2023 NFL Draft
Senior Bowl Takeaways: Steelers Find Plenty of Good Lineman in Draft (+)
MOBILE, Ala — Not everything in Mobile is easy for college players, but the Senior Bowl provides them a unique opportunity to improve their draft stock prior to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. So, who stood out in a big way for coaches throughout the entire week?
Steelers Watch Linemen, and Find Good Ones
The instant reaction I had to this group down in Mobile is that the offensive linemen were impressive. Seriously, you didn’t have Broderick Jones, Peter Skoronski, or Paris Johnson down here, but between O’Cyrus Torrence, Dawand Jones, John Michael Schmitz, Darnell Wright, Matthew Bergeron, Steve Avila, Cody Mauch, and Tyler Steen, this Senior Bowl crop was not just deep, but gave the Steelers a sneak peak at who they could get at 32 and 49 in spades.
Mike Tomlin had his eyes glued to the offensive and defensive lines all week. The defensive line appeared a little rawer in the pass rush department, but I thought they did some great things up front in the run game. Keeanu Benton, Ade Adebawore, Byron Young, and others stood out on the interior line. The trench group should be good this year, so the Steelers should feel lucky.
Michael Wilson…the Best WR Here?
I’ll tell you what, I had some ideas on who could be the best WR at the Senior Bowl. Rashee Rice, Jonathan Mingo, Tank Dell, Jayden Reed, and others seemed like obvious choices. But I never thought that Stanford WR Michael Wilson would end up claiming that title so effortlessly. I have not watched his tape super in-depth just yet, but you can see his release packages and the snap on the top of his routes are rather special.
There is no bigger riser this week from the Senior Bowl WR group than Wilson to me. He went from a day three pick to a guy who you can see easily going into the day two range if he has the consistent ability to separate like he did during practices this week.
Andy Weidl On Deck, and Scoutng OL
Steelers assistant general manager Andy Weidl came down to Mobile on Thursday. Absent were Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin, who had been here the previous two days. Just like the other two days, Weidl stood right in the thick of things by the offensive line virtually all day long. That is not surprising, as the Steelers have honed in on that position as something they want to focus on.
However, this is Weidl’s theoretical first opportunity to take a look at the offensive line in Mobile. It doesn’t mean the Steelers will draft a first-round offensive lineman, but they are certainly paying attention to those players and looking to potentially add one early.
I said it earlier in this piece, but sending not just Tomlin but the scouting staff down to watch the offensive line really signals their interest to upgrade that group.
DB Group is Special
Rarely do I actually feel like the DB groups at the Senior Bowl, and often, in the draft as a whole, are any good. Seriously, in recent seasons, it has been tough to find deep cornerback and safety groups. However, the underclassmen group for the cornerbacks looks impressive. So, I was interested to see what the senior crop had waiting for us.
Needless to say, they hit it out of the park. Julius Brents, Sydney Brown, Jakorian Bennett, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyu Blu Kelly, and Derius Rush were just a few of the guys that stood out to me as guys that can play at this level. It is an absurdly deep cornerback class, and Grady Brown worked with a number of them up close. So, expect to see the Steelers dip their toes into this group.
The LBs Showed Out
Brian Flores was down here this week to see some of the linebackers as well, and I have to say, this group ended up being far more impressive than I thought they would be. Ivan Pace, SirVocea Dennis, Dorian Williams, and Aubrey Miller are some of the names that jumped out to me right away when I watched this group. I am not sure any of them are going to be drafted highly, but I do expect this group to give you some quality players, perhaps even early in their career.
Pace looks like a solid third-rounder that can play early in his career. HIs leadership and athleticism are quality combination. He comes from a background that proves he can play at higher levels of play. We’ll see how the group as a whole shakes out, but there is some depth to the class at least.