Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t do the traditional scouting for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he had already seen enough from now-former Terps player Anthony McFarland long before McFarland’s final college season was over.
So when the Steelers had the chance to pick the running back in the fourth round of the NFL Draft - 124th overall - they knew what type of player they were getting, even if they never went fully through the traditional process due to COVID-19.
“He has the awesome blend of youth and experience. We drafted Derwin Gray from a year ago, man and I remember MacFarland on Derwin’s tape,” he told Mike Locksley on Tuesday’s Late Night With Locks. “So we’re not talking about a guy that had a one-year body of work. We’re talking about a guy that’s played a lot of ball and played on a high level on a big stage and we found comfort in that. He wasn’t a guy that we had to get to know over the 2019 season or hear about. We went into the 2019 season knowing about his exploits and talents, so it made the evaluation process really an easy one.”
Tomlin pointed to his stop-and-go quickness and ability to make big plays. Locksley said he made McFarland return punts throughout the 2019 season to help him get more opportunities for touches throughout his rookie year in the NFL.
Tomlin also praised fellow 2020 Draft pick Antoine Brooks Jr., the team’s sixth-round pick.
“Much like McFarland, we’re not talking about a one-year body of work,” Tomlin said. “All of us, and I mean us as in the National Football League, had our eyes on [Darnell] Savage a year ago, who understandably went in the first round.
"So you couldn’t watch Savage tape without watching that partner in crime that he had back there. So you went into the 2019 season with anticipation of what this guy was capable of and he delivered.”
In addition to the tape that the team had seen before the 2019 season, Pittsburgh’s quarterback coach, Matt Canada, served as the interim head coach for the Terps in the 2018 season after DJ Durkin was put on administrative leave and then fired.
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