Pauline: ‘Sense Is’ Steelers Like Michigan DL Mazi Smith More Than Clemson’s Bryan Bresee


If you’re a fan of The Big Blue, Steelers Depot has been the place for you. If you’re an Ohio State fan, well, I’m sorry. Because we’ve written about the Michigan Wolverines a ton over the last 24 hours, fresh off their Friday Pro Day, and there’s still more to say.

Pro Football Networks’ Tony Pauline has several Steelers’ nuggets from the workout. We’ve already noted the team’s clear interest in DL Mazi Smith, who Mike Tomlin reportedly met with twice during his time in Ann Arbor. Though this is less of a report and more of an educated guess, Pauline believes the team likes Smith more than they do Clemson DL Bryan Bresee and even believes Smith could be in play in the first round.

“The sense I’m getting is the Steelers would select Smith over Bryan Breese of Clemson if, in fact, it is a battle between the two at pick No. 17. Pittsburgh would prefer Smith’s rough-and-tumble style over the finesse Breese brings.”

Smith is regarded as more of a run stuffer who wasn’t asked to rush the passer much in college. He finished his Michigan career with just six tackles for a loss and a half-sack but was an interior plugger and freed up everyone else along the Wolverines’ defense. Still, he was named Bruce Feldman’s #1 “Freak” last year for the combination of strength and athleticism. Smith put up 34 reps of 225 at the Combine though his Pro Day testing wasn’t as “freaky” as Feldman believed, a 29.5 inch vertical and 8’11” broad were below what he wrote last year. Still, Smith has the size and length, 6’3, 319, with nearly 34 inch arms to anchor the middle of the Steelers’ defense.

Bresee is lauded more for his natural athleticism and tools and traits. Like Smith, his college production was also relatively light though he battled injury, illness, and the difficulty of losing his sister to cancer.

Even after re-signing Larry Ogunjobi, Pittsburgh needs defensive line help. Smith would function as more of a nose tackle while Bresee would act as more of a three-tech and rotational player. Conventionally, Bresee has been viewed as more of a first round choice while Smith has been mocked in the second round. Perhaps the team will consider Bresee at #17 and if they don’t select him, will fallback on Smith at #32.

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