With the 2015 NFL Draft only a few days away and my futures reports all wrapped up, I felt like it was time to change things up. Like my fellow talent evaluators Dave Bryan, Alex Kozora and Chris Nicolaou, I too will give you my take on what the Pittsburgh Steelers may do this coming weekend.
A couple things to mention. First off, I only used simulations as a basis. In the end, I made the final decision who would still be on the board when the Steelers picked. Second, I did this by what I thought the Steelers would do and not by how I wanted them to draft. Third, I broke up the honorable mention section into three parts: Best Possible Pick, which means the best player on the board if everything goes right; My Personal Pick, which of course means the pick I would make if I were in the war room; and Other Possible Picks, which means players that could be selected instead of the one I think will be selected. Finally, I took into account possible trade ups so some guys that would be available if everyone stayed put will not be available in my mock.
So, without further ado, here it is—my 2015 Steelers mock draft.
Round 1 Pick 22- Landon Collins-S-Alabama
When I first wrote this mock draft, I thought Collins wouldn’t be on the board. Then I did an exercise going off of other teams’ pre-draft visits. Guess who was there when I made it to pick 22? Yep, Collins. Add in the fact that Collins has now been brought in for a pre-draft visit, and this pick makes more and more sense the more I think about it. I believe Trae Waynes, Alvin Dupree, Randy Gregory and La’el Collins will be off the board when the Steelers get up to pick and I don’t see Marcus Peters becoming a Steeler for a multitude of reasons. I understand Shamarko Thomas has been waiting for the opportunity to start, but sometimes the NFL isn’t fair. Truthfully speaking, Thomas really hasn’t done anything to prove he’s capable of starting. As for Collins, he is a player that should be ready to come in day one and play well. He has very little holes in his game and is one of the safest picks in this draft. For a while, I could not figure out where the Steelers would go at 22. Now, I’m pretty confident if Collins is on the board, he will be the pick. If he isn’t, I expect Kevin Johnson to be the backup selection or a possible trade down.
Best Possible Pick: Alvin Dupree-OLB
My Personal Pick: Marcus Peters-CB
Other Possible Picks: La’el Collins-OL, Kevin Johnson-CB, Randy Gregory-OLB
Round 2 Pick 24- Nate Orchard-OLB/DE-Utah
I’m sure we’d all like to live in a world where Maxx Williams falls into Pittsburgh’s lap, and he becomes the heir-apparent to Heath Miller, but we need to be realistic. With a deep cornerback class in the later rounds, Pittsburgh will most likely dip into the pass rusher pool. Personally, I prefer Eli Harold and Danielle Hunter over Orchard, but I believe they will be off the board when the Steelers are up to pick. Despite some concerns about his ability to finish and his transition to a full-time stand-up pass rusher, I think he’s a pretty safe pick here.
Best Possible Pick: Maxx Williams-TE
My Personal Pick: Jaelen Strong-WR
Other Possible Picks: Eli Harold-OLB, Sammie Coates-WR, Preston Smith-DE/OLB
Round 3 Pick 23- Doran Grant-CB-Ohio State
Fun fact: the last time the Steelers spent their first three selections on defense was 2003. You know who they drafted in 2003? Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. With both Polamalu and Taylor officially retiring, it might be time to revive the trend—hey, it worked last time. Many people would probably argue Alex Carter or Steven Nelson would be the better pick, but I believe Carter will be off the board, and I don’t think the Steelers will use a third-round selection on Nelson. Grant is a smart and tough corner who can tackle well and play the zone and press. His struggles in man coverage are a concern, but he can develop over time and eventually fill the nickel corner role or better. The Steelers have an affinity for Buckeyes, which helps Grant’s case to be the selection. Add in the run support ability, and I think he’s a good fit for the Steelers.
Best Possible Pick: Clive Walford-TE
My Personal Pick: Doran Grant-CB
Other Possible Picks: Alex Carter-CB, Steven Nelson-CB, Lorenzo Mauldin-OLB
Round 4 Pick 22- Steven Nelson-CB-Oregon State
In the fourth round, the Steelers may have to get a little lucky. Hopefully Nelson will fall to their pick, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was scooped up sooner. That said, I believe his lack of measurables and questionable speed allow him to fall. Question marks aside, Nelson is a solid, physical player who could fill the void as the 4th nickel corner and could transition into an outside corner if given time to develop.
Best Possible Pick: Doran Grant-CB
My Personal Pick: Senquez Golson-CB
Other Possible Picks: Xavier Cooper-DL, Davis Tull-OLB, Jeff Heuerman-TE
Round 5 Pick 24- Kenny Bell-WR-Nebraska
While the Steelers may sport arguably one of the best receiving corps in the NFL, they are one injury away from Darrius Heyward-Bey being their third receiver. Bell needs to work on his concentration, especially with open-field catches, but in the 5th round, I think he’ll be a good value pick similar to Martavis Bryant but not quite that caliber.
Best Possible Pick: Senquez Golson-CB
My Personal Pick: Adrian Amos-S
Other Possible Picks: Max Valles-OLB, Charles Gaines-CB, Lynden Trail-OLB
Round 6 Pick 23- Matt Jones-RB-Florida
It’s no secret that Dri Archer has disappointed so far in his NFL career and Deangelo Williams won’t be around forever. Due to this, Pittsburgh needs to bring in a guy they can groom to backup Le’Veon Bell or become the third string if Dri Archer pans out. Jones is a raw talent that shows flashes of potential that could help the Steelers out. He reminds me of Mike Bell, but I hope he ends up being a smaller T.J. Duckett. I think the Steelers want to bring in competition for Josh Harris and at least get a guy who has potential and could help solidify the depth at running back in the future.
Best Possible Pick: Troy Hill-CB
My Personal Pick: Kyle Emanuel-OLB
Other Possible Picks: Josh Robinson-RB, Durrell Eskridge-S, Miles Dieffenbach-G
Round 6 Pick 36- Quinton Spain-G-West Virginia
The Steelers are one Ramon Foster or David DeCastro injury away from starting Chris Hubbard at guard. While Hubbard isn’t a bad player, he isn’t quite starting quality. With the best backup lineman on the team arguably being Cody Wallace followed by a drop off in dependability, the Steelers should be looking to add depth to the offensive line. Spain is a big, strong and physical guard who could develop into a pretty good player if given time. He’d immediately provide depth to a Steelers offensive line that is in desperate need of backups. I think Pittsburgh selects the big man here, and it could be a huge steal down the road.
Best Possible Pick: Derrick Lott-DL
My Personal Pick: Quinton Spain-G
Other Possible Picks: C.J. Uzomah-TE, Darryl Roberts-CB, Blake Bell-TE
Round 7 Pick 22- Cameron Clear-TE-Texas A&M
Yeah, probably not the tight end you guys wanted, but he’ll do. Instead of finding the heir-apparent to Heath Miller the Steelers come away with a possible heir-apparent to Matt Spaeth—without the polished receiving ability. Clear is the definition of a raw prospect as he played less than 10 snaps most games. However, I don’t think his lack of playing time came from lack of talent as he fits desired measurables. Spaeth basically became a glorified 6th offensive lineman when he returned to the Steelers, and I believe Clear could fill that role. He will be a project, but Pittsburgh needs to bring in someone at tight end. I believe Clear fits the ideal.
Best Possible Pick: Josh Harper-WR
My Personal Pick: Cody Fajardo-QB
Other Possible Picks: Darryl Roberts-CB, Karlos Williams-RB, Wes Saxton-TE