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Thread: NFL combine preview: 5 positions Steelers will be watching closely

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    NFL combine preview: 5 positions Steelers will be watching closely

    NFL combine preview: 5 positions Steelers will be watching closely

    by GERRY DULAC
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    FEB 26, 2024

    The Steelers head to the NFL combine in Indianapolis with a Costco-sized shopping list that is heavy with defensive items but still has room in the cart for a couple pieces for the offensive line.

    What they like, of course, doesn't always mean they will get.

    The process for finding players to bolster the team in 2024 has already begun, but it ramps up in earnest when they test, scout and interview any number of the 321 invited prospects at the combine that officially begins Tuesday.

    As always, most of the process focuses on the players expected to be taken in the first two days of the NFL draft, with a heavy emphasis placed on which merit being a No. 1 pick.

    And, for the Steelers, those are players at any one of the following positions:

    Inside linebackers who can play off the ball.

    Centers to replace Mason Cole.

    Tackles who will eventually replace Dan Moore Jr.

    A safety to partner with Minkah Fitzpatrick.

    Cornerbacks to pair with Joey Porter Jr.

    Maybe their biggest area of need defensive end will not receive the scrutiny typically befitting a No. 1 pick because the position is one of the thinnest at the combine and offers very few first-round candidates. But that doesn't mean they will ignore the position.

    Cam Heyward will be 35 in May and playing what is likely the final of his 14 seasons with the team, and finding his replacement a Pro Bowl-type player would otherwise be their priority. But they took Keeanu Benton in the middle of the second round last year, and it's possible they could do the same this year. And players such as Florida State?s Braden Fiske and LSU's Maason Smith (6-foot-6, 310 pounds), who are not considered first-round picks, are options.

    He is a really, really good player, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Fiske. He is going to test like a freak, too. He will test well at the combine. Real quick, shoots gap, efforts, chase. He can play every position. He finds the ball. He has really good instincts.

    Here's a look at the positions that intrigue the Steelers:

    INSIDE LINEBACKER

    The Steelers will continue their search to find the next Ryan Shazier an off-the ball linebacker who can play in coverage. It was something they thought they had when they moved up 10 spots in the 2019 draft to take Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick. And they thought they took a big step toward replacing Bush when they signed Cole Holcomb in free agency last year. But Holcomb is coming off a devastating knee injury that ended his 2023 season, and his recovery process is still uncertain.

    The position has been a revolving door since Shazier's career ended in 2016. They want to stop the door from revolving.

    CENTER

    Mason Cole had been the starter since he was signed in free agency before the 2022 season and was more than dependable, starting all 35 games. But the Steelers wanted to upgrade the position, which is why they released the seven-year veteran last week.

    Centers don't usually find their way into the first round, especially the top half of the round. The last center taken in the first round was Cesar Ruiz by the New Orleans Saints with the 24th overall pick in 2020. But they have great second-day value. Would the Steelers, who once drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round in 2010, consider doing so?

    If so, a logical choice would be Oregon?s Jackson Powers-Johnson (6-3, 334), who is projected as a possible low-round pick in the first round.

    It's hard to find guys that big that can move like that, Jeremiah said. You can't get through him. He just kind of catches guys and absorbs them. He has some nasty to him. He is a bulldog.

    TACKLE

    The Steelers used a No. 1 pick last year on a tackle in Broderick Jones. Might they do so again?

    They have already released former starter Chuks Okorafor and left tackle Dan Moore, who has missed just two of 51 starts since was a fourth-round draft pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. So they are already down one tackle and could be down two if they decide not to re-sign Moore.

    Tackles will go high again in the draft, and the Steelers showed last season they are not afraid to move up in the first round to get one. With Jones and free agent pickups Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, they also showed their commitment to restocking the offensive line.

    SAFETY

    There are several bodies to pair with Fitzpatrick in the secondary, including Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and even converted cornerback Patrick Peterson.

    But the Steelers are interested in finding a player who would allow Fitzpatrick to remain in the deep end of the field instead of moving him around as much as they do.

    For the first time in his six-year career, Fitzpatrick did not have an interception, fumble recovery or forced fumble a rare lack of takeaways for a four-time Pro Bowl safety. Granted, he missed seven games because of injury, but the Steelers think Fitzpatrick might return to his disruptive, larcenous ways if he stays put at his natural free safety position.

    CORNERBACK

    The Steelers refused offers from a number of teams to trade the 32nd pick in the draft last year to take Joey Porter Jr., and the decision proved fortuitous.

    Now, they wouldn't discount the possibility of making another move to get a top-flight prospect to pair with him.

    The Steelers are eager to get back last year's seventh-round pick, Cory Trice Jr., who has the size (6-3, 206) and speed (4.4 40-yard dash) teams look for in cornerbacks. But Trice tore his anterior cruciate ligament early in training camp and never appeared in a game. The Steelers think he can be a good player, based on the limited time they saw him in OTAs and training camp. The problem is, they don't know if he can be a good player.

    Jeremiah said Clemson's Nate Wiggins (6-2, 185) and Iowa's Cooper DeJean, who will not test at the combine because of a foot injury, could be in the Steelers range at No. 20. But he also said Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell would be good fit for them.

    That would be a heck of a young secondary with Minkah at the top of the Christmas tree there, Jeremiah said. That would be a fun defense to watch.

    https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/...s/202402190122
    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 02-27-2024 at 02:16 AM.
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat


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  2. #2
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    Get Edmunds back to pair with Minkah. Not surprising Minkah had his worst season with Edmunds gone. Guy isn't Troy but highly under rated in our defense
    "My team, may they always be right, but right or wrong...MY TEAM!"

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    Five Steelers Prospects To Watch For At 2024 NFL Combine

    Steelers Depot | February 27, 2024
    by Alex Kozora

    The 2024 NFL Combine is underway. While players won?t hit the field until Thursday, things kick off Tuesday with NFL general managers, including the Pittsburgh Steelers? Omar Khan, scheduled to speak with the media. From there, we?ll have player interviews and compile a list of who?s meeting with whom, along with measurements, weigh-ins, and, of course, workout numbers.

    Pittsburgh will cast a wide net and evaluate all 321 players in attendance. But here?s five whose time at Indianapolis could set the stage for how interested the Steelers are:

    https://steelersdepot.com/2024/02/fi...4-nfl-combine/
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat


    Boom........

    My IT guy...
    Hahahahahahaha

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    Welp, so much for watching the top QBs throw the ball in their underwear:

    The quarterbacks aren?t scheduled to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine until Saturday, but already it appears there will be far less star power on the field than teams (and the league?s broadcast partners) had hoped. USC?s Caleb Williams, North Carolina?s Drake Maye and LSU?s Jayden Daniels ? for many, the top three available QB prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft ? all have decided to sit out this weekend?s throwing drills, a source briefed on the plans confirmed Tuesday.

  5. #5
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    We've filled every hole in FA and the draft for five straight years, how are there still "holes everywhere"?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WindyCitySteel View Post
    We've filled every hole in FA and the draft for five straight years, how are there still "holes everywhere"?
    Guys get injured, guys get old, guys are cut

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCoast View Post
    Welp, so much for watching the top QBs throw the ball in their underwear:
    I think the combine is becoming less and less relevant for the high end guys. So many guys (e.g. Harrison Jr this year) feel confident enough opting out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCoast View Post
    Guys get injured, guys get old, guys are cut
    You're so close.

  9. #9
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    Steelers have met with ILBs Edgerrin Cooper, Jeremiah Trotter, and Junior Colson so far at the combine.

    this is a position I fully expect us to address early in the draft.
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat


    Boom........

    My IT guy...
    Hahahahahahaha

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Blitz View Post
    I think the combine is becoming less and less relevant for the high end guys. So many guys (e.g. Harrison Jr this year) feel confident enough opting out.
    If you are already being considered as a top 10 pick it seems that the risk in working out at the combine is all on the downside, with very little upside. Maybe improve your pick position by 1 or 2? Is that worth it?

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