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Steelers Analysis

Shrine Bowl Takeaways: Steelers OL Targets Emerge, DL Impresses

With the second Shrine Game practice in the books, who stood out and what can be taken away from the second day?



Pittsburgh Steelers Shrine Game

FRISCO, Texas — The Pittsburgh Steelers and 31 other teams are watching to see what players pop out to them at the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl. But who stood out, and can there be any Pittsburgh-specific takeaways from the second day of practice in Frisco?

A Running Back to Watch?

The Steelers do not have a massive need for a running back, but they have enough of a need for me to care a little bit about it in this NFL Draft class. Anthony McFarland seems out the door for good, and Godwin Igwebuike could return. The team has Aaron Shampklin on the 90-man roster, too. But Isaac Guerendo is one of those guys who makes a ton of sense for this team. Let me try to break down my argument twofold.

For one, he’s an ideal zone running back, but he has the quickness and explosiveness to work in any scheme. He fits those Kyle Shanahan offshoot schemes like a glove, and I think the Steelers could use someone with that type of homerun speed in the backfield. At practice, Guerendo has great acceleration to bust angles. But he is 220 pounds. In some ways, he really does play like Jaylen Warren because he brings that physicality.

As an added cherry on top bonus, Guerendo is a dynamic kick returner. Keep an eye on him. He started out in Wisconsin before heading to Louisville, and the tread on his tires is little to none. If Pittsburgh wants an all-around, do-it-all kind of running back with special teams value, Guerendo makes a lot of sense. And it appears they are interested in him.

Offensive Line Notes

Yesterday, I focused on the receivers and defensive backs. I got some looks at those guys in team periods, and I came away with one player I liked more than I thought. But for the most part, I watched the offensive and defensive line. Given the Steelers’ needs at center and tackle, I watched with a focus on those players.

For anyone with local ties that likes Penn State, center Hunter Nourzad had the two most impressive reps of anyone on Sunday. Nourzad’s anchor and hand usage stood in a big way. Even when tackles tried to shove his hands off them, he reset the hands and stuck like a vice grip. He’s an exciting center. He’s a smooth mover in the run game and is comfortable in space. But I still have questions about how he handles more explosive, squatty rushers. But that chance should come tomorrow in a similar frame. Either way, Nourzad’s stock is soaring through the roof, and I like his game.

Boston College guard Christian Mahogany might be the best pure offensive lineman here. He has everything you want in a quality NFL guard. Mahogany is an intelligent football player but moves bodies with some underrated strength and great leverage. His hands are violent and get easy vertical displacement, but he is agile enough in space to get to the second level and create that space. I’ve heard the Steelers are interested in Mahogany, which is interesting considering their depth chart at guard. He also has not worked at center yet. But something to note.

The last player I want to highlight is South Dakota State tackle Garret Greenfield. I love his footwork. He is as smooth a player as you will see in this class in the offensive line rooms. But his hands can get wide, and he habitually drops his eyes when engaging defenders. That’s fine. The physical tools are rare to find. Greenfield has a layered game with all different types of pass sets and a variety of moves to counter defenders overall. His stock will rise, and as a mid-round pick who is a natural right tackle, the Steelers could bite.

Steelers Defensive Line Target?

Khristian Boyd out of Northern Iowa. That’s the name. You need to put Boyd on your list of guys who will absolutely fly up boards after this event. Before this week, I am not sure why Boyd did not get more hype. He obliterated everyone he faced on Sunday with impressive tape. He has a great club-swim move but has about six other moves that he can use to set interior offensive linemen up.

Boyd’s hands are violent. He has great explosiveness off the snap of the football to stun those interior rushers and create displacement at the line of scrimmage. Boyd plays like a perfect three-technique who would destroy sub-packages. The Steelers have some interest in him, too. And I’m not surprised. He first asked what they liked about the position and what could be perfect to pair with Keanu Benton. Montravius Adams is a free agent, and as a day-three pick, I could easily see the team loving Boyd and trying to take him.

Sleeper Safety

Coming into this game, I thought the Steelers would watch the safeties. They did that more so on day two, where I felt most of the interest became concentrated. I’m a massive fan of Dadrion Tayl0r-Demerson, but one other guy stuck out in a big way. Ole Miss Daijahn Anthony is not someone I even knew of coming into this event, but his man coverage skills are real. He’s a vocal but slender player. That’s fine; he brings fire and competition to the screen and runs the game. When your frame is like his, it won’t be perfect in that part of the game, but Anthony stands out as a guy who gives it his all.

Anthony projects as a 5-foot-11, ideal slot cornerback. His ability to redirect and mirror from the slot is impressive and unique. Anthony’s intensity ramped up a bit through the practice, and he took his game up another level. I love guys who can bring that competitive edge to football. He’s the type of player you would want for a team that needs versatile players to play all over the field. Anthony looks like a guy with considerable upside to his game.

Steelers Quick Hits

– Pitt cornerback A.J. Woods looks like a future special teams ace in the making. His speed is legitimate at every level, and he has a real chance to find a role in the NFL.

– Wyoming linebacker Easton Gibbs is a coverage stud. All of my thoughts from yesterday were reaffirmed. He made an excellent pick underneath in the red zone.

– This edge rusher group is deep, and there are too many to choose from, even though the Steelers do not need anyone from there. It’s an impressive group.