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The Steelers add a brawler in 4th-Round lineman Mason McCormick

The Steelers selected guard Mason McCormick from South Dakota State in the 4th Round of last week’s NFL draft. Here’s a profile:

McCormick fits in perfectly with the emphasis general manager Omar Khan and his scouting guru Andy Weidl have placed on physicality since they were hired in 2022. Pittsburgh drafted just one offensive or defensive lineman in the first two rounds between 2013-2022, but in the two years that Khan and Weidl have been in charge they’ve taken four. McCormick was not a Round 1 or 2 pick but his style of play fits their desire to rebuild the trenches in Pittsburgh.

The element of McCormick’s game that is most apparent on tape is his relentlessness. McCormick is a finisher who plays hard to the whistle. Honestly, he sometimes plays hard beyond the whistle, which is sure to draw flags in the NFL if he doesn’t clean that up. A coach would rather have to pull a player back than wind him up, however. Getting McCormick to play hard, finish blocks and agitate opponents is not something the Pittsburgh coaching staff will have to worry about.

They will, however, have to get him to play with better feet and balance. McCormick gets himself into trouble at times by lunging and playing with his weight too far over his toes. He is so aggressive that he sometimes leans with his head, which often ends with him falling forward. If McCormick isn’t pancaking an opponent to the ground he’s often picking himself up off of it because he’s gotten into a defender with too much lean and the defender has shed him and thrown him down. McCormick is a brawler looking for a knock-out punch in every round. When he connects it’s spectacular. When he doesn’t, not so much.

This isn’t to say McCormick plays out of control. He’s actually pretty disciplined in pass protection, where he does a nice job of staying square against three-tech defensive tackles and trading off twists to pick up blitzing linebackers. He can pull from his guard position, too. South Dakota State ran a bunch of pin-and-pull sweeps where McCormick would either kick the edge defender or climb to block linebackers. He was sometimes slow getting there but when he did he covered guys up. He’s strong enough to control a block once he locks on, and his disposition usually results in the defender being taken for a ride.

The biggest weakness I saw in McCormick’s game was that he was slow working off of combination blocks in the zone game to get up to the second level. Often he would hang on a double team at the line of scrimmage for a count too long, then miss the linebacker as he pursued the running back. The Steelers are expected to be a heavy zone-run team under Arthur Smith, so McCormick will have to improve his technique in this area.

Still, Steelers fans will probably love McCormick for the effort he displays, the intensity he brings and the general nastiness with which he plays. He’s going to take some seasoning to adjust to the speed of the pro game but he has the tools to become a starter in Pittsburgh. It would not surprise me if he’s the successor to James Daniels at right guard when Daniels’ contract is up after the 2024 season.

For a better look at McCormick, check out my film room breakdown in the player below:


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