Monday, April 1, 2013

First 2013 Draft Prospects Visit

With less than a month until the NFL Draft, teams have begun to host players at their facilities for pre-draft visits. Some teams use these pre-draft visits on players that are recovering from injury to monitor the player's recovery. Others use the visits on players with character concerns so that they can have a chance to meet with the player in person and see if those character concerns are real or fabricated. Other visits will be for prospects 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). Just because the Steelers are bringing in a player of a visit does not mean that they will draft that player, and you can not eliminate a player from the Steelers radar just because they were not brought in for a visit (Ziggy Hood never visited the Steelers and he was their first round pick in 2009). To give a sense of the caliber of the prospects, I included rankings from four of my favorite draft sites: Draft Breakdown, Optimum Scouting, ScarDraft, and Mocking The Draft.

John Simon
DE - Ohio State
6'1" 257 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #12 DE
Optimum Scouting Rank: #34 DE
ScarDraft Rank: #21 3-4 OLB, #157 overall
Mocking The Draft Rank: #14 DE, #127 overall

Simon played defensive end for Ohio State, most of the time operating out of a 3-point stance and coming off the edge with speed. He was a boom or bust player, having two off-the-charts games against Nebraska (7 tackles, 2 sacks) and Wisconsin (6 tackles, 4 sacks). However for those good games, he also played 4 games last year where he failed to record more than 2 tackles. This visit is likely to see if he is capable of transitioning to outside linebacker and generating the same kind of speed rush without his hand on the ground. The Steelers have picked more Buckeyes than players from any other college in the Kevin Colbert era, so it's not surprising to see them looking at Ohio State players.

Vince Williams
ILB - Florida State
6'1" 247 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #10 ILB
Optimum Scouting Rank: #10 ILB
ScarDraft Rank: unranked
Mocking The Draft Rank: #12 ILB

Williams was a redshirt senior who had a monster game in the Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois and was a key component in a staunch Florida State defense. He isn't the flashiest player on the field and often gets caught over-pursuing, but the Steelers do have a need for depth at inside linebacker, particularly if Sean Spence is unable to return from his knee injury this season.

Christine Michael
RB - Texas A&M
5'10" 220 lbs

Draft Breakdown Rank: #17 RB
Optimum Scouting Rank: #16 RB
ScarDraft Rank: #25 RB, #240 overall
Mocking The Draft Rank: #13 RB, #144 overall

Michael fell down Texas A&M's depth chart due to issues with head coach Kevin Sumlin. That said, watching Michael on tape he seems to have all the components of an NFL back. He has size, burst through the hole, speed to run away from people, and the power to bowl over defenders. There isn't a lot of footage of Michael from 2012 due to his decreased playing time, but he certainly made the most of his opportunities when he got them. The weakness in Michael's game seems to be his blocking ability (or lack thereof) and he isn't a great receiver out of the backfield. The Steelers have a big need at running back, so it's not surprising to see them bringing in backs for visits.

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