The NFL Combine starts on February 26th. And the event which used to happen relatively quietly has become a big production as most things NFL related do. It’s a chance for teams to get a closer look at over 300 players, get official measurements completed and start the interview process.
Before that happens why not take a shot at doing a Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft to see which players may be options with each of their seven picks. Alex has made his initial predictions and here I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully this will give you some names to pay attention to at the combine in the next couple weeks leading up to the NFL draft.
Round One: Kelvin Harmon WR/ North Carolina State – 6’3” 214
Analysis: A couple months ago wide receiver probably would not have been this high on the need list but we all know why it is now. Other than JuJu Smith-Schuster they don’t have any proven receivers on the outside. I like James Washington and he played better the last couple games but are the Steelers sure he’s the answer to where they could wait in the draft?
They have drafted well in recent history and have developed the young WR’s but that was mostly under the watch of Richard Mann and he retired. So here I take a guy who is more polished who can separate, uses his hands well vs defenders and has reliable hands.
Others Considered: CB Byron Murphy, ILB Mack Wilson, S Nasir Adderley
Round Two: Julian Love/DB Notre Dame – 5’11” 193
Analysis: Defensive back is a major need and could be addressed in round 1 but if not there should be some good options in round 2. Love has a lot of experience with 34 starts and has impressive ball skills with 36 pass breakups over the last two seasons. He likes to jump the underneath routes, plays the receiver well with his back to the ball and seems to have plenty of speed to run with most receivers on deep balls.
Developing DB’s has been a sore spot for the Steelers but there are new coaches to try and turn that around. Tom Bradley was brought in last season and Teryl Austin was brought in this season to assist coaching the secondary.
Others Considered: CB Amani Oruwariye, CB Trayvon Mullen, WR Deebo Samuel
Round Three: Te’Von Coney/ILB Notre Dame – 6’0” 240
Analysis: Double dipping from Notre Dame. The Steelers actually have some cap space this year which is a rarity so free agency will be considered for all of their need positions, ILB included. If they miss out on guys like Devin White and Mack Wilson early there are few guys that can be had in the middle rounds that can help.
Coney has very good instincts and reads and reacts to his keys very quickly. He has good acceleration and is a strong tackler. Coverage will be an area for review as he wasn’t asked to play in man coverage often but I think he has enough athleticism and speed to handle it.
Others Considered: LB T.J. Edwards, WR Terry McLaurin, OLB Justin Hollins
Round Four: Isaiah Buggs/ DL Alabama 6’3” 295
Analysis: Needing defensive line depth the pick here is Buggs. A player with a good anchor who plays with good leverage and has experience along the defensive line. It doesn’t hurt that the Defensive Line coach Karl Dunbar was formerly be the coach at Alabama so you’d hope he could bring out the best in him. It didn’t work out well for Josh Frazier last year but Buggs brings more to the table than he did.
Others Considered: OL Max Sharping, TE Josh Oliver, OLB Christian Miller
Round Six: Rodney Anderson/ RB Oklahoma 6’1” 220
Analysis: Anderson might not make it to the sixth round but there’s always a chance. Based on talent he would be drafted much higher but has had terrible luck with injuries suffering a broken leg, fractured vertebra and knee injury in college which might chase some teams away. But when he was healthy he looked impressive. He has good size, plays with physicality and catches the ball well out of the backfield. I’ve seen him compared to James Connor and I think that is warranted.
Others Considered: LB David Long Jr., DL Kingsley Keke, WR Keelan Doss
Round Six: Dru Samia/ OG Oklahoma 6’5” 304
Analysis: You can never have enough offensive line depth. Samia blocked for 2 consecutive Heisman Trophy winners and was part of a line that earned the Joe Moore Award in 2018 given to the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football. He has good agility, play strength to turn defenders and good feet to mirror in pass pro.
Others Considered: OT Oli Udoh, S Ugo Amadi, DB Corey Ballentine
Round Seven: Drew Sample/ TE Washington 6’5” 250
Analysis: There’s a chance the Steelers could lose a couple of tight ends. So, here is physical blocker that plays to the whistle who can move defenders with leverage and leg drive and solid quickness to block on Zone runs. As a receiver he has strong hands and needs to improve his ability to separate. He was used mostly in the short area on curls and crossing routes and occasionally on deeper routes. Could come in and competed for the TE2 or TE3 spots.
Others Considered: RB Mike Weber, OG Hjalte Froholdt, DE John Cominsky