SPORTS0602

A look at the Steelers visitors thus far

Here's a look at the players the Steelers have hosted thus far for their pre-draft visits. Each team gets 30 players, though local players - in the Steelers' case, Aaron Donald, for example - don't count against that number.

These are the guys who have actually visited, not players who are rumored to be coming in.


CB
Shaq Richardson, Arizona (6-0, 194) A late round sleeper prospect with good size.
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (5-11, 199) A physical corner who is better in press coverage than he is in zone. The Steelers have, however, played more press in the past couple of years.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State (5-11, 194) Speedy and athletic. His 2012 tape was better than his 2013 tape. He also had an arrest for a bar incident that drew a suspension. Talented but which tape do you trust?
Jason Verrett, TCU (5-10, 189) A feisty corner who plays bigger than his size. A 4.38 40 and 39-inch vertical make up for his lack of height. Sticky in coverage.
Phillips Gaines, Rice (6-0, 193) A 4.38 40 at the combine certainly was an eyebrow raiser for Gaines, who owns 45 career collegiate starts. Opponents completed just 32.5 percent of the passes they threw his way in 2013, though, like Roby, he was suspended for the opener due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.

S
Brock Vereen, Minnesota (6-0, 199) Saw time at corner, nickelback and free safety in his career. His size and cover skills, along with a 4.47 40 make him an interesting candidate.
Calvin Pryor, Louisville (5-11, 207) An impact free safety. It would be a shock if the Steelers selected him after signing Mike Mitchell.
Deone Bucannon, Washington (6-1, 211) Had 15 career interceptions, including six in 2013. Also forced three fumbles in 2013. The Steelers are looking for turnover-makers in the secondary. This guy can do it.

RB
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (5-10, 201) Solid runner, but he struggled some against the better defenses he faced. An unknown as a pass catcher.

DL
Aaron Donald, Pitt (6-1, 285) Had all kinds of production at Pitt, but really doesn’t fit the Steelers’ scheme.
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6-6, 304) Had hernia surgery in the 2013 offseason. Then had foot issues this offseason that have kept him from working out. A dominant player in 2012. Fell off somewhat in 2013.
Scott Crichton, Oregon State (6-3, 273) Athletic enough that he could play linebacker. A disruptive player who had 10 career forced fumbles. Also played nose tackle at times in college.
Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota (6-6, 310) Built like an offensive tackle. At times he looked dominant. Other times, he looked disinterested. Could be because everyone ran away from him.

WR
John Brown, Pittsburg State (5-10, 179) A 4.34 40 at the combine certainly put Brown on everyone’s radar. He’s not big, but the speedster did have five career touchdown returns (3 punts, 2 kickoffs). Late round steal?
Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss (6-2, 221) Love this kid. A freaky athlete who stood out on video I was watching of other SEC players.
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (5-9, 197) Though he’s short, he’s built like a running back. Also started at point guard for two seasons for the Gamecocks, showing his complete athleticism.
Martavis Bryant, Clemson (6-4, 211) Another of the big receivers in this draft, though he hasn’t generated the heat of some of the others. Of course, playing opposite Sammy Watkins will have that effect.

LB
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (6-1, 237) The speedy Shazier is a Lawrence Timmons’ clone who could play inside or out for the Steelers. He’d probably have to be a first round pick.
Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (6-4, 235) Like Shazier, Zumwalt could play inside or out, though he doesn’t have the speed of Shazier or Pierre-Louis. But he could be had in the middle rounds.
Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College (6-1, 232) Another speedy linebacker, Pierre-Louis is a bit on the small side. Would have to play inside for the Steelers, who are obviously looking for cover linebackers.
Carl Bradford, Arizona State (6-1, 250). Like the other linebackers listed here, he can play inside or out. Unlike the others, he has more classic Steelers size.

TE
Rob Blanchflower, UMass (6-4, 256) Struggled through the 2013 season with a sports hernia, which could be why the Steelers brought the late round selection in to kick the tires.


Read full post: A look at the Steelers visitors thus far

Interesting mock draft

I readily admit that I look at other people's mock drafts. Of course, the first thing I do is glance at who the mocker has the Steelers selecting.

If it's an outlandish pick - this year that would be any mock that has the Steelers taking an offensive lineman first - I quit reading. Otherwise, I'll continue and take in the rest of the mock.

Of course, most mocks, after having the Steelers focusing on nose tackle Louis Nix early, have settled in on the Steelers taking a cornerback or wide receiver of late.

Those wouldn't be bad picks.

But lately, another name has started to surface that makes some sense, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron.

In fact, Lance Zierlein, a Houston-based media member whose father also happens to be former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, threw Ebron's name out last week on Twitter in connection with the Steelers.

I went back and forth with him a bit on it and it made sense.

Then, while perusing the internet, I found the Walter's Football site five-round mock and lo and behold, there was Ebron going to the Steelers again.

Looking at that draft, again, it made sense.

Here's what Walter's had for the Steelers through five rounds:

1. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
2. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
3. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
4. Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
5A. Anthony Steen, G, Alabama
5B. Ron Powell, OLB, Florida

I think the Steelers would be thrilled with that haul.

Ebron would be an immediate matchup problem for opponents when paired with Heath Miller. Do you stay in a base defense with both tight ends on the field or go to a sub-package?

Verrett, at 5-10, 189 pounds, is a little undersized, but he's fast (sub-4.4 40) and feisty enough to get the job done at the NFL level.

I've long been a fan of Moncreif and couldn't believe he'd last until the end of the third round, but looking at this mock, it made sense. This WR draft is just that deep.

Urban has also been on my radar as a 3-4 end. He's 6-7, 295 pounds and played out of position at DT the last two seasons after Virginia switched from a 3-4, where he was an end, to a 4-3.

He's not an outstanding athlete, but he's active and gets his hands in the passing lanes.

Steen, of course, was a three-year starter at RG for Alabama, which is no small feat.

Powell, meanwhile, has outstanding upside. He tore his ACL twice in 2012, but rebounded with a solid season in 2013. His arrow, as Mike Tomlin likes to say, is definitely pointed up.Read full post: Interesting mock draft

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