Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day Five of Draft Prospect Visits

With less than a month until the NFL Draft, teams have begun to host players at their facilities for pre-draft visits. Teams use these pre-draft visits on players that are recovering from injury to monitor the player's recovery, players with character concerns or players that teams are unsure of how to rank on their draft boards, either because of lack of playing time or the system in which they played during college (such as a 4-3 DE that is potentially adjusting to a 3-4 OLB). Over the last four years, only one of the Steelers first round picks (Maurkice Pouncey) was brought in for a pre-draft visit. However, quite a few of their later round picks were brought in for visits. To give a sense of the caliber of the prospects, I included rankings from four of my favorite draft sites: Draft BreakdownOptimum ScoutingScarDraft, and Mocking The Draft.

Shamarko Thomas
SS - Syracuse
5'9" 217 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #10 S
Optimum Scouting Rank: #11 S
ScarDraft Rank:
Mocking The Draft Rank: #85 overall

Thomas is a player that plays above and beyond his size. While listed at only 5'9", Thomas put up the best 40-yard dash (4.42 seconds), vertical jump (40.5 inches) and bench press (28 reps) among the safeties at the Combine. Thomas is a workout warrior but his lack of size could cause him to tumble down the draft board. Thomas moved around in Syracuse's defense, playing as a strong safety down in the box against the run and manning up against receivers on the outside. He has the toughness and tenacity that you love to see in a safety, and isn't afraid to stick his nose into the pile and lay big hits on receivers.

Will Davis
CB - Utah State
6'0" 186 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #9 CB
Optimum Scouting Rank: #21 CB
ScarDraft Rank:
Mocking The Draft Rank: #11 CB, #86 overall

Davis has the size and build that the Steelers usually look for in a defensive back. He has a nose for the ball, recording an interception in each of his last 5 regular season games last year. In addition to his 5 picks, Davis added 17 passes defended and was a first-team all-WAC player. Davis' downside comes from his aggressive nature and his tendency to try to jump routes, which exposes him to getting beat deep.

Nik Embernate
OG - San Diego State
6'4" 300 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: unranked
Optimum Scouting Rank: unranked
ScarDraft Rank: 
Mocking The Draft Rank: unranked

Embernate did not participate in the NFL combine, despite starting 33 games during his career at San Diego State. The Steelers likely wanted another look at him since he was not available at the combine and with all 32 teams attending San Diego State's Pro Day, the Steelers probably didn't get to speak with him much. It seems highly unlikely that Embernate will be drafted, and if he is it probably won't be before the 6th or 7th round. However, given the Steelers depth issues on the O-line last year, it's important to do their homework on the players down the draft board as well, because you never know who might be called into starting duty.

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