Stop me if you’ve heard these before; a diamond in the rough, potential out of this world but has character concerns, questionable injury history or the small school/bad competition classic?
Day three is where the prospects that have these caveats on their scouting report are to be found and the Steelers draft certainly threw up a couple of question marks in rounds 3-7 of the NFL draft. Read on to find out who…
Round 4 – Pick 124 – Anthony McFarland Jr. (RB – Maryland)
This pick was used on the oft injured RB out of Maryland, Anthony McFarland Jr. The former Terrapin flew out of the gates with a 1000-yard season in his redshirt freshman year, but never really hit those heights again as injuries took their toll on the speedster. However, a promising sophomore campaign finished with only 614 yards on the year (7 starts), despite running in 8 TD’s during that time. The season was hampered by a high ankle sprain but still gave us flashes of potential.
A proven home-run threat with a 4.4 40 yard dash, McFarland brings a different style of play to the RB room in Pittsburgh. Dangerous when given space and a decent receiver out of the backfield, he complements the more patient and punishing style of both James Conner and Benny Snell well.
Immediately after the pick there were several voices on social media displaying their distaste with the pick due to character concerns. After passing on the position earlier in the draft, the pick is a curious one – being teammates with Mike Tomlin’s son Dino can’t have hurt his case though.
Round 4 – Pick 135 – Kevin Dotson (OG – Louisiana-Lafayette)
People mover, nasty in the trenches, durable. All comments you want to hear about a fourth round lineman. Kevin Dotson didn’t miss a game after his redshirt freshman year for the Ragin’ Cajuns and spent time at both tackle and guard.
With the retirement of Ramon Foster in the offseason, the Steelers needed to add some depth to the O-line rotation and Dotson grades out as a capable back up with potential to fit into the starting lineup with time.
A couple of cool draft nuggets – Dotson was the first player drafted in the 2020 NFL draft that was not invited to the NFL combine and is a diehard Steelers fan (see the below tweet!)
Round 6 – Pick 198 – Antoine Brooks Jr. (S – Maryland)
Which Tomlin was actually in charge during this draft? In the sixth round the Steelers selected hybrid safety Antoine Brooks Jr. out of (you guessed it) Maryland.
Watching the tape for Brooks is an interesting task, because he offers a varied skillset that could either suit the system perfectly, or be lost in the shuffle.
He has a reputation as a freelancer and will need to lock that down to find a spot in the traditionally complex Steelers’ defence. He shows great instincts while tracking ball carriers movement’s behind the line of scrimmage and is an exceptional one on one tackler at the line.
Man coverage is an issue, especially if he is tasked with covering the shiftier slot receivers in the NFL. But as a downhill run support defender, he offers good value this late in the draft.
Round 7 – Pick 232 – Carlos Davis (DT – Nebraska)
To round out the Steelers draft, Carlos Davis was selected in the seventh round. Davis was a solid contributor for the Huskers’ defense throughout his college career. Based on his tape, he will struggle to make the 53 man roster on cut day.
He shows good speed for a 300+lb athlete, running a 4.82 40 yard dash at the combine. However, this hasn’t translated to pass rush prowess (only managing 9.5 sacks in the four year Nebraska run).
If he can improve with his run defending, he could plug into the middle of the line; but will need to work on his ability to stay low and drive against NFL caliber lineman.