The final edition of my Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 2016 mock draft. This one will resemble more of what I believe the team will do, rather than what I want them to do, though I like all the players mocked on this list. I’m using the information gathered in all the studies we’ve conducted to give the best chance of creating a realistic team mock.
As always, hit me up with your thoughts in the comments. My full, seven round mock draft, one for every team, will come out tomorrow morning.
Round One: Karl Joseph/SS West Virginia – 5’10 205
I’ve definitely warmed up to this pick over the last couple of weeks, and many in the local media are pegging him as the guy, too. I do not expect Andrew Billings or William Jackson to drop but if they do – throw in Noah Spence, too – they’ll definitely be in the conversation. But Joseph will be there and is the guy.
Though his impact on defense may be limited in year one due to his torn ACL, I have little issue with Robert Golden starting for however long that time span lasts. Safety is a critical part of this defense and Kevin Colbert has invested heavily in the position, be it signing Ryan Clark and Mike Mitchell in free agency, or trading up for Troy Polamalu and Shamarko Thomas.
Joseph is a violent hitter but disciplined in his run fills. He’s a strong athlete and wore every hat at West Virginia. In the box, over the slot, single high, outside linebacker, he was all over the place. His coverage skills are better than say, someone like Keanu Neal, and he can track the ball in coverage.
He’s a 42 game starter, productive (274 tackles, 16 TFL, 9 INTs), and Pittsburgh showed a ton of interest in him, going to his Pro Day and bringing him in for a pre-draft visit. The team brought 12 safeties in total and typically, the position they look at the hardest is where they go within the first two rounds.
There is nothing in my criteria that excludes Joseph, even the injury, knowing the team has taken the likes of Heath Miller and Stephon Tuitt despite their injuries that didn’t let them work out. All told, there are so many strong reasons to see Joseph landing in Pittsburgh. Shouldn’t shock you in the least to see him be the guy, especially if no one else falls.
Scouting Report: Karl Joseph
Others Considered: NT Vernon Butler, SS Keanu Neal, ILB Reggie Ragland
Round Two: Javon Hargrave/NT South Carolina State: 6’1/3 309
I really can’t believe I have this team taking an FCS player, especially in the second round. But the interest in Hargrave is real, looking at him at his Pro Day and bringing him in for a pre-draft visit. Looking at history, 2-3 of the first four draft picks will be pre-draft visitors.
He has that classic bubble butt, showing the ability to anchor against the run. But he has the key ability to get after the quarterback with a variety of moves and natural athleticism to corner upfield. Flexibility he has in his ankles is rare for his frame. He has had a ton of exposure to the big-league level, dominating the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl (was an injury call-up) and the Combine. That’s key for small school players, especially when we’re talking Pittsburgh (two taken since 2007), to help ease the evaluation. You get a glimpse at the conversion and Hargrave responded to the challenge in spades. His productivity in the MEAC was off the charts, dominating like any small schooler needs.
There are only a handful, five, max, of guys who can play the nose/rush tackle. Hargrave is one of them. He should be able to play 50% of the time this year. 30% of the time in base, 20% ins sub-package. Spells Cam Heyward and Tuitt while getting much needed talent at nose.
Scouting Report: Javon Hargrave
Others Considered: DE Bronson Kaufusi, SS/CB Sean Davis, CB Artie Burns
Round Three: Jonathan Jones/CB Auburn: 5’9/1 186
Like Linus and his blanket, Jones has always been right on my side. His measurables only barely miss the team’s criteria, losing out on arm length (which may not actually be important). I’ll sum up my rambles on him from the past. He may be short but plays big, with hops, may be light but is physical, productive, and had a killer Senior Bowl week in Mobile. Everyone raved about him. The Steelers, much to my glee, brought him in for a visit.
Cornerback isn’t the dire need the pundits make it out to be but you can expect one to be taken in the top four rounds. Can’t think of anyone better than Jones. Though some think he’ll go in the fourth, Pittsburgh took Senquez Golson a round before most thought he’d go last year. So we get the same vibe.
Scouting Report: Jonathan Jones
Others Considered: OLB Charles Tapper, WR Leonte Carroo, NT Austin Johnson
Round Four: Malcolm Mitchell/WR Georgia: 5’11/5 198
Like I said, three of the first four picks should be pre-draft visitors, obviously meaning one should not. That’s where Mitchell comes in and we grab an offensive position, knowing it’s unlikely (but not impossible) the team takes four straight defensive prospects.
Mitchell really stuck out to me when he was one of the few players to nearly meet the wide receiver criteria. 4.45 40, 36 inch vert, 10’9″ broad, 4.34 short shuttle, and 6.94 three cone, all excellent marks, especially in this weak class.
Dave Bryan has listed the reasons for taking a receiver before and you know the gist: 2017 could leave Pittsburgh with just Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates. Mitchell has an injury history but I like what I saw from him in Mobile. Productive college career when healthy.
Others Considered: WR Pharoh Cooper, WR Chris Moore, CB Ryan Smith
Round Six: DeAndre Elliott/CB Colorado State: 6’0/7 188
For our last three picks, only one should be a pre-draft visitor, and Elliott is the only one. He also made our cornerback criteria, headlined by his 41 inch vert and 3.94 short shuttle. I think all that passes the “Antonio Brown” test Colbert quipped about. For the height crowd, he crosses the six foot threshold and pairs nicely with Jonathan Jones, like a steak dinner and a fine wine. I don’t have a scouting report posted yet but will before the draft.
Others Considered: ILB B.J. Goodson, WR Trevor Davis, OLB Ian Seau
Round Seven: Blake Martinez/ILB Stanford: 6’1/5 237
Knowing Elliott is our one visit, we have to include some players that don’t often get mocked here. The Steelers added Steven Johnson but are still minus one after Sean Spence and Terence Garvin left for other cities. Martinez hit our criteria with his athleticism and though I don’t always see it on tape, he’s a thumper and can make an immediate impact on special teams.
Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams are in the final year of their deals without much behind that. So this makes sense from a Day One and Year Three impact. Martinez could be off the board here, I guess this is a “wishful thinking” pick, but in my full mock, several linebackers dropped.
Scouting Report: Blake Martinez
Others Considered: DE Ufomba Kamalu, C Matt Skura, S Trae Elston
Round Seven: Matt Skura/C Duke: 6’3/3 329
A tough, big ugly to round things out. Skura is big but has excellent length, 35 inch arms, and as you guessed, hit my criteria for the offensive linemen. He has 40 starts under his belt and a team captain his senior season. More competition for the interior line, an area the team continued to explore with some of their offseason visitors.
One last fun fact to leave you with. Offensive assistant Shaun Sarrett, well respected and basically serving as Mike Munchak’s right hand man, was an offensive line assistant for Duke from 2008-2011. He probably helped recruit Skura, who came to campus in 2011, Sarrett’s final year. Inside info to learn who the man is. That is always a nice connection to make.
Others Considered: H-Back J.P. Holtz, CB Brandon Williams, OLB Alex McCalister