Marquee draft prospects from major schools will command a lot of attention at the NFL scouting combine, which starts Wednesday in Indianapolis. But here is a look at three prospects from smaller schools that the Pittsburgh Steelers may covet based on their needs.
CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)
The good: The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a tremendous athlete who starred for the Red Hawks' basketball team before playing one season of football. All Rollins did in 2014 was intercept seven passes and win Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Given Rollins' upside there may not be a more intriguing prospect in the draft.
The concern: Rollins has excellent quickness -- he is second in all-time steals for Miami’s men's basketball team -- but does not have great straight-line speed. He is also raw and has a significant learning curve ahead of him at the next level.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock on Rollins: “I’m a Quinten Rollins guy. He’s quick, he’s explosive, he’s got great jumping skills. I’m really intrigued by the kid. I think the one question I have along with all of the scouts is what is his long speed. If he runs 4.5 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) I’ll be really surprised and I think he’s a second-round pick all day long. He got beat a couple of times at the Senior Bowl and it didn’t look like he had makeup speed, so he’s one of the kids whose 40 is really important this week.”
RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa
The good: A big back with soft hands, Johnson had three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Northern Iowa. The 6-3, 225-pounder torched Iowa with 203 receiving yards last season and had a 19-yard touchdown run in the Senior Bowl.
The concern: Johnson did not consistently play against top-caliber competition at Northern Iowa, an FCS school.
Mayock on Johnson: “Tremendous size at running back combined with the ability to catch the football. He’s got great hands, he runs routes. He made a couple of stutter moves against the linebacker from Iowa that were just awesome. Then he comes to the Senior Bowl and he played really well. My one nitpick with him is given his size I’d like him to be more consistently physical. Instead of just bracing for contact I’d like to see him embrace contact. But I’ve got a third-round grade on him and he could go even higher.”
TE Nick Boyle, Delaware
The good: Another FCS prospect, Boyle has excellent size and sneaky athleticism. The 6-6, 270-pounder showed that in the Senior Bowl when he hurdled a defender after making a catch.
The concern: Not incredibly productive as a pass-catcher at Delaware. Boyle’s production dipped from his junior season when he caught 37 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns for the Blue Hens.
Mayock on Boyle: “An in-line tight end that’s a great blocker and also a receiver is getting more and more rare. Almost everybody is a hybrid in college football these days. That helps [Boyle]. I like him. He’s a 270-pound guy who I thought had a better Senior Bowl than he actually did during the season. He opened some eyes. I think he’s limited in the pass game but because he’s got such an upside as an inline blocker and H-back/fullback, I think he’s a valuable commodity. Opinions are all over the board on these tight ends. It’s a weak class. I think he’s probably going to go in the fourth or fifth round.”