We’re getting closer!
Now that it looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers have finished up their pre-draft visits for 2018, it’s time for me to release my fourth mock draft of the offseason. Once again, I did not use Fanspeak for this mock draft because I just despise using simulators.
After my quarterback experimental mock draft a few weeks ago, I am now back with a more conventional mock based mainly on team needs, pro day attendance, pre-draft visitors, franchise drafting history and more.
As usual, I urge you to critique the players I have in this mock and not the round I have them being drafted. It makes for a better exercise for all of us if you do that. Tell me what you like, dislike or hope to learn more about each player.
Previous Mock Drafts:
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 1.0 – Post-Pro Days
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 2.0 – Post-Pro Days
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 3.0 – Post-Pro Days
Round 1 – Pick No. 28 Overall – ILB Rashaan Evans – Alabama – I am assuming that Leighton Vander Esche will be off the board come the Steelers first-round selection. Should that ultimately be the case, I think Evans and safeties Jessie Bates and Justin Reid could potentially be the targets. Personally, I have both Bates and Reid as second-round prospects so that leaves me with Evans as one of the few players that has several boxes checked in addition to fitting a need. Like several of you, I an concerned about Evans’ past groin problem and his lack of eye-popping workout measurables. His tape, however, shows a first-round player and we all know the Steelers need another inside linebacker that can play either the MACK or BUCK spot. I’m not thrilled about Evans, but through the process of deductive reasoning, positional need, and possible availability, he’s the best I can come up with at 28th overall.
Round 2 – Pick No. 60 Overall – WR James Washington – Oklahoma State – I really think the Steelers are primed to draft another wide receiver in the first three-rounds this year with Martavis Bryant now in the final year of his contract and Eli Rogers still unsigned and coming off a knee injury to boot. The Steelers really need another wide receiver that can stretch the field, combative catch, get yards after the catch and possibly play multiple positions and Washington seems to be that guy. He was at the Senior Bowl this year and reportedly has a very strong character. He averaged 19.8 yards per reception at Oklahoma State and had 39 receiving touchdowns.
Round 3 – Pick No. 92 Overall – S Marcus Allen – Penn State – Allen looks and plays like a Steeler. He checks a lot of boxes and that includes him being a team captain at Penn State. He can play in the box as well as deep in cover-2 shells and his 126.7 pSPARQ score shows that he can move out in space. While he only had one interception during his college career, he did register 320 total tackles and 5 forced fumbles. He should be an instant contributor on special teams as a rookie.
Round 5 – Pick No. 148 Overall – DL Bilal Nichols – Delaware – Not only did the Steelers get to see Nichols at the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine game, they also brought him in for a pre-draft visit. His 119.2 pSPARQ score combined with his production at Delaware that included him registering 129 total tackles of which 18 resulted in lost yardage to go along with 12 sacks and 9 pass breakups should make him a legitimate fifth-round candidate for the Steelers. He should be position flexible just like current Steelers defensive lineman L.T. Walton.
Round 5 – Pick No. 165 Overall – RB Kalen Ballage – Arizona State – I am still stuck on Ballage possibly being a day-three selection for the Steelers. I have written enough about him in previous mocks so no need to regurgitate that. I sure wish I could find an edge rusher or perhaps a different running back to go here.
Round 7 – Pick No. 220 Overall – CB Grant Haley – Penn State – The Steelers appear interested in drafting a slot cornerback this year and if they do so in the later rounds, odds are probably good that that player will possess a decent pSPARQ score, will have played in one of the three college all-star games, not be afraid of contact and had registered some consistent statistical productivity in college. Enter Haley, an undersized cornerback out of Penn State. He registered a 123.4 pSPARQ score at the combine, played in the East-West Shrine game and registered 139 total tackles, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 22 total defensed passes in his four seasons at Penn State.
Round 7 – Pick No. 246 Overall – WR Russell Gage – LSU – How about two wide receivers this year? I really like Gage once I viewed his tape following his pre-draft visit with the Steelers. While still developing as a wide receiver, Gage certainly has upside exiting college. He has a great character and if you like wide receivers that are special teams demons, he is your guy. His pro day measurables were very good and if still on the board in the seventh-round, the Steelers should draft Gage to possibly supplant Darrius Heyward-Bey in 2018.
Summary: Overall I like the feel of this mock draft but really wish I could have found a way to get an edge-rusher I like that I perceive to be a fit in round-five. In round-seven, I can easily be persuaded to go tight end there and especially one that blocks well. I might go that route in my final mock draft next week.