Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Catching Up On Steelers Pro Day Visits


photo courtesy of SBNation

The Pittsburgh Steelers' brain trust has been seen at various Pro Days this month, and If It Ain't Steel decided to revisits the visits. We touched on some in previous blog posts, but not all. Therefore, we decided to catch up all involved on those we know about.

To begin, each university has a Pro Day where NFL scouts are allowed to come and watch players participate in the NFL Combine events at their own school. Many believe that players feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings, and should therefore perform better. Generally, the bigger the football university and the greater the quantity of NFL prospects, the greater interest from scouts and coaches generated.

That said:

According to AP.org, and as we brought to you before, the Auburn Pro Day took place on Tuesday, March 5th, and Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler was there and oversaw Corey Lemonier's linebacker drills. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2013/03/who-will-replace-james-harrison.html

What was Butler's assessment of the defensive end-turned-outside linebacker and third-round prospect?

"He said definitely I could play some linebacker," said Lemonier.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Kent State Pro Day, also on the Wednesday, March 6th, was visited by Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, jr. He was there, along with three other teams' OLine coaches, to see Brian Winters and Josh Kline.

The 6'4", 320-pound Winters played both tackle and guard at Kent State and even made the All-MAC team. Kline is a 6'3", 310-pound left guard.

Reportedly, the Steelers sent their scouts to see the defensive backs at the Nebraska Pro Day on March 7th. They evidently also talked with safeties Daimion Stafford and P.J. Smith.

Stafford is 6'0", 211 lbs. and runs a 4.54/40. Smith is 6'1 1/2", 212-pound strong safety who runs a 4.89/40. Neither is highly touted, and will either be drafted in the last round or not at all. - http://tinyurl.com/dx8873g / http://tinyurl.com/bp3brjn

The Steelers' brass dined with Tyler Bray of Tennessee on Tuesday night, the night before his Pro Day Wednesday, March 20. - http://tinyurl.com/chpq9ka / http://www.govolsxtra.com/videos/detail/tyler-bray-on-uts-pro-day/

At the same time, though, this could actually be little more than a smokescreen. Remember that they did the same last year with Kirk Cousins of Michigan State. Could their reason for going down have been just as much for Cordarrelle Patterson? We don't think so, but time will tell.

Mike Tomlin was at the Georgia Pro Day on Thursday, March 21. There, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was center stage. Reportedly, though, he had an unimpressive showing with a 4.9/40. The 6'3", 240-pound Jones didn't do well in the linebacker drills, either. - http://tinyurl.com/c2jy4e3

His draft stock has dropped because of the spinal stenosis with which he was diagnosed, though he has since claimed that he was misdiagnosed. Regardless, the addition of a quality outside linebacker is imperative now that, per Ed Bouchette and ESPN, the Steelers have closed the door on James Harrison's return. - http://tinyurl.com/d3txvml

Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was at the Miami of Ohio Pro Day last Thursday to observe quarterback Zac Dysert, who draws comparisons to fellow alumnus Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And why shouldn't he?

"I've always looked up to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers," the 6'4" 228-pound Dysert said at the NFL Combine. "He grew up 20 minutes from me. Ben was always a big name in our area. It would be exactly like following in his footsteps." - http://tinyurl.com/btp8lru

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made an appearance Monday at the Ohio State Pro Day, a private audition for third-round prospect John Simon. Colbert was among representatives from "12 teams at Simon's workout, according to a report from NFL.com's Gil Brandt."

"The 6-1, 257-pound Simon starred as a defensive end for the Buckeyes but will likely have to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL." - http://tinyurl.com/c2ysege

Finally, as we touched on in our previous post, the Steelers will be at Tulane's Pro Day this week to observe yet another quarterback, the 6'4", 216-pound Ryan Griffin. That's three QB Pro Days now in a little over a week for a team who supposedly isn't in the market for drafting one.

The natural athlete, though, runs a 4.38/40, threw for 9,036 yards and 56 TDs on 836-of-1,396 attempts, and owns the school record for completions, completion percentage, attempts, and ranks second in passing yards and 300-yard games. - http://tinyurl.com/co6y4jl

That's what is known to this point on the private workout visits. If It Ain't Steel will update this post, or follow it up, if the Steelers attend many more Pro Days.

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UPDATE: Just hours after finishing this post, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted this: "@MarkKaboly_Trib: #Steelers player development guy Ray Jackson was at Notre Dame's Pro Day today"

Tight end Tyler Eifert? Maybe.

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The Steelers were at the Texas Longhorns Pro day, presumably to observe the "Tavon Stopper"(refer to our "Playmakers" post). With the loss of free agent safety Will Allen to the DallasCowboys, drafting a quality safety (or two) is imperative since the only safeties on the roster with any real experience are Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith.
http://nflspinzone.com/2013/03/26/pittsburgh-steelers-at-texas-longhorns-pro-day-kenny-vaccaro-an-option/

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Another visit made this week was to the LSU Pro Day - the location of another safety, Eric Reid. Stay tuned.