Steelers host 4 underclassmen, including Pitt's Conner, Penn State's Godwin
When Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert headed to the NFL Combine in February, he said he was excited to meet the underclassmen coming out for the draft.
It's safe to say that enthusiasm continued Thursday when four of the five pre-draft visitors hosted by the Steelers were underclassmen, including Pitt running back James Conner.
Also visiting were Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin, Washington safety Bishard “Budda” Baker, N.C. State safety Joshua Jones and Florida inside linebacker Jarrad Davis, the lone senior among the bunch.
Conner does not count against the team's allotment of 30 pre-draft visits. The Steelers have hosted 11 such players so far. Conner and Gateway graduate Montae Nicholson, a safety from Michigan State, are the local visitors.
Baker and Jones are considered among the best prospects at their respective positions. Baker is viewed as the No. 2 free safety on the draft board, and Jones is the No. 4 strong safety, according to CBSSports.com. Baker is a bit undersized at 5-foot-10 but is considered a first-round prospect. Jones, at 6-1, is viewed as a second-rounder.
Florida's Davis is a 6-1, 238-pound inside linebacker whom CBSSports graded as the third-best player at the position. The Steelers could seek depth there after Lawrence Timmons departed in free agency to the Miami Dolphins, leaving backup Vince Williams as the starter.
Godwin is listed as the No. 5 wide receiver prospect and a second-round selection. Conner is a later-round draft possibility, according to most draft publications.
Meanwhile, Steelers reserve offensive lineman Chris Hubbard, one of the team's two restricted free agents, signed his $1.797 million tender, according to NFL transactions. By signing his tender, Hubbard is bound to the Steelers for the 2017 season.
The remaining restricted free agent is starting cornerback Ross Cockrell, who also received a $1.797 million tender. He faces an April 21 deadline to sign an offer sheet from another team.