NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter released his first mock draft of 2018 several days ago and it includes three rounds of selections.
In the first-round of his first offering of 2018, Reuter has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Alabama inside linebacker Rashaan Evans 28th overall and he writes of the choice:
Evans fits beautifully in the Steelers’ defense. He’ll be able to play inside or outside.
Evans has already become a popular first-round selection for the Steelers by the major media draft analysts in the early mock drafts. In case you missed the early mock draft discussions related to Evans going to the Steelers in the first round, he played in 53 games and recorded 150 total tackles with 23.5 of them resulting in lost yardage in his four season at Alabama. He also had 15 total sacks and was credited with 5 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Evans was voted a team captain this past season as well. Ahead of this years scouting combine, Evans reportedly currently measures in at around 6-3, 235-pounds.
It’s not surprising to see Evans being mocked to the Steelers with current starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier currently attempting to overcome a serious spine injury that he suffered during the team’s 2017 Week 13 game. I suspect this wont be the last time we discuss Evans being mocked to the Steelers in the first-round moving forward.
In the second-round of his mock, Reuter has the Steelers selecting Penn State safety Marcus Allen with the 60th overall pick.
Allen, who measured in at this year’s Senior Bowl at 6021, 215-pounds, played in 52 games over the course of four seasons at Penn State. He recorded 321 total tackles in addition to one interception and 11 total pass breakups.
Allen projects as a versatile safety at the NFL level as he can play both deep and inside the box. He’s expected to be drafted somewhere in the first two or three rounds of this year’s draft ahead of the scouting combine taking place.
The Steelers certainly appear to be in the market for a free safety in the early rounds of this year’s draft so Allen being mocked to them isn’t a huge surprise.
After mocking Allen to the Steelers in the second round, Reuter has them taking Oregon running back Royce Freeman in the third-round with the 92nd overall pick.
Freeman, who reportedly measures in at 5106, 238-pounds ahead of this year’s scouting combine, rushed for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns on 947 total carries over the course of four seasons at Oregon. Freeman also caught 79 passes for another 814 yards and 4 touchdowns during his college career.
On the surface, mocking a running back to the Steelers in the third-round currently seems to be somewhat of a stretch as we sit here in February. It will become more of a stretch should the Steelers ultimately sign running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract extension in the coming weeks or months. Additionally, the Steelers spent a third-round draft pick last year on running back James Conner.
In summation, Reuter’s mocked selections for the Steelers aren’t awful and especially considering it’s a three-round mock in early February. With that said, it would likely be a little more realistic had he mocked an outside linebacker, or even a tall, speedy wide receiver to the Steelers, in the third-round instead of a running back.