I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big fan of mock drafts, at least the way that the mock draft has come to monopolize the draft discussion for months on end. But I’ve also come to appreciate it as a tool that helps to put things into focus. While it’s ultimately an exercise in futility, it is also an exercise in perspective.
Mock drafts are ultimately not about getting specific picks right, at least for the most part. The process itself is where the value comes. I’ve toyed around with mock drafts before but have never formally posted one before now. So here is my seven-round board for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next three days.
Round 1, Pick 30 (30) – Marlon Humphry, CB, Alabama (6’0”, 197)
There are reservations about every selection, but at the end of the day, I find that the talent of the cornerback position that is likely to be available at pick 30 will be above that of the edge rusher position. Humphry fits what the Steelers already do in coverage, and are looking to do more of.
Also considered: CB Tre’Davious White, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Jabrill Peppers, OLB T.J. Watt, ILB Jarrad Davis
Round 2, Pick 30 (62) – Carl Lawson, OLB, Auburn (6’2” 261)
There are many options to consider here for outside linebacker, which is to me the sweet spot in terms of value, but I have a preference for Lawson, even if I have concerns over potential injury issues in the future. I suspect the Steelers like him as a powerful edge setter in the vein of James Harrison. Hopefully he doesn’t have the durability of LaMarr Woodley.
Also considered: OLB Derek Rivers, OLB Tim Williams, TE Evan Engram, WR Chris Godwin, S Josh Jones
Round 3, Pick 30 (94) – Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M (6’3”, 194)
After running through a series of mock drafts, the board seems to keep pushing me to the wide receiver position in the third round. He was among their pre-draft visitors and matches a lot of the team’s priorities at the position. His slender frame is not ideal, but his ability to track the deep ball is a plus. If Godwin manages to fall here, obviously, he gets the pick.
Also considered: CB Shaquill Griffin, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, QB Josh Dobbs, CB Jaylen Myrick, ILB Raekwon McMillan
Round 3, Pick 41 (105) – Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland (6’6″, 278)
As much as I like George Kittle, if I can get Shaheen here, I’ll take him. I’m very, very tempted to just pull the trigger on Kittle in this round, however. If I could guarantee getting Kittle in the fourth and Conner in the fifth, that would be my ideal, but I think this is more realistic. His size and frame suggest he can develop as a run blocker, but he is already capable of offering aid in pass protection. The speed for his size is admirable, and he can more than get the job done as a receiver.
Also considered: RB Wayne Gallman, CB Rasul Douglas, RB D’Onta Foreman, S Josh Johnson, TE George Kittle
Round 4, Pick 29 (135) – Corn Elder, CB, Miami (5’10”, 183)
Another premonition from the series of mock drafts that I did keeps telling me that there is going to be value to double down on the cornerback position in rounds four and five. I like Elder as a strong slot option, and the Steelers could use more competition there. The Steelers are looking for two spots at cornerback, not one. One on the outside and one on the inside.
Also considered: WR Kenny Golladay, WR Mack Hollins, CB Fabian Moreau, OLB Tarell Basham, TE Jonnu Smith
Round 5, Pick 30 (173) – James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (6’1”, 233)
I was very tempted to take Conner in the fourth, but literally every other mock from our crew has him lasting to the fifth round, so this is where I’m taking him. Still, I consistently had to draft him higher in my mocks. Intangibles are impeccable, but he is also a producer.
Also considered: OLB Carroll Phillips, TE Michael Roberts, RB De’Veon Smith, RB Jamaal Williams, ILB Blair Brown
Round 6, Pick 30 (213) – Elijah Lee, ILB, Kansas State (6’3”, 228)
Outside of being a teammate of B.J. Finney in 2014, I don’t think there are any obvious connections to Lee, but not every pick they make has that. He can fit the bill as a sub linebacker to work on passing downs.
Also considered: ILB Jaylon Reeves-Maybin, OLB Samson Ebukam, TE Cole Hikutini, OLB Keion Adams, OLB Tashawn Bower
Round 7, Pick 30 (248) – Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo (6’2”, 300)
I can’t help but feel that a defensive line prospect will come late, with Hester being a pre-draft visitor. He weighed in at 300 pounds at the combine but already showed in college that he can add weight to his frame. I think he can be a defensive tackle candidate to compete with Daniel McCullers, entering the final year of his contract. More importantly, he has the sort of footwork for an interior lineman that they like.
Also considered: TE Jason Croom, QB Nathan Peterman, OLB Vince Biegel, S Montae Nicholson, C Jon Toth
As I mentioned, I ran through a series of draft simulators before putting together my own independent mock draft to get a better feel for the range of who might go where. Needless to say, my selections were more conservative when I had other people already picking players. Here are the final three results that I ran through. As you can see, my final mock ended up being a mixture of all three:
|Mock Draft 1||Mock Draft 2||Mock Draft 3|
|Round 1, Pick 30 (30)||CB Tre’Davious White, LSU||CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama||CB Chidobe Awuzi, Colorado|
|Round 2, Pick 30 (62)||OLB Derek Rivers, Youngstown State||OLB Tim Williams, Alabama||OLB Carl Lawson, Auburn|
|Round 3, Pick 30 (94)||RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson||WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M||TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland|
|Round 3, Pick 41 (105)||TE George Kittle, Iowa||RB James Conner, Pittsburgh||WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M|
|Round 4, Pick 29 (135)||CB Corn Elder, Miami||CB Corn Elder, Miami||RB James Conner, Pittsburgh|
|Round 5, Pick 30 (173)||WR Noah Brown, Ohio State||OLB Tashawn Bower, LSU||ILB Elijah Lee, Kansas State|
|Round 6, Pick 30 (213)||OLB Tashawn Bower, LSU||TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville||OLB Keion Adams, Western Michigan|
|Round 7, Pick 30 (248)||DL Treyvon Hester, Toledo||DL Treyvon Hester, Toledo||DL Treyvon Hester, Toledo|
And my ideal, pushing-the-bounds-of-realism mock through five rounds:
1 – Lattimore
2 – Watt
3a – Godwin
3b – Jackson
4 – Kittle
5 – Conner