Over the past couple weeks; Steelers 101 has been focusing on the pre-draft visitors that have made their way to the Pittsburgh Steelers facilities. Every year, teams and potential draft picks go through these motions with each NFL franchise allowed up to 30 visitors (not counting players from the local area). The big question is, how many of these players are drafted by the organization, and what can these visitors tell you as a fan.
It is hard to gather trends or analysis from who is selected, or who is not from the list. With 31 other NFL franchises, there is always going to be similarities on player rankings and positional needs. However, if anything, the positional breakdown may at least tell you something. When fans look at the past three drafts, the Steelers have drafted (or signed as an undrafted free agents) 12 of their 90 pre-draft visitors. In fact, only one of the Steelers first round selections, C Maurkice Pouncey, over this period has visited the organization prior to the draft.
In looking at positional trends, they fall this way. In 2011, the Steelers brought in seven cornerbacks, six offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, five wide receivers, three running backs, two tight ends, and one linebacker. In their draft with their seven selections, they picked two cornerbacks (including two visitors- Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown), two offensive linemen (with two visitors- Keith Williams and Marcus Gilbert), one defensive lineman, one outside linebacker and one running back, and they signed visitor TE Weslye Saunders as an undrafted rookie free agent. In all, five of the players that were selected and signed came from their visitors and they stayed decently true to the positional trends outlined with the position breakdown.
Similar numbers seem to exist when looking at the other drafts as well. In 2010, the Steelers brought in seven wide receivers, six linebackers, six defensive backs, six offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, and one running back. Again, they matched the highest visitor totals with picks within their 10 selections. They drafted three linebackers, two wide receivers (including visitors- Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown), two offensive linemen (including C Maurkice Pouncey), one cornerback, one running back and one defensive lineman.
In the 2009 draft, the team brought in nine offensive linemen, nine defensive backs, six defensive linemen, four wide receivers, and two running backs. Again, the Steelers stayed somewhat true to their visitor trend drafting by two defensive linemen (with visitor- RaShon Harris), two offensive linemen (including visitor- A.Q. Shipley), two cornerbacks (visitor- Joe Burnett), one wide receiver, one running back (visitor- Frank Summers) and one tight end.
To date, the Steelers have brought in 12 of their allotted 30 prospects. In all, there have been three defensive linemen, two wide receivers, two offensive tackles, one cornerback, one offensive guard, one linebacker, one long snapper and one running back. From this small sample and following the trends that they set, they certainly appear to be leaning toward the offensive and defensive lines (six combined visitors out of the 12). However, fans should temper their immediate draft projections, as these trends are still fluid with the 18 visitor slots that remain outstanding. One thing is certain, all eyes will be on the Steelers facilities for the next 20 days trying to decipher what their moves are going to be and we will be there with you.
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