It’s time for the final version of my Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 mock draft and I decided to release it a few days early this year so I can concentrate on a few other things for the site over the course of the next several days. If you missed by previous four mocks, you can find them at the links below.
As always, I ask that you focus on the players I have mocked to the Steelers and not so much on the round. I understand that a few might go higher or lower than what I have them, but the value in doing these mocks is the overall discussion about the players and whether or not they fit the Steelers.
As usual, I like to cheat when it comes to my final mocks and by that I mean I usually include several players who had pre-draft visits with the team. I also adhere to several other historical principles related to past Steelers drafts when putting my final mock together. One of those is making sure I pay close attention to players who played in the annual college all-star games as we’ve seen the Steelers draft quite a few of those players from rounds four and on over the years.
In short and as if you didn’t already know it, the seven selections I have below certainly won’t be all correct. In fact, I’ll probably be lucky to hit two picks again this year. With that said, I’m happy with the finished product.
In addition to providing my guess for every round, I also included four other players I considered mocking so you can see where my head was at while putting this final one together. As usual, my primary goal is to have several of the 35 total players listed below ultimately wind up being selected by the Steelers.
I invite everyone to post their final mocks in the comments below and hope all of you enjoyed our pre-draft coverage this year. We look forward to covering the real thing for you beginning Thursday evening.
Previous Mock Drafts:
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 1.0 – Post-Senior Bowl
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 2.0 – Post-Scouting Combine
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 3.0 – Post-Pro Days
Bryan: 2018 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 4.0 – Post-Pre Draft Visits
Round 1 – Pick No. 28 Overall – S Justin Reid – Stanford – Reid certainly checks a lot of boxes when it comes to him potentially being the Steelers first-round selection this year. He’s very athletic, very smart, position flexible and has an NFL bloodline. While Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin did not attend the Stanford pro day this year to see Reid, they had a good reason not to as the Ohio State pro day took place on that same day. They did, however, meet with Reid at the scouting combine and brought him to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit. Reid played seven different positions during his career at Stanford — right cornerback, left cornerback, strong safety, free safety, nickel, dime and outside linebacker. While I personally view Reid as being more of a mid-second-round selection just as I did with cornerback Artie Burns and T.J. Watt the last two years, I could see the Steelers selecting the former Stanford safety in the first-round just as they did the two players I just named the previous two years.
Other players considered: Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans, Derrius Guice, Mason Rudolph
Round 2 – Pick No. 60 Overall – ILB Malik Jefferson – Texas – If the Steelers wait until the second-round to draft an inside linebacker, there figures to be some good value still on the board at the time. It’s hard to imagine the Steelers not selecting an inside linebacker with a nice pSPARQ score in addition to one who didn’t play for a Power 5 Conference team. Assuming he’s still on the board come the Steelers second-round selection and assuming the Steelers still haven’t drafted an inside linebacker, Jefferson would be a very good fit. He registered a 136.6 pSPARQ score and enters the NFL as a three-year starter. The Steelers met with him at the combine and brought him to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit.
Other players considered: Christian Kirk, Lorenzo Carter, Josh Sweat, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Round 3 – Pick No. 92 Overall – WR D.J. Chark – LSU – I personally believe the Steelers will select a wide receiver with one of their first three selections in this year’s draft as their depth chart behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith Schuster and Martavis Bryant isn’t great right now. On top of that, Bryant will be gone after the 2018 season. While it doesn’t appear as though the Steelers brought Chark in for a pre-draft visit, they did meet with him at the Senior Bowl and at the combine. I think they really like him and if you’ve seen his tape and have read his backstory, it’s easy to understand why. Not only can Chark stretch the field on the outside, it looks like he has some return abilities as well. He’s also a combative catcher. Chark’s 136.1 pSPARQ score combined with his solid character both on and off the field should make him an easy third-round candidate. Some will say he’ll be gone by then but remember that he only had 66 career receptions over the course of two college seasons. That’s not a lot of production to warrant a player being drafted in the first-two rounds regardless of his height, weight and speed.
Other players considered: Jerome Baker, Uchenna Nwosu, Darius Leonard, James Washington
Round 5 – Pick No. 148 Overall – DT Bilal Nichols – Delaware – Nichols, one of the Steelers pre-draft visitors in April, has an interesting backstory. A two-year starter at Delaware, he moved to nose tackle last season and was asked to two-gap as they switched to a 3-4 front. At the combine he registered a 119.2 pSPARQ score. Last season he registered 56 total tackles and 5.5 sacks. He also showed he could play against better competition at both the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine game. The Steelers need another backup defensive tackle and Nichols appears to be a legitimate candidate.
Other players considered: Kalen Ballage, Durham Smythe, Troy Fumagalli, Poona Ford
Round 5 – Pick No. 165 Overall – CB Avonte Maddox – Pittsburgh – The Steelers have never shied away from drafting undersized cornerbacks as long as they check several other boxes. Enter Maddox, who played right next door at Pittsburgh. He checks a ton of boxes when it comes to him potentially being drafted by the Steelers and it starts with him posting a 132.9 pSPARQ score at the combine. He was a four-year starter art Pittsburgh and led the team in passes defensed each of the last three seasons. He’s a very physical player for his size and showed to be a good blitzer off the edge. He was a team captain and reportedly has great work ethic and an impeccable character. He also played in the East-West Shrine game this year and reportedly fared well during those practices.
Other players considered: Grant Haley, Brandon Facyson, Wyatt Teller, Taylor Hearn
Round 7 – Pick No. 220 Overall – OLB Joe Ostman – Central Michigan – I’m not really sure if the Steelers will draft an outside linebacker this year as they didn’t seem to pay too much attention to the position during the last several months. If, however, the Steelers wait until late on day-three to address the position, they really should consider Ostman, who measures in at 6022, 253-pounds. His measurables certainly won’t result in a great pSPARQ score, but his production as a pass rusher and run stopper during his final two seasons at Central Michigan should make him draftable. A captain last year, Ostman reportedly has a great work ethic and he finished second in his school’s history in career tackles for loss (46.5) and sacks (28.0). He has a nice spin move and really stood his ground well during the East-West Shrine game practices. He would be an easy player to root for and I highly suggest you Google him to learn more about him.
Other players considered: Javon Rolland-Jones, Jason Cabinda, Greg Gilmore, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Round 7 – Pick No. 246 Overall – WR Russell Gage – LSU – The fact that Gage posted a 119.0 pSPARQ score at his pro day should be enough to get him drafted. The Steelers brought Gage in for a pre-draft visit and if you watch his tape, it’s easy to see why. While far from a fully developed wide receiver, Gage is far from his ceiling and he possesses nice raw tools to work with. He will block, play special teams and can run in the open field. Entering this year’s draft, the Steelers essentially only have three wide receivers as Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey are both far from being locks to make the 53 this year. Gage might make a nice fifth wide receiver and the fact that he could contribute on special teams is a bonus.
Other players considered: Chris Worley, Joshua Frazier, John David Moore, Justin Jackson