The NFL Combine always feels like the unofficial start to draft season. With it kicking off in less than ten days, it’s a good chance to take my first crack at a Pittsburgh Steelers’ mock draft. This will change heavily throughout the process, as we learn more about prospects and who the organization shows interest in, but let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Round One: Byron Murphy/CB Washington – 5’11 175
Analysis: Murphy may not be the biggest guy but he’ll help solve the biggest issue this defense faces. Lack of playmakers. He intercepted six passes in just two years in school, breaking up another 20 over that span. He has a combination of athleticism, quickness, and ability to track the football while playing bigger than he’s listed. As a redshirt sophomore, there’s lots of room to grow.
He also fits the bill as a Power 5 underclassmen, the most common type of prospect Pittsburgh has chosen since 2010. Odds on favorite as a Day One starter opposite Joe Haden.
Others Considered: ILB Devin Bush, CB Deandre Baker, OLB Jachai Polite
Round Two: Deebo Samuel/WR South Carolina – 5’11/4 216
Analysis: You could argue Samuels won’t fall into mid-round two and you might be right. But there are likely to be at least a couple receivers taken before Samuel, who doesn’t have the size teams covet, so I think it’s possible for him to slip. The answer as the “X” receiver to replace Antonio Brown, who I assume is long gone by the time the draft rolls around. A strong route runner, playmaker, and high character athlete who produced in college. What’s not to like?
Others Considered: CB Julian Love, WR Riley Ridley, ILB Germaine Pratt
Round Three: Terrill Hanks/ILB New Mexico State – 6’2 234
Analysis: It’s hard to find the three down linebacker the Steelers need, still looking to replace all that Ryan Shazier gave them. Hanks is that option, one of the most athletic off-ball LBs in this class, recording 100+ tackles in each of the last three years. Combine that with 43.5 TFL, 11 sacks, and eight career interceptions, he’s proven to be valuable no matter what you ask him to do. And as the three-down guy, you gotta be able to do it all.
Others Considered: WR Emanuel Hall, SS Taylor Rapp, S Mike Bell
Round Four: Jordan Brailford/OLB Oklahoma State – 6’2/5 241
Analysis: Outside linebacker need might be a little lower on the list assuming Bud Dupree hangs around and the hope Ola Adeniyi can become the #3 jumping into his sophomore season. Brailford provides some depth and insurance, an easy mover with experience playing in space. Finished 2018 with 17 TFL and ten sacks while playing well in the East/West Shrine Game. Steelers always end up drafting multiple guys from the Senior Bowl/Shrine Game each draft. Four come out of this mock.
Others Considered: WR Anthony Johnson, LB Justin Hollins, DE Charles Omenihu
Round Six: Greg Gaines/NT Washington – 6’1/1 307
Analysis: No fifth round pick for the Steelers, traded away in the Ryan Switzer deal. Gaines provides depth along the interior, replacing Daniel McCullers. Gaines could go higher than this but until we get closer to draft day, I’ll lean on what some draft services indicate (NFL Draft Scout has him as a 6th round pick, Draft Countdown has him as the #19 DT). Being a one-note run plugger obviously hurts his value. But I like his build, his strike, and the strength he has to anchor the point of attack. 9.5 career sacks makes you think he can offer a little bit as a pass rusher, too.
Others Considered: RB L.J. Scott, DE Jonathan Ledbetter, TE Foster Moreau
Round Six: Travis Homer/RB Miami (FL) – 5’10 205
Analysis: Adding running back depth as the team likely looks for a #3 option behind James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Homer is relatively NFL ready. Strong and willing in pass protection with decent size and shows the ability to plant his foot and get vertical. He would be the favorite over someone like Trey Edmunds. Homer averaged six yards per carry in his Hurricanes’ career.
Others Considered: TE Tommy Sweeney, K Matt Gay, RB Bryce Love
Round Seven: Zack Bailey/OG South Carolina – 6’5 314
Analysis: I know, I know. The offensive line looks set. But I could still see this team adding another name to the mix. Having quality competition year-in, year-out, has made this group all the better. Even if Ramon Foster returns, you will start thinking about the future, and B.J. Finney will be a free agent next year. Maurkice Pouncey isn’t going to play forever either.
Bailey is a Swiss Army Knife, the type of guy you want in the 7th round, who on paper, reminds me of Wesley Johnson.
Over his career, Bailey has started at left guard, right tackle, and center. He’ll compete for the final roster spot, pushing guys like Zach Banner, who need that shove.
Others Considered: TE Kendall Blanton, P A.J. Cole, CB Sean Bunting