The Steelers are permitted to host 30 prospects for pre-draft visits. With less than a month until the draft, visits have begun and are in full swing. Pre-Draft Visits are a good indicator of the Steelers draft priorities as they have selected 30 players in the last 7 years that came on a pre-draft visit (and signed a handful more as undrafted free agents). While the Steelers have a history of using about half of their picks each year on prospects who have visited, the Steelers have also used these visits to bring in players that might have some question marks on their resume to gather more information in creating their draft board. These question marks range from double-checking medical evaluations or to have the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with players that have had off-the-field issues. The Steelers will also use pre-draft visits to do some extra scouting on players that will likely be undrafted free agents that they may have on their radar.
For each prospect, I added Rankings from some of the more reliable draft analysts around – Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Lance Zerlein of NFL.com, Luke Easterling of The Draft Wire, and Scott Carasik of Falcons Radio (and other outlets) who publishes an all-encompassing spreadsheet. Additionally, I listed three athleticism metrics: SPARQ, RAS, and Mock Draftable “webs.” SPARQ rankings are from 3 Sigma Athlete and measure of explosiveness and athleticism. SPARQ rankings use a score of 100 for an “average” NFL athlete and provides the percentile where a prospect fits athletically. Over the past few seasons, the Steelers have targeted players in the draft with high SPARQ rankings. RAS (or “Relative Athletic Score“) was developed by Kent Lee Platte of The Pride of Detroit. While SPARQ uses 100 as the average score, RAS is on a relatively simple 0-10 scale with 5 as the “average” player at the position. Mock Draftable is a great site that compiles testing data from draft prospects and keeps historical records to provide comparables for each player.
QB – Tennessee
6’3″ 216 lbs
SPARQ: 87.9 percentile (#2 QB)
RAS: 8.85 (#2 QB)
CBS Sports: #9 QB (#214 Overall)
NFL.com: #9 QB
Draft Wire: #11 QB
Scott Carasik: #7 QB
Analysis: Dobbs led some epic comebacks this season at Tennessee while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football. Dobbs was constantly under pressure but fortunately has the foot quickness and escapability to make plays in scramble drills. He threw for 2900 yards and rushed for over 800 this season and was a quality dual-threat quarterback. He isn’t going to be a Day 1 starter for any team, but has the mental fortitude (which he needed playing behind that offensive line) to hang in the pocket and make throws. Dobbs is a fascinating developmental prospect though and has the tools to one day be a starter in this league.
QB – Texas Tech
6’2″ 225 lbs
SPARQ: 68.3 percentile (#6 QB)
RAS: 7.54 (#6 QB)
CBS Sports: #3 QB (#29 Overall)
NFL.com: #3 QB
Draft Wire: #4 QB
Scott Carasik: #2 QB
Analysis: Mahomes is one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft this year. There is no doubt about his arm strength and ability to throw the ball down the field. He is a straight up gunslinger who played in a spread offense that enabled him to thrive. Mahomes put up video game numbers at Texas Tech and has the most arm strength of any quarterback in the draft. He can bomb the ball down the field but also needs to work on his judgment as he will try to unnecessarily force passes into coverage. He has a little bit of Ben Roethlisberger in his game with his ability to escape from pressure and make throws while moving his feet. He also has a bit of Jay Cutler in that his gunslinging mentality can cause him to try to fit balls in that get intercepted. Mechanically, Mahomes needs work on his delivery and probably isn’t ready to be a Day 1 starter. That said, he is a fascinating developmental prospect that could go right in the Steelers range (end of Round 1 / beginning of Round 2).
WR – Northern Illinois
6’4″ 218 lbs
SPARQ: 69.1 percentile (#10 WR)
RAS: 8.73 (#9 WR)
CBS Sports: #18 WR (#143 Overall)
NFL.com: #22 Wr
Draft Wire: unranked (Top 20 ranked)
Scott Carasik: #29 WR
Analysis: The first thing that jumped out to me when researching Golladay was his athletic comparison. The Mock Draftable website is a great resource for benchmarking athleticism of athletes and offers comparison scores with other athletes at similar positions. Golladay has 93% comparison with Limas Sweed. Let that sink in for a minute. The upside of that is that none of the athleticism metrics measure hands. Sweed was capable of getting open, he just couldn’t make catches. Golladay has the look of a “one trick pony” entering the draft. He is a long strider that can get separation and make catches down the field but isn’t a great route runner. He is a pure deep threat with mostly straight line speed, which is something the Steelers lacked late in the season with Martavis Bryant’s suspension and Sammie Coates’ injury and ineffectiveness.
WR – Texas A&M
6’3″ 194 lbs
SPARQ: 67.8 percentile (#12 WR)
RAS: 8.57 (#14 WR)
CBS Sports: #23 WR (#172 Overall)
NFL.com: #11 WR
Draft Wire: #19 WR
Scott Carasik: #22 WR
Analysis: While Golladay’s most comparable player was Limas Sweed, Reynolds had a 96% comparison score with another former Steelers Draft Pick. Reynold’s comparison was Fred Gibson, a lanky receiver out of Georgia that the Steelers took in the 4th round in 2005 who failed to make the team out of training camp. Reynolds had an incredibly productive career at Texas A&M, tallying over 50 catches and 840 yards in each of the last three seasons. He found the end zone 31 times in 3 years, including a 12-TD and 13-TD season. Reynolds is a little on the slender side for his height and lacks strength to break away from press coverate. That said, his height, length, and speed make him a quality deep threat. He is good at tracking the ball on long throws (which he showcased with subpar quarterback play at A&M) and has a background in track as a high-jumper which aids his ability to high point the ball. Like with Golladay, his route-running needs some work but he has the makings of being a quality second option and deep threat.