Weston Steelhammer, S, Air Force: 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report

2017 NFL Draft Weston Steelhammer

Oct 1, 2016; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Air Force Falcons defensive back Weston Steelhammer (8) celebrates after a play in the third quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Player Summary

Weston Steelhammer, a 2013 two-star recruit, started 37 of 48 career games for the Air Force Academy. He started 12 of 13 games as a senior in 2016, missing the first half of the Navy contest after receiving a targeting penalty in the second half of the previous game against Utah State. He led the school in interceptions each of the past three seasons and was the leading tackler in 2015 and 2016.

For his career, Steelhammer recorded 228 tackles and 18 interceptions while being named first-team All-Mountain West three times. He played for one head coach and three different defensive coordinators (Air Force has two coordinators on both sides of the ball). He possesses marginal size and length on a lean frame with adequate athletic ability. 

Measureables

Height: 6’0″ 5/8

Weight: 189 lbs.

Arm: 30-1/4”

Hand: 8-3/4”

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Games Watched

2016: Boise StateSouth AlabamaUtah StateWyoming

2015: San Diego State

Strengths

Weston Steelhammer displays good mental processing skills as he reads the quarterback in the pocket from a deep zone. He aggressively attacks where the ball is being thrown and demonstrates solid range to cover between the numbers.

Here’s an example of that range, as Steelhammer cuts across the middle of the field between two receivers. He quickly realizes the pass is going to the deeper of the two receivers and tracks the ball well. He extends to the outer edge of his catch radius and displays very good hands to haul the pass in for one of his 18 career interceptions.

From man coverage, Steelhammer once again tracks the ball well and possesses the ball skills to make a play on the ball before and after the catch.

In the run game, Steelhammer explodes to the point of attack as he goes from high to low quickly. He shows off solid play strength, winning one-on-one battles with the ball carrier in the hole.

Steelhammer’s competitive toughness is his number one asset. No matter the situation, he doesn’t give up on the play. Already down 14-3 in the Arizona Bowl, the South Alabama ball carrier appears on his way to making it a three possession game. Not only does Steelhammer chase him down, he forces a turnover as well by stripping the ball.

His effort would save a touchdown and give Air Force momentum. The Falcons would outscore their opponent 42-7 the rest of the way to finish the season with a win.

Steelhammer is a good, physical tackler who punishes the ball carrier with hard hits. He shows very good mental toughness as well, playing with a short memory to bounce back quickly from mistakes.

Weaknesses

Weston Steelhammer can be caught being overaggressive at times and he’ll bite on play fakes from an underneath zone. From man coverage, he displays marginal athletic ability. A poor angular body position and tight hips hamper his ability to change direction quickly, allowing receivers to separate at the top of the route and give the quarterback a large window in which to place the football.

For that reason, opposing offenses liked to pick on Steelhammer in critical situations when Air Force was in man coverage. On this third-and-seven, Wyoming creates a mismatch with the receiver in the slot to the left. The receiver is able to change direction much quicker than Steelhammer and create plenty of separation on the out route. Quarterback Josh Allen has plenty of room for error and easily connects with the receiver for a first down.

When the ball is in the air, Steelhammer struggles to breakup 50-50 balls as he does a marginal job high pointing the football.

Against the run, Steelhammer struggles to shed blocks as he lacks the length and strength to disengage. On plays outside the tackle, he takes adequate angles to the ball and does not force the play back inside. The same is true on extended running plays such as screens.

In the play below, two offensive players matchup against two defenders. With the other defender being blocked, Steelhammer is one-on-one with the receiver. He takes an overly aggressive angle to the ball and gives up the edge. If not for his teammate quickly shedding the block at the line of scrimmage, Steelhammer’s poor angle would have resulted in a much bigger play.

Steelhammer is an adequate blitzer who struggles to get to the quarterback unless he has a clear path.

Overall

Overall, Weston Steelhammer is a backup safety who wins with competitive toughness. He’s not a safety with the cover skills to matchup against tight ends and running backs. While he possesses a non-stop motor and gives it his all on every play, Steelhammer does not have the athletic ability needed to play safety at the next level.

The most likely scenario for Steelhammer is that he goes undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. At that point, he should receive interest from several teams as a special teams player. Whether on punts or kickoffs, he’s the type of player every team needs to throw a key block or lay a big hit on the returner. Not every team has the luxury of carrying several players who don’t play offense or defense, so he may begin his career on a practice squad.

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