Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus released a three-round mock draft a few days ago and his four selections for the Pittsburgh Steelers includes two Miami players and two other players who have some character red flags attached to them.
In the first round of his latest offering Palazzolo has the Steelers selecting Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and he writes:
Pittsburgh has invested heavily on edge rushers in recent years, but they may finally hit with Williams who pressured the quarterback on 26.1 percent of his rushes over the last three years (NCAA average is 10 percent). He only played 168 snaps against the run during that time, but he has the tools to succeed on the edge. Regardless, Williams is being drafted to rush the passer and he can do that from Day 1 at the next level.
Williams, who was not suspended for his reported failed drug tests while at Alabama, was forced to sit out of the first half of the team’s game against Kentucky following his arrest on a misdemeanor gun possession charge in September. As Palazzolo pointed out, Williams was mostly used as a pass rusher during his college career that ended with hi registering 21 sacks in the 49 games that he played in.
Williams measured in at this year’s scouting combine at 6027, 244-pounds and ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.68 seconds. For what it’s worth, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was present at the Alabama pro day this year.
In the second round Palazzolo has the Steelers selecting Miami cornerback Corn Elder and he writes:
The Steelers drafted Miami cornerback Artie Burns last year, and they add Corn Elder here, who may be an even better fit for what they do defensively. He’s excellent in zone coverage, playing with great feel and wrapping up as well as any cornerback in the class, with only 16 missed tackles on 155 attempts over the last three years.
Elder, who measured in at the combine at 5097, 183-pounds, ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.50 seconds. He’s probably best suited to play in the slot at the NFL level after registering 30 pass breakups and three interceptions in the 49 games that he played in at Miami. He started 21 of those games and had 158 total tackles.
With their first of two third round picks in this year’s draft, Palazzolo has the Steelers selecting Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya and he writes:
Big Ben is inching closer toward retirement, and Kaaya represents a valuable mid-round developmental option. He has his issues against pressure, where his adjusted completion percentage of 41.3 percent ranked 43rd in the draft class, but when throwing on time and within rhythm, he can make throws to every level of the field.
The Steelers have already brought Kaaya in for a pre-draft visit and that happened after general manager attended the Miami pro day. Kaaya, who measured in at the combine at 6037, 214-pounds, completed 60.6 percent of his passes at Miami for 9,968 yards and 69 touchdowns. He also threw 24 interceptions in the 38 games that he played in.
Palazzolo has the Steelers selecting Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle with their second pick in the third round and he writes:
Sprinkle uses his body well as a receiver, as he has the big frame to win at the short and intermediate levels. He’s a developing run-blocker, but can step in as yet another mismatch option offered up in this deep tight end class.
Sprinkle, who measured in at 6047, 252-pounds at the combine, ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.61 seconds. He caught 71 passes for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns in the 50 games that he played in at Arkansas which included 20 starts. Arkansas suspended him from this year’s Belk Bowl after Charlotte Police cited him for shoplifting.
This is quite an interesting mock draft that Palazzolo put together for the Steelers and he made sure to note that the selections made are what he’d do and not what he thinks the team will ultimately do.