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Armchair GM – Priority Free Agents – 2017 Draft

April 25, 2017
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Armchair GM – Priority Free Agents – 2017 Draft

If you’re like me you love pulling for the underdog. Every Draft there are the guys who get taken and then there’s the priority Free Agents. The Steelers always seem to land some each year who make the Practice Squad, sometimes even making the roster. James Harrison is the most famous and impactful and there is also Willie Parker, Nate Washington, Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky. So as you can see there is plenty of talent out there after the Mr. Irrelevant has been selected.

RB/Slot Receiver/ST/Slash – Trevor Knight – 6′-1″ – 215 – 4.54/40 – 4.14 Shuttle – 10′-5″ Broad Jump – Knight played Quarterback his entire college career. He’s too inaccurate of a passer for the NFL but he ran a very fast 40 at the Combine. His shuttle time was higher than all the Combine Running Backs which shows outstanding short area quickness and explosiveness. His broad jump put him 4th among that group. Knight was a very good running QB working Texas A&M’s Spread/Option offense with 253 rushes for 1467 yards at 5.8 per carry and 18 touch downs and had one reception for a touchdown. He could probably add another 10 pounds to his frame. Knight has an extra gear he can shift into and has some moves as well. He threw for 2432 with a 53.3% completion average with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2016.

Knight is ripped and a capital ‘A’ athlete. He has said that he’s willing to play any position to get a shot at the NFL. Bargain basement Christian McCaffrey potential. This would make him the perfect player to stash on your practice squad or special teams while he learns his new positions. The Steelers always love a Slash.

“Looks the part with a muscular, athletic build. Has the ability to hurt teams with his legs or extend plays outside of the pocket before striking downfield. May possess packaged play potential with zone-read capabilities on short yardage.” NFL.com.

Chad Kelly – 6′-2″ – 220 – Mississippi – Having Chad Kelly as a Priority Free Agent would be crazy if things were only based on talent. Kelly could easily have been in the conversation for going in the 1st Rd or 2nd Rd if not for his MANY off field issues. Kelly was kicked off Clemson’s team for ‘detrimental’ conduct. He punched a bouncer and threatened to come back and ‘spray’ the bar. There’s some strange porn star ‘direct message’ nonsense. He also has a reputation for being ‘abrasive’. His most excusable misstep has been coming to the aid of his younger brother who was on the losing end of a high school football brawl but the fact that he had to be talked down by one of high school’s coaches shows a lack of control. Because of his off-field issues, Kelly was not invited to the Combine. He also tore a meniscus in November. Add the wrist surgery he had following having to quit throwing on his Pro Day in April and Kelly could easily go undrafted.

On the field, Kelly has got a strong whip of an arm. He is the nephew of Buffalo Bills great, Jim Kelly and you can see a family resemblance in his game. He plays with confidence and isn’t afraid to force a pass into a tight window. Kelly is a scrapper and had many designed run plays, even between the tackles. He has a tendency to lock onto his wide receiver, which will need some work. He’s very intriguing and looks a lot like a Jake Locker type but with much more arm talent.

I would hire Uncle Jim to come in every training camp and beat some sense into the kid. If Chad gets his maturity issues behind him he could be the steal of the Draft.

Kelly responds to off-field issues: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/sports/college/ole-miss/2017/01/25/chad-kelly-injury/97043686/

Stats (Junior year) 298 comp. 458 att, 65.1% acc, 4042 yds, 31 TD 13 Int, 155.9 QB rating Rushing – 106 att, 509 yds, 4.8 ypc, 10 TD

Inside/Outside Linebacker – Jalen Reeves-Maybin – 6′-0″, 230#, 4.60/40 (projected) – Reeves-Maybin was out most of his Senior year with a shoulder injury. In 2015 had 105 tackles with six sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four passes batted. There’s no bench press to help guess his core strength and he uses fluid movement over power. Reeves-Maybin is a football player. He plays relentlessly from side to side and is always looking to make a play. He has the potential to play either inside or outside.

“Early responder after the snap. Loves to play downhill and is always headed in that direction when necessary. Will not hesitate to take a chance and shoot a gap. Uniquely instinctive. Easy, fluid chaser with desired flexibility in lower body for sudden change of direction. Runs well and can chase in coverage. Has burst to ball carrier as tackler. Can spring quickly into action with bounce and explosion as lateral tackler from one gap to the next. Has coverage talent. Outstanding eyes.”

Free Safety – Demetrious Cox – Michigan State – 6′-1″, 198#, 40/4.53. – As team captain, Cox recorded 55 tackles with five passes broken up and one interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown. Cox is a capable center fielder though he might key off the run game a bit too much at this point in his career. That may be what he was coached to do, though. Bottom line, he knows how to play the position. He played corner for the Spartans in 2015 and was productive against the ground game, as well as being reliable in pass coverage. Cox had 3 interceptions, 7 passes broken up and 79 tackles his Junior year.

Cox was probably a 5th Rd draft pick but he might go undrafted because he got drunk and punched a taxi driver. Other than that incident he has been an ultra high character guy and is loved and respected by his coaches and teammates. I can’t count the stupid things I did in college.

Mike Mitchell seems too preoccupied with delivering the big hit so he can strut around after, than doing the core work of a Free Safety. So, someone to challenge him can only be a good thing. We also need some fresh blood to challenge Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield.

Corner Back , Des Lawrence, North Carolina – 6′-1″, 185#, 40/4.55. – Even with the emergence of Artie Burns and the development of Ross Cockrell the Steelers are a little short on talent and depth at cornerback. Lawrence flashes good makeup speed with field awareness and is a scrappy tackler. He’s large enough to hang with the bigger NFL wide receivers Lawrence tallied 37 tackles with 10 passes broken up and one sack in 2016. Teams tended to throw away from him in his Senior year. His junior year was even more impressive with 14 passes broken up, two interceptions and 59 tackles. Lawrence is a three year starter and had 71 tackles, three breakups and one interception as a sophomore.

OT, Brad Seaton, Villanova – Height: 6′-5″ 325# – 40/5.10 – I love this guy. Seaton has excellent size and good physicality. He ‘could end up being a steal in the 2017 NFL Draft’, according to WalterFootball.com. Seaton is a mean run blocker who likes nothing more than to drive his opponent into the ground. His pass blocking technique needs work but he mirrors well and usually stays in front of his man. He seems like the sort of player Coach Munchak would like to mold into the player he could be.

G/OT, Greg Pyke, Georgia – 6′-6″, 313# – 40/5.20 – Another guy I love, Pyke played Right Tackle for the Bulldogs but is a more natural fit at Guard in the NFL. He is surprisingly fleet of foot and was used extensively as a lead blocker on screens. Also showed good pulling and trap blocking ability. Pyke is solid but unspectacular in pass blocking which should be better served if he moves into the interior. He has the sort of versatility the Steelers like in their swing players.

TE – Darrell Daniels – 6′-3″, 247#, 4.49/40 – A recently converted Wide Receiver, Daniels is only a #2, move Tight End, right now. He has outstanding receiver traits. Soft hands, smooth routes and SPEED. He can easily blow the top off a Safety and Linebackers can just fuhgedaboutit. Daniels had 17 receptions for 307 yards at an impressive 18.1 yard per catch average with 3 TDs last season.

He is not a good blocker and the one dimensionality of his game kept him from starting. He could, however, have immediate impact as a 3rd Down, 2nd Tight End. Has a big enough frame to develop into an adequate blocker. Routes are not quite where they should be because he could coast on his physical gifts. Good character and special teams experience a plus. This would be a great signing.

NFL Network’s List of 2017 Priority Free Agents

Adam Pankey, G, West Virginia
Alex Kozan, G, Auburn
Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami
Ashton Lampkin, CB, Oklahoma State
Ben Gedeon, LB, Michigan
Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
Blake Jarwin, TE, Oklahoma State
Bobby Baker, S, Georgia State
Brooks Ellis, OLB, Arkansas
Bryan Cox Jr., DE, Florida

Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston
Cameron Tom, C, Southern Miss
Chad Wheeler, T, USC
Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan
Chase Allen, LB, Southern Illinois
Cole Hikutini, TE, Louisville
Colin Jeter, TE, LSU
Collin Buchanan, T, Miami
Corey Levin, G, Chattanooga
Damarius Travis, S, Minnesota
Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss

Darius English, DE, South Carolina
Davon Godchaux, DE, LSU
De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina
Des Lawrence, CB, North Carolina
De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan
Dylan Donohue, LB, West Georgia
Erik Magnuson, T, Michigan
Fadal Brown, DE, Ole Miss
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State
Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State
Garrett Sickels, DE, Penn State

Greg Pyke, G, Georgia
Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern
Isaac Rochell, DE, Notre Dame
Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech
J.J. Dielman, C, Utah
Jack Tocho, CB, North Carolina State
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
Jalen Robinette, WR, Air Force
Jason Croom, TE, Tennessee
Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan

Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State (Note: They must be smokin’ something. McNichols will be gone before the 4th Rd.)
Jerome Lane, WR, Akron
Jessamen Dunker, G, Tennessee State
Joe Mathis, OLB, Washington
Joe Scelfo, C, North Carolina State
Joe Yearby, RB, Miami
Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
Jordan Morgan, G, Kutztown
Jordan Sterns, S, Oklahoma State
Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville

Justin Davis, RB, USC
Justin Senior, T, Mississippi State
Jylan Ware, T, Alabama State
Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford
Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa
Keith Brown, LB, Western Kentucky
Keith Kelsey, LB, Louisville
Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois (Note: Visited the Steelers)
Kofi Amichia, OG, South Florida
Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor

Kyle Kalis, G, Michigan
Leon McQuay III, S, USC
Malik Golden, S, Penn State
Marquel Lee, ILB, Wake Forest
Mason Zandi, OT, South Carolina
Matt Dayes, RB, North Carolina State
Matt Milano, LB, Boston College
Nick Callender, T, Colorado State
Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia
Pat O’Connor, DE, Eastern Michigan

Phazon Odom, TE, Furman
Philip Nelson, QB, East Carolina
Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Utah
Richard Levy, T, Connecticut
Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
Shalom Luani, S, Washington State
Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
Stevie Tu’ikolavatu, DT, USC
T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane

Taylor McNamara, TE, USC
Taylor Reynolds, CB, James Madison
Tim White, WR, Arizona State
Travis Rudolph, WR, Florida State
Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech
Trevor Knight, QB, Texas A&M
Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo
Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia
Tyquwan Glass, CB, Fresno State
William Likely, CB, Maryland
Zach Pascal, WR, Old Dominion

You always have to pull for the underdog. And as you can tell from the players listed at the beginning of the article the Steelers tend to find at least one player that defies the odds and lands either on the practice squad or the roster and some become big contributors.

Go Stillers!!!!

Jeffrey Burton

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