NFL Combine Prospects That the Pittsburgh Steelers Must Closely Watch
All 333 prospects invited to the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine are making their final preparations for the event, which begins on February 20th and runs through the 26th.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to undergo another eventful offseason with the team close to the salary cap and the expected loss of more veterans.
In this article I have listed two prospects from every position that I feel have an actual chance at being selected at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Kenjon Barner, RB Oregon
Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are both more power backs and Kenjon Barner would be a great complement with the speed he would bring.
The Steelers' only backs with good speed were Chris Rainey and Rashard Mendenhall, and both of them are not going to be with the team in 2013.
Barner has good hands, is a decent blocker and I believe he would be a great pickup for the team in the middle rounds.
Johnathan Franklin, RB UCLA
Johnathan Franklin wasn’t really known before his good showing at the Senior Bowl and even now he may not go until about the third round.
Like Kenjon Barner, Franklin should show good hands at the combine, which is something the Steelers could really use.
Franklin may not be the big back the Steelers like to have; however, I believe he could become a starter and a steal from this draft.
Keenan Allen, WR California
The Steelers already have smaller, faster receivers in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, which is why I’d rather take a closer look at Keenan Allen.
Allen isn’t slow; however, he isn’t a burner by any stretch and he is the only receiver, other than Cordarrelle Patterson (who may be gone by the Steelers' pick), who I could see the Steelers possibly taking at 17.
Although I am not expecting to be wowed by Allen’s 40 time, I will be looking to see his route running and how natural he looks catching the ball during drills.
Aaron Dobson, WR Marshall
Aaron Dobson is another player that I feel is a bit under the radar at this point and he could become a good find.
Dobson has a good combination of size, hands and speed and he should perform pretty well at the combine.
Right now I could see the Steelers taking Dobson in the second round of the draft or possibly the third if he were to drop that far.
Dion Sims, TE Michigan State
I just want to say that I have no idea how Alabama TE Michael Williams was not invited to the combine. If he was, he would have been on my list.
The Steelers could be without Heath Miller for the start of the 2013 season, which may force them to pick up a TE earlier than they would have originally.
Dion Sims would be a good pickup in the middle rounds and should show off a decent set of hands at the combine.
Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE Auburn
Philip Lutzenkirchen is the type of player who isn’t really great at any one aspect of his game but could just be a really solid player in the league.
One of the areas that Heath Miller’s absence would be felt the most would be with his blocking and I think Lutzenkirchen could be effective in that area.
The NFL is moving towards the receiving TE so Lutzenkirchen will have to show some type of speed and route-running ability during the combine week.
Jordan Mills, OT Louisiana Tech
Although I do not believe the OT position is going to be selected high in this draft, I do think the team does need some depth.
The Steelers could lose Max Starks, Willie Colon and Ramon Foster this offseason which would leave Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum as the only tackles on the roster.
Jordan Mills could still be on the board around the fifth or sixth round and he would be a steal at that point for the Steelers.
Chris Faulk, OT LSU
Chris Faulk would have been projected to go much higher if not for the fact that he missed the entire season with a knee injury.
Before the injury, Faulk looked like a nice OT prospect but obviously he is going to drop because of not playing for so long.
I know the Steelers don’t need any more injured offensive linemen; however, if he shows to be healthy, I’d take a chance on Faulk in the late rounds.
Larry Warford, G Kentucky
Even though I’ve seen a lot of Steelers’ fans against going with another offensive lineman in the early rounds but I really think a guy like Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper would be great picks in the first round.
For the purposes of this list however, we already know about those two players and I’d rather learn more about a guy like Larry Warford.
Warford looked great at the Senior Bowl and if he looks any better at the combine he’ll probably be out of the range for the Steelers.
David Quessenberry, G/C San Jose State
Although I did not think David Quessenberry looked great in the actual Senior Bowl game, he did impress during the week.
Quessenberry can also play both guard and center, which makes him more valuable to team like the Steelers, who deal with a lot of offensive line injuries.
With a good combine, Quessenberry could see his stock rise, but I wouldn’t take him until about the third or fourth round at this point.
Johnathan Hankins, NT Ohio State
My personal favorite NT in this draft is Jonathan Jenkins from Georgia; however, after already seeing him at the Senior Bowl I’d rather get a closer look at Johnathan Hankins.
With the Steelers probably not re-signing Casey Hampton this offseason the team only has Steve McLendon, Alameda Ta’amu and Hebron Fangupo on the roster.
Hankins would definitely fit the mold as a 3-4 NT and although he won’t average ten sacks a year, he has the ability to collapse the pocket and put pressure on the quarterback.
Brandon Williams, NT Missouri Southern
If the Steelers do not take a NT in the first round of the draft I could see them waiting until the later rounds until they actually pick one.
If that’s the case Brandon Williams would be a good pickup, although he’d be another guy who needs to develop before contributing.
With the amount of teams switching to a 3-4 that could really push up all the NTs, but at this point I have Williams as a sixth- or seventh-rounder.
Sam Montgomery, OLB LSU
There are going to be a lot of pass rushers taken in the first round this year, and Sam Montgomery is one that I see being there at 17 for the Steelers.
Montgomery didn’t have a huge season in his final year at LSU but he still has the potential to become a great pass rusher in the NFL while still holding up against the run.
The Steelers could cut James Harrison this offseason and while Jason Worilds has shown to be a good backup, the team still needs another dynamic pass rusher opposite LaMarr Woodley.
Dion Jordan, OLB Oregon
Dion Jordan’s stock has really risen the past few weeks and now it’s even wishful thinking that he’ll even be available when the Steelers pick in the first round.
As far as ability, Jordan would be the perfect fit for the Steelers as a pass-rushing OLB with the ability to drop into coverage. The only real question is his health.
Jordan is set to undergo shoulder surgery after the combine but is going to participate in every drill except the bench press, according to Rob Moseley at The Register Guard.
Kevin Minter, ILB LSU
I would again like to acknowledge a snub from the combine in Florida State ILB Vince Williams, who would be a great pickup by the Steelers at some point in the draft.
Back to Kevin Minter, who would be a nice selection if the Steelers traded back a few spots in the first round to get him.
With Sean Spence coming off injury, Larry Foote not guaranteed to be back and Stevenson Sylvester having not shown anything yet, the Steelers could be in the market early for a linebacker to place next to Lawrence Timmons.
Arthur Brown, ILB Kansas State
Arthur Brown has been a popular pick among Steelers’ fans because of his speed and intelligence at the position.
The only problem is that I don’t know if Brown will be there for the Steelers to take him in the second round when they come up.
I look forward to seeing how Brown stacks up at the combine and I expect him to look very smooth during the drills.
Matt Elam, S Florida
Matt Elam is another guy who will be in the running for the Steelers in the first round and he is probably my favorite safety in the draft.
The Steelers have a great pair of safeties in Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu; however, both are over 30 and it is time to start thinking of the future.
Elam even reminds me of a younger, faster version of Ryan Clark, especially with his aptitude of blowing up opposing players on the field.
Duke Williams, S Nevada
There is a very good chance the Steelers could take two safeties in this draft and it could possibly be Matt Elam in the first and Duke Williams in the third or fourth round.
That being said, the team does have some good, young safeties on the roster in Robert Golden and Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith to compete in camp.
Williams has seen his stock rise of late with a good performance at the Senior Bowl and I will be looking to see how well he moves during drills at the combine.