Peter King of Sports Illustrated released his one and only mock draft of 2018 on Monday and his prediction of how things will go during Thursday’s first-round not only includes some trades, but the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a cornerback at 28 overall.
King has the Steelers selecting former Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander 28th overall in round-one and he writes of the pick:
Oh, how wonderful it would have been if the draft fell just right to the Steelers and they could take an all-field playmaker to replace the fallen Ryan Shazier. That playmaker, Leighton Vander Esch, could be available at 28 … but he’s got a cervical issue that is causing some to steer clear of him this week. In Alexander, the Steelers could get a 4.38 cover guy who’s shown eagerness to tackle and be a physical player in run support. He’d be a good fit for Mike Tomlin.
We’ve seen Alexander mocked the Steelers in the first-round a few times this offseason and even so, it still doesn’t look right when you see it due to their current depth chart at the cornerback position that includes two players who were drafted last year in the first five rounds in Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen.
Alexander, who measured in at this years scouting combine at 5102, 196-pounds, registered a pSPARQ score of 131.7 while in Indianapolis. Alexander, who just turned 21 years of age in February, missed five games last season with a knee injury, plus one other with a broken hand.
While he played in 31 total games during his college career at Louisville, Alexander only started 19 of them on his way to registering 77 total tackles, 7 interceptions, one forced fumble and 15 passes defensed. Alexander also was Louisville’s primary punt returner during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In total, he returned 44 punts for 439 yards and a touchdown during his college career. He also returned one kickoff for 14 yards at Louisville.
For what it’s worth, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin both attended the Louisville pro day this year. Tomlin also reportedly dined with a few former Louisville players the night before the event and we can only speculate that Alexander was one of them.
The Steelers last drafted a cornerback in the first-round in 2016 when Artie Burns was selected 25th overall. Prior to that, however, 1997 was the last time the Steelers spent a first-round draft pick on a cornerback.