts he is an athletic freak of the highest caliber, who ought to blow the Combine into smithereens. The Steelers have a solid TE core in Ladarius Green and Jesse James, but no more than that: Green has been hurt far more than he's been healthy, often with the dreaded malady of repeat concussions, and James has grown into a competent NFL contributor who will probably not mature into a star. That leaves room for a true #1 to convert a solid asset into an area of dominant strength. Njoku might be just the talent to do that. Njoku was was #13 overall on Daniel Jeremiah's January Big Board, so there's one respected scout with a real opinion. This goes to a wordy but still useful scouting profile from early January. Here is a scouting profile from a Broncos site.

TE

2:24

Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss -€” 6'3", 227 lbs. Engram and Gerald Everett are both overblown WR's more than classic TE's, but they are awfully good at the role and would qualify as significant new weapons for the Steeler offense even if Ladarius Green can stay healthy. Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah were touting Engram big-time at the Senior Bowl, making comparisons to Jordan Reed, who is a little shorter at 6'2" but a bit stockier at 246 lbs. It might be better to consider him as the best H-back prospect in many years (a hybrid TE/FB) rather than a standard Tight End, but his utility as an offensive weapon is too clear to ignore. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile. This scouting profile captures the general opinion in a nutshell, as does this late January scouting profile that ends with a late-2nd grade. This December scouting profile also gives a Round 2 grade, ending with two other common comparisons: Aaron Hernandez (without the criminality) and Devin Funchess.

TE

2:24

Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson -€” 6'5", 255 lbs. The quarterback's best friend and essential safety blanket on the FCS 2016 champion. He was instrumental in winning that game, with a series of tough catches that got the team rolling. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile. Leggett has experience with every aspect of the TE game, which is a major plus from a Pittsburgh point of view. The question marks go to his motor and intensity. If he'd played as hard all the time as he did in the clutch moments, he would probably be hoping for a Round 1 grade instead of the fringe-2nd he currently gets.

TE

3:01

Gerald Everett, TE, S. Alabama -€” 6'3", 230 lbs. Everett and Evan Engram are both overblown WR's more than classic TE's, but they are awfully good at the role and would qualify as significant new weapons for the Steeler offense even if Ladarius Green can stay healthy. Everett is even more receiverish, if anything. Small hands, but has never had a real problem with drops. There may be a slight concern with level of competition too. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

3:01

Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas -€” 6'5", 256 lbs. with exceptional 34-1'8" arms and massive 10-5/8" hands. Probably the best run blocker in the class with room to get better, and not terrible as a receiver either. The only reason he isn't ranked as an early Round 2 talent is one of the stupidest off-field kerfuffles you'll ever hear about. Right before this year's bowl game he was arrested for shoplifting! How dumb can you be? There's obviously some kind of story behind this that we will never know, but you can bet the teams will spend a long time digging into it. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

3:24

Cole Hikutini, TE, Louisville -€” 6'5", 248 lbs. Another clone of Ladarius Green, who has the size to become a blocker but has instead made his living as a devastating seam-buster and safety outlet. The receiving assets are all top notch -€” height, speed, reach, quickness, hands, and route running all get high grades. It's just that he's not a complete Tight End, and it isn't clear if he wants to be. Interviews will matter -€” there seems to be more opposition to Hikutini in the scouting community than the numbers can ever explain. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

3:24

Bucky Hodges, TE, Va. Tech -€” 6'7", 245 lbs. An honest to god comparable for Ladarius Green. With his tremendous speed and awesome height, Hodges made is living as a seam buster who regularly made long completions down the middle. He has the size to block but never really learned how to do it. There's no way to be sure about the key feature for that - whether he has that all-important desire to pound on pass rushers who are bigger and stronger than he is. He'd rank a little higher if his route running skills measured up to his natural talent, but may still rise up Boards if he runs as well as some people think he might. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

4:01

Jake Butt, TE, Michigan -€” 6'5", 250 lbs. Butt had an amazingly productive career at Michigan, where he seemed to absorb everything Jim Harbaugh tried to teach. He is probably the best rounded of all the TE prospects. He falls in the rankings for two reasons (i) he is an excellent athlete but not a freak, and (ii) he tore his ACL in the bowl game. Assuming normal healing times, that means Butt will miss his rookie year and will have some shadows on the beginning of his Year 2 run.

TE

5:01

Blake Jarwin, TE, Oklahoma State -€” 6'4", 248 lbs. Jarwin is one of those players who will grow on you every time you learn a bit more about him. Let's get the "bad" out of the way first: he's not a miracle athlete. But he's a hell of a football player, with excellent hands, a genuine knack for finding the open spots in a zone, and all the grit it takes to be a fine blocker. Exhibit A: he earned a spot as a walk-on, always a good sign. Exhibit B: he won the 2015 Barry Sanders Award for giving the greatest contribution with the least recognition. That'll do. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

5:01

Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo -€” 6'4", 260 lbs. with long 33-1/4" arms and catcher's mitts for hands (11-5/8"). Roberts is that rare thing in modern Tight End prospects: a balanced player who is equally good at both blocking and receiving. The drawbacks? He doesn't appear to be an athletic marvel who will create mismatches due to some crazy talent, and he hasn't faced really elite competition. Sounds a lot like someone with a floor at #3, which guarantees an NFL career to be proud of, but not a lot of chance at making the pro bowl or even becoming a true #1. Matt Spaeth might be a familiar name to compare him to. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

6:01

Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland -€” 6'6", 277 lbs. A former basketball player, yes, but more like a center than a power forward. Shaheen is a massive young man who produced (especially in the red zone) in his short football career, but that career was against other tiny schools and it is hard to judge how far the physical assets will take him in the NFL. This goes to the NFL.com scouting profile.

TE

1:25

Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford -€” 6'1", 200 lbs. If Leveon Bell gets his well earned 2nd contract, McCaffrey will be the only running back in the entire draft with a 1st round grade on the Pittsburgh Board. It's not that he's a better back than guys like Fournette. He's not. The key is that McCaffrey's skill set would allow him to stay on the field when Lev Bell is also there. McCaffrey does what Bell does in the sense that he could start in the NFL at either RB or WR, but he does it from a different angle. Where Bell comes at it as a power back with surprising speed and the abilities of a possession receiver, McCaffrey is a speed back with surprising power and the abilities of a super shifty slot receiver. He's also the single best returner in the entire draft. Our own Nicholas.Martin points to this article about his work ethic, as if there was any doubt.

RB

2:24

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee -€” 5'10", 215 lbs. Kamara and Curtis Samuel are the only running backs besides McCaffrey who might earn consideration from the Steelers in the first two rounds. Kamara is a fast, slashing runner with excellent speed and hands. He's good enough at both to stay on the field with Bell as opposed to just replacing him when the need arises. Like the others, he's also a great return man.

RB

2:24

Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State -€” 5'11", 197 lbs. Samuel and Alvin Kamara are the only running backs besides McCaffrey who might earn consideration from the Steelers in the first two rounds. He's a little smaller and more receiverish than McCaffrey, but otherwise has a similar, if less refined skill set. He has so much to learn about both the RB and WR positions that rans should expect a disappointing rookie year interspersed with splash plays. In Year 2 though, he could be scary. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile, which mentions that some scouts consider him a more "linear" athlete than most people describe.

RB

3:01

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State -€” 6'-", 203 lbs. An awesome talent with some troubling character issues ranging from an accusation that he punched a girl (tried on misdemeanor battery and found not guilty) to another one that he chained three pit bull puppies out in the rain. A classic cut-and-slasher, Cook Ain't Gonna Happen because he'd only see the field when Bell came off. The grade is unfair to the point of being absurd, but this Board grades from a purely Pittsburgh point of view. Thus the question is, "What is the earliest spot where it might make sense to pick a #2 running back who could take over if Bell got hurt?" Our answer: No earlier than Round 3.

RB

3:01

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU -€” 6'1", 230 lbs. He's got it all. If Leveon Bell got hit by a meteor, this would be the dream pick. But until that happens he's not a good fit -€” Fournette and Bell would have to share carries rather than being on the field at the same time, and that Ain't Gonna Happen. The grade is unfair to the point of being absurd, but this Board grades from a purely Pittsburgh point of view. Thus the question is, "What is the earliest spot where it might make sense to pick a #2 running back who could take over if Bell got hurt?" Our answer: No earlier than Round 3.

RB

3:01

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma -€” 6'1", 227 lbs. Maybe the best running back in the draft on talent alone, Mixon has a huge red flag for a domestic violence incident when he was 18, lost it, and punched a girl in the head (on film). In addition, Mixon and Bell would have to share carries rather than being on the field at the same time, and that Ain't Gonna Happen. This grade is based solely on his talent, discounted by a huge and unfair amount because he would be a substitute for Bell rather than a complement.

RB

4:01

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas -€” 6'1", 249 lbs. Probably the best power back in the draft, with enough speed and shiftiness to really excel even at the NFL level. But as with so many others, Foreman and Bell would have to share carries rather than being on the field at the same time, and that Ain't Gonna Happen.

RB

4:01

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson -€” 6'1", 205 lbs. An excellent runner who deserves a higher grade, but for the Steelers he needs a steep discount because he'd only see the field if Bell was hurt or taking a breather.

RB

4:01

Marlon Mack, RB, USF -€” 5'11", 205 lbs. Excellent speed and very accomplished as a receiver out of the backfield, but really more of a 3rd-down specialist who'd be an upgrade on Fitz Toussaint. This goes to a brief scouting profile.

RB

4:01

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma -€” 5'11", 237 lbs. A tough, downhill runner who gets the extra yard every time. But in Pittsburgh he'd only get the chance when Lev Bell wasn't available to do so -€” hence the totally unfair grade.

RB

4:01

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU -€” 6'2", 220 lbs. He'd be absolutely top notch... as a backup. No way he sees the field unless Bell is incapable of taking that particular snap.

RB

2:24

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Wash. -€” 6'2", 198 lbs. Dominated the small school circuit as a WR even more thoroughly than Hargrave did as a defensive lineman. The production is literally off the charts, and by every account he is the perfect interview: a film junkie student of the game with a totally professional attitude and a genuine sense of perspective on life in general. Legendary for his hands, with excellent height and speed, but apparently some quibbles about his quickness. A bit hard to judge because he was a man among boys, but he was almost an uncoverable force of nature at the Senior Bowl practices. The questions go to how much he will suffer from the leap to NFL DB's, and how soon he will overcome those restraints. Father was an NFL quarterback, and grandfather was a HOF offensive lineman, so he should adjust well from that angle. It's a bit of a stretch, but Kupp gives off a vibe similar to what I got from Jordan Matthews. A pro's pro in the making, limited only by being a "merely fantastic" athlete. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

WR

2:24

John Ross, WR, Washington -€” 5'11", 190 lbs. A deep threat with tremendous speed and darned good quickness who needs to build some strength and become a complete receiver rather than a one trick pony. A fringe 1st rounder who ought to be gone long before the Steelers Round 2 pick. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

WR

2:24

Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State -€” 5'11", 197 lbs.

WR

3:01

Isaiah Ford, WR, Va. Tech -€” 6'2", 190 lbs. A very sudden athlete with top-notch speed and quickness, but a lack of technique that's prevented him from being the complete weapon that he could be. Route running in particular needs work. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

WR

3:01

Chad Hansen, WR, California -€” 6'2", 205 lbs. A receiver who is almost great in almost every category (size, strength, speed, hands, body control, route running, you-name-it), and likely to become a true #1 guy with a bit of good coaching. Very high floor. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

WR

3:16

Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M -€” 6'3", 187 lbs. Your classic, take-the-top-off deep threat with great height, great body control, great leaping ability, good hands, an ability to win contested balls, and astonishing speed. Also a classic one trick pony who is much faster than he is quick, so thin that press corners can throw him around, and very little knowledge about the craft of being a WR. Martavis Bryant without the elusiveness or the off field questions. Here is the NFL.com scouting profile.

WR


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.

Al-hajj Shabazz, CB -€” 6'2", 200 lbs. Wonderful size, no? There may be something here. Shabazz spent 2016 on the Steelers 53 -€” mostly inactive on game days, but protected nevertheless from getting poached off the practice squad. The "word on the street" is that he's maturing toward being an adequate backup on the boundary who can match up against Size XL receivers and Move TE's, but may lack the quickness to take on the sneaky types of slot receiver.

CB

Caushaud Lyons, DE -€” 6'5", 284 lbs.

DE

Johnny Maxey, DE -€” 6'5", 283 lbs. A small school rookie who made the 53 due to depth concerns after Heyward's injury. Looked okay in limited time.

DE

L.J. Fort, LB -€” 6'0", 232 lbs.

ILB

B.J. Finney, C/G -€” 6'4", 318 lbs. Looked awesome as a backup Guard. Not so much as a Center, though that was his position in college and we ought to expect that he'll "get it" there too, eventually

OL

Keavon Milton, OT -€” 6'4", 320 lbs.

OL

Jerald Hawkins, OT -€” 6'6", 305 lbs. The reports out of training camp were sensational until he suffered a convenient season ending injury that let the Steelers put him on IR for the equivalent of a redshirt rookie year.

OL

Ryan Harris, OT -€” 6'5", 302 lbs. Good veteran depth at the tackle position

OL

Brandon Brown-Dukes, RB -€” 5'8", 200 lbs.

RB

Gus Johnson, RB -€” 5'11", 215 lbs.

RB

Jacob Hagen, FS -€” 6'3", 205 lbs.

S

Xavier Grimble, TE -€” 6'4", 261 lbs. The #3 guy in 2016. A fine pass catcher but not much of a blocker.

TE

Ray Hamilton, TE -€” 6'4", 262 lbs.

TE

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.

Name, Rank & Serial No.

Pos.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson -€” 6'3", 225 lbs. A surefire Round 1 pick. The complete "big receiver".

WR

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan -€” 6'3", 213 lbs.  A strong WR with a nose for the endzone.  Probably too high on the draft board for the Steelers.

WR

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina -€” 6'3", 220 lbs. The Steelers might take a QB in Round 2, but not before that. He will be long gone.

QB

Deshuan Watson, QB, Clemson -€” 6'2", 215 lbs. The Steelers might take a QB in Round 2, but not before that. He will be long gone.

QB