Pre-Draft Visits Often Lead To Draft-Day Selections For Steelers

Each and every year, teams are allowed to host 30 pre-draft visits form players that aren’t considered a “local.” For instance, in this year’s draft crop, Pitt tackle T.J. Clemmings won’t count against the Pittsburgh Steelers because he can probably walk from the Pitt campus to the team facility. However, I’ve went back the last several years, and in fact, each and every year, a surprising amount of the players the team has brought in for visits, or paid visits at respective pro days, have indeed ended up getting drafted or picked up post-draft as a free agent.

There are some very impressive names on the list this year, including some of the top pass rushers and, surprisingly, wide receivers, available in this year’s draft. If Kevin Colbert sticks to his best player available philosophy, and doesn’t see a “need” pick as being worthy at their spot at 22, then perhaps we could see a Jaelen Strong or a DeVante Parker being taken.  Strong was in this past week and the team was smitten with Parker at his pro day, with head coach Mike Tomlin seen conversing with his mother.

The list in 2014 is proof, as linebacker Ryan Shazier, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, wide receiver Martavis Bryant, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and tight end Rob Blanchflower were all visitors at one point or another. Their fifth-rounder, cornerback Shaquille Richardson, did not visit to my knowledge, but the team did have intel on him, as defensive backs coach, Carnell Lake, recruited him during his tenure at UCLA, as cornerbacks coach. All six ended up getting drafted by the team as one of their nine picks, which further validates the point.

In 2013, the list included Steelers’ draftees linebacker Jarvis Jones, Nik Embernate, safety Shamarko Thomas and linebacker Vince Williams. Cornerback Terry Hawthorne allegedly had a visit scheduled but I couldn’t find it. Also, despite receiving late round grades, Embernate went undrafted, and the team was happy to pick up the physical guard. Although not a visitor, to my knowledge, Tomlin and company were in attendance at the Michigan State Pro Day, where they likely had their eye on stud running back, Le’Veon Bell. I’d say that selection in the second round has worked out pretty well for them. In this draft, five of their nine picks were visitors.

In 2012, the team’s first-rounder, David DeCastro, wasn’t a visitor, in large part because he wasn’t supposed to be there when they went on the clock. Their second-rounder, tackle Mike Adams was, as were tackle Kelvin Beachum, wide receiver Toney Clemons and tight end David Paulson. In this draft, the team had nine picks, but only four of them were pre-draft visits.

Back in the 2011 draft, tackle Marcus Gilbert, cornerback Curtis Brown cornerback Cortez Allen, running back Baron Batch and tight end Weslye Saunders were visitors, with Saunders being signed as an undrafted free agent after the draft. So only four of their seven picks ended up being draft visitors.

As most of these drafts show, there’s a majority of players who are actually drafted by the team, so it’s not as if they’re just inviting in random players for the hell of it. As stated earlier, the team is showing interest in a receiver early, and even the team doctors were on-hand checking out Strong’s wrist, so all indications are they weren’t just doing it for their health. Upon glancing at the pre-draft visit list so far, one would have to be blind to not see the overwhelming majority of positions are either a-cornerback, b-outside linebacker/defensive end, c-tight end or d-wide receiver. The brain trust is simply being prepared for the cards to fall whichever way they may, and if a top flight receiver lands in their laps, then that more than likely will be the pick. In a few weeks looking back, that same pick will likely be on the pre-draft visit list as well.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I would be interested to see how other teams compare. I’d be willing to guess the league average is prob somewhere around 2-3 players drafted from each teams pre-draft visits. I feel like people that do 7 round mock drafts should use this information WAY more than they do in order to hit on more of their picks.

  • Rick M

    I tried to find Baltimore and Cincinnati’s past “pre-draft lists’ to see how many of the players were subsequently drafted. It would be interesting to know if everyone ‘tips their hand’ as much as the Steelers do. My guess is yes, but I have no idea if that’s true. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it does make it easier for teams behind you to guess the players you’re interested and to trade-up if they have a similar interest. Hopefully the Steelers have the pre-draft visit lists for the division opponents at their fingertips in the war room.

  • Eddie Cruz

    Dave how would you feel if we drafted Marcus Peters round 1. Best olb available in the second. And took a chance on pj Williams in the third round assuming he falls that far from his dui. Your thoughts?

  • Derek Bonadio

    I really like the majority of players the Steelers have on this list. I still think our first pick will be best player for position of need on defense and the second might turn out to be best player available for WR or TE. Looking at the players on this list there are some really nice first and second round combos that could be made. I think we double dip in CB and hope to land Golson or nelson in the third or fourth but then what? We have three of our five starters on the o-line that are set to be FA next year (could pickup option on Decastro) along with Adams and we havent really been linked to lineman. We only brought in one for a visit as of yet so should we then consider we are going to sign all four? Plus we dont have that much depth. If Adams and Foster walk next year or we dont have the money to re-sign them we could be in a little bit of an o-line situation next year. Just tryin to figure out future plans with o-line. Would hate for the o-line to end up like cb this year three years from now because we keep drafting sub par guys in the fifth or fourth that dont pan out or get picked up by other teams off our practice squad.

  • cencalsteeler

    The Steelers will draft a wr, but I’m still going with later on down the line. I feel the Steelers bring in pre draft visitors to guage BPA, postional worth, draft scenarios and an overall education on the draft class. That, coupled with keeping other GMs guessing is an intelligent chess move as well.

  • Doug Sawyer

    I’d be happy with Peters#1 Orchard #2 Ekpre #3…I think those 3 would do much to address need

  • Eddie Cruz

    Ekpre would be an interesting prospect but his knee injury and height are concerning. I can see him as a good nickel corner but I just don’t see him matching up well with a green and the bigger receivers.

  • Doug Sawyer

    I think that would the point of bringing him in…his play making ability in underneath coverage …the league is pass happy and you gotta have quality coverage men for 4 WR sets,before his injury he was a late Rd 1 early Rd 2 guy…I’ll gladly take him in the 3rd

  • c t s

    Based on player visits, diners, private workouts, BPA and players at positions of need steelers probably have their eye on under the radar:
    1. Malcolm Brown (NT)
    2. Nate orchard (OLB)
    3. Steven Nelson (CB)
    4. Adrian Amos (S)
    5. Senquez Golson (CB)
    6. Matt Jones (RB)
    6. Wes Saxton (TE)
    7. Highest rated OL/WR on the board.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Can we get a better idea of where our visits fit from the round perspective of the draft? In other words, how many and who are the round 1 guys we brought in? How many and who are the round 2 guys we brought in? ETC….Even UDFA guys. This should help us all be able to watch the draft more educated than we are right now.

    For instance, Orchard is probably a 2nd round pick. If he is still on the board when we are 2 or 3 away from our pick we can start to see how things go there. Same could be said in any round with any guy who fits in that round.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    The more offensive weapons the Steelers have in their cabinet, the better it is for Big Ben…who the team has just re-invested in. We got a glimpse of what this offense can be with an All-pro WR and RB. Imagine adding more game-changers to that mix. For my money, Strong and Parker definitely qualify.

  • Steelers_DaBus

    Parker is actually Brown at 6”2 wow

  • Louis Goetz

    At first I didn’t think this was too terrible interesting, which was backed up by the fact that only about 50% of Steelers’ draft picks over the last several years met with the team beforehand. But when you look at who visited with the Steelers and then look at where they were drafted in relationship to the Steelers’ pick, things get a bit more interesting. Just looking at 2014 as an example, the Steelers met with 9 players who were drafted on the 1st round, 4 were picked before Shazier, 4 after. Of the 9, only Anthony Barr (1.9) and Shazier (1.15) were linebackers. They couldn’t take Kyle Fuller with the pick, who went the pick before, but the Steelers chose Shazier over Jason Verrett (1.25), Calvin Pryor (1.18) and Deone Buchannan (1.27). Wide receiver was really interesting. Did the Steelers “settle” on Martavius Bryant? The team met with 4 WRs who were drafted on the 3rd or 4th round and Bryant was the last one of the 4 who was drafted. The same question pops up when you look at the CBs. The Steelers met with 8 CBs and all but one of them was drafted before the Steelers selected Shaquille Richardson on the 5th round (45 were drafted on the 1st round). When you look at who the Steelers met with and when they were drafted it definitely answers some questions (e.g. the Steelers were as high on Shazier as they claimed) but makes you wonder if the draft got away from them in other positions. It also lets you know that the line that the Steelers draft the best available player is nonsense. They met with 8 CBs, 6 OLBs, 6 D-lineman, and 5 WRs as opposed to 2 O-lineman, no QBs, 2 RBs and a TE.

  • Vinhuddle

    I like your Top 3 and if Ifo is gone, I’m hoping A.Carter will be the pick.

  • cencalsteeler

    Nice!!

  • Intropy

    You’re scaring me with all that Parker talk. I really hope they don’t take him at 22. Parker is not a first round talent, he doesn’t have first round production, and the draft is deep at WR. If he’s there at the end of the third, maybe pick Parker, but with all the buzz on him that’s unlikely to happen.

  • Jeffrey Mayhle

    I’m really surprised that the steelers have not brought in any rb’s yet for a visit. On the pre draft tracker the steelers have only met with Matt Jones at his pro day. I hear a lot of draft talk about the steelers drafting a rb but they haven’t brought any in yet.

  • Calvin700

    Have u been sleeping under a rock these last few months?? You’re absolutely crazy to think Davante is not a top tier talent at the position he only played in 6 games last year and every game he played in he killed it absolutely took over some games, specifically the games against FSU and Kentucky, he had a combined 400 yards and 3 TD’s in those games however I’m almost sure we won’t have the chance to draft him and I don’t believe we should spend a first round pick on any receiver anyways. Personally I’d be pretty disappointed if we don’t draft Marcus Peters, Shane Ray, Gregory, Jalen Collins or trae Waynes in the first. We really need to draft 3 defensive players in the first 4 or 5 picks

  • Intropy

    He’s not a top tier talent, and I’m not crazy to see that. In four years he’s topped out at 885 yards in a season, and he had a 1st round QB throwing to him. What kind of numbers do you think a 1st round QB and WR combo should put up against college defenses? It’s more than 55 receptions for 885 yards. He’s an above average, but not exceptional athlete, so he doesn’t have that propelling him to the first. You say he had a pair of great games yielding 400 yards and 3 TDs; is that what’s getting him into the first round, two good games? That just leaves fewer of his 855 yards for the rest of the games, and I’d take consistent production over a couple of big games anyway. So we have a good but not great athlete with a couple of good games who missed a lot of his senior season and who had a good but not great junior season with a 1st round QB throwing to him. If he was a star that was when he would have shown it, and he’d be in the NFL already. He’s a third round talent who’s going to go in the first. I hope he ends up busting somewhere in Ohio.

  • Steve Johnson

    Nice wish list, I doubt if those players fall in that order though. Orchard could be there in the 2nd, somebody will probably take Gilson in the 3rd.