NFL Draft: Q&A with Alabama Offensive Lineman Anthony Steen
By Dan Dahlke
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban (left), quarterback AJ McCarron (10), offensive linesman Anthony Steen (61), linebacker C.J. Mosley (32), and wide receiver Christion Jones (22) pose with the trophy after defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We’ve already heard from players like Pitt’s Aaron Donald and Stanford’s Josh Mauro this week, but today, we turn back to the offensive side of the ball and hear from Alabama offensive lineman Anthony Steen.
Steen was a three-year starter on the Crimson Tide offensive line and was part of three national championship teams. The Mississippi native was a dominant right guard in Alabama’s offense and helped pave the way for several 1,000-yard rushers, including the Packers own Eddie Lacy in 2012.
Steen earned All-SEC honors while at Alabama, and is an offensive line prospect that excels as both a run and pass blocker. At six-foot-three and 309 pounds, Steen has the right frame to play guard in the NFL; however, some believe Steen also has the athleticism and natural football ability to make a move to center at the next level as well.
The Packers may look to add depth to their offensive line in the draft this spring, and Ted Thompson and company like tough, versatile offensive lineman, like Steen.
Many draft analysts have Steen rated as an early-round prospect that may slip a little in the draft because of a shoulder injury that hindered him a bit last season, meaning Steen could be a real steal for a team like the Packers that will be looking to add a talented offensive lineman on day two or three of the draft.
To learn more about Steen, I reached out to him and had the privilege to speak with him over the phone.
Q. First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and how did you first get into football?
AS: I grew up in a little town called Clarksdale, MS. I went to a 2-A school, and I played football with about thirty people on our team. I’m a country guy. I like to hunt and fish. I basically spent all of my summers as a kid on my granddaddy’s farm, hunting and working on the farm.
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Anthony Steen (61). Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
My first memory of football was when I was six and at my granddaddy’s house. He played a tape for me of him playing high school and college football. It was in black and white, and I just remember watching him and him telling me football stories. That was my first memory of football, and I remember telling him I wanted to play football and follow in his footsteps. My daddy and uncle also played, so it was one of those things my family did.
I remember telling my grandmother when I was little that one day I was going to grow up and be a country singer and buy her a ranch and take care of her on the farm. I told her last year that it turns out I’m not very good at singing, but I’ll stick with football and take care of her with football and she just laughed.
Q. What led you to play for Alabama?
AS: For me being from a small town, I didn’t know a whole bunch about the recruiting process in high school. In high school I held the state record for shot-put and came two inches shy of the record in discus, and at the time the Alabama’s offensive line coach was Joe Pendry. I remember him coming to watch me throw shot-put and discus. I didn’t know who he was, but I talked to him afterwards. Just watching my footwork throwing shot-put and discuss, he was impressed and offered me a scholarship to Alabama.
With the offer, my dad and mom and I went and visited Alabama. I was thinking about going to Mississippi State at the time because I already knew several players there, like Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd, but when we took our visit to Alabama, we started looking around and seeing all the trophies and tradition and hearing what they were trying to build and I just got drawn into it. There were so many people there telling me this is the place you come if you want to be at your best. This is where you come if you want to play in the pros. I just thought about the future and decided I’d rather go to a place I knew I could be the better player at, so I decided to go to Alabama.
Alabama Crimson Tide guard Anthony Steen (61). Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Q. You had a great career at Alabama. You were a three-year starter, named All-SEC, and blocked for some really productive running games. What does it mean to you to have that kind of success in college?
AS: It means a lot to me, but at the same time, I could have had a better senior season. I played the whole last season hurt. I hurt my shoulder at the beginning of the season while working out. I was doing a lot of heavy weights when I got the injry, and then I hurt it again at the beginning of the season against Ole Miss. As the season went on, the injury started to affect my play. If it wasn’t for the injury, I could have had a better season and could have shown everyone the kind of player I really am.
Right now, I’m just trying to get back to where I was so I can show people what kind of player I am. I plan on playing football another ten years at least, and I feel I can do that. I have never really been hurt before, but I wasn’t going to quit on my team. I was just going to keep playing through the pain and keep doing my best.
Alabama is all about winning. I got there in 2009 and we won the championship. I played in every single game from the last three games in 2010 to the end of my senior year in 2013. I played around 40 games and started about 36 of those and won three national championships. While I feel good about what we did, I’m still hungry. I still want to achieve more.
Q. You played last season with the injury and you had surgery on the shoulder after the season, so do you think the injury has affected your draft stock in any way?
AS: Some would say no because I’ve already proven myself, being part of three national championship teams and starting three years at Alabama. But some would say it has a little bit because people haven’t seen how fast and how strong I really am. There have been some teams that have come to practice and seen me workout already and seen how fast and strong I am. I have always been naturally strong, but I’ve always wanted to go to the combine and do the workout on TV just to show people how fast and strong I really am. It sucked I wasn’t able to do that because of the injury. I was still able to go to Indy and talk with teams and scouts, but I just couldn’t do the physical things I wanted to.
Alabama Crimson Tide Red Team offensive lineman Leon Brown (72) blocks White Team offensive lineman Anthony Steen (61) prior to the annual A-Day game. Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Will you need to showcase your speed and strength at your pro day then?
AS: Yeah, I’m going to try and do some of that at pro day or in late March or early April for teams that are interested. Right now, I have another five weeks of rehab before I can actually do heavy workout stuff.
Q. As a competitive guy, has this process been difficult for you?
AS: It’s just one of those things you just have to be patient with. It’s definitely been difficult. I keep trying to push myself further and further, but at the same time I don’t want to push too much. I just hate being hurt. It just kills me. I wish I was back to normal and doing everything everybody else is doing, but it’s just one of those things you have to go through. You can’t overdue it and reinjure yourself.
Q. Let’s talk about the type of player you are. For people who haven’t seen you play in college, describe your style of play, and tell us what your strengths are as an offensive lineman?
AS: I just go out there and play. When I step on the field it just calms me down. All my worries and stress go away. All I do is think about the game and I just play. I like to just go out there and hit somebody. It’s exciting every time.
I thought I’ve always been pretty good at pass blocking. I take pride in not giving up a lot of sacks. I only gave up two between the 2010-2012 seasons. Last year, I gave up two but they were both outside of the box when the quarterback was rolling out. I didn’t give up any inside the box in the past two years. I have also always been strong in the running game. I use my upper body to basically bench press people. Once I get my hands on you you’re pretty much done.
Alabama Crimson Tide tackle D. J. Fluker (76) and guard Anthony Steen (61). Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Is there a part of your game you’d like to improve before the draft?
AS: I just want to get healthy and back in shape. I want to get back to how I was before the injury. It’s hard to picture how I used to be, playing hurt this whole past season. It’s hard to improve at all when you’re playing the whole season injured. I’m a guy that likes to workout and get stronger. Having my shoulder injury has hindered that this past year, so I just want to get healthier and get back to where I was before the injury.
Q. Turning to Green Bay, the Packers could be looking to add some offensive line talent in the draft, so how would you feel about playing in Green Bay if they drafted you in May?
AS: It’s funny you ask me that. I was at a Super Bowl party at my uncle’s house and one of the guys there was a Packers fan. He asked me what I thought about possibly playing for Green Bay. I told him I’ve always been a Packers fan. I haven’t really had a favorite NFL team, but I always grew up liking the Packers. Being a Mississippi boy, I watched Brett Favre play for Green Bay. My dad had an office in Brett’s hometown in Mississippi.
I remember being eight or nine wearing my Brett Favre jersey at home watching the Super Bowl and it was Favre against Elway and the Broncos. I just remember always being a Favre fan and watching the Packers. I have also watched some film this past year on the Packers guard Josh Sitton, and I noticed he looked pretty good. I like how Green Bay was running the same slide protections we were at Alabama. When I was watching it, I was thinking to myself I could do that.
I’ve always been a fan of the Packers, and I’ve always heard the hunting up North is better than the hunting down here. The agent I signed with is Bus Cook, who was Favre’s agent, and he was telling me that Favre told him the best hunting that he’s ever done is up North around Green Bay. Great duck and deer hunting, and Cook told me I’d love it there.
Alabama Crimson Tide guard Anthony Steen (61) blocks. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Q. You’ve already blocked for Eddie Lacy at Alabama. How would it be to block for him again in the NFL?
AS: Yeah, I like Eddie. He’s a character. Eddie and I came in together at Alabama. My whole class was pretty good. Me, Eddie, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, A.J. McCarron, and Dee Milliner. A bunch of guys that are in the league now or who will be going in the league came out of that class.
Q. If the Packers did draft you, what kind of player would they be getting?
AS: I just want to play football. I’ve played sports my whole life, and that’s all I know is sports. I don’t know what I would do without sports in my life. I’m not one of those guys who goes out and parties and gets into trouble. I’m a guy that gets up and has to go do something productive, whether it’s working out or doing something on the farm. I’d rather stay on schedule and play football and not stay up all night. That’s just not me.
Q. The Packers may need a center next year. I know you played guard in college, but could playing center be a possibility for you in the NFL?
AS: Definitely. I’ve already had people tell me I could be a good center at the next level. I played center in high school a little bit. It just came natural to me. This past year at Alabama our center got hurt and our second-string center got sick on his first day as the starter, so we didn’t have a center in practice. The coaches had me play center. I just went in there and snapped the ball and it was easy. The next day my coach was smiling saying I could be the center and that my footwork looked natural for the position. My position coach really wanted Coach Saban to switch me to center, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. Coach Saban didn’t want to move his starting right guard to a new position during the season. Snapping is just one of those things that came natural to me I guess.
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10), offensive linesman Anthony Steen (61), and linebacker C.J. Mosley (32) in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. What’s your favorite thing about being an offensive lineman?
AS: For me, I firmly believe the game is won and lost up front. Going into every game I tell the guys it’s up to us to get this thing started and win the game. It’s up to us to get that first punch in the mouth and make sure we knock them down. If we have a good game up front then the rest of the team is going to follow.
Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
AS: When I’m not playing football, I usually go home and go hunting. Duck hunting or deer hunting. Hunting relaxes me and makes me feel like a kid again. I also like to hangout with my three little cousins. They look up to me, and I like to take them duck hunting.
I always enjoy going home and going to my grandparents’ house, seeing my grandmother and granddaddy. This past weekend my grandmother told me that I better make sure I stay on my rehab and get back to how I was because she hasn’t forgotten about my promise to take care of her and buy her a house, and she really meant it. She wasn’t just joking around. She was sitting there and telling me how she wants all this to hurry up so I can get her a better house to stay in. I told her I wasn’t going to break my promise and that I was going to do what it takes. I just love being around my family. I feel like I can be myself.
Film on Anthony Steen
Anthony Steen against Virginia Tech
Anthony Steen against Texas Tech
Watch more film on Anthony Steen at draftbreakdown.com.