NFL Draft

Three First Round Possibilities For the Steelers (We Aren’t Talking Enough About)

Leighton Vander Esch. Jessie Bates. The “sleepers” – Mason Rudolph and Derrius Guice. Those are the names you’ve heard kicked around for the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick 28. And with good reason. All are possible.

But are those the only options for the Steelers? Of course not. Here are three players possibly on the Steelers’ radar we haven’t talked nearly enough about yet.

1. Ronnie Harrison/SS Alabama 

Harrison was a popular name attached to the Steelers early in the draft process. But after he failed to test like Justin Reid, and didn’t gain the local steam Bates did, his name has mostly been kicked under the rug over the past month. But he checks plenty of boxes with a Pittsburgh first round pick. Underclassmen, production, Power 5 conference, and the Tomlin/Colbert Pro Day circuit – I’m assuming he was one of the eight players to dine with Coach T.

With the team signing Morgan Burnett, which seems to mean Sean Davis will move to FS, the Steelers have more flexibility as to the type of safety they want to grab. Harrison’ isn’t a top tier athlete but he’s a hitter with room to grow. He’s also coming from about the most NFL-secondary in college football and a great DB teacher in Nick Saban.

2. Sam Hubbard/OLB Ohio State

Yes, his current weight makes him look like a defensive end. But he can slim down to play the Edge. Again, you’re looking at plenty of boxes checked. Another underclassmen, a strong 2017 (13.5 TFL, 7 sacks), and unlike Harrison, a long track record of Buckeyes over the last decade of draft picks.

The 40 time is going to have half the fan base screaming “Jarvis Jones.” The difference? Their bend, as evident by their three cone times. Jarvis reportedly posted a 7.46 at his Pro Day. Hubbard? A 6.84 at the Combine. That’s night and day and history suggests pass rushers with a sub 6.9 three cone are going to have success. A short list of players since 2017 who’ve done it.

Vinny Curry
Brian Robison
Joey Bosa
Jordan Willis
Trent Murphy
J.J. Watt
Von Miller
Bruce Irvin
Melvin Ingram
Demarcus Ware

Yeah, I cherry-picked it a little bit but go look at the list yourself. Relatively speaking, it’s a high predictor of NFL success. Point is, Hubbard is part of that group and I care more about his body of work and that three cone than his 40 time. The reality is that still, that 40 time could push him down in the draft and be replaced by other options like Harold Landry.

Hubbard could be the true pass rusher the Steelers have been missing since the Harrison/Woodley golden ages.

3. Lorenzo Carter/OLB Georgia

Some of what I said about Hubbard can apply to Carter. But Carter is truly one of the draft “freaks” who tested off the charts at the Combine. 6’5 250 pounds, he ran a 4.46 40, jumped 36 in the vert, and 10’10” in the broad. The production isn’t quite there so he’s basically the opposite or Jarvis Jones in every sense of the word. AKA, that’s not a bad thing.

Like the others, Colbert attended Georgia’s Pro Day. Carter can play off-ball or on the edge. The Steelers like moving their linebackers around, especially on third down, so that versatility is a plus. There are plenty of reasons to believe the team would be high on Carter and if they don’t love the ILB class, which Kevin Colbert has hinted at, or if those names disappear, Carter could be one of the top talents left.

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