Friday, April 9, 2010

Prospect Visits: Day 8

Every year, each team gets to bring in 30 draft prospects for individual meetings and workouts with the team. For an insider's look at what goes on during these Player Visits, check out this podcast from former Ravens & Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah at Move The Sticks. (Here's a full list of his podcasts -- you can also find them on iTunes under "Move The Sticks"). To try to give you all the most information possible about the prospects the Steelers are bringing in for workouts, we compiled rankings from four different scouting websites: Draft Breakdown,Mocking the Draft, NFL House, and Scar Draft. We highly recommend all of them as a go-to sources for draft information. You can find quick-links to all of our recommended draft sites under the "Draft Resources" tab at the far right of the menu bar at the top of the page. You can also find a log of all the draft prospects the Steelers have brought in under the "NFL Draft Preview" tab.

Earl Thomas (FS-Texas)
5'10" 208 lbs
Draft Breakdown: #16 overall, #2 S
Mocking The Draft: #11 overall, #2 FS
NFL House: #13 overall, #2 S
Scar Draft: #19 overall, #2 S

Projected Round: 1st

We absolutely love Earl Thomas' potential. Eric Berry (Tennessee) is hands down the best safety in this draft, but Thomas has some great ball skills along with some of the best coverage skills of any defensive back in the draft. Thomas could play both corner or safety. As far as the Steelers are concerned, Thomas could come in and play right away in the nickel or dime package. He has the coverage skills to cover slot receivers and much better ball skills than Ryan Clark. He isn't the big hitter that Clark is, but we'd take someone who goes for the ball instead of the big hit. Some have questioned his ability to make tackles in the box, but that's not his role. His biggest skill is playing as a "center-fielder" to just hang back and be a ball hawk.

Arrelious Benn (WR-Illinois)
6'2" 219 lbs
Draft Breakdown: #32 overall, #2 WR
Mocking The Draft: #45 overall, #2 WR
NFL House: #52 overall, #9 WR
Scar Draft: #59 overall, #6 WR

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd

This is pure speculation, so don't read too much into it. Rumors are swirling that Santonio Holmes could be facing a 4-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. We're not ones to be rumor mongerers, so we're going to leave it at what it is: a rumor. However, Tone's contract is set to expire after this season. Could this cause the Steelers to look for a receiver early in this draft to try to groom as a potential replacement for Holmes? Are the Steelers working on the assumption that Tone will either be gone for part of this season or not be returning next year? Like we said, this is speculation. It's entirely possible that the Steelers scouts are just doing their due diligence and evaluating those they don't have a good sense for. Benn could be one of those prospects. He is incredibly talented but had to suffer through having some bad QBs throwing him the ball at Illinois, so a lot of people aren't sure how good he actually is.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR-SMU)
5'11" 186 lbs
Draft Breakdown: #19 WR
Mocking The Draft: unranked
NFL House: #24 WR
Scar Draft: #232 overall, #26 WR

Projected Round: 7th-undrafted

Sanders ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. His skills set up well for a slot receiver/kick returner. He has blazing speed and some great return skills. He doesn't fear going across the middle to make plays on the ball. The Steelers are deep at WR this year, but Sanders is definitely worth a look, particularly if he can upgrade the return game. Stef Logan was good, but he didn't bring much to the offense outside of the return game. A guy like Sanders could step in as a #3 or #4 receiver in the rotation if needed in addition to being a return specialist.

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