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NFL Draft

Steelers Weighing Plenty of Options at Michigan Pro Day

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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.

Devin Bush

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.

Chase Winovich

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.

David Long

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.

Zach Gentry

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.

Karan Higdon

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.

Rashan Gary

Gary did not particapte in the Pro Day events and is likely to be drafted before the Steelers select at 20th overall.

2021 NFL Draft

NFL Cancels In-Person 2021 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis; Pro Days On

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After weeks of rumors and speculation, the NFL has made it official, announcing in a memo to clubs Monday they are significant alterations to the 2021 Scouting Combine.

Annually held in Indianapolis, the league is scrapping in-person workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, instead opting for pro days on college campuses. The NFL will coordinate with schools to ensure “consistency in testing and drills,” providing video of said workouts to all clubs.

Interviews and psychological testing of prospects normally executed at the physical combine will instead be conducted in an entirely virtual format.

As for medical evaluations, limited in-person exams will most likely be conducted over a three-day span in early April. While some evaluations will also be held virtually, an undetermined number of prospects will be invited to designated satellite locations for in-person exams. Each franchise will be permitted to dispatch a physician and athletic trainer to conduct the in-person portion.

Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft in April, the league will work directly with clubs, schools and affiliated broadcast partners to ensure media availability with Combine invitees. The NFL intends to keep with tradition and make head coaches and general managers available to the media as well.

The altered Combine format was devised and overseen by a special committee of league and club officials, including NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

Further details regarding protocols and finalized dates will be released as the committee continues to meet and plan over the coming weeks.

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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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