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Insider Only Draft buzz: Steelers lining up visits with draft prospects

Steelers schedule a number of visits
The Pittsburgh Steelers will begin hosting draft prospects next week at the teams complex on the South Side. The Steelers are allowed to host 30 prospects and have already scheduled over 10 visits.
Next week the Steelers will host 4-5 prospects including Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount and Maryland cornerback Nolan Carroll.
*At the running back position, the Steelers have scheduled visits with Oregon’s LaGarrette Blount and MSU’s Anthony Dixon. Blount will be among the Steelers first official visits. Despite his on-and-off field problems, the Steelers also met with Blount at the senior bowl and are giving him a strong look.
The Steelers attended Dixon’s pro-day this week and will bring him in for another look according to a league source. Both are regarded as power backs. A team source said the Steelers are in the process of scheduling 2-3 more running backs for visits.
The Steelers met with Stanford’s Toby Gerhart during the combine but have not scheduled an additional visit at this time, according to Gerhart’s agent.
Gerhart, Blount and Dixon are all power backs but a back to keep an eye on is SMU’s Shawnbrey McNeal I’m told. The Steelers expressed interest in McNeal during the combine, according to a source close to McNeal that I spoke with a week ago and McNeal could be a great complement to Rashard Mendenhall.
McNeal (5-11, 190lbs) is a different type of back than Blount or Dixon as he shows excellent instincts, cutback vision and elusiveness, especially in the open field to along with outstanding speed, quickness, lateral agility, explosiveness and acceleration, according to a draft report by the Sportingnews.
McNeal rushed for 1,188 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2009 at SMU for an average of 5.0 yards per carry. McNeal also had 31 receptions for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Evaluators indicate McNeal is projected to play a Reggie Bush type of role at the next level and is a strong receiver out of the back field. He is regarded as a mid-round pick.
The Steelers scouting staff is evaluating all of their options and are not just sold on power backs in the upcoming draft. Elusive backs such as McNeal who are game changers out of the backfield could be options in the 3rd or 4th round.
*At the wide receiver position, the Steelers will bring in Youngstown State wide receiver Donald Jones and Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn, a team source has confirmed.
The Steelers depth chart is full at the wide receiver position with Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Anwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle and Limas Sweed but it hasn’t stopped the Steelers from scouting wide outs.
The team is very high on Jones who plays a Hines Ward type of game and it’s believed Jones is the type of wideout that the Steelers are targeting, if they are to select a wide receiver in April’s upcoming draft.
Steelers officials have raved about Notre Dame’s Golden Tate who the team met with at the combine but there has been no confirmation to this point that the Steelers are bringing Tate in for a visit.
*The Steelers have scheduled a visit with massive offensive guard Michael Iupati from Idaho University.
Iupati is at the top of the Steelers radar in the first round but Iupati’s value has sky rocketed and it’s believed the Steelers will have to move up to land him. He is getting a strong look from the Buffalo Bills at No. 8 and the Miami Dolphins at No. 12.
Many scouts believe Iupati will go between the 8-14 picks.
*On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have scheduled a number of visits to this point.
The Steelers have scheduled visits with cornerbacks, Nolan Carroll of Maryland, Brandon Ghee of Wake Forest and

Earl Thomas of Texas who is a ballhawk and a dynamic playmaker in the secondary. The Steelers I’m told are looking at Thomas as a cornerback. He is a target with the 18th selection. Thomas had 8 interceptions in 2009.
Boise States Kyle Wilson is expected to come in for a visit but an official date hasn’t been scheduled yet.
The Steelers met with cornerbacks Joe Haden of Florida and Patrick Robinson of Florida State prior to their pro-days. I am waiting on confirmation from others including Virginia’s Chris Cook.
At the linebacker position, Pittsburgh has been very active during their scouting process. The team has officially scheduled a visit with Penn State’s Navarro Bowman.
The team has met with Missiouri’s Sean Weatherspoon on more than two occasions, according to a team source.
The team has also met with Florida’s Brandon Spikes, Penn State’s Sean Lee and Alabama’s Rolando McClain. It is unclear if McClain or Weatherspoon are coming in for any additional visits.
Jerry Watson, the agent for Brandon Spikes told me yesterday afternoon the Steelers have not scheduled any additional visits for Spikes. Mike Tomlin and his staff met with Spikes prior to his pro-day in Gainesville. Spikes value has plummetted and he is scheduled to workout for the Cleveland Browns next week.
*At defensive end, William and Mary’s defensive end Adrian Tracy who the Steelers are looking at as a linebacker, is coming in for a visit next week.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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