On Thursday I wrote an article about how analytics, specifically athleticism metrics, can be used to assist the draft process. Now that you have a background on the general idea and the basis for my specific metric, which I call qABP, here are three late round sleepers the Steelers could target for their athleticism.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL, Southern Miss
The Steelers have a solid 3 man group of Heyward-McLendon-Tuitt to start along the defensive line, but they desperately need depth at the position. Daniel McCullers will be the only other defensive lineman on the team next
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Nunez-Roches is solidly built at 6’2″ and 307 pounds and showcases very good movement skills for his size. Based on his testing numbers, he should also be extremely explosive off the snap. His speed-agility-explosion-qABP scores at the combine were 77.04-74.32-84.11-78.49 (above avg-avg-elite-above avg).
Assuming the Steelers could get Nunez-Roches in later rounds of the draft this year, he could be a nice backup 5-tech penetrator. Due to his athletic upside he could even wind up being a starter caliber player down the road
Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
As of right now, the team only has three wide receivers under contract for the upcoming season. I expect them to fill one of the two empty spots via free agency and another on the third day of the draft. McBride should be a primeAug 30, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; William & Mary Tribe wide receiver Tre McBride (3) during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
candidate to be selected on Day 3.
McBride isn’t the tallest at 6’0″ but he has a thick frame, weighing in at the 210 pounds. He also has a connection to Mike Tomlin since he played his college ball at William & Mary. McBride has decently refined skills for being a small school player and came in with 84.44-77.70-77.86-80.00 (elite-above avg-above avg-above avg) scores at the combine.
McBride is the type of wide receiver the Steelers, who are one of the best WR drafting teams in the NFL, could pick and mold. His upside and relative rawness give him lots of room for growth but he could still contribute as a 4th or 5th receiver immediately.
Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
The Steelers’ safeties were horrendous last season and now it looks like Troy Polamalu won’t be back in the black and gold next season. That leaves Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas, who I’m actually quite high on, as the starting safeties next year. Safe to say they at least need someone to put heat on Mike Mitchell.
Randall doesn’t have ideal size for a safety, which will knock him on many people’s boards, but he has fantastic tape and displayed great athleticism at the combine. Randall finished with 77.23-86.58-76.40-80.07 (above avg-elite-above avg-above avg) athleticism scores from the combine. His combination of athleticism and skills on tape should make him a highly coveted mid-late round player.
Randall has the combination of athleticism and skill set to possibly start year one, but it is unlikely that he would get that chance in Pittsburgh. He certainly has the talent to be the starting free safety down the road once Mike Mitchell’s contract is up or he is cut, however.