Although there isn't nearly as much hitting as many suspect, shoulder pads are worn on occasion and the pace picks up considerably from OTAs, both in terms of what's being done and what's being asked.
That helps to explain how the perceptions of prospects such as a Bruce Davis, for example, can change so quickly and so irreversibly.
The Steelers, understandably, love what they did in this year's draft, but a couple of scouts who work for other NFL teams aren't as glowing in their appraisal of the Steelers' take.
Following is a compare-and-contrast type of analysis of what they believe the Steelers ended up with in the draft. These opinions are presented neither as an indictment nor a confirmation of how the Steelers went about their business. The idea is merely to provide perspective as to the degree of disagreement that often exists among professionals.
No. 1 -- Maurkice Pouncey: No complaints whatsoever; Pouncey is that respected and was that much of a slam dunk at 18th overall.
No. 2 -- Jason Worilds: Here the opinions begin to differ, drastically, both in terms of Worilds' potential and what the Steelers should have done given the availability of Sean Lee at No. 52 overall.
The scouts Fourth & Goal questioned characterized Worilds as "soft." Other assessments included: "Can't play the run ... doesn't handle tight ends ... overdrafted ... athletic rusher but a sub-package player." One scout even compared Worilds to Davis, a highly-decorated third-rounder in 2008 who didn't last. Another referenced Nathaniel Adibi (fifth round 2004, also from Virginia Tech) for a comparison. Conversely, here's what they said about Lee, who went to Dallas on the 55th overall selection: "Our kind of guy ... can play inside in a 3-4 or outside in a 4-3 ... great intensity, great work ethic, an absolute stud ... production through the roof, a no-brainer in the second round ... great change of direction and awareness ... the best pure tackler in the draft ... he'll play a long time."
It‘ll take at least a couple of seasons to see who was right on this one.
No. 3 -- Emmanuel Sanders: "Good little receiver … makes catches in traffic ... good pick there."
No. 4 -- Thaddeus Gibson: "Can't play the run ... doesn't get off blocks ... heavy-rep guy (needs a lot of time and practice to understand and execute assignments) ... not ready."
No. 5a -- Chris Scott: "Soft ... overweight ... underachiever."
No. 5b -- Crezdon Butler: "Tough ... really competitive but really small ... free-agent grade."
No. 5c -- Stevenson Sylvester: "Stiff, small ... can't get off blocks ... free-agent grade."
No. 6a -- Jonathan Dwyer: "Had some weight issues, but runs hard ... tough, physical ... great value pick."
No. 7 -- Doug Worthington: Big, strong kid ... heavy-legged, doesn't run real well, but plays hard ... can play the 3-4 end ... leader-type kid."
As for No. 6b pick Antonio Brown, F&G provides yet another opinion -- my own:
I watched in horror as this kid caught 10 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown and completed one pass for 24 yards in Central Michigan's 29-27 victory over my alma mater, Michigan State, last Sept. 12 in East Lansing, Mich. Granted, success against any MSU defense in recent seasons doesn't qualify anyone as a can't-miss NFL prospect. But, that said, this kid can move the chains and is frustrating to play against.
At least that's my theory; I'll begin to become more certain of it once everyone gets to Latrobe.