Mock draft season is not really my thing, as you might have noticed over the years. While I like to read the occasional mock draft from a well-informed party and privately do my own (publishing a pre-draft seven-round Pittsburgh Steelers mock for the first time last year), I don’t get into the whole geyser of mocks from every corner of the internet as some people do.
That said, we do pass information along when it comes to us because we don’t get to be the arbiters of what information is valuable and what is not. We share what comes to us and you decide if it’s valuable. If it’s not, just skip on ahead to the next article. It’s not like we’ve ever had a shortage of content.
And so we have for you yet another mock draft, this one the first of the year for NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Shockingly, he has a running back going with the first pick in the draft, Saquon Barkley to the Cleveland Browns. I can’t imagine why a running back might be motivated to go with that one…
Before we get into his pick for the Steelers—which is in the title anyway—let’s point out that in Jones-Drew’s mock, the Browns don’t even pick a quarterback with their fourth pick either. After the New York Giants take Josh Rosen and the New York Jets grab Sam Darnold, they skip over Josh Allen and take Bradley Chubb. He has the Browns taking back into the end of the first round to draft Lamar Jackson.
Okay, now with that out of the way, Jones-Drew doesn’t offer any Pittsburgh surprises with his connection, once again connecting Rashaan Evans to the Steelers. The majority of mocks that have a defensive player going to them have chosen either Evans or Leighton Vander Esch, two of the top four inside linebacker prospects in this draft class.
The motivation is understandable, with Ryan Shazier being sidelined indefinitely with a severe spinal injury. While they retain Vince Williams from a year ago and brought in Jon Bostic via free agency, neither of them offer any long-term assurances.
The only real element of surprise regarding the selection of Evans would be the fact of the odd quirk that the Steelers have never drafted an Alabama player under General Manager Kevin Colbert. But quirks such as that are meant to be ended. Not having done something before doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do it or didn’t want to do it in the past.
Of course there are also some on-field questions about Evans, such as durability concerns and quickness. The two could go hand in hand, which would be a pretty big problem. And if you’re looking to replace a player with an injury, you might not want to try to do that with a player who has dealt with injuries (as we ignore Bostic’s injury history).