5 NFL Draft Prospects Rising Up Pittsburgh's Draft Board
Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has ended we've entered the always-eventful period of pro days.
Pro days are where college players work out in a familiar environment in probably the best conditions possible. This is also the time teams get a chance to meet with some of their prospective future clients.
There's still plenty of preparation to be done, but right now, we can kind of get a look at which players seem to peak the interest of certain teams.
For the Steelers, they've attended some pro days and sent contingents to others. There's no question about the positions that the team is looking at right now given the rash of veteran cuts.
So now, let's check out five players who are quickly rising up the Steelers draft board.
Stedman Bailey / WR / West Virginia
It was noted by ESPN Analyst Ron Jaworski when discussing West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith's pro day that he was standing next to Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and watching Smith throw.
But I can almost guarantee you that Tomlin wasn't there watching Smith's gun.
Rather, he was most likely more interested in the guys on the receiving end of those passes.
Tavon Austin is a major prospect coming out of West Virginia, but there's also the seemingly forgotten about Stedman Bailey.
At 5'10", 188 lbs, Bailey is just the type of receiver the Steelers like and a good fit for Todd Haley's quick-strike offense. He's also got the speed to stretch the Pittsburgh offense down the field, something that's now missing with the departure of Mike Wallace.
It should be noted that Bailey did drop two passes during the pro day workout and there are some questions about his size and hands. But, if he's available in the mid-rounds don't be shocked if the Steelers pull the trigger on this former Mountaineer.
Tyler Bray / QB / Tennessee
Reports from earlier this week had the Steelers braintrust in attendance at the University of Tennessee pro day. Those same reports had the same braintrust doing a little more than scouting quarterback Tyler Bray.
According to multiple reports, Pittsburgh's contingent—Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley and others—met and had dinner with the former Tennessee QB the night before the Volunteers' Pro Day.
The Steelers are obviously interested in the quarterback class this year, given the poor play they got from Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich last season and Bray has one of the strongest arms in the class.
But there have been some questions about Bray's commitment to the game.
Pittsburgh will most likely draft a quarterback in 2013 but with the addition of Bruce Gradkowski, they may be waiting until Bray is well off the board.
Cordarrelle Patterson / WR / Tennessee
The Steelers braintrust may have had dinner with Tyler Bray, but let's be honest, he probably wasn't the top guy they were watching at the Volunteers' pro day.
Cordarrelle Patterson is pulling away as the best receiver prospect in the 2013 class and after just losing Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh has to be interested. Patterson has a big and long frame that would give size to an offense that (outside of a well-aged Plaxico Burress) lacks both.
Patterson isn't on the same level as A.J. Green or Julio Jones when they came out, but he's still got good ability and can play at a high level.
With that said, being the top prospect at any position means you'll move up boards and he may not be around when the Steelers are picking at No. 17.
Star Lotulelei / DL / Utah
A scary heart condition kept star Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine.
All signs were a go for him at the Utes' pro day and he didn't disappoint.
Lotulelei repped 225 pounds 38 times, recorded a 30" vertical leap and ran a 5.15 seconds 40-yard dash time.
For a guy who weighed in at a stout 315 pounds that's not half bad.
While the heart condition still lingers, Lotulelei may never be able to regain his once-lofty draft stock and that's only good news for the Steelers. Pittsburgh hasn't gotten much of a push from their other two first round defensive ends and it may be time they get an impact player in the front three.
Still, it's highly doubtful Lotulelei is available at No. 17.
Jarvis Jones / OLB / Georgia
I'm fully aware that Jarvis Jones had a sub-par pro day at Georgia but most of that criticism stemmed from a 4.92 seconds 40-yard dash time. Couple that with the spinal stenosis condition that pulled Jones off of 10 teams draft boards—one would hardly say his stock is "rising".
But for a pass-rushing outside linebacker, I could care a whole lot less about what he ran his 40 in and a lot more about his two-time All-American status and pure domination of the SEC.
Jones had no trouble getting around SEC talent and I'd expect he wouldn't at the next level either.
It's unclear whether the Steelers are one of the teams that removed Jones from its board, but with the glaring hole at outside linebacker left by James Harrison, it's hard to imagine he would be.
If Jones keeps falling, it only helps Pittsburgh.