The 2017 NFL Draft will get underway three weeks from Thursday and that leaves plenty of time for several more major media mock drafts. On Wednesday, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each predicted the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL draft in their latest combined Insider offering and when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had some interesting choices.
Kiper mocked Tennessee edge-rusher Derek Barnett to the Steelers in the first round and Michigan defensive lineman Chris Wormley in the second and he explained both selections:
Since Barnett is available at No. 30 in this mock, I’m switching from Houston’s Tyus Bowser to Barnett, who was one of the most productive pass-rushers over the past three years (33 sacks). He fits the Steelers’ physical 3-4.
Wormley is only the third defensive tackle I have going in the first two rounds. He had 12.5 sacks for the Wolverines the past two seasons, and he has tremendous size at 6-5, 298.
The Steelers attended the Tennessee and Michigan pro days so it’s easy to see why Kiper is connecting Barnett and Wormley to them. With that said and while not impossible, it would be somewhat of a surprise if Barnett fell to the Steelers in the first round. As for Wormley in the second round, defensive line isn’t a big need for the Steelers this year and especially now that the team has signed Tyson Alualu.
McShay, on the other hand, mocked Washington wide receiver John Ross to the Steelers in the first round and Youngstown State edge-rusher Derek Rivers in the second and like Kiper, he explained his choices:
With Martavis Bryant’s suspension still in place (for now), the Steelers could very well be in the market for a speedy wide receiver to play opposite Antonio Brown come April. Ross broke the modern combine record with a 4.22 40. He has savvy route-running ability and reliable hands and will contribute as a returner.
Rivers dominated small-school competition the past three seasons, with 160 total tackles, 52 tackles for loss and 38 sacks. After he weighed in at 248 pounds and posted top-five marks among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.61), bench press (30), vertical jump (35 inches) and three-cone drill (6.94), it’s clear Rivers could make the transition to a 3-4 OLB in the pros.
Ross to the Steelers in the first round would certainly be a shocker and like Kiper’s choice of Barnett, several will argue strongly that he’ll be long gone by the time the Steelers first-round selection rolls around. As for Rivers to the Steelers in the second-round, that would be quite a gift. Personally, I can see Rivers falling into the second round with a small chance he’s still on the board come time for the Steelers selection
As for a few notable players who Kiper and McShay both left out of their recent mocks, Auburn edge-rusher Carl Lawson and Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley are two obvious omissions that I noticed very quickly.