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Old 03-15-2011, 08:24 PM   #1
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Default Potential Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Picks: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Potential Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Picks: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
by Tim Mullhaupt (HSS) on Mar 15, 2011 9:00 AM EDT

Ok so I lied, "I am not a crook", "It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is" and I "misinterpreted the rules"-brownie points to whoever can give me the 3 mouths that uttered those infamous excuses/alibis/defenses.

Anyway I am going to do one more write-up on a likely first rounder (two if you count Cameron Heyward, a guy I believe is a fringe 1st-2nd round pick, but many consider a late first) -- and that player is Gabe Carimi, the young tackle from the University of Wisconsin.
Player Profile:

Ht: 6'7"

Wt: 315 lbs

Date of Birth: 6/3/1988

Projected NFL Position: Right Tackle

Carimi was a 4 year starter at Wisconsin, where he took over the role of Cleveland Brown's all-pro lineman Joe Thomas. Although all four years of his college career were spent at left tackle, you can expect Carimi to switch to Right Tackle at the next level. Despite the fact that many that once felt Carimi was a top-5 pick and do no longer, Carimi's senior season was by far his best, as he was named a consensus All-American, and won the Outland Trophy and Big-Ten Offensive Lineman of the year awards.

Skill Set:

Carimi is, as you can probably guess by looking at his size alone, a run-blocker before a pass-blocker. The man plays with tenacity and can get to the second level of defenses. He possesses good if not great strength and uses it to drive defenders backwards and out of plays. Coming from a run-friendly scheme at Wisconsin he's had plenty of experience opening lanes for a multitude of running backs, and has done so consistently throughout his 4 year career. He also is strong enough to withstand straight-on bull rushes, and looks to be more than capable enough to handle NFL playing strength. Durability also is a major plus as he only missed 3 games in his 4 year career, and those 3 came in his sophomore season. Since then he's had no major injuries.

Carimi's confidence is also prevalent following an solid Senior Bowl, and a good combine, as he stated that he believes he's the best tackle in the class. Certainly a bold, borderline boastful statement, but as he says in that article, he wouldn't say it if he didn't believe it, and with a position like offensive lineman, you cannot make it with a lack of confidence. Just take a look at Mike Pouncey's combine sound off and you'll see what I mean. Plus I think that on paper, there isn't a better tackle that fits the Steelers blocking scheme. Solder, Costanzo, Smith, are all too soft if you ask me, while Derek Sherrod maybe the next best option.

Getting back to Carimi, it seems to be speed that may cause issue. Though he played left tackle for Wisconsin, he will not be able to transition to the NFL as left tackle. In a pinch, maybe, but everything that I've read tells me that he just is not fast enough to consistently keep up with the quicker, more versatile pass rushers like our own James Harrison, or Denver's Elvis Dumervil.

There are also said to be a lot of technical issues to Carimi's game; he plays to high, he doesn't possess great balance or "knee-bending ability", "he allows defenders into his pads" are all recurring knocks that I've seen when researching Carimi in scouting reports from sites like nfl.com, mockingthedraft, sidelinescouting, and walterfootball. One of the most common is that his footwork just isn't good enough while trying to sustain blocks in pass protection. All of this would lead me to believe that he could really end up playing guard in the NFL if it weren't for his success against some of the better defensive players in college, most notably against Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward.

Draft Stock:

I think a lot of people expect Carimi to be off the board by the time the 31st pick rolls around on April 28th, and I'm not disagreeing with those of you who do believe that, but there is growing speculation that Carimi may fall to the Steelers at the end of the first round. If he's there I can't see the Steelers passing on him unless a guy like Pouncey or Brandon Harris are still available. Mike Tomlin did attend the Wisconsin pro-day and I'm sure Carimi was one of the main reasons for his visit. Trading up for him might be necessary if the Steelers do like him that much with a slew of teams needing help at offensive tackle towards the end of the round.

Final Thoughts:

I think that in a lot of ways Carimi is a very similar player to our own likely-departing, Willie Colon. As of right now Carimi looks like a day-1 starter in terms of run blocking, but more of a project in pass protection hence the comparison to Colon. I think that given the oppurtunity to play under Sean Kugler, Carimi could be molded into a fine right tackle that would really help inject some youth and consistency in the unit (assuming Colon does leave) and like Maurkice Pouncey did last year, Carimi may find himself contributing from a very early stage.
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