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Offense and defense get their fill on Day 3

Fitting right in: The Steelers selected Benny Snell from Kentucky in the fourth round, and the young running back said he feels his physical style of running is a perfect fit for his new team.

“I am excited. I am very excited,” said Snell. “You just got one of the hardest working young players. I am going to give my heart and my all. I am ready to play.

“It’s hard-nosed football. I am grinding for every yard. I am a physical player. My style of running is Steelers football. Pittsburgh football. That is what I am going to bring.”

Filling a hole: The Steelers went into the draft with a hole at the tight end position and they worked on filling that hole with the selection of Zach Gentry from Michigan in the fifth round.

Gentry had 49 receptions for 817 yards and four touchdowns combined in 2017 and 2018 after converting from quarterback at Michigan. He is still raw, but at 6-7, 248, there is a lot to work with.

“He's a good football player, long frame,” said tight ends coach James Daniel. “He went to Michigan as a quarterback, and he's converted to tight end. He's had a couple years of experience playing there. He's a guy we are excited about getting in and getting to work with. He's more depth at the receiving end. He has some adjusting to do. He can become a good blocker. I think the kid is excited about it and willing.”

A little bit of everything: The Steelers had three picks in the sixth round and used their first one, the 175th overall, to take Sutton Smith, who will play linebacker in the NFL after playing defensive end in college.

“I will be an inside backer, rush the passer, off the ball a little bit. A little bit of everything,” said Smith. “That is what we were talking about. Anywhere I can be productive.”

Smith, who has a good sense for the ball, had 58 tackles for a loss at Northern Illinois, something he takes pride in.

“Basically trying to be the biggest problem an offense can go up against,” said Smith. “I try to go out there and play as fast as I can and never let up. Even if the play is 40 yards away from me, I try to track it down and play as fast as I can.”

One of his guys: One person who was very excited about the selection of the team’s second sixth round pick, defensive end Isaiah Buggs, was defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.

Dunbar was the defensive line coach at Alabama and recruited Buggs from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to play for the Crimson Tide.

“Very explosive guy who can get to the passer,” said Dunbar. “We were surprised he was still on the board. We jumped at the opportunity after filling other needs earlier in the draft. I think he is a good pass rusher over the guard.

“A guy who can play the four-eye and a guy who when we go to sub can get over the guard and center and be a productive player.”

Building up the backers: The Steelers built up depth at the linebacker position in the draft, taking their third one with the selection of Ulysees Gilbert with their third pick in the sixth round.

Linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky said his versatility to be able to play inside or outside of the box is something that attracted the team to him.

“We had him up for a visit. We saw a lot of good things on film,” said Olsavsky. “He runs well, he’s played out of the box, which is where today’s game is going. He was a genuine kid when he came here. He likes to play the game. He likes to run around and hit people. I am extremely pleased to have him.

“In today’s game a lot of inside linebackers have to be special teamers. That is their first job. They are going to make the team on special teams. The fact that he can play inside the box or out of the box on defense is something we also like. Like I said, that is where the game is going.”

Student of the game: The Steelers closed out the draft with the selection of offensive lineman Derwin Gray from Maryland. Gray said he got a good feeling from the Steelers leading into the draft and couldn’t be happier with where he ended up.  

“It was always great with the Steelers,” said Gray. “They were high on me early on. They always believed in me. They trusted me. They believed in my ability. They believed I could come in and get the job done. I am thankful to come to Pittsburgh and contribute early and hopefully get the job done.

“I want to come in and learn from all of the guys up front and be a student of the game.”

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