I cannot even count the about the amount of times that I ran Fanspeak’s mock draft simulator to pass time during this semester. After running through every possible scenario imaginable on Fanspeak’s simulator, I am now ready to write the final test and publish my first seven round Steelers’ mock draft of the year.
Don’t forget to let me know what you agree or disagree with in the comments below.
Round One, 30th Overall – Budda Baker, S, Washington (5’10, 192 lbs)
Surprise, surprise. While I am a huge fan of Wisconsin EDGE T.J. Watt, I sense that he will be off the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock in the first round. This leaves the team with another athletic, versatile player in Washington’s Budda Baker.
Baker’s ability to play as a free safety or in the slot means that the Washington defensive back can be an immediate contributor on the Steelers defense much like Sean Davis was last season. The Steelers are also very much familiar with Baker as he was in for a pre-draft visit earlier this month.
Round Two, 62nd Overall – Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama (6’4 252 lbs)
When I look at Takkarist McKinley, Derek Rivers and Tim Williams, all edge rushers that the Steelers brought in for a pre-draft visit, I see a team preparing to take a day two pass rusher.
Williams comes in as one of the most gifted pass rushers in this year’s class but falls to the Steelers second round pick due to his off-field concerns. The Steelers likely had many questions for Williams’ off field issues during his pre-draft visit but as the team has shown in the past with Mike Adams, exceptions can be made. Hopefully Williams is better at keeping his word than the troubled Adams.
Round Three, 95th Overall – Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M (6’3 194 lbs)
Alex’s study from the other day on how pre-draft visitors correlate to being drafted left a pretty convincing reason to believe the Steelers will draft a wide receiver fairly early. Texas A&M receiver Josh Reynolds could very well end up being the guy for a few reasons.
Tomlin has drafted six receivers during rounds 1-4, with all but two of those receivers being over six feet and averaging over 15 yards per catch. When looking for a receiver early, it seems that Tomlin has tall and fast in mind. Standing at 6’3 and averaging over 17 yards per catch, Reynolds fits the bill of what the Steelers want in a wide receiver.
Even with the reinstatement of Martavis Bryant, Reynolds is another vertical weapon that keeps Ben Roethlisberger happy.
Round Three, 105TH Overall – Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee (6’3, 216 lbs)
The Steelers are going to take a quarterback in this year’s draft, it is almost inevitable. Their third round compensatory (or bonus) pick seems like it could be the time where the Steelers pull the trigger on one. Like Josh and Dave predicted in their mock, I believe Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs will ultimately be the Steelers’ target.
Dobbs has similar collegiate stats as former Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon but comes equipped with more upside than Dixon. Possessing a great arm and the ability to create plays, Dobbs’ does everything the Steelers’ offense requires, making him a perfect candidate to shadow Ben Roethlisberger.
Round Four, 135th Overall – Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
It seems the Steelers are unsure whether Ladarius Green can be counted on to play a full season, forcing the Steelers to look towards drafting a tight end. Toledo tight end Michael Roberts is one name who fits what the Steelers are looking for. At 6’4 and 270 lbs, Roberts has the size to be dual threat tight end in the NFL but is still a work in progress from a technical standpoint.
The Steelers have shown interest in Roberts’ upside throughout the pre-draft process, interviewing him at the Senior Bowl and engaging in an “in depth sit down” interview at his pro day.
Round Five, 173RD Overall – James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers interest in the running back position during the pre-draft process seemed lesser than expected, meaning that another workhorse-like year is on the horizon for Le’Veon Bell. Displaying no need for a true backup running back, Conner is the perfect candidate to fill DeAngelo Williams’ role and spell Bell for a handful of carries per game.
Another note to consider is Tomlin has only drafted two offensive players from the ACC, with both picks coming late (Jonathan Dwyer, 6th round & Martavis Bryant, 4th round). Tomlin may have tipped his hand with his third ACC offensive pick as Conner was the only running back to have a pre-draft visit with the team.
Round Six, 213th Overall – Keion Adams, OLB, Western Michigan (6’2 245 lbs)
The Steelers double dip at pass rushers in the sixth to solidify their outside linebacking depth. Another player brought in for a pre-draft visit, Keion Adams is an electrifying pass rusher who gets after the quarterback with great speed and bend.
While the coaches operate on Adams’ technique, the Western Michigan pass rusher could carve out an early role on special teams.
Round Seven, 248TH Overall – Patrick Gamble, DE, Georgia Tech (6’5, 277 lbs)
The Steelers have selected either a 3-4 defensive end or nose tackle in eight consecutive drafts under Tomlin and Georgia Tech’s Patrick Gamble ensures that the streak lives for another year. Working with defensive line coach John Mitchell, Gamble will shed his 4-3 end abilities and start fresh as a 3-4 end.
While Gamble will have to add more mass to his frame, his long reach and motor should help ease his transition.