NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held his first conference call with the media ahead of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday and during it he was asked what he thought the Pittsburgh Steelers should do in the first round when it comes to their 25th overall selection. In light of the recent retirement of veteran tight end Heath Miller, Mayock started off his answer by suggesting that that position could very much be in play in the first round.
“If they were going to take one (tight end) at 25, it would have to be the kid from Arkansas, Hunter Henry,” said Mayock. “Do I think it’s too early? Not necessarily. I think the kid can step in. He can play in-line, he can flex, he can block and he’s a very good pass receiver. So he’s a late one, to mid-two and I think he would fit with what Pittsburgh likes to do.
“If it’s not that, then I think they’ve got to fortify the defensive back position. If we’re talking late first round and you’re looking at corner and who would be available there, it might be an Eli Apple. I think a guy like Artie Burns from Miami is going to run very fast this week. He’s a long, press cover corner that’s a track guy. A lot of people don’t know much about him. Kendall Fuller from Virginia Tech is more of a second or third round player and a guy rising with me, is William Jackson from the University of Houston. The more tape I watch the more I like of him and I think he could be a second or third round corner. So, there’s some names there that I think you could look at in the first two or three rounds.”
It’s not overly surprising that Mayock thinks the Steelers could go tight end or cornerback in the first few rounds of this year’s draft as those are the same positions that most of the major media mocks have focused on so far this offseason. The popular choices so far for the Steelers have been tight end Hunter Henry along with cornerbacks Eli Apple, Mackensie Alexander and Kendall Fuller.
Mayock said during Tuesday’s call that he expects cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves to be long gone by the time the Steelers first round pick rolls around. Additionally, he didn’t sound overly convinced that Apple and Alexander are locks to be first round selections at this stage of the process. As for Fuller goes, Mayock says teams need to decide whether or not his best fit is at cornerback or safety at the NFL level.