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Steelers Skip Pro Day of Potential First-Round DT



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Illinois DT Jer'Zhan Newton

The Pittsburgh Steelers were not among the teams reported to attend the personal pro day of Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton on Thursday, according to a reported Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.

Schultz said that the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Commanders were all in to see Newton, who worked out solo on Tuesday after missing the Illinois pro day in early March after having surgery to repair a partial Jones fracture in his foot that Newton played through last season with the Illini.

The Steelers sent director of college scouting Mark Sadowski to the full Illinois pro day, but they are not showing anywhere near a high enough level of interest to think they might be looking to draft Newton in the first round. Day three OL Isaiah Adams and Julian Pearl, WR Isaiah Williams also participated in the pro day.

A 6-foot-2 3/4, 304-pound defensive tackle from St. Petersburg, Florida, Newton had a highly productive career at Illinois. He broke onto the draft scene in 2022, when he racked up 62 tackles, 14 for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He followed that up with another strong season in 2023, playing in one fewer game but still posting 52 tackles, 8.5 for a loss and 7.5 sacks.

The Steelers do have a need at defensive tackle, where captain Cam Heyward is turning 35 years old this season and entering the final season of his contract. The team secured one part of their future three-man last by drafting Keeanu Benton out of Wisconsin in the first round, but are currently slated to surround Benton and Heyward with highly priced free agent Larry Ogunjobi, journeymen Montravius Adams, Breiden Fehoko and Dean Lowry and developmental prospects DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk in 2024.

But it seems that the team’s other needs, particularly along the offensive line, at wide receiver and at cornerback, are more pressing. The Steelers haven’t brought in either Newton or Byron Murphy, the Texas Longhorns lineman that is considered the other first-round defensive tackle, for a pre-draft visit, and they didn’t send either head coach Mike Tomlin or general manager Omar Khan to either of their pro days. The Steelers did meet with Murphy at the NFL Combine.

Most of their defensive tackle interest has come from players that figure to go later in the draft, from the second round through the middle of the third day of the draft.