Steelers Draft Capsules: Kentucky RB Benny Snell, Michigan TE Zach Gentry, NIU OLB Sutton Smith, Alabama DT Isaiah Buggs
Fourth round, No. 122
5-foot-10, 224 pounds
Breakdown: Snell knows the goal line, scoring 48 times and rushing for 3,873 yards in his final three seasons at Kentucky. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first two seasons. He lacks top-level elusiveness, but he’s a power runner who might be able to make his own holes. He certainly has the bloodlines for success. His great uncle, Matt, helped the New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, rushing 30 times for 121 yards. His father, Benjamin, played at Ohio Northern. Plus, he is a native of Westerville, Ohio, hometown of Penn State great Ki-Jana Carter.
How he fits: Snell becomes the third young running back on the roster, joining James Conner (entering his third season) and Jaylen Samuels (second year). Ideally, the Steelers would like to rotate the workload behind Conner, who ran for 973 yards last season.
Fifth round, No. 141
6-foot-8, 265 pounds
Breakdown: Gentry became a productive pass catcher by his final season at Michigan, catching 32 passes for 514 yards and two touchdowns. The previous season, he was named Michigan’s most improved offensive player with 17 catches, 303 yards and two touchdowns. He was recruited by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh as a four-star, top-10 high school quarterback from Albuquerque, N.M. It was a similar route taken by former Steelers tight end Heath Miller when he matriculated to Virginia.
How he fits: The Steelers have a need for a depth tight end after losing Jesse James to the Detroit Lions in free agency. Gentry will compete for playing time with Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble.
Sixth round, No. 175
6-foot-0, 233 pounds
Breakdown: Smith was one of the best high school running backs in Missouri, rushing for more than 2,000 yards as a senior. But NIU was the only school to offer a scholarship, and its coaches quickly shifted him to defense. Turned out to be a good move. He recorded 56 tackles for a loss in his final two seasons playing in the MAC. He struggled in the Senior Bowl, however, when faced with better quality offensive linemen.
How he fits: Defensive coordinator Keith Butler believes Smith might help special teams coach Danny Smith before he assumes a place in the Steelers’ defense. He’s a bit undersized, but the Steelers need depth at OLB behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
Sixth round, No. 192
6-foot-3, 306 pounds
Breakdown: Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, a former Alabama assistant, recruited Buggs from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he was considered one of the top junior college prospects in the nation. Some analysts said Buggs isn’t quick enough, but he led Alabama in sacks last season with 9½.
How he fits: Buggs will benefit from his past relationship with Dunbar, but he must prove he can produce on the NFL level and become part of the Steelers’ interior rotation with Javon Hargrove, Tyson Alualu and Daniel McCullers.
Sixth round, No. 207
6-foot-0, 224 pounds
Breakdown: Gilbert was a productive tackler throughout his career, earning first-team All-MAC honors twice before dropping onto the second team last year. He totaled 263 tackles over his sophomore and junior seasons.
How he fits: Gilbert’s lack of size could hinder his ability to make a quick impact with the Steelers, who already have veterans Vince Williams, Mark Barron and first-round pick Devin Bush at inside linebacker.
Seventh round, No. 219
6-foot-4, 320 pounds
Breakdown: Gray was Maryland’s best offensive linemen this season and one of its most dependable over the past two seasons, starting 22 games. Talent evaluators like how he sets up in pass protection, but he needs to improve as a run blocker.
How he fits: His 25 career starts at Maryland were at left tackle, but Steelers coaches want to get a look at him on the field before they rule out a move to guard. He has the body type that might allow him to move inside.