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Bernie and Goliath

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive democrat from Vermont, is jumping into the presidential race against Hillary. He has little or no chance of winning, but I love his politics and he'll be a breath of fresh air in a campaign dominated by big money and wealthy corporate donors. 

050315 Bernie and Goliath

 

 

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Gerod Holliman scouting report

Written by Dan Gigler on .

holliman

The Steelers finish out their 2015 class and defensive overhaul with one of the most Jekyll-and-Hyde players on the entire board – All-American Louisville safety Gerod Holliman, who won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2014 as the nation’s top defensive back after leading the NCAA with 14 interceptions.

So why did he go near the end of the 7th round? Heavy skepticism is being raised for his inexperience and other aspects of his play, including being contact averse.

Here’s the skinny on the redshirt sophomore Holliman (he’s only 20!), who started only one year and left school early despite advice to the contrary to help his struggling family back in Miami:

NFL.com:

The theme with the Steelers' defensive back picks in this draft is instincts and ball skills. Holliman has plenty of both. Those are likely the two main reasons Pittsburgh took a chance on him late as he has considerable work to do as a tackler. --Mark Dulgerian

BOTTOM LINE

One-year starter at free safety, posting outrageous ball-production numbers. A feast or famine free safety whose lack of field discipline and willingness to tackle will be more heavily exploited in the NFL. Rumors of his lack of football character combined with absolutely terrible tape when it comes to tackling could sabotage his draft stock despite his enormous ball skills.

CBS Sports

Most expected that the Louisville Cardinals would struggle replacing 2014 first-round pick Calvin Pryor at safety. Instead, Holliman exploded for an FBS-leading 14 interceptions, tying an NCAA record set 46 years ago and taking home the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive over the likes of Alabama's Landon Collins and Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

While Holliman's ball-hawking redshirt junior campaign deserves acknowledgment, it doesn't necessarily make him a highly regarded NFL prospect. Holliman possesses awareness, agility and hands - traits that certainly project well at safety in today's pass-happy NFL. He also sports a relatively slight frame, however, and shows questionable angles and technique as a tackler.

Sports Illustrated

Back in March, Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated’s MMQB team took an in-depth look at Holliman to see if he lived up to the stats: 

"How does one get 14 picks in a season, a mark that tied the Division I single-season record? Bad quarterbacking, surely. And tipped balls, right?

"Wrong. Only two of the free safety’s interceptions were off redirected passes. And he had his best performances in tight games against conference foes, including a two-interception showcase against Florida State and presumed No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. (Louisville led that game in the fourth quarter before Winston brought the Noles back for a 42-31 victory.)

" ... To get 14 interceptions in 13 games in college football, you have to be seriously lucky or seriously intelligent. Holliman is one of only 10 FBS players with 10 or more interceptions in a season over the last 20 years. That list also includes Sean Taylor, Jim Leonhard and Rahim Moore."

SB Nation

PRO COMPARISON: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots

Holliman isn't as explosive athletically as McCourty, but they're similar in size, ball-hawking ability and the center fielder position they both excel at.

“A helluva a lot of value” Also, they quote both Drake and Wiz Khalifa in the accompanying video.

Highlights:

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Anthony Chickillo scouting report

Written by Dan Gigler on .

anthony-chickillo-famu

With their 6th round compensatory pick, the Steelers took a flier on a former high school phenom who never quite clicked in college, perhaps because he was misused.

Here’s the skinny on Anthony Chickillo, the first third-generation student athlete at The U:

NFL.com

A player who has 5-technique written all over him, Chickillo is an excellent fit for the Steelers' 3-4 defense. He is athletic enough to stand up off the edge as well. His versatility will be an asset to a rebuilding defense. This is a great value pick and scheme fit. 

BOTTOM LINE

Technically sound player who lacks the desired burst and pass-rush skills to be a full-time defensive end and needs more bulk to play inside. Chickillo could use more length, but with his arm extension and strength at the point of attack, he could find his way as a backup strong-side defensive end in a 4-3.

Bleacher Report

A former prep star, Anthony Chickillo started to scratch the surface after his final game at Miami and dominated Shrine Game practices. It's easy to look at him and see a player used poorly by coaches and fall in love with his athleticism. He has good length, great power off the snap and enough motor to beat blockers around the edge or off their inside shoulder. He's a big blank canvas of potential.

SB Nation: 

Chickillo is a versatile lineman who can play multiple spots on the line, but scouts have had issues labeling him and it could wind up being a curse rather than a blessing. He'll need to add weight and get some coaching, but Chickillo is a reliable player with a high ceiling.

At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds and was among the top performers at his position in the three-cone drill (7.17 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.25 seconds). He also put up 27 reps on the bench press, posted a vertical leap of 34.5 inches and a broad jump of 114 inches.

SB Nation also had a pretty detailed Senior Bowl piece about him and compares him to … Brett Keisel.

CBS Sports

Chickillo arrived in Coral Gables with considerable hype and played well as a true freshman, but his play leveled off and he might have peaked early in regards to his development (his senior tape looked too similar to his freshman tape). He does a nice job attacking gaps and giving blockers all they can handle, but he struggles to put consistent pressure on the pocket and shows too much wasted motion at the line. Chickillo doesn't have difference-maker potential as a pass rusher, but he's stout, reliable and leaves everything on the field, projecting as a rotational left end in a 4-3 front.

Feature story about him and his father and grandfather, who all played at Miami: 

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LT Walton scouting report

Written by Dan Gigler on .

LTwalton

The Steelers continued to their extreme youth-movement makeover on defense with another 6th round pick from Central Michigan – their last was Antonio Brown, for whatever that’s worth (nothing, really).

But Leterrius “LT” Watson projects as a nice fit for the Steelers 3-4 defense according to myriad reports.

NFL.com:

NFL COMPARISON: Ricky Jean-Francois

BOTTOM LINE: High-motor interior lineman who could become a five-technique in a 3-4 defense with more technique work. Walton has the traits to become an above-average player against the run and should be able to play in both odd and even fronts.

CBS Sports:

Walton is classic late-bloomer who initially signed with the Chippewas as an offensive lineman but switched over to the defensive side of the ball while redshirting in 2010 and has steadily emerged as one of the MAC's more intriguing NFL prospects.

He leaves as a three-year starting defensive tackle, averaging 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks a year during that time. His statistics are hardly jaw-dropping but Walton was constantly double-teamed. He possesses the traits to excite scouts, including surprisingly light feet given his frame and long arms. Teams operating out of the traditional 4-3 or 3-4 schemes could be equally intrigued by Walton's potential, though he's likely at least a year in the weight room away from contributing in the NFL.

Bleacher Report

A former offensive lineman turned defender, Leterrius Walton is an upside player with a huge frame and surprising burst off the ball. He uses his hands well—likely from his experience as a blocker—and knows how to get angles and leverage to win inside. He’s a high-motor, big-effort player with a solid athletic base.

Combine report

Defensive tackle Leterrius Walton (6-5, 315) stood on his combine numbers, and put forth a really good pro day workout. At the combine, Walton ran a 5.25-second 40-yard dash, which is pretty good for a 315-pounder. Walton is athletic and moves well for a guy of his size.

Central Michigan bio 

A pre-combine interview. Seems like an affable fellow:

Highlights vs. Kansas:

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Jesse James scouting report

Written by Dan Gigler on .

jessejames

Hometown boy does good as the Steelers select the Mon Valley native with the coolest name in the draft, tight end Jesse James from Penn State (via South Allegheny HS) with their 5th round pick.

Here’s the skinny on James, who was part of Joe Paterno’s last recruiting class:

NFL.com draft profile:   

NFL COMPARISON: Phillip Supernaw

BOTTOM LINE: Big, in-line tight end with room on his frame for more muscle, but he's limited by a lack of functional athleticism and a mechanical play demeanor. James isn't a plus receiver with great hands and he lacks the quickness to consistently free himself from man coverage, so he must become a more determined run blocker in order to have a shot at starting in the NFL.

CBS Sports

James is a well-rounded tight end who became a security blanket for the quarterback with his versatility as a slot receiver and inline tight end. He can effectively play on all three downs with many attributes that will be coveted by NFL evaluators. With his size and firm grasp of blocking principles, James has just one major lingering question - consistency.

SB Nation: 

A huge target with above-average athleticism and reliable hands, James has the tools to be a tough matchup in the red zone. He has the ability to catch the ball in traffic and enough straight-line speed to be a deep threat down the seam, but often has trouble getting separation in man coverage. James' biggest strengths are his height and reach, but he really needs to improve his technique as a run blocker if he is going to develop into an every-down tight end in the NFL.

From his Penn State bio:

James is director of marketing for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which has raised more than $825,000 for kidney cancer patients, their families and research since the first Penn State Lift For Life was held in 2003. Among 10 returning players from the greater Pittsburgh area, James joins a long line of outstanding Nittany Lion football student-athletes from Western Pennsylvania.

A pair of articles on him from his South Allegheny days by our high school football gurus Brad Everett & Mike White:

Talent holds up for South Allegheny's Jesse James

Blue Chip Chat with South Allegheny's Jesse James 

Highlights:

NFL Combine 40:

Crushing it at Penn State's Lift for Life:

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