By: Zach Metkler, The Burgh Blog Writer
With the NFL Draft just 22 days away, the Steelers have been actively meeting with prospects that they are interested in drafting. From the combine, to pro days, to in-house visits, they have met with a variety of players to help fill out their roster. In this article, we will take a look at the prospects they have met with and what this could mean for the upcoming draft.
-Cody Kessler, USC (Senior Bowl)
-Vernon Adams, Oregon (Combine)
-Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (Combine)
-Brandon Allen, Arkansas (Pro Day)
-Tyler Ervin, San Jose State (Combine)
-Jay Lee, Baylor (Pro Day)
-Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh (Pro Day)
-Austin Hooper, Stanford (Combine)
-J.P. Holtz, Pittsburgh (Pro Day)
-Ryan Malleck, Virginia Tech (Pro Day)
-Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Pro Day)
-Jerald Hawkins, OT/OG, LSU (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (Pro Day)
-Andrew Billings, Baylor (Pro Day)
-A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Carl Nassib, Penn State (Combine)
-Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech (Combine)
-Derrick Alexander Jr., Tulsa (Pro Day)
-Kyle Peko, Oregon State (Pro Day)
-Shaq Lawson, OLB/DE, Clemson (Combine)
-Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia (Pro Day)
-Mackensie Alexander, Clemson (Combine)
-Harlan Miller, Southeastern Louisiana (Combine)
-DeAndre Elliott, Colorado State (Pro Day)
-Tavon Young, Temple (Pro Day & Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-William Jackson III, Houston (Pro Day & Dinner)
-Jonathan Jones, Auburn (Private Meeting at Pro Day)
-David White, Georiga Tech (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Ryan Smith, North Carolina Central (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Jeremy Cash, Duke (Combine & Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC (Combine)
-Deon Bush, Miami (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Darian Thompson, Boise State (Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Keanu Neal, Florida (Pro Day & Official Pre-Draft Visit)
-Jayron Kearse, Clemson (Pro Day)
-Karl Joseph, West Virginia (Pro Day)
As you can see from this list above, the Steelers have met with a wide array of players from both offense and defense. Something that should excite Steelers fans is the clear interest the Steelers have in defensive backs. They have met with some of the top players in the draft, such as Houston’s William Jackson III, Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander, Florida’s Keanu Neal, Boise State’s Darian Thompson, and Duke’s Jeremy Cash. Beyond these players, they have also clearly been looking at middle- to late-round players, indicating that they might be interested in potentially double dipping at a position such as corner, much like they did last year. With the projected starters at corner being William Gay, Ross Cockrell, and Senquez Golson and Mike Mitchell as the only starting caliber safety on the roster, it would be wise for the Steelers to select a corner and safety early in the draft and adding further depth later on. With the secondary being such a large area of need for the team, any depth and competition they can bring to the roster will only improve the team.
Beyond cornerback and safety, the team has also taken a close look at some of the top defensive linemen in this year’s class. This year’s defensive line class is considered to be extremely deep and talented, meaning that if they Steelers select a player here earlier on in the draft, they could be getting a huge difference maker. Players like Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson and Baylor’s Andrew Billings would provide the Steelers with great value in the 1st round, especially if there are no cornerbacks on the board that the Steelers are interested in. With only Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as the returning starters, the Steelers will likely look to improve the depth along the line and both Robinson and Billings could make an impact in their rookie year while giving DC Keith Butler options to make even more dynamic defensive schemes.
Even though this year’s draft is expected to be another defensive heavy draft for the Steelers, this has not stopped them from looking at offensive prospects that can help the team. The two offensive positions the team will likely look at at some point in the draft are quarterback and offensive line. At quarterback, any four of the prospects the Steelers met with would be an upgrade over incumbent backup Landry Jones. All of the prospects are projected to be drafted between the 4th and 7th round, which would provide the Steelers with value for a developmental backup quarterback that has a higher ceiling than Jones. Along with quarterback, the Steelers have met with some high profile offensive linemen, namely Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, who is projected to be drafted in the first two rounds of the draft. LSU’s Jerald Hawkins is the type of versatile lineman that the Steelers love who is projected to be taken in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft. Rounding out the group is Indiana’s Jason Spriggs, who comes with extreme athleticism and strength and could be a mid-round player the Steelers look at to come in and provide competition at left tackle. All three offensive linemen would provide the Steelers with added versatility and help the depth of the offensive line that could use legitimate talent behind it’s starters.
There are likely to be even more names circulating around the Steelers organization as the draft quickly approaches. If the recent trends indicate anything, it is that this will be another defensive heavy draft for Pittsburgh, as the team looks to revive the once dominant Steel Curtain.
Stay tuned for updates on prospects and official pre-draft visits!