Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day Four of 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.

Jonathan Franklin
5'11" 195 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #13 RB
Optimum Scouting Rank: #8 RB
ScarDraft Rank: #4 RB, #99 overall
Mocking The Draft Rank: #4 RB, #68 overall

Franklin finished his senior season in the top 10 in the nation in rushing with 1,734 yards, breaking the century mark 9 times. He lit up the Pac 12 Championship game against Stanford, going for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns. Franklin has excellent feet and a good burst through the hole. He is fast enough to run past defenders and has good hands, finishing the season with 33 receptions (3rd on the team), 323 yards and 2 TDs. Franklin could immediately step in and be the "change-of-pace" back the Steelers have been missing over the last few years.

Josh Boyce
5'11" 206 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #25 WR
Optimum Scouting Rank: unranked
ScarDraft Rank: #20 WR, #174 overall
Mocking The Draft Rank: #15 WR, #140 overall

Boyce finished a highly productive career as TCU's leading receiver on the season. Boyce decided to come out as a junior after putting up 66 catches for 891 yards and 7 TDs in 2012, which followed his sophomore season in 2011 where he tallied 61 receptions, 998 yards and 9 TDs. Boyce was TCU's primary downfield threat, and displayed blazing speed at the Combine when he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. Boyce doesn't have overwhelming size and looks tentative across the middle of the field, but has the speed to blow away from defenders. Boyce also returned kicks at TCU, which would be an added benefit for the Steelers who are looking for a kick returner to take some of the load off Antonio Brown's shoulders.

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