Since being hired, Steelers General Manager Omar Khan has been finding a way to put his own spin on the legendary organization. It’s a job with more expectations than others, as the men who came before him laid the groundwork, a tradition of being exceptional.
Khan has found a way to be just that in a short period. It all started with the Bears trade last season. Khan found a way to turn Chase Claypool into a highly-rated corner. He built on that and continued owning the first two days of the NFL Draft.
A Pair Of Dawgs
As Offensive Tackles came flying off the board early, Khan, indeed, with the help of Assistant GM Andy Weidl, saw an opportunity to move up and grab one of the last elite tackles left. After swapping the 17th pick for the 14th pick and giving up the 120th pick, Georgia Left Tackle Broderick Jones found himself in a Steelers hat.
The 6’5, 311-pound tackle allowed zero sacks on 470 snaps last season on his way to helping Georgia secure its second of back-to-back titles. Jones is only 21 years old and has excellent athleticism. Scouts from NFL.com noted his good upward strike, body control, length, and play recognition. They also added his versatility, ability to play in zone and power schemes, and his loose hips, quick feet combo. The final piece to the Pickett Fence?
However, Khan wasn’t done picking Georgia players after trading the 80th pick to the Panthers to acquire picks 93 and 132. As it got later in the night and Choose 93 rolled around, Georgia freak Tight End Darnell Washington was still on the board. According to the man himself, some teams were worried about his knee. Washington himself said it feels great. If he ends up healthy, what a great selection by Khan and the Steelers. Washington is an absolute specimen at 6’7 264 pounds.
As a sixth lineman for Georgia many times, Washington can also be productive in the passing game. Last year he caught 28 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 16.2 yards a catch. Just a glimpse into what he could be. Despite being an Alabama man, Running Back Najee Harris is happy to hear about the addition of the two Bulldogs, as they could be vital to his looks this season.
Some Might Call It Destiny
In a shocking turn of events, the pick mentioned earlier that the Steelers got for Claypool saw unexpected talent still on the board. Pittsburgh was able to get a cornerback. Not just any cornerback, Joey Porter Jr. The son of Joey Porter now gets to suit up in the black and gold after spending his childhood watching pops on Sundays at Heinz Field. After attending North Allegheny High School, Porter Jr decided to stay local and attend Penn State, where he earned the Nittany Lions award for Most Valuable Defensive Player last season. After spending three years in Happy Valley, Porter Jr gets to stay local again and return to Pittsburgh.
Porter Jr was a Penn State stud named to the First Team All-Big Ten last year to go with his second-team All-American honors. Playing in 10 games last year, he gathered 27 total tackles and 11 passes defended, third most in the Big Ten. Scouts have raved about Porter Jr’s length and speed combo and his willingness to be physical. He can match up with Tight Ends because he is big enough to win high-point battles. Not a slot corner, but it still fills a need outside. Many thought Porter Jr would go in the top half of the first round. Assuming he’s happy, he didn’t.
Flying Under The Radar
With the 49th pick, the Steelers selected a Defensive Tackle out of Wisconsin, Keeanu Benton. Before he was a four-year player at Wisconsin, Benton was tearing up Wisconsin’s high school wrestling scene, appearing in the State Tournament twice. His wrestling background surely helps his ability to slip through tackles, right? Scouts have raved about his sturdy frame and good length to go with his ability not to get knocked off his feet and get back into plays. In Benton’s 39 games at Wisconsin, he posted 81 total tackles, nine sacks, and 19 tackles for loss. Finally, it might know another Wisconsin Badger that can get to the quarterback…
Khan Working His Magic
For two days, Khan has been raving about his job. Daniel Jeremiah called the Steelers draft his favorite so far on Twitter. Many agree with him. The Steelers found a way to add four players that had first-round potential. With the draft continuing, seeing what Khan cooks up will be interesting. Although Mike Tomlin calls him aggressive, Khan says he’s just trying to win a Super Bowl.