With the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine about to get underway in Indianapolis next week, it’s time for me to release my first Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the 2017 offseason. I normally like to have my first one done just after the Senior Bowl wraps up but thanks to the Steelers having a deep playoff run it put me way behind most others when it comes to me having time to scout players.
As usual, I ask that you focus on the players who I have mocked to the Steelers and not so much the round. I understand that a few might go higher or lower than what I have them.
My next mock draft will be posted a week or so after the combine.
1st Round – Pick 30 – 30th Overall – Carl Lawson – OLB – Auburn – The Steelers need to draft an edge-rusher early and I think there’s a good chance Lawson could be in their sights at 30th overall. He certainly checks a lot of boxes when it comes to him potentially being a Steelers first round-selection. Sure, he needs to get stronger and develop his play against the run, but he should be able to contribute immediately as a pass-rusher during his rookie season as a rotational player on either side. Due to his injury history, Lawson’s medical checks at the combine will obviously be huge as will his ability to perform well in the dropping drills that he’s sure to be asked to go through. Lawson without a doubt is a top-50 player in this year’s class and over the course of the next several weeks we should find out if he’s a top-30 player.
2nd Round – Pick 30 – 62nd Overall – Derek Rivers – OLB – Youngstown State – Yes, I realize several have Rivers as a first-round selection but as we sit here in late February I think he’ll ultimately wind up coming off the board somewhere during day-two. Personally, I’d like to see the Steelers draft a few edge-rushers early and should Rivers indeed wind up falling deep into the second-round, he certainly would be hard to pass up. Regardless of where I have Rivers in my mock, he certainly will be a player to watch during this year’s combine and I’m actively finding more tape on him to watch after he leaves Indianapolis.
3rd Round – Pick 30 – 94th Overall – Isaiah Ford – WR – Virginia Tech – With the future of Steelers wide receivers Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates somewhat in question, the organization might very well look to draft another deep threat play-maker at some point during the draft. The third round would present a great opportunity to do just that and Ford appears to fit the bill. I counted at least 16 explosive play receptions by Ford last season and am excited to see how he times in Indianapolis. One of us will be breaking down Ford on the site soon.
3rd Round – Pick 41 – 105th Overall – Wayne Gallman – RB – Clemson – Now that we know the Steelers will have a third-round compensatory pick, that might be the perfect time to select a running back. Of the ones who I think have a chance of still being on the board come time for the 105th overall selection, Gallman might be the best of the bunch. Gallman managed to register at least 20 pass receptions during his college career in addition to 5.07 yards per carry.
4th Round – Pick 29 – 135th Overall – Corn Elder – CB – Miami – After reading the breakdown of Elder that Alex Kozora has already posted, I am sold on the Miami product potentially being a fit with the Steelers as a slot defender. While a bit undersized, he’s physical and fast and always seems to be around the football. Perhaps the Steelers can grab him with one of their two third-round selections. Regardless, I suspect the Steelers will get an even closer look at Elder following the combine as it would be foolish for them not to attend his Miami pro day.
5th Round – Pick 30 – 173rd Overall – Tedric Thompson – FS – Colorado – Assuming he’s still on the board at this point, Thompson appears to be a great safety candidate for the Steelers. While he can apparently play both strong and free, it looks like he’s best suited to play the later of the two. This is another player I’m sure quite a few people will be talking about after the combine and we certainly plan on profiling him on the site in the coming weeks. His consensus draft stock currently appears to be round 5 or later so he fits in great with my first mock.
6th Round – Pick 30 – 213th Overall – George Kittle – TE – Iowa – Assuming the Steelers keep Ladarius Green, they probably won’t spend an early-round selection on a tight end. They could still address position later in the draft, however, and especially being as they might want to look for an upgrade over David Johnson. Kittle is one of my favorite late-value tight ends and mostly because of his blocking. He can also catch so that’s a plus even though he’s not a dangerous vertical threat. Kittle’s tape should endear him to the Steelers.
7th Round – Pick 30 – 248th Overall – Hardy Nickerson Jr. – ILB – Illinois – I really struggled to find a late inside linebacker that I like so went with one I know a little bit about. Nickerson is of course the son of former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth-round of the 1987 Draft. The younger Nickerson transferred to Illinois from Cal prior to the 2016 season to play for his father who was hired to be the team’s defensive coordinator. The young linebacker certainly has his warts but still managed to register over 350 total tackles during his college career.