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Pittsburgh Steelers May Scouting Report
Rick Moses

A round-by-round review of the Steelers draft. On the first day the Steelers went against character and traded up for ILB Devin Bush. Rumors had begun earlier on Thursday that the Steelers were having discussions with the Denver Broncos. Still, the trade up was a bold, necessary stroke to acquire one of the two difference makers in this draft at inside linebacker. The rest of the draft was anti-climactic. The Steelers stood pat and let the draft come to them, basically with a few exceptions taking low ceiling, low floor players lacking in top athleticism to fill backup roles and improve special teams.


1) 10. ILB Devin Bush - Michigan


Traded the 52nd pick and a 2020 third rounder which will hopefully be replaced with a compensatory pick for RB LeVeon Bell to flip first rounders with the Broncos. Bush is the typ of player the defense has needed since a neck injury sidelined ILB Ryan Shazier. Bush is a three down sideline-to-sideline off the ball inside linebacker. He is a heat seeking missle against the run with the speed, athleticism and upside to be a major asset in the second level against the pass. ILB Jon Bostic, signed last off season, was released after the draft.


3) 66. WR Diontea Johnson - Toledo


Johnson's production dropped off last year after a dominant 2017 season. A lot of that had to do with the graduation of QB Logan Woodside. Johnson is a basketball athlete that plays faster than the 4.53 speed he showed at the combine. Undersized, but good at avoiding contact at the line of scrimmage despite not testing as well as expected in agility drills at the combine. Fits the mold of WR Antonio Brown and WR Emanuel Sanders. Yes, the Steelers have a "type" at wideout. GM Kevin Colbert has shown a knack in the past for drafting receivers, so don't discount Johnson.


3) 83. CB Justin Layne - Michigan St


Layne is a tall, long bump and run corner with excellent ball skills and awareness. Long wingspan is a definite advantage. Lacks only top recovery speed. The only other pick in the draft besides Bush that I actually like, for whatever that's worth. I was actually upset he was not the pick at 66.


4) 122. RB Benny Snell - Kentucky


Not what I expected to be drafted at the running back position. Thought a change of pace, receiving back would be targeted. Snell is a between the tackles banger that lacks long speed. Excellent after first contact. Bulldozed the Penn St defense in the Citrus Bowl.


5) 141. TE Zach Gentry - Michigam


Huge project, both literally and figuratively. Quarterback recruit. Only two years of experience at tight end. Surprise early entrant. Ran only a 4.9 40 and a horrific 7.40 3-cone at the combine. Not a blocker despite size, 6'8", 268 pounds. Unreliable hands. Most viewed him as a priority free agent. Did win the most improved offensive player award last season at Michigan.


6) 175. OLB Sutton Smith - Northern Illinois


Severely undersized, yet ultra productive edge rusher. Manhandled at Senior Bowl practices. Lacks the bulk to hold up on the edge, the frame to add bulk. Quick twitch athlete and combine 3-cone superstar that can get to the quarterback quickly if not engaged. Would have been a day 1 or 2 pick if he was 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. Maybe even a day 2 pick if he had the frame to add 20 pounds. Could be tried as an off the ball inside linebacker, although drafting of Bush and Gilbert make that more unlikely.


6) 192. DE Isaiah Buggs - Alabama


Sort of a throwback two gap space eater. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar was hired away from Alabama before last season so his having impact on this pick makes sense. Tested extreemly poorly in all facets at the combine. Short arms and lack of length makes ability to hold up as a 5-technique more questionable. Seems similar to last year's seventh rounder from Alabama NT Joshua Frazier that did not even make the practice squad.


6) 207. ILB Ulysees Gilbert - Akron


Can't believe the Steelers used all these day three picks. Gilbert tested well at his pro day after not being invited to the combine. He is fast, agile and undersized. A definite practice squad candidate that could benefit from a pro weight program. Ability in special teams coverage could conceivably win him a roster spot.


7) 219. T/G Derwin Gray - Maryland


Road grader that had some late second day buzz early before a horrific combine that made Buggs almost look athletic. Huge right tackle that will need to move inside.


UDFA: P Ian Berryman - Western Carolina, OG Garrett Brumfield - LSU, DT Jay Hayes - Georgia, S Dravon Henry-Askew - West Virginia, OG Fred Johnson - Florida, DB PJ Locke - Texas, RB Travon McMillian - Colorado, CB Alexander Myres - Houston, DT Chris Nelson - Texas, LS Trevor Wood - Texas A&M, K Matt Wright - Central Florida


Brumfield and Henry-Askew both had official visits. Brumfield, Johnson and Gray should be in the battle for the final offensive line roster spot. Lack of depth at safety could open up an opportunity for Henry-Askew or Locke. The versatile Locke was signed a few days later than the others when Shazier was officially placed on the PUP list. Locke's pro day numbers in Austin were eye opening, although he is a bit of a corner/slot corner/safety tweener. His lack of a set position caused him to be overlooked during the season, draft process. Hayes and Nelson are undersized 3-techniques that could have sub-package usefulness, do not seem like scheme fits otherwise. Berryman should at least theoretically have an opportunity because incumbent P Josh Berry is so bad. Of course free agent P Matt Wile should have won the job last year before being released, latching on and having a solid season for the Vikings. This seems like fewer undrafted free agents than are normally signed expecially considering three specialists were included. That's probably because several AAF veterans were signed when the league failed in mid-season.



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