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NFL Draft

Steelers Keeping Close Watch on Senior Bowl Tight Ends

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MOBILE, Ala. — Along with every other club in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers have sent their team of scouts to the Senior Bowl to scout potential talent coming in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The draft is a popular way to build a team at the professional level. Yet for an organization like the Steelers, a historically conservative franchise in free agency, the annual selection of college players is practically the only way to build/retain a team.

Pittsburgh’s success with the tight end position extends all the way back to dynasty of the 1970’s, with Bennie Cunningham playing a key role in the Steelers offense despite being overshadowed by Hall of Fame players on that side of the ball. With solid tight end talent scattered between that time and the Heath Miller era, Pittsburgh quarterbacks have long had a security blanket to throw to.

The current tight-end room includes the likes of Vance McDonald, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble. With James (unrestricted) and Grimble (restricted) set to become free agents in 2019, the Steelers may very well look to the 2019 draft class to find a replacement should neither player stick with the team through the off-season.

Enter the Senior Bowl.

The group of six tight ends here in Mobile have impressed enough to earn invites, although some are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.

Originally, I pegged the Steelers to watch out for Stetson tight end Donald Parham in my list of potential draft targets here in Mobile. Yet after being able to watch Parham close and in person, his frame (despite being 6-foot-8) doesn’t appear large enough to handle NFL defenders, and he has yet to showcase any fluidity when turning/running routes.

However, two tight ends have stepped up to the plate early in Senior Bowl practices: Foster Moreau of LSU and Drew Sample of Washington.

While Sample has elevated his game enough to be taken in the early rounds, Moreau appears to be a potential mid-round gem. During positional work and team segments of practice, Moreau consistently found himself open while running routes. Moreau’s blocking is a known commodity and he’s slowly but surely making a name for himself, even to an organization like the Steelers.

The process of evaluating talent for the upcoming draft is a long and extensive one, yet it appears the Steelers are already getting a head start for their work on the tight end position during practices at the Senior Bowl.

NFL

Report: NFL to Make Significant Changes to Combine Due to COVID-19

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Major changes to the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine are expected amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, plans of hosting the combine as traditionally constructed are “dead” following a conference call between league officials Friday. It is becoming increasingly likely that the medical and performance-based portions of the event will be held separately.

A number of alternatives are being considered, including regionalized medical checks, standardized pro days and interviews conducting via Zoom.

With regards to the regional medicals, the NFL could set up shop and administer the examinations at hospital in states where a large number of players are conducting their workouts and preparation, such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.

The intent would be to limit travel for players, where as the team physicians conducting the examinations would likely have already received their vaccinations.

Other aspects of the medical process can be accomplished virtually, such as reviewing injury histories.

As for the pro days, NFL or individual team personnel would put players through drills at their respective schools, but standardize each workout to ensure prospects are going through the same exercises as they would in Indianapolis. Measurements and result would then be distributed league-wide as they normally would be.

League officials will continue to meet over the coming days, according to Breer, but a finalized plan is expected later this coming week.

The NFL has also weighed the option of postponing the combine until April, but still holding it in Indianapolis. While it is on the table, the move would likely requirement the 2021 NFL Draft to be postponed as well.

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NFL Draft

Steelers Clinch No. 24 Pick in 2021 NFL Draft

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Following their opening round playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers now know where they will be selecting in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh now owns the No. 24-overall selection in April’s draft.

A number of needs and questions plague the Steelers as they enter the offseason and turn their attention toward the draft process, with multiple directions they can go with their first round pick. Offensive line, running back and cornerback all appear viable options for the Steelers at No. 24.

The Steelers have not had a first round selection since trading up to draft inside linebacker Devin Bush with the tenth-overall pick in 2018. Pittsburgh did not have a first rounder in last year’s draft, sending it to the Miami Dolphins in 2019 to acquire safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The draft is scheduled to be held from April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio, though it’s unclear if that will come to pass or if the draft will once again be held virtually, as the 2020 NFL Draft was.

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NFL Draft

Mic Drop: Adam Zielonka of Washington Times on McFarland, Brooks

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Instead of trading for a proven running back like Leonard Fournette, the Steelers simply drafted a rookie with their 4th round pick. That rookie is Anthony McFarland out of the University of Maryland. To fully explain what McFarland brings to the table, Mike Asti was joined by Adam Zielonka, who is a sports reporter for the Washington Times. Zielonka also touched Antoine Brooks, the other Maryland product drafted by the Steelers.

Click here to also watch Mike and others discuss if the Steelers should have instead traded for Leonard Fournette on Pittsburgh Sports Live.

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