Like we have for the past several years, my first mock draft of the season. One that focuses only on players who participated in last week’s Senior Bowl. Debated doing one this year because I wasn’t in Mobile but wanted to take a crack at it because hey, they’re fun to do and something to talk about now that Antonio Brown isn’t in front of a camera (for now).
Round One: Amani Oruwariye/CB Penn State – 6’1/6 204
Unfortunately for the Steelers and the purposes of this mock, there aren’t a lot of great options here. Guys who are first round candidates and are even semi-arguable to the Steelers needs. And some that do, I don’t see as scheme fits, like Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.
But Oruwariye could be that impact player to the team’s secondary. He shows great ball skills and size the team has looked for in the position and shows discipline reading routes in coverage. The starting experience isn’t extensive but that hasn’t seemed to bother this front office much before.
Round Two: Germaine Pratt/ILB NC State – 6’2/5 240
Again, not a ton of inside linebacker options from this Mobile group. I landed on Pratt, who may be taken a round early here, but the team is dying to find some help here. Maybe a little Timmon-ish with his inside/outside versatility, he’s a guy who can stuff the run, cover, and make plays (nine career breakups, six sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles). Potential starter Day One next to Vince Williams.
Round Three: Terry McLaurin/WR Ohio State – 6’0 205
McLaurin is definitely one dude who helped himself at the Senior Bowl. A chance to ball out after limited touches and production at Ohio State, he was the fastest dude there. And the Steelers sure like speed and vertical threats at receiver.
He’s probably not a perfect pick, more of a Z type on a Steelers’ roster containing two of them already, but a logical fit in need, style, and location. Pittsburgh loves those Ohio State kids.
Round Four: Daylon Mack/NT Texas A&M – 6’1 327
If you’ve heard me talk about Mack, you probably figured I was including him here. Depth along the defensive line and backup for Javon Hargrave. He’s explosive off the ball and stout at the point of attack. Wish he had some more versatility to play up and down the line but a quality plugger than can offer power in his pass rush.
Round Six: Juan Thornhill/S Virginia – 6’0/6 202
Maybe a little bit lower here than where some mainstream outlets are projecting him. I haven’t gotten into his tape at all but we’re going all Gerod Holliman here, looking at the box score to try and find some playmakers. Few made plays on the ball like Thornhill; 13 career interceptions, including six for the Cavs as a senior. Hopefully he tackles better than Holliman.
Round Six: Tony Pollard/RB Memphis – 5’11/5 200
Pollard is a guy I really want to check out. Interesting resume. Receiver/running back hybrid and in that sense, reminds of me Jaylen Samuels. But a much more dynamic player while offering some size. He averaged over seven yards per carry the last two years, caught nine career touchdowns, and holds the NCAA record with seven kickoff return touchdowns as a Tiger. As a junior, he averaged 40 yards per return on 22 tries. Slides in well as a versatile #3 back.
Round Seven: Tommy Sweeney/TE Boston College – 6’4/6 253
Pollard is an exciting pick so we go library-boring to round things out. Sweeney is a throwback, blocking type of tight end who isn’t going to get many in a frenzy. But he’s physical, productive enough, and adds competition for the #3 spot. Even if Xavier Grimble returns, his roster spot shouldn’t be secured and there currently aren’t a lot of other options to make a push with Jake McGee coming off a torn Achilles and the ceiling of Bucky Hodges or Christian Scotland-Williamson likely limited.