Steelers notebook: Nebraska LB scheduled to visit Steelers Thursday
The Steelers have had pre-draft visits with three rush outside linebackers so far — Virginia’s Eli Harold and Max Valles and Utah’s Nate Orchard.
The fourth figures to be the most intriguing.
The Steelers are scheduled to host Nebraska’s Randy Gregory on Thursday, industry sources confirmed to Trib Total Media on Tuesday.
Gregory was considered a sure-fire top 10 pick in the draft before failing a drug test at February’s NFL Scouting Combine. Gregory said he hadn’t smoked marijuana since December, but still tested positive because of his high THC levels.
There is precedent suggesting the Steelers might overlook a failed drug test at the Combine and draft a player.
The Steelers initially removed tackle Mike Adams from their draft board after he tested positive for marijuana at the Combine in 2012. The Steelers then put him back on the board and drafted him with their second-round pick only after Adams requested a face-to-face meeting with general manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and team president Art Rooney II.
Gregory (6-foot-6, 245) had a solid junior year despite missing two games and seeing limited action in two others. He finished with 54 tackles and a team-high seven sacks. Gregory was third on the team with 10 tackles for loss and led the Cornhuskers with 16 quarterback hurries.
• The Steelers hosted three more pre-draft visitors Tuesday and continued to focus on the tight end position. Ohio State’s Jeffrey Heuerman and UAB’s Kennard Backman met with Steelers officials, making them the fourth and fifth tight ends to visit over the past week. Penn State’s Jesse James, a South Allegheny graduate, had an official visit last month. Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper also visited Tuesday. Heuerman is ranked as the third-best tight end in the draft by CBSSports.com. Heuerman (6-5, 254), who caught 17 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns in his senior season, is projected as a third- or fourth-round pick. Cooper (6-3, 293), the first defensive lineman the Steelers have hosted, likely will be a second-day pick. The Steelers have used 16 of their allotted 30 pre-draft visits.
• The Steelers signed punter Jordan Berry to their offseason roster. Berry (6-5, 211) went undrafted out of Eastern Kentucky last year. He was a four-year starter for the Colonels and averaged 41.7 yards per punt. Berry’s senior year, he had 18 punts of 50 yards or longer. Berry becomes the third punter on the Steelers’ roster and second Australian. Last year’s starter, Brad Wing, also is from Australia. Wing and Berry join Richie Leone on the roster. The Steelers had only one punter in training camp last year.
• Garrett Giemont, the Steelers’ conditioning coordinator, was named the NFL’s 2015 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by Samson Equipment.