View Full Version : Derwin Gray deserves his thread

04-27-2019, 05:41 PM
Don't let the fat deceive you. He's the thinking man's pick.

04-27-2019, 09:29 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Derwin Gray, OT, Maryland B Grade

I once mocked Derwin Gray as high as the third round, but that was before his severe lack of athleticism was exposed at the combine. Gray could become a strong run blocker in the NFL, but he's going to have severe problems blocking speed pass rushers.


04-27-2019, 10:09 PM
Yes, he does (deserve it).

Will be interesting to see how he develops. :D

04-28-2019, 01:41 AM
Considering 60% of our starting OL right now is composed of guys who entered the league as an UDFA (Villenueva, Foster, and Feiler), it wouldn't be a complete shocker if a 7th round OL pick was able to stick. Granted, we don't have Mike Munchak around anymore to develop a lump of OL clay into a capable NFL starter, but hopefully his protege had learned enough about developing OL talent after working as his right-hand man as assistant OL coach for the last several years.

Steel Maniac
04-28-2019, 01:44 AM
Don't let the fat deceive you. He's the thinking man's pick.

Big, big mystery if he can be molded into anything without Munchak being here.

05-01-2019, 01:30 AM
Evaluating The Value: OT Derwin Gray

By Tom Mead
Posted on April 30, 2019

Pittsburgh uses their final 2019 draft pick to add some depth on the offensive line. They selected Maryland tackle Derwin Gray.

Gray had very good size measuring at 6’4 ½” and 320 pounds at the Combine and has very good length with 34 3/8 inch arms. He spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy before joining the Maryland Terrapins. He made 25 starts in 37 games at left tackle over the past three years. He earned a 2018 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten commendation after blocking for the 17th best rushing offense in the country and third best in the Big Ten, averaging 230.2 yards per game. In 2017 he earned the team’s James M. Tatum Memorial Award as the team’s best lineman and had the fourth-best pass-blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus.

The Steelers sent Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt to Maryland’s pro day.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had him projected as 6-7th round pick and stated, “Teams love big tackles with movement skills, but Gray offers a little more challenge for evaluators. His lack of bend causes deficiencies in sustaining blocks and in landing blocks on the move. However, in pass protection, he makes good usage of his size and his length and he might be able to hang in as a left tackle rather than the assumed push to the right side because of his size. He could go from solid to good as a starter if an offensive line coach can improve his consistency in the run game.”

With Mike Munchak moving on to the Denver Broncos to be closer to his family this will be the first real test for Steelers OL coach Shaun Sarrett who is taking over for him. He spent the past 6 years as the offensive assistant, primarily helping with offensive line and assisting the offensive coaching staff with game preparation. Munchak spoiled us with his ability to develop lineman. Will Sarrett be able to do the same?

Overall: On one hand, using a late round pick on an offensive lineman is no guarantee that it will amount to anything. On the other hand it is possible as the 7th round pick in 2012 Kelvin Beachum became a pretty darn good tackle. Based on size and length and the positives above as pass blocker there’s a chance he could work on the practice squad and maybe eventually develop. In reality, without injury it’s a long shot to make the roster. This is a solid value pick based on Zierlein’s projection being selected where expected.


05-06-2019, 11:28 AM
Sunday, May 05, 2019 01:00 PM

'They trusted me, believed in my ability'

Mike Prisuta


Why you should be excited about seventh-round pick Derwin Gray:

He’s been recognized by his program: Gray, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound offensive tackle, was named Maryland’s best offensive lineman in 2017.

He’s potentially a position-flexible player: “Derwin Gray was the starting left tackle for Maryland,” General Manager Kevin Colbert assessed. “Derwin is a big, thick guy. He's always been a tackle at the collegiate level. Coach can address it as well, but he'll start off at tackle for us. His body type means that he can probably move inside and be a guard.”

Head coach Mike Tomlin was on the same page regarding Gray.

“He’s been a tackle but definitely has some guard physical characteristics that we would be interested in looking at, as well,” Tomlin said.

Gray had a good pre-draft feeling about the Steelers: “It was always great with the Steelers,” he said. “They always believed in me. They trusted in me. They believed in my ability, that I’m going to get the job done. I’m excited about the opportunity to come to Pittsburgh and contribute early at whatever position I’m needed at.”

Gray has no preference where he plays: “I’ve played both left and right tackle,” he said. “I haven’t played inside (at guard) at Maryland before. But again, I’m willing to play either one as needed.”

He’s intangibly appealing: Draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic summed up Gray as follows: “He isn’t the loudest but carried himself like a ‘veteran leader,’ according to his teammates.”

There’s a place for Gray based on his tape: Brugler’s summation was that Gray “stays engaged with rushers and can be a mauler in the run game, projecting as a backup swing tackle who will fight for starting reps.”


05-08-2019, 04:15 PM
Wednesday, May 08, 2019 04:00 PM

Steelers sign Gray

Teresa Varley

The Steelers signed seventh-round draft pick Derwin Gray to a four-year contract. Gray, who played at the University of Maryland, was the team’s seventh round draft pick, selected with the 219th pick overall.

Gray was drafted as an offensive tackle, but Coach Mike Tomlin said he could move to guard.

“Definitely has some guard, physical characteristics that we would be interested in looking at as well,” said Tomlin. “Flexibility and versatility will be an element of discussion.”

Gray, who played in 35 games with 25 starts, said he is open to whatever the coaches ask of him.

“I’ve played both, left and right tackle,” said Gray. “I haven’t played inside. But again, I’m willing to play either one as needed. I’m not really sure where they are going to move me at or keep me out at tackle, but I’m willing to play either one.

“It was always great with the Steelers. They always believed in me. They trusted in me. The believed in my ability that I’m going to get the job done. I’m excited about the opportunity to come to contribute early at whatever position I’m needed.”


05-10-2019, 10:47 AM
Derwin Gray will probably make the Steelers roster, and have a successful career

The Steelers have a knack for developing unheralded offensive line prospects into good to great players. Therefore, Derwin Gray, a seventh-round pick out of Maryland in the just-concluded 2019 NFL Draft, should have a successful career in Pittsburgh.

By Anthony Defeo
May 9, 2019, 1:27pm EDT

I have to admit, I stereotype Steelers offensive linemen.

Now, I realize it’s bad to stereotype people, but hear me out—this is a good thing. The moment I heard the Steelers selected Derwin Gray, an offensive tackle from Maryland, in the just-concluded 2019 NFL Draft, the first thing I thought was, “He’s going to be good.”

It’s hard to blame me, really. After all, Gray is a seventh-round pick, and when it comes to offensive linemen that are late-round picks and undrafted free agents, the Steelers are like that girlfriend that brings home some piece of furniture she found sitting out on someone’s curb. At first, you’re like, “Honey, what are we going to do with that?” Next thing you know, it’s 10 years later, your girlfriend left a long time ago, and that random piece of furniture is now one of your most valuable assets.

All it took was a touch of paint and some polish, and that piece of furniture was transformed into a great entertainment unit.

It all started with Kelvin Beachum, a seventh-round pick in 2012 who was so good at left tackle, he helped you forget that the Steelers made a huge mistake by taking a chance on Mike Adams in the second round that very same year.

And then Mike Munchak was named offensive line coach in 2014.

Before you knew it, Alejandro Villanueva, a 2014 undrafted free agent who played receiver and defensive end in college and entered the league as a defensive lineman, was not only protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side, he was doing so at a Pro Bowl level.

Around that same time, B.J. Finney, a 2015 undrafted free agent, began starting games at guard and center in place of David DeCastro, Ramon Foster (a 2009 UDFA) and Maurkice Pouncey.

And let’s not forget about Chris Hubbard, a 2013 undrafted free agent out of UAB who was cut, signed to the practice squad, signed to a future contract, made the Steelers roster, was cut again and then made the Steelers roster again. In 2016 and 2017, Hubbard started a combined 14 games at right tackle for the injured/suspended Marcus Gilbert. Hubbard was so good as a fill-in, when he became a bona fide free agent in the spring of 2018, he bested Beachum’s modest free agent haul with the Jaguars two years earlier by inking a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Browns.

Now, as the Steelers prepare for the 2019 regular season, the right tackle position should be a major concern, what with the trade of Gilbert to the Cardinals this spring. Yet, it’s not. Why? Because Matt Feiler, a 2014 undrafted free agent out of Bloomsburg, started 10 games there last year and was so effective, nobody cared that Pittsburgh only received a sixth-round pick in return for Gilbert.

With so much recent history of finding those diamonds in the rough on the offensive line, why would anyone doubt that Shaun Sarrett, the highly-thought of successor to the recently-departed Munchak, will be able to turn Gray into something good to even great?

You know that thing with cornerbacks, where nobody has faith that the Steelers can develop them? It’s the exact opposite with offensive linemen—especially the unknown prospects.

I can just picture it now: it’s the spring of 2023. A BTSC headline reads: “Do the Steelers have enough cap space to sign Derwin Gray?”

Of course not. When do they ever have enough cap space? That’s why they couldn’t afford to match the $42 million deal Feiler got as a free agent in 2021.

But the good news is, the Steelers will likely have another late-round pick/undrafted free agent waiting in the wings to take Gray’s place at right tackle.


05-10-2019, 06:33 PM
Grasshopper Sarrett will get it done. Gray makes the team, future swing OL who starts a number of games for out starter with a torn pectoral. One late round or UDFA lineman every year becomes a future contributor for us.

05-31-2019, 01:39 AM
Steelers’ Derwin Gray Already Practicing At Four OL Positions

By Alex Kozora
Posted on May 30, 2019

In the NFL, if you’re not a starter, you better be able to offer plenty as a backup. For many, that means having value on multiple phases on special teams. For some, it means playing all over the field. That’s why Sutton Smith is working at fullback after being drafted as an outside linebacker (and someday, may be tested inside). For an offensive linemen, that means being able to play more than one spot.

Case in point is 7th round pick Derwin Gray. Though he essentially played just left tackle at Maryland, the Steelers are predictably asking him to move around quite a bit, per a report from the Trib’s Chris Adamski. According to him, Gray has already played four positions through the first few weeks of OTAs: left tackle, right tackle, left guard, and right guard.

Gray made 25 career starts for the Terps, bookended by Damian Prince, who signed a contract with the Steelers after rookie minicamp. After choosing Gray with their final pick, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert hinted a move to guard was possible.

“He’s always been a tackle at the collegiate level,” Kevin Colbert said in recapping the draft class. “Coach can address it as well. But, he’ll start off at tackle for us. His body type means that he can probably move inside and be a guard”.

Because the Steelers like to dress only seven linemen, the backups must be able to wear multiple hats. Ramon Foster began his career playing guard and tackle. Chris Hubbard bounced around to wherever the team needed him, even able to step in as an emergency center, though the results there weren’t pretty. B.J. Finney has become a top backup at all three interior spots while Matt Feiler was the latest to undergo the Swiss Army Project. He’s lined up everywhere but left tackle since signing with the Steelers.

Go back even further and you can pull names like Trai Essex. Never an all-star but someone who played up and down the line, allowing him to stick with the Steelers for seven years, making 28 starts.

Though in our report of Gray, we said it was best for him to stay at tackle, moving around the offensive line was inevitable. If he can get comfortable playing guard and working in space, in some ways, he reminds me of former Steelers first round pick Kendall Simmons. Big and powerful. Simmons played tackle at Auburn but in drafting him, the Steelers hinted at a move inside.

“He’s basically been a left tackle,” Colbert said of Simmons in 2002, according to the Post-Gazette. “He’s built more like a guard than a left tackle. We feel he can be a good, solid guard in time. We feel he’ll be a better guard than a tackle.”

Simmons ended up being the team’s starting right guard, starting 80 games from 2002 to 2008 before an Achilles tear effectively ended his career.

Gray’s versatility will give him a puncher’s chance in what should be a fierce battle for the final roster spots along the offensive line. He’ll battle Jerald Hawkins, Zach Banner, Patrick Morris, Fred Johnson, and whoever else has a strong showing in camp for a potential 9th spot among the 53. If he doesn’t win there, he’ll likely wind up on the practice squad, where his versatility will help plug holes during the week when injuries happen or linemen are granted a day off.


06-05-2019, 12:22 AM
Steelers rookies out to prove they are more than one trick ponies

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 draft class has a couple players who are testing their limits regarding position.

By Jeff.Hartman Jun 4, 2019

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the final week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), and a lot has been made of the 2019 NFL Draft class. Devin Bush’s speed and agility has been on display, Diontae Smith’s precise route-running and Justin Layne’s family’s transition from Browns fans to Steelers fans have all be story lines coming out of the UPMC Rooney Practice Facility.

But one thing I can’t get over is how there are a pair of rookies who are not just willing to do whatever it takes to make the 53-man roster, but are willing to play whatever position necessary to help their chances of hanging around.

6th round draft pick Sutton Smith is a pass rusher by trade, but the Steelers see so much more than that in the former Northern Illinois product. It was widely reported how Smith has not just been working with the pass rushers this spring, but also taking reps at fullback.

Smith spoke to Steelers.com about how he is an unselfish player, and willing to do whatever the coaching staff asks him to do.

When Smith changed his number to accommodate a potential switch to full back, and still be able to play linebacker, it made news. Papers ran with the fact Smith is a grinder and a true team player. But what didn’t get as much ink is another rookie who is also willing to do whatever it takes to see the field.

Seventh round pick Derwin Gray is also showing the coaching staff he is more than capable of playing multiple positions, four in all across the offensive line to be exact.

Throughout OTAs Gray has been put at right tackle, right guard, left guard and left tackle. Maybe this is the Steelers just throwing something against the wall to see what will stick, but if Gray can truly be this versatile he will certainly have a spot on the team in 2019. To Gray, it is just football.

“I pretty much have played at all four (non-center offensive line) positions since I have been here,” Gray told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Left tackle, right tackle, right guard and left guard. So this week was my first week at left guard.

“It’s all football (regardless of position). It’s all zone blocking, outside zone, pass protection, that’s all it is.”

The vast majority of Gray’s experience at the University of Maryland was spent at left tackle, but if he can be competent across the line it would be a huge bonus in regards to depth. When you look at the team’s starting lineup, and the depth behind them, another interior lineman who could also flex out to tackle would be tremendous.

Taking a look at the depth along the line, B.J. Finney is the man who will backup Maurkice Pouncey at center, and can also play both the left and right guard positions. The Steelers have either Matt Feiler, Jerald Hawkins or Chukwuma Okorafor to be their swing tackle behind Alejandro Villanueva and whoever wins the right tackle spot. If Gray can prove his worth at multiple positions, he could be added depth at both the tackle and guard position, likely making someone like Hawkins expendable if he doesn’t out-perform his competition.

Don’t think Gray doesn’t realize how valuable he could be as a versatile player, and not just a one-trick pony at the tackle position.

“I look at it as me being a guy who can play different roles and play different spots when needed,” Gray said. “I’ve showed the versatility that I can play anywhere on the o-line.”

Needless to say, with Gray in the mix the Steelers offensive line battle throughout training camp will be something to definitely keep an eye on.