It may not be a surprise to hear that Mike Tomlin is at a Pro Day. Year in and year out it is reported that Tomlin is spotted at Pro Days more than any other coach in the NFL. However, for the Michigan Pro Day Mike Tomlin rounded up the whole crew and for good reason.
General Manager Kevin Colbert, Director of Player Scouting Dan Rooney Jr. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler, Defensive assistant Terryl Austin, and tight ends coach James Daniel, and even special teams coach Keith Butler were spotted at the event to highlight each Michigan draft prospect.
The obvious tie is going to be with Devin Bush, and for good reason, but Michigan has plenty of pro talent to offer. Rooney Jr. was out with pass rusher Chase Winovich the night before. Here is the list of every Michigan player, and the likelihood of the Steelers drafting them.
Every mock draft from now until draft day is going to at least bring up the name Devin Bush, and most are going to pin him to the Steelers. The Steelers have a huge need at linebacker and barely addressed it when Ryan Shazier went down with his devastating injury. It seems as though they are set to make amends and Kevin Colbert even admitted he did not do enough to fill that void.
The Steelers signed a cornerback and a wide receiver and let L.J. Fort go in free agency. They seem to be betting that whether it be Bush or White, one of them is going to drop to 20.
The good news for Steelers fans is that three quarterbacks and four offensive linemen all have top 20 potential. There is also a group of impact pass rushers who should go high, leaving the chance that the second or even first linebacker selected in 2019 is at pick 20. If that is the case, Bush would be the perfect fit and the Steelers sent the big names to sign off on him.
The Steelers also met with a Michigan pass rusher who graduated from Thomas Jefferson high school. The Steelers may be looking to bring Winovich back home in a package deal with his Michigan teammate Bush. Winovich is a savage off of the edge who plays with high intensity snap in and snap out.
On top of that, he tested extremely athletic, especially in his bend and flexibility. That is key for getting around the edge quickly as a pass rusher. Think of James Harrison and how low he was able to get to the ground when he dipped below tackles.
Winovich has short arms and struggled to turn pressures into sacks, which is going to drop him closer to the Steelers second-round pick. With Bud Dupree signed for one more year Winovich could compete with Dupree for one season with the upside to replace him long term.
Most will point to Bush and Winovich, but the secondary could use David Long in the middle rounds as well. While Long does not get the buzz of the other two, it’s mainly because he did not allow many catches. Long allowed nine catches all season but lined up on the outside and projects to the slot in the NFL due to his size limitations.
Still, Long tested as an elite athlete and played like one as he pressed and mimicked receivers routes. His inside-outside combination and production could entice the Steelers in the middle rounds.
Gentry is a pure blocking tight end. He is a strong run blocker, who is limited in the passing game. The Steelers could find a compliment to Vance McDonald in the late rounds with Gentry.
Even Karan Higdon could fill into the Steven Ridley role. He is undersized, but runs tough and can break tackles. Ridley provided in short yardage situations and special teams, and while Danny Smith may be interested in the three names above, Higdon could fill those same shoes for the Steelers next season.
Gary did not particapte in the Pro Day events and is likely to be drafted before the Steelers select at 20th overall.
Mic Drop: Adam Zielonka of Washington Times on McFarland, Brooks
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.
Colbert Explains Why He Wanted Three Rounds Added to 2020 Draft
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is offering an explanation as to why he wanted three rounds added to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Speaking with NBC Sport’s Mike Florio on the PFT PM podcast Tuesday, Colbert took the opportunity to clarify his suggestion.
“The reasoning was, part of it was selfish,” Colbert said. “You wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you’ll have a little bit of a safety net again.”
With the league’s self-implemented travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs were unable to conduct their normal scouting activities prior to the Draft. This included Pro Days, private workouts and in-person interviews.
Less opportunities to watch and speak with prospects results in a larger margin for error.
Colbert went on to say that it also would have benefited some of the fringe prospects in the Draft that never had the chance to showcase themselves at a Pro Day or other setting.
“The other thing was it would give the marginal player that didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and to perform. Maybe there will be more players drafted and then those players will then again have the chance they might not get.”
Now without rookie minicamps, the challenges are mounting for clubs and NFL hopefuls.
“Every year a team might stumble upon a tryout player,” Colbert said. “Maybe if we ever get on the field, we can think of a way to help those because there’s a big group of players that aren’t getting opportunities because of the situation.”
Colbert reminded Florio that the Steelers discovered Devlin “Duck” Hodges as a tryout in camp last year.
It is unclear when teams will be allowed to return to the practice field for their offseason programs, with clubs currently conducting theirs entirely from home.
Mic Drop: NFL Draft Recap Show
It was eat, sleep, draft coverage, repeat for Mike Asti and the Steelers Now crew this past week. And now that the draft is over, Mike Asti evaluates each pick and gives his thoughts on some moves he says the Steelers should have made.