By John Toth and Joe 412
The 74th Senior Bowl took place this past weekend in Mobile, Alabama and showcased some of the top senior talent leaving the ranks of college football for the upcoming NFL draft. For what it is worth, in the era of scripted games and glorified tryouts, the National team defeated the American team 27-10 with Fresno State quarterback, Jake Haener, taking home the MVP award.
Draft 412 kept a close eye on the game and its participants, homing-in on those that the Pittsburgh Steelers may have an interest in selecting in April. Some player impressed during the game while others opened eyes during the daily practices, forcing NFL teams and draft pundits alike to reevaluate their draft boards.
Besides Haener, Draft 412 was impressed with the running of Northwestern running back, Evan Hull. Hull ran hard, hitting holes fast and ended with 74 yards on 10 carries. Stanford wide receiver, Michael Wilson, looked impressive all week in practice and added a solid 4 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Wilson may have just played his way up some draft boards, moving into a 2nd-3rd round grade.
But looking at pressing Steeler needs is always top of mind for Draft 412, so we sharpened our gaze, focusing at first on the offensive line. Minnesota center, John Michael Schmitz, put himself into a good spot after his performances, even challenging Michigan’s Olu Oluwatimi as perhaps the first center to come off the board this April. Schmitz has all the skills and leadership traits NFL teams look for in their centers and could be given a late first-round or early second grade. Does that mean he goes in that spot? Not necessarily. Centers, unless they are generational talents, tend to be day two or day three picks (see Creed Humphrey as a recent example).
Anyone who has paid attention to the Steelers' on-field performance over the last two years knows their needs—offensive line, linebacker, and defensive backs. This week’s Senior Bowl practices have
shown us there is talent to be had at all three of these areas. Ohio State offensive tackle, Dawand Jones, measured in at 6’8”, 375 lbs. with an 89 ½” wingspan and could be a nice late first round or early second round pick. Darnell Wright of Tennessee is another tackle who would look good in the black and gold, and the Steelers may target him in rounds three or four. Draft 412 will provide further analysis on both these players in the coming weeks.
Linebacker, Will McDonald IV, of Iowa State is an intriguing prospect, displaying some freakish athleticism off the edge during practices all week. Another linebacker/edge type who may be intriguing to the 3-4 “Blitzburgh” Steelers is Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame. Foskey, a 6’4”, 262 lbs. high motor guy was compared to Micah Parsons by many scouts this week. That’s high praise for sure, even if he develops into only part of what Parsons has been able to accomplish in his short
One of the biggest risers and performers of the week was cornerback, Darius Rush of South Carolina. Rush showed out with his size and speed reminding many attendees of Ike Taylor. Cam Smith, South Carolina’s other, more heralded corner, had been the big-name coming out in this draft for months, but after this week of practices ,many scouts believe he may have slipped into the second round.
Follow Draft 412 daily for updates on Steelers draft prospects.
Picture courtesy of Yahoo Sports.