SOUTH SIDE — Make no mistake, as Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin themselves will repeatedly tell you, predraft visits to a team’s facility are just one part of the equation the Steelers use in the process of deciding who to pick.
But it can be a valuable part, as their recent drafts show.
Over the past four years, 18 of the Steelers’ 33 draft picks were predraft visitors, including three last year: S Sean Davis (Maryland, second round), DT Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State, third round) and OT Jerald Hawkins (LSU, fourth round).
While that better-than-50-percent number of predraft visitors who gets drafts looks nice, keep in mind that means that more than 100 visitors weren’t drafted by the Steelers. That doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t want to (you only get one pick per round!), and the in-person meetings at the combine and on individual school Pro Days can be just as useful when it comes to getting to know a player. Sometimes, the take-me-out-to-dinner meetings after campus workouts are all a team needs (see: last year, when Colbert and Tomlin dined with eventual first-round pick Artie Burns, then as a result saw no need to burn an at-the-facility visit on him).
But at very least, formally bringing a player in is a signal that there is at least some level of interest from the Steelers – be it their on-field production, Combine measurables or some other attribute that initially caught their eye.
The NFL permits 30 of these visits per draft cycle, although the final number can surpass that because of exemptions given to players with local ties.
Although this is being posted a week into the visits (roughly half of them are complete), we’ll update them daily as they happen. Here is a list with position, prospect, school and projected round (courtesy NFL Draft Scout/CBS):
QB Josh Dobbs (Tennessee), 6th rd
WR Kenny Golloday (Northern Illinois), 4th rd
QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), 1st-2nd rd
WR Joshua Reynolds (Texas A&M), 5th rd
CB Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), 3rd rd
OLB Takkarist McKinley (UCLA), 1st-2nd rd
S Montae Nicholson (Michigan State), 7th rd/u’d free agent
OLB Derek Rivers (Youngstown State), 2nd-3rd rd
(April 5: None)
S Budda Baker (Washington), 2nd rd
RB James Conner (Pitt), 4th-5th rd
WR Chris Godwin (Penn State), 2nd rd
S Joshua Jones (N.C. State), 2nd rd
ILB Jarrad Davis (Florida), 1st-2nd rd
ILB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), 1st rd
OLB Carroll Phillips (Illinois), 4th-5th rd
(None over the April 8-9 weekend)
OLB Sam Ebukam (Eastern Washington), 7th rd
QB Nate Peterman (Pitt), 3rd-4th rd
OLB Tim Williams (Alabama), 2nd rd
DL (DE) Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova), 4th-5th rd
OLB Keion Adams (Western Michigan), 7th rd-u’d free agent
TE Jason Croom (Tennessee), undrafted free agent
CB Rasul Douglas (West Virginia), 3rd-4th rd
CB Jalen Myrick (Minnesota), 3rd-4th rd
WR Mack Hollins (North Carolina), 5th rd
CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama), 1st rd
CB Ryan Lewis (Pitt), undrafted free agent
S Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut), 1st-2nd rd
(April 14-16, none)
DT Treyvon Hester (Toledo), 7th rd
(April 18 none)
DL Patrick Gamble, Georgia Tech, undrafted free agent
DL Francis Kallon, Georgia Tech, undrafted free agent
OLB Pita Taumoepenu, Utah, undrafted free agent
Running tally of visits by position (updated 4/13/17):
- 7 outside linebackers
- 5 wide receivers
- 5 cornerbacks
- 4 safeties
- 4 defensive linemen
- 3 quarterbacks
- 2 inside linebackers
- 1 running back
- 1 tight end
- 0 offensive linemen or specialists
22 defensive players; 10 offensive players
(Last year, for comparison’s sake, it was 26 defensive players, 6 offensive players)
(**Note: players who are local natives or go to a local college can meet with the Steelers and not count toward their allotment limit of 30).