The Pittsburgh Steelers recently hosted Alabama tackle James Carpenter, who is at least the third offensive line prospect the team has met with lately after recent visits with Marcus Cannon of TCU and Keith Williams of Nebraska, leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft.
Chip Smith, who trained Carpenter at Competitive Edge Sports in Georgia was effusive in his praise of the prospect:
"He's a great athlete. James has got great change of direction, really good feet, really good base, long arms. He has all the things a great offensive lineman needs to compete."
Those certainly do sound like the ingredients for a competent tackle, particularly in pass protection, where Pittsburgh's line has struggled against blitz-heavy defensive fronts, leading to eye-popping sack numbers against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
In addition to the left tackle spot he filled for the Crimson Tide, Carpenter also possesses the versatility to line up at guard, and you have to figure he's capable of playing right tackle, too, assuming he can adjust his footwork accordingly. That kind of flexibility could go a long way in improving his stock going into the Draft weekend, especially for teams like the Steelers who have numerous question marks along their offensive front. Carpenter reportedly visited with seven teams besides Pittsburgh.
NFL Draft Scout projects Carpenter as a mid-second round pick, so it seems like if the Steelers are to take him, they'll have to trade up from selection #63 or trade down into the second round from their first pick at #31. Either way, Carpenter looks like he could be a good value for Pittsburgh, especially if they opt to select a cornerback or defensive lineman early.