On Wednesday, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his annual three-round mock draft in which he pretends to play general manager for all 32 NFL teams. In the introduction of his three-round mock for 2017, Kiper laid out the ground rules he supposedly adhered to:
I’m not projecting picks based on what I’m hearing around the league. This is me making 107 picks — three full rounds — based on what’s best for each team at that slot, so that each team gets an “A” grade.
The ground rules:
- At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won’t pass on a player at No. 4 just because I like the team at No. 5 better.
- No trades unless they have already happened. I try to address team needs, but as with the actual draft, value can supersede need.
- Once again, I’m not projecting. It’s more a look at where I see value up and down the board, based on my rankings.
When it comes to Kiper’s selections for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he mocked East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones to them in the first round with the 30th overall pick and he writes:
If Martavis Bryant gets reinstated from suspension, Pittsburgh’s need at receiver drops. For now I’m giving the team Jones, another one of my favorite prospects in this class. He plays hard — he’ll drop a pass on one play and then go make a great block on the next — and he had 158 catches for the Pirates last season.
Jones, who measured in at this year’s scouting combine at 6021, 201-pounds, ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.45 seconds. During his four seasons at East Carolina, Jones recorded 399 receptions for 4,279 yards and 23 touchdowns in the 50 games that he played in. 158 catches for 1,746 yards came last season.
As of Wednesday, the Steelers haven’t really seemed to show much interest in Jones since the Senior Bowl and combine took place early in the pre-draft process.
In the second round, Kiper chose Houston edge-rusher Tyus Bowser for the Steelers with the 62nd overall selection and he writes:
Bowser’s dropping to 62 might be a dream scenario for the Steelers, but he has to go to a 3-4 team, and Pittsburgh is an ideal fit.
Bowser, who measured in at this year’s combine at 6025, 247-pounds with 33 ¼-inch arms, recorded 136 total tackles during his four years at Houston that included 21.5 sacks. Bowser played off the ball quite a bit at Houston and that cut into his pass rushing opportunities.
Much like Jones, Kiper’s first-round selection for the Steelers, Pittsburgh really hasn’t appeared to show much interest in Bowser since the scouting combine took place for whatever that’s worth.
Kiper’s first of two Steeler selections in the third round was spent on West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas, who the team has shown consistent interest in during the pre-draft process, and he writes:
Douglas, a junior-college transfer, had eight interceptions last season, but his 4.59 40 will probably keep him out of the second round.
Douglas, who the Steelers brought in for a pre-draft visit, also had his pro day attended by defensive backs coach Carnell Lake.
At the combine, Douglas measured in at 6015, 209-pounds with 32 3/8-inmch arms and he ran his 40-yard-dash in 4.59 seconds. After transferring to West Virginia from Nassau Community College in 2015, Douglas played in 24 games with 12 starts and recorded 78 total tackles in addition to nine interceptions and 18 total pass breakups.
Kiper closed out the Steelers selections by picking LSU inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith with the 105th overall selection and he writes:
Beckwith, who started three seasons for the Tigers, tore his ACL in November. He has the size (6-foot-2, 243 pounds) to play inside in a 3-4.
Beckwith, who was unable to do much of anything during the pre-draft process due to him still rehabbing his knee injury, measured in at 6022, 243-pounds with 33-inch arms while in Indianapolis.
During his four years at LSU, Beckwith recorded 263 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interceptions in the 47 games that he appeared in that included him making 29 starts.
As of Wednesday, the Steelers have not brought Beckwith in for a pre-draft visit, however, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert both attended the LSU pro day this year.
Below are links to our draft profiles for the four players Kiper mocked to the Steelers: