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  1. #1
    2nd String darnik44's Avatar
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    Phillip Merling

    Here are some of my scouting reports on some players who deserve some mention as possible Steelers pick. Note, Chevis Jackson would be a 3rd round possibility, and Keith Rivers a real long shot.




    POSITION: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
    SCHOOL: Clemson
    CLASS: Junior
    HT: 6-4
    WT: 276
    40: 4.75
    Overview:

    Phillip Merling is an extremely intriguing prospect. Merling is the type of defensive prospect scouts say, "defies schemes." What this means is he could play several positions in several defensive systems. Merling is a "tweener" in the true sense of the word. This is something that will certainly help his draft stock. Merling is a rare 3-4 prospect in that he could possibly play DE or OLB. Merlings run stuffing abilities might make him more suited to play DE, but his athletic ability and what he showed at the combine make him look like a OLB. Merling is also a good fit as a traditional DE in a 4-3 scheme, and I could even see a case where a 4-3 team might also like him as an OLB.

    Strengths:

    Merling has a great combination of size, speed and strength. Good straight line speed for a guy his size. Quick nimble feet. Stout at the point of attack. Effective against the run, solid as a pass rusher. Great motor and team leader. High football IQ, excellent in space. Pursues backside action with text book technique.

    Weaknesses:

    Not a natural pass rusher, relied primarily on athletic ability in college. Will need to refine his technique as a pass rusher at the next level. Can be over-aggressive. Doesn't use his hands well.

    Analysis:

    Because of his abilty to fit in so many systems, I expect Merling to be a fairly high draft pick. Ultimately he might be best as a weak side OLB in a 3-4 because of his ability to play in space. Merling could find a home on a 3-4 teams roster as a situational player early in his career while his best fit is figured out. Because of the questions on where he fits in he might not get drafted in the first half of the 1st round. I expect Merling to be in play starting with the Arizona Cardinals at #16.

    NFL Comparison:

    Shawne Merriman, OLB, San Diego Chargers

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    POSITION: Defensive Tackle/Defensive End
    SCHOOL: North Carolina
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-4
    WT: 308
    40: 5.28
    Overview:

    Kentwan Balmer is a guy who came out of no where and bust onto the scene in a big way. Butch Davis and the new coaching staff were able to dial into Balmer and bring his abilities out and utilize his physical tool. Balmer solidified his first round draft stock with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. Balmer is a versatile prospect because he fits in as a 4-3 DT, along with being arguably this class's best 3-4 DE prospect.

    Strengths:

    Balmer is big, strong, and holds up well at the point of attack. He has long arms and a thick solid base. Able to take on double teams. Drives his legs and forces offensive linemen into the backfield. Balmer has good feet moving forward, and adequate overall athletic ability. Versatile, could play inside as a 3rd down pass rusher in a 3-4, could play 3-4 DE, and in time could work in as a NT. Obvious fit for any 4-3 scheme.

    Weaknesses:

    One year wonder. Raw, and needs to develope better technique. Lacks good straight line speed, could hurt his stock a little as a 3-4 DE prospect. Inconsistant at times, and tends to play high late in games. Does not pursue action away very well, almost quits playing. Latteral movement could use improvement.

    Analysis:

    I fully expect to hear Balmer's name called in the first round. I ranked him 3rd among this years very talented and deep defensive tackle class. Balmer could go as high as Buffalo at #11. Will be a bit of a project if drafted by a 3-4 team, but ultimately has the most upside at that position as anyone in this class.

    NFL Comparison:

    Marcus Spears, DE, Dallas Cowboys

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    POSITION: Offensive Tackle
    SCHOOL: Vanderbilt
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-6
    WT: 320
    40: 5.25
    Overview:

    Chris Williams is a first round prospect who has the make-up to be a franchise left tackle. Williams has outstanding size and athletic ability. He flew under the radar a bit until a very solid showing at the Senior Bowl. Had nine career starts at guard as a sophomore, starter at LT junior and senior years.

    Strengths:

    Williams athletic ability and nimble feet are among his best attributes. Defined as a finesse player because of his solid technique, has showed a "mean streak." Excellent pass blocker with the ability to dominate in the run game. Versatile enough to play either guard or tackle position. Very durable with no real history of injuries.

    Weaknesses:

    Needs to sustain blocks longer at times. Struggles in space at times and occasionally has mental lapses. Plays too high at times. Williams needs add a little strength. Could do better at the the point of attack. More athletic than fast, he wouldn’t fit some system that would require him to pull.

    Analysis:

    I feel Chris Williams is the 2nd best OT prospect in this years class. He has a good combination of technique and aggressiveness. His versatility is something that should increase his draft stock. I see him as a top 15 prospect sure to be off the board by pick #25.

    NFL Comparison:

    D'Brickashaw Ferguson

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    POSITION: Wide Receiver
    SCHOOL: Michigan State
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-2
    WT: 216
    40: 4.40
    Overview:

    Devin Thomas burst onto the scene with a breakout junior season. Thomas went from a virtual unknown, to one of the most productive and exciting players in college football. Thomas has a lot of tools that have scouts falling in love with his potential. His combination of size, speed, and athletic ability are tops in this wide receiver class.

    Strengths:

    Thomas has an NFL body at 6-2, 216. He has long arms and very good leaping ability and good upper body strength. Thomas catches the ball with his hands, and does a good job of holding on after contact. He has a knack for making tough catches, and consistant enough to make all the routine catches. His speed (4.40 40) and athletic ability makes him dangerous after the catch. Averaged over 15 yards per reception. Willing and able to block when necessary. May have only scratched the surface of his overall potential. Added value in the return game.

    Weaknesses:

    One year wonder, so there's not an abundance of film available on him. Under-achieved early on in his career at Michigan St., and will have to answer questions about why this is the case. Tough to evaluate as a route runner because of the manner he was used at Michigan St. Hasn't displayed the ability to be a legitimate deep threat. Raw in some areas and will take some coaching up before he's a legitimate #1 receiver.

    Analysis:

    While he could be viewed as a bit of a project, I don't expect teams to ignor what he brings to the table. He has a rare combination of size, speed, ahtletic ability, and strength. When scouts look at that along with his return abilities and upside, I have to believe he ranks right up there with any receiver in this class. His ability to make tough catches and hold on after contact will make him a great fit as a slot receiver early in his career. He's a perfect prospect for a team looking for an immediate #3 receiver to develope into a #1, or #2. In the meantime he can earn his money on 3rd downs and in the return game.

    NFL Comparison:

    Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans

    2007 - 79 catches for 1,260 yards (15.9) 8 TD's
    Career - 85 catches for 1,350 yards (15.9) 9 TD's

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    POSITION: Cornerback
    SCHOOL: Arizona
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-0
    WT: 191
    40: 4.48
    Overview:

    In a class full of talent at the cornerback position, Antoine is my #1 ranked corner. Cason is a guy who knows how to play the position. His overall technique, athletic ability, and ball skills make his a shut-down and game-breaking corner. Cason was the 2007 Jim Thorpe award winner (top defensive back).

    Strengths:

    Cason's strength lies in his knowledge for the position. His technique is silky smooth and text book. He's athletic and quick with the ability to change directions with ease. His ball skills and ability to catch the ball after it's located make Cason a guy with the potential to rack up interceptions. Talk that he lacked long speed was put to rest when he ran a 4.48 40 yard dash at the combine. Cason is also solid in run support. Good bloodlines, his brother is Detroit Lions running back Aveion Cason, and his father Wendell played for the Atlanta Falcons. Added value in the return game.

    Weaknesses:

    Cason is a finesse player and needs to be more physical and could stand to get a little stronger. Cason struggles at times in press coverage. Not an overpowering hitter. Needs to be more discipline and patient. Will bite on double moves from time to time. Adequate, not blazing speed.

    Analysis:

    I think Cason is a guy who can quickly get mentioned among the league top cornerbacks. He has the ability and more importantly the know-how to be a shut down corner in the NFL. His ball-hawking ability will make him attractive to teams, and should land him in the top 20. There are some systems that he probably wouldn't fit well in immediately. Should be able to cover the slot from day one, and would be good enough early to start for several teams.

    NFL Comparison:

    Darelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

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    POSITION: Running Back
    SCHOOL: Oregon
    CLASS: Junior
    HT: 5-10
    WT: 235
    40: 4.48
    Overview:

    Jonathan Stewart is a guy I see star written all over. He excelled in college in a system I don't feel suited his running style all that well. I believe once he's in an NFL system, his best football is ahead of him. His combination of size, speed, and power really make him a special prospect in my eyes. It's not every day you find a 235 pound back with sub 4.5 speed.

    Strengths:

    Stewart has great size and speed. He displays good vision, and is a very patient runner who allows his blocks to set up. Shows good burst and has good leg drive upon contact. Has shown to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield and has shown to be willing to block. Can be a three down back in the NFL. Had success as a return man in college. Because of one of his concerns (injuries), he only logged 516 career carries, so he's a low milage back. Very strong.

    Weaknesses:

    Stewart has had his fair share of injuries, so durability is a concern. Added to the injury concern is the fact several have been ankle injuries. Isn't a guy who's going to make people miss. Takes on more hits than necessary. Is willing to block, but needs to get better at the point of attck, get pushed back at times.

    Analysis:

    Stewart's tremendous upside and star potential causes me to rank him in my top 10. Because of the draft order and lack of need at the RB position, I don't see him being a top 10 pick. I don't see any scenario where he lasts longer than 18 picks. Stewart could very likely be a 10 year starter in the league and be a 1,400-1,600 yard per year back. Has the physical make-up to be among the leagues elite backs.

    NFL Comparison:

    Marion Barber, HB, Dallas Cowboys

    2007 Season - 280 carries for 1,722 yards (6.2), 11 TD's
    Career - 516 carries for 2,891 yards (5.6), 27 TD's


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    POSITION: Cornerback
    SCHOOL: Louisiana State
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-0
    WT: 192
    40: 4.62
    Overview:

    Chevis Jackson is one of my favorite prospects in this years draft class. Jackson likely won't be a high draft pick, or even a guy who will be a pro bowl caliber player. What Jackson will be is a guy who has a long productive NFL career. Jackson's not a guy who will blow anyone away with his measurables, but should impress scouts with his football IQ and consistant play. Jackson is a battle tested guy who saw action in 52 career SEC games while at LSU. A starter for three years, Jackson was a key component on LSU's National Championship team.

    Strengths:

    Jackson understands the cornerback position. He can play press or off coverage and understands zone concepts. Jackson's smooth technique compensates for what he lacks in long speed. Jackson has ideal ball skills, and is one of this years top run supporters of the CB class. Jackson has ideal size and good overall athletic ability with great closing speed. Has big play capeability.

    Weaknesses:

    Jackson's biggest knock is his long speed (4.62 40 at the combine). Sometimes gamble which has hurt him at times. Can get beat deep at times and will require some safety over the top help. Probably won't be a teams #1 corner.

    Analysis:

    Should have a solid, productive career. Can be a starter in time. Should excel as a nickle/dime back early covering the slot. I feel he can play in any scheme despite popular opinion that he's stricly a cover 2 corner. His strenth is in press coverage and his lack of wasted movement compensates for his lack of speed.

    NFL Comparison:

    Deshea Townsend, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers


    BIO
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    POSITION: Linebacker
    SCHOOL: Southern California
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-2
    WT: 241
    40: 4.60
    Overview:

    Keith Rivers is another one of my favorite prospects. While everyone seems to agree Rivers is a first round lock, there are conflicting opinions of how high he could be drafted. I personally have Rivers ranked #7 overall and see him as a likely top 10 pick. Rivers is a highly athletic linebacker with a great motor. Rivers has showed the ability to play either outside or inside in a 4-3 defense, and I believe inside in a 3-4 scheme.

    Strengths:

    Rivers athletism is what stands out the most. He understands angles and makes tackles from side line to side line. He's an excellent form tacklers. Does a nice job working through trash and getting off blocks. High motor guy with good leadership ability. Able to drop into coverage, does a nice job dropping to zones and reading and reacting to the quarterback.

    Weaknesses:

    Striking ability has been questioned (ability to hit hard). Could stand to bulk up his lower body a bit. Needs to get a little stronger. Has some minor injury concerns.

    Analysis:

    Rivers has the ability to play at an All-Pro level. Should be a starter from day 1 and a legitimate defensive rookie of the year contender. His ideal fit would be as a strong side OLB, but not limited to that. I could see where a 4-3 team would want to use him as a weak side OLB to allow him to get after the quarterback more. I also think a lot of teams will be intrigued with Rivers as a MLB. I would also call him the top 3-4 ILB prospect. Could go as high as New England at #7 or as low as Denver at #12.

    NFL Comparison:

    James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    BIO
    Last edited by darnik44; 03-10-2008 at 12:37 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  2. #2
    2nd String MDSteel15's Avatar
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    Only one worthy on this list.... Williams

  3. #3
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    With as much talent there is in this years draft for OL. I really would like us to grab a DE with the first pick, we need a stud play maker on the DL. Balmer or Merling could be that guy. With Aaron coming back and one of these guys lining up at LDE, we could be an improved D in 2008. These day 2 projects for the DL have hurt us over the years and no one we have besides Smith can make an impact.


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  4. #4
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    If the top OT's and OG's are already gone both of these defenders could help bolster our D-line. Brett Kiesel needs to go back to special teams. Remember the 70's dynasty team all started with a man named Joe Greene drafted #1 in 1969. I think if we went DE in the 1st we could still grab Cherilus in rd 2. Grab Legursky or Lichtensteiger on day two and that should be enough to piecemeal a decent O-line together in ST.





    POSITION: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
    SCHOOL: Clemson
    CLASS: Junior
    HT: 6-4
    WT: 276
    40: 4.75
    Overview:

    Phillip Merling is an extremely intriguing prospect. Merling is the type of defensive prospect scouts say, "defies schemes." What this means is he could play several positions in several defensive systems. Merling is a "tweener" in the true sense of the word. This is something that will certainly help his draft stock. Merling is a rare 3-4 prospect in that he could possibly play DE or OLB. Merlings run stuffing abilities might make him more suited to play DE, but his athletic ability and what he showed at the combine make him look like a OLB. Merling is also a good fit as a traditional DE in a 4-3 scheme, and I could even see a case where a 4-3 team might also like him as an OLB.

    Strengths:

    Merling has a great combination of size, speed and strength. Good straight line speed for a guy his size. Quick nimble feet. Stout at the point of attack. Effective against the run, solid as a pass rusher. Great motor and team leader. High football IQ, excellent in space. Pursues backside action with text book technique.

    Weaknesses:

    Not a natural pass rusher, relied primarily on athletic ability in college. Will need to refine his technique as a pass rusher at the next level. Can be over-aggressive. Doesn't use his hands well.

    Analysis:

    Because of his abilty to fit in so many systems, I expect Merling to be a fairly high draft pick. Ultimately he might be best as a weak side OLB in a 3-4 because of his ability to play in space. Merling could find a home on a 3-4 teams roster as a situational player early in his career while his best fit is figured out. Because of the questions on where he fits in he might not get drafted in the first half of the 1st round. I expect Merling to be in play starting with the Arizona Cardinals at #16.

    NFL Comparison:

    Shawne Merriman, OLB, San Diego Chargers

    BIO
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    POSITION: Defensive Tackle/Defensive End
    SCHOOL: North Carolina
    CLASS: Senior
    HT: 6-4
    WT: 308
    40: 5.28
    Overview:

    Kentwan Balmer is a guy who came out of no where and bust onto the scene in a big way. Butch Davis and the new coaching staff were able to dial into Balmer and bring his abilities out and utilize his physical tool. Balmer solidified his first round draft stock with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. Balmer is a versatile prospect because he fits in as a 4-3 DT, along with being arguably this class's best 3-4 DE prospect.

    Strengths:

    Balmer is big, strong, and holds up well at the point of attack. He has long arms and a thick solid base. Able to take on double teams. Drives his legs and forces offensive linemen into the backfield. Balmer has good feet moving forward, and adequate overall athletic ability. Versatile, could play inside as a 3rd down pass rusher in a 3-4, could play 3-4 DE, and in time could work in as a NT. Obvious fit for any 4-3 scheme.

    Weaknesses:

    One year wonder. Raw, and needs to develope better technique. Lacks good straight line speed, could hurt his stock a little as a 3-4 DE prospect. Inconsistant at times, and tends to play high late in games. Does not pursue action away very well, almost quits playing. Latteral movement could use improvement.

    Analysis:

    I fully expect to hear Balmer's name called in the first round. I ranked him 3rd among this years very talented and deep defensive tackle class. Balmer could go as high as Buffalo at #11. Will be a bit of a project if drafted by a 3-4 team, but ultimately has the most upside at that position as anyone in this class.

    NFL Comparison:

    Marcus Spears, DE, Dallas Cowboys

    BIO
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  5. #5
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    Cherilus wont be there in the second...he might be a RT but hes a dominating one.

    I just dont know....merling and balmer are both great prospects...love merlings versatility and love balmers potential....i dont know, i expect albert to be there at 23 and even though i would probably prefer williams or cherilus ...but, **** now i have a headache. i wish we knew what they were planning on doing with mahan and how kemoeutu is gonna be lol theres so many ????????????

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Train View Post
    Cherilus wont be there in the second...he might be a RT but hes a dominating one.

    I just dont know....merling and balmer are both great prospects...love merlings versatility and love balmers potential....i dont know, i expect albert to be there at 23 and even though i would probably prefer williams or cherilus ...but, **** now i have a headache. i wish we knew what they were planning on doing with mahan and how kemoeutu is gonna be lol theres so many ????????????

    I don't think we have any shot at Williams without trading up and the Rooney's don't do that too often. Branden Albert is seeming more and more likely our first pick this year. But where do we put Albert if we take him? IMO that first round draft pick needs to be someone who can start as a rookie. If Chris Kemoeatu is currently penciled in as Faneca's replacement, who will get bumped? Marvel Smith will stay at LT. You could put Albert at RT but then what do you do with Willie Colon? Could move Willie to RG and make Simmons a back-up. We still need to draft a center and that player needs to be capable of anchoring the middle of that line. Legursky or Lichtensteiger could fill that role nicely if Darnell Stapleton doesn't work out. I think that Cherilus might still be on the board at 53 if we do decide to go with a DE in the first. There are currently 11 O-lineman ranked higher on scout.com's top 100 draft board than Cherilus.
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    albert would be a terrible tackle. i like heath benedict in the second. we trade up when we need to....polamalu, holmes...not exactly never
    those centers have bum written all over them imo....we need to strike gold for that idea to work out

  8. #8
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    and i dont think our pick HAS to be an immediate impact....that overrating how bad of shape were in, which isnt exactly horrible when you look at the other teams out there...we just need some solid picks

  9. #9
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    Would you agree that we don't currently have our starting 5 O-lineman on the roster? We definitely need an answer at center.

    Also that we need to draft a DE that can play this year. Kiesel was one of the weak links on our defense.

    Safety was another vulnerable position for us after Clarke went down.
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  10. #10
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    im telling you anthony smith is gonna be a badass again this year and a 100% clark is only a good thing. i know we need oline....BUT starks played well at the end, smith will be healthy, i do think colon is moving to guard and he will dominate there. Chris K is definetly servicable and so is simmons who was made out to be alot worse than he is because of mahan...i just dont know what to think about some of this but its gonna drive us all crazy until the draft. Our oline is not good, but its not the worse ever either. it will be addressed, i just dont know who or where exactly....i just know it will be in about 45 days

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