Back at it for the second edition of my 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers mock drafts. This one much different than the last and I especially wrestled with the first round choice. As always, let me know your thoughts, agree/disagreements below.
Round One (28th Overall): Rashaan Evans/ILB Alabama – 6’1/7 232
Analysis: Going back to a more traditional pick for the first round. The board is pretty wide open in the first round for the Steelers after adding an inside linebacker and safety in free agency. But I’d argue Morgan Burnett is a bigger upgrade than Jon Bostic, their contracts reflect that, and push comes to shove, I think they’ll have Evans rated as a higher player than say, Jessie Bates.
Although Kevin Colbert has never taken a player from Alabama, they sent the house to his Pro Day, just as they did for T.J. Watt last season, including Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, and Jerry Olsavsky. Evans could start over Bostic day one and even if he doesn’t, maybe Evans carves out some sort of sub-package role.
Others Considered: FS Jessie Bates, OLB Lorenzo Carter, OLB Sam Hubbard
Round Two (60th Overall): James Washington/WR Oklahoma State – 5’11 213
Analysis: It might seem like a surprise given the current construction of the roster but WR was a semi-surprise to the casual fan last year. The Steelers have shown quite a bit of interest in him, including a Pro Day dinner, and though he doesn’t time with blazing speed, he is a downfield threat with an ultra-productive career.
Martavis Bryant is going to be gone after this season so the Steelers get ahead of the curve and find his replacement a season early. While Washington didn’t have much experience in college, he could be in the mix as the team’s kick returner given his size. JuJu Smith-Schuster didn’t do much at USC and wound up being their guy.
Others Considered: ILB Jerome Baker, ILB/OLB Uchenna Nwosu, OLB Ogbonnia Okornkwo
Round Three (92nd Overall): Terrell Edmunds/FS Virginia Tech – 6’0/4 217
Analysis: Now the Steelers get their safety. Termaine Edmunds is the name most people know but Terrell is talented too and only 21 years old (he once skipped a grade in school). Plus athlete who ran a 4.47 at the Combine. Great frame, picked off six passes the last two seasons, with NFL bloodlines. He would come in for dime packages.
Others Considered: ILB Genard Avery, WR Dante Pettis, RB Rashaad Penny
Round Five (146th Overall): Jeff Holland/OLB Auburn – 6’1/3 249
Analysis: Stealing Dave’s mini-crush with Holland. Colbert could take a pass rusher higher, even in the first round, it just didn’t “fit” right in this draft. Holland took over for Carl Lawson last season and responded with 12.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks. Like his frame, length, and SEC production.
Others Considered: WR J’Mon Moore, WR Allen Lazard, TE Durham Smythe
Round Five (165th Overall) Josh Adams/RB Notre Dame – 6’1/5 213
Analysis: Adams could go higher than this but injury concerns drop him. Steelers always like their true running backs to be hefty and Adams fits the bill. When healthy and given the chance, he had an incredibly productive career, averaging 6.7 yards in his career over 480 carries, a fairly large sample size for off-the-charts numbers. That’s in the top 45 in college football history.
He’s got a great story of work ethic, overcoming injury (notably a badly torn ACL that some doctors thought would never let him run again) and his dedication to the film and weight room. It’s a read but this feature article on him explains his backstory well. He will compete for the #3 RB spot and I think he can win it.
Others Considered: ILB Skai Moore, ILB Oren Burks, TE Dalton Schultz
Round Seven (220th Overall): Joshua Frazier/NT Alabama – 6’2/7 321
Analysis: Had Frazier in my first mock but bumping him to the first seventh round pick. I think he can end up as high as the fifth, taking him earlier to ensure they get him, given their long wait until here in the 7th. Classic one-tech plugger who should have no problem beating out Daniel McCullers for the #6 defensive line job. Steelers dined with him at their Pro Day and Karl Dunbar coached him the last two seasons.
Others Considered: WR Quadree Henderson, TE Will Dissly, RB Jarvion Franklin
Round Seven (246th Overall): David Bright/OT Stanford – 6’5/1 307
Analysis: Name I brought up in my mock offseason and I’m sticking with him here. High pedigree, blocked for one of the best rushing attacks in the country, and Stanford had him start at every position except for center throughout his career. Matt Feiler on steroids and helps ease the loss of Chris Hubbard. Get to work, Mike Munchak.
Others Considered: S Jaleel Wadood, CB Grant Haley, CB Trey Johnson