Nov 30, 2013; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Jason Verrett (2) during the game against the Baylor Bears at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Bears defeated the Horned Frogs 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

How the Steelers Can Benefit from Scouting Flaws

The Steelers have more needs in this draft than usual, which means that they will need to take advantage of players passed over by other teams.  Lucky for them, there are common flaws in the NFL Draft scouting process that will cause teams to overlook talented players.  The most obvious of these flaws is downgrading players because of their size, rather than their skill set.  The new NFL focuses on what Mike Mayock likes to call height, weight, speed prospects.  These are prospects who have outstanding athleticism but lack the technique, football IQ, and overall skill that other players have.  If the Steelers can overlook the size of some unheralded prospects, they could capitalize and secure some talented players to build around for the future.

Three players that come to mind when thinking of this are Jason Verrett, Telvin Smith, and Bruce Ellington.  I rank Verrett as the 12th  overall player and best cornerback on my board.  Telvin Smith is my 66th overall player and my 4th ranked off-LOS linebacker.  Bruce Ellington is my 78th overall player and 12th ranked wide receiver.  All of these players are being valued at least a half round later than I have them ranked.

When looking at Jason  Verrett it is hard to argue that his skills aren’t the best in the class.  His footwork is by far the best in the class and also is one of the best players in the class at disrupting the catch point.  Verrett is 5’9″, 6 inches shorter than the tallest corner in the class, but can defend a 6’3″ wide receiver at the catch point better than some of the 6’3″ corners.  Verrett is also far and away the best run defender and tackler in the class at corner.  And it isn’t close.  At all.  He is overmatched by 5 inches and 30 pounds by some receivers in the class but wouldn’t struggle at all bring them to the ground in open space.  He does this by using his outstanding technique and understanding of the game to use his lack of size to his advantage.  Most of the tall corners in this class struggle to understand how to use their size to their advantage, which is the trait that is getting them overvalued in the first place.

Telvin Smith is another player who is devalued because of his size.  If you completely ignore Smith’s size when watching his film it would be hard to deny that he is a legitimate mid second round talent.  He is being valued in the 3rd round of most drafts, however, because he is 6’3″ and only 218 pounds.  His light frame does give him some advantages, mainly his speed.  If you were wondering he ran 4.52 40 yard dash, and yes you read that right.  There are two options for Smith when he gets to the NFL that could completely get rid of issues about his size.  He has the frame where he could easily add 10-15 pounds and still be a very effective starting linebacker.  He could also convert to a safety and be a poor mans Kam Chancellor.  Even if he doesn’t add weight or transition to safety, he could still be a very effective linebacker in the NFL.  Despite his lack of weight he had success in college against many NFL caliber players.  There is no reason to believe that he won’t be able to do the same in the NFL, even if it isn’t as an every down player.

Bruce Ellington has the skills of very few other receivers in the draft, but he is being overlooked because he is only 5’9″.  I could name you plenty of receivers in the NFL who have had success despite their lack of size.  Most namely the one and only Antonio Brown.  Brown, like Ellington, is 5’9″.  Ellington also has a very similar skill set to Brown.  Both players are quicker than they are fast, outstanding in space, and play bigger than their size.  Ellington can be an effective red zone receiver despite his size because he uses his route running skills and technique to create space for himself.  Despite Ellington already being a good route runner and having good ball skills, Ellington is still relatively raw.  He was the starting point guard on South Carolina’s basketball team and, obviously, this helps him have outstanding hand eye coordination for the position.

All three of these players lack the traditional size that NFL teams look for, but they make up for that in their skillset, football IQ, and technique.  The Steelers can capitalize on this to have one of their best drafts in years.

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Tags: Bruce Ellington Jason Verrett Pittsburgh Steelers Telvin Smith

  • gdubb

    Steelers need a big receiver a press corner and linebackers that take on big oline guys, your article tells me that you have no idea of what your writing about

    • Anthony Chiado

      Wrong, wrong, and wrong. You are the one that has no clue what they’re talking about. A big receiver would be nice, but they absolutely do not need one. If they draft a big receiver they will almost definitely be sacrificing skill to get height. It’s also laughable that you think they need a press corner when they don’t even use their corners in press, they run an off man scheme. Lastly they aren’t even close to needing a linebacker to take on “big oline guys” because that’s exactly what Vince Williams is. they need a linebacker who can come in on third down and possibly be an every down linebacker. If you’re going to post, at least know what you’re talking about.

    • Dom DiTolla

      While they do need a large framed pass-catcher, particularly a red zone threat, they have 9 picks and could likely pick more than one WR or make the large-framed pass-catcher a TE.

      Why would they take a press corner when they run zone and off-man schemes w/LeBeau. A guy like Justin Gilbert is a terrific man-coverage guy, but he’d be wasted in Dick LeBeau’s defensive scheme. Verrett would fill not only their much-needed slot corner role, his ability to play both inside and outside makes him an attractive choice. Plus, I’m sure they’ll select more than one CB since Gay is the only player at the position signed beyond this season.

      Your response illustrates that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • bk

    The problem is that the Steelers seem to do the opposite when it comes to the draft… they typically draft a player above where he is ranked… Look at LeVeon last year… then look at L. Jones… They could have drafted Keenan Allen in rd 2 and Bell in rd 3.
    L. Jones was not getting drafted by anyone else and someone like Micah Hyde or Kenyon Barner would have been a better pick… heck, if you are wasting a pick why not draft Lattimore and see if he makes it back…

    • Jason

      Bell in round 3? Go home, you’re drunk.

      • bk

        Put down the crack pipe tweaker… That is where he was projected to go. If they wanted a RB in rd 2 they should have take Lacy…you know the Offensive ROY in the NFL.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Should have taken Keenan Allen (at 17 or 48) before Lacy or Bell. Total and complete idiocy by the FO.

          • Anthony Chiado

            I’m fine with Bell in the second because he turned out great and has a very bright future. The Landry pick is the one that pissed me off. Landry was not that much better than a quarterback they could have taken in the 7th. Plus he didn’t even dress for a single game last year. That’s the definition of a wasted pick.

          • Dom DiTolla

            The Bell pick pissed me off when it came to where he was taken, not the fact that he was taken. Plus, I actually had Andre Ellington rated higher than Bell last year as well. The Jones pick was a waste when one considers the types of CBs, WRs and ILBs that were on the board at that time.

          • Anthony Chiado

            At the time of the draft I was completely pissed when they took Bell. After he gained over 1000 yards last year, though, I am a little happier about the pick. In an era where the every down back is dying, Bell looks to be one of the only ones left.

          • Dom DiTolla

            Still not happy about it. Every time I see Justin Brown, Derek Moye and Markus Wheaton, I think, “Man, they could have drafted Allen instead of Bell.”

  • Steven Ledbetter

    It’s always easy to say they should have taken Keenan Allen a year later, but he could easily have been a bust, you can’t predict. Steelers wanted Bell because he as a better receiver out of the backfield than Lacy. If they had it to do over they would still take Bell and rightly so. Bell doesn’t last much into round 3. L. Jones could be very good he just hasn’t had a chance yet.