The Steelers are doing their due diligence before the upcoming draft so let’s see who they’re meeting with on defense
The Steelers draft is just less than 2 months away. This is the peak of excitement during the often long, boring Steelers offseasons. Now I’m not saying the Steelers don’t know what they’re doing. The results speak for themselves. Do what you do guys. But for fans, objectively, there’s just not a lot going on. But the draft is the exception, and the draft is coming.
So let’s get right into it. There’s a lot out there, including plenty from this writer, speculating on who the Steelers will pick, and who they should pick, and what’s available. But what do the Steelers themselves think? Well none of us, or at least not me, are privy to the Steelers draft board or scouting information. But we do know something about who they’ve met with, which certainly indicates interest.
The following is a list of defensive players the Steelers have shown interest in. They’ve either met with them or been reported to be interested in them. So let’s meet the gang.
Let’s talk about the cornerbacks first. That’s what we’re all interested in anyway. Now the Steelers have been most active in looking into cornerbacks and safeties. It makes sense but it’s comforting to hear for Steelers fans who’ve been waiting for a solid high round corner for years.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson – Charlie Campbell of Walter Football reported the Steelers met with Alexander. He’s 5’11” 185 lbs. He’s a first round prospect and if the Steelers are going to get a home run with a corner he’s the best bet. Alexander was a shutdown corner in college with high athletic upside, giving up no touchdowns in 2015.
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State – Bryan DeArdo of 247 Sports reported the Steelers met with Apple. He’s 6’1″ 199 pounds. Apple is a big corner like the Steelers like. He’s also a first round talent according to many observers. In college he played both man and zone which would fit the Steelers. There’s a good chance that when the Steelers pick in the first round Apple or Alexander will be there if they want them.
Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana – 247 Sports also reported the Steelers met with Miller. Miller is likely a second day pick. If the Steelers don’t address CB in the first round it looks like they have Miller in mind as the backup. He’s 6′ and 182 lbs. He comes from a smaller school but he had a long and quality college career covering other teams’ top WRs and getting plenty of interception.
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The other part of the defensive backfield is almost just as bad off. After a rocky start Mike Mitchell seems to have worked out. We’ve all settled in with Mitchell being a Steelers safety for years to come. But safeties are so often a one-two punch, where’s Mitchell’s two? Well the Steelers are looking, rest assured.
Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State – Jason Mackey of DK Pittsburgh reported that the Steelers met with Bell. He stands 5’11” and 199 pounds. Bell might be the the top safety in the draft and should be available late in the first round. Steelers like to draft Buckeyes and Bell excels in coverage, which the Steelers could use.
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke – DK Pittsburgh also reported the Steelers Met with Jeremy Cash. He is 6′ and 212 pounds. The Steelers safety meetings pair well with the corners, two first rounders and a back up. Cash could also go in the first round. He’s a good safety in cover but the guy tackles. He’s coming off three straight 100 tackle seasons.
Keanu Neal, S, Florida – Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football reported the Steelers were interested in Neal. It’s unclear if they’ve had a meeting but Neal would be a second day option. He’s often listed as free safety but he’s a big guy standing 6′ and 211 pounds. And Mike Mitchell, though currently starting in that role, can play both and there’s been speculation of him making that switch in the past. Neal can play both too.
It’s not all about the defensive backfield. The Steelers can always use linebackers and the defensive line could really use some depth. They’ve been talking to players at just those positions as it happens. Who? Well funny you should ask that because I happen to have a list right here.
Su’A Cravens, LB/S, USC – 247 Sports reported the Steelers met with Cravens. He is 6’1″ and 226 pounds. Now, Cravens is maybe belonging in the category above but he played linebacker in college so we’ll put him here. Many see him as a safety in the NFL though. Regardless, Cravens is a possibly late first round but likely early second day pick. He’s a smart player with good awareness who attacks the line of scrimmage.
Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State – Gerry Dulac of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Steelers met with Nassib. He is 6’7″ 277 pounds. Nassib came out of seemingly no where this year at Penn State with an all-American season after improving and putting on weight every year since walking on 5 years ago. Nassib could possibly even line up at OLB. He had 15.5 sacks his senior year and plays with a ton of energy.
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech – Chase Goodbread of NFL.com reported the Steelers met with Butler. He’s 6’4″ and 323 pounds. McClendon does fine work but he’s a free agent, and even if he stays he’s older, and even if he lasts with the Steelers playing less 3-4 they could use more defensive line. Butler is a possible first rounder and he’s obviously a big player. He has experience in the nose tackle role as well.