Bryan: 2017 Pre-Draft Final Thoughts

We still have a few hours remaining until the 2017 NFL Draft gets underway in Philadelphia and with that, I have a few final thoughts roaming around inside my head to pass along to all of you. Most are related to the Pittsburgh Steelers while others are just generic in nature.

As usual, I hope a lot quarterbacks get drafted in the first round and I hope the Steelers aren’t a team that takes one.

As I have stated all offseason, my hope is that the Steelers take multiple edge-rushers in the draft. One early and one during day-three with upside. Eastern Washington edge-rusher Samson Ebukam sure has enticing tape and his SPARQ score of 143.5 is in the WOW category. On that same note, Youngstown State edge-rusher Derek Rivers or Auburn edge-rusher Carl Lawson sure would be enticing in the round-two if the Steelers go a different direction in the first-round.

Personally, I can’t get out of my head what Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in one of his chats way back in February.

“What I said is cornerback is not a priority, not like the past 2 seasons. And just like last season, the Steelers view [Senquez] Golson as a second No. 2 draft pick for 2017. That doesn’t mean they won’t draft a cornerback, but it won’t be in the first two or three rounds. It’s more likely they will draft a safety before a corner.”

If Dulac winds up being correct, I sure would like to see the Steelers go after Central Florida cornerback Shaquill Griffin in the third-round if he’s still on the board.

Speaking of Griffin, he along with Minnesota cornerback Jalen Myrick, Northern Illinois wide receiver Kenny Golladay and Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds all seem to fit a few studies that Alex Kozora did a while ago and it will be interesting to see if any of the four wind up being selected by the Steelers. By the way, the Steelers ended up bringing all four in for pre-draft visits so odds are probably good one winds up being picked by the team.

My two crushes ahead of the draft remain Iowa tight end George Kittle and Georgia State wide receiver Robert Davis even though neither found their way into my final mock draft.

Even though I left a tight end out of my final mock draft, I’m secretly hoping one is picked by the Steelers in the first four rounds as I remain concerned about the future of Ladarius Green.

Pittsburgh running back James Conner is certainly a popular choice of several fans of the Steelers and that’s not too surprising considering his backstory. While there are certainly several better all-around running backs in this year’s draft class, Conner’s NFL career will be interesting to watch. He’s the kind of kid you probably don’t want to bet against.

It will once again be interesting to see the correlation between the Steelers first-round selection and the pro day tour of general manager Kevin Colbert. For example, should Kansas State edge-rusher Jordan Willis wind up being the Steelers first-round selection, I’ll forever wonder if Colbert would have gone to his pro day had he not been busy talking to Dont’a Hightower back in Pittsburgh.

I keep wondering to myself how the first round would be impacted had Washington cornerback Sidney Jones not injured his Achilles injury during his pro day. That’s a bad injury for a skill position player.

It really is fun to watch the progression of analytics. Take Slaytics, for example. Ethan Young has done a great job with this and if you’ve yet to see it or don’t understand it, get caught up quickly here. SPARQ is another fun number to watch closely and I’ve been doing that for years now. Sure, tape is always king, but those combine and pro day numbers sure are fun to play with.

I think Dane Brugler from CBS Sports puts out one of the best draft guides currently. It’s easy to read and full of valuable information.

Even at 84 years of age, Gil Brandt is still on top of his draft game. I always enjoy reading his work and listening to him on SiriusXM NFL Radio and elsewhere.

It sure would be nice to be able to subscribe to a college all-22 service in the near future and I have my money ready to fork over for it. Surely, we can’t be too far away from at least the Power 5 conferences having such a thing. In the meantime, however, at least more and more televised games are showing up on Youtube by the year and I’m thankful for that.

I’m glad the draft is finally here as I’m officially mocked out.

Finally, I would like to close this post out by saying thank you to all the great help I’ve had during the pre-draft process. Alex Kozora, Matthew Marczi, Daniel Valente, Josh Carney, Sean McKaveney, Andy Miley, Michael K. Reynolds and David Orochena should all be commended for their efforts over the course of the last several weeks and the same goes for David Todd, my podcast co-host.

Enjoy the draft and be prepared for a lot of content after it is over.

Merry Draftmas.

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