Now that the NFL Scouting Combine is the last major off-season event left on the schedule for potential NFL draft picks, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter released his first four-round mock draft Friday.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have four picks through the first four rounds (No. 25, No. 58, No. 89 and No. 120.)
In the first round Reuter has the Steelers taking Ohio State cornerback, Eli Apple, at No. 25 overall. I’m not a personal fan of Apple; he’s not very physical, misses a lot of tackles and tends to lose focus at times while taking way too many penalties in coverage.
However, Apple has an intriguing frame and might just be scratching the surface of his potential at cornerback. I do like the way Apple fights for the ball when it’s in the air, but he can be slow to diagnose the play, which could hinder his coverage ability in the NFL.
At No. 58 overall, Reuter has the Steelers selecting Stanford offensive lineman Joshua Garnett, which would be an incredible pick were it to happen.
Garnett is an absolute mauler who is very powerful and physical at the point of attack. His upper body strength is above average and he uses great hand placement to his advantage.
With that said, Garnett is a limited athlete that might get exposed in the NFL. He’s a bit slow to get out in front when pulling, but once he gets going: look out. Should the Steelers decide to let Ramon Foster walk, Garnett could be a day one starter found in the second round that could pair with David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey to form an elite interior offensive line.
In the third round, Reuter has the Steelers selecting Notre Dame defensive tackle, Sheldon Day, who had an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl.
Day is a bit undersized, but he possesses a quick first step and shoots gaps quickly, forcing the hand of the opponent across from him. He has the ability to play anywhere on the defensive line and would be a great reserve to start his career.
I’m just a bit concerned about his frame. At 6’0”, 286, Day is definitely undersized for the NFL to hold up well against the run, but with the high motor and work ethic that he possesses, he could carve out a nice role in the NFL.
Finally, in the fourth round Reuter has the Steelers addressing the tight end position by taking Ohio State’s Nick Vannett.
Vannett is a guy I really like. He reminds me a lot of Baltimore’s Crockett Gilmore and former Buckeye teammate, Jeff Heuerman, whom I wanted the Steelers to take in the NFL Draft last year.
At 6’5”, 256, Vannett has the ideal frame for a tight end in the Steelers system. He is a physical tight end that has the ability to serve as a solid inline blocker while also being a serious matchup problem for linebackers and safeties in the passing game.
He uses his frame well when battling for the football in the air and has big hands to pluck the ball out of the air to secure the catch. Vannett is a good route runner that excels at finding the soft spot in the zone, but he struggles to create separation against man coverage.
Vannett could be a solid addition to the tight end room should the Steelers move on from Matt Spaeth this offseason.