In what might just be his final mock draft before the start of the 2019 NFL scouting combine, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. now has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a former SEC cornerback in the first-round at No. 20 overall.
In his second mock draft of 2019, Kiper has the Steelers selecting Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker with the 20th overall pick in round-one and he writes:
Artie Burns, a first-round pick in 2016, had a poor 2018 season, and corner is a clear need in Pittsburgh this offseason. I suspect the Steelers would love to get their hands on the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Baker, my second-ranked corner. Inside linebacker is another position to watch, as the team hasn’t been able to adequately replace Ryan Shazier. Could a sneaky need be wide receiver if the Steelers trade Antonio Brown?
Kiper linking the Steelers to possibly selecting a cornerback in the first-round this year isn’t all that surprising as the team figures to address that position somewhere in the first three rounds.
Baker, who we have already profiled on the site a few weeks ago, registered 116 total tackles in the 51 games he played at Georgia to go along with 7 interceptions, 24 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Baker was also PFF’s highest-graded SEC cornerback in 2018 on his way to a 40.2 passer rating against him when targeted in coverage.
Baker, who won the 2018-2019 Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive back, decided to sit out Georgia’s Sugar Bowl game. After that, he then turned down an invitation to participate in January’s Senior Bowl. It will now be interesting to see how Baker tests at this year’s scouting combine and especially when it comes to his 40-yard-dash as there are a few questions concerning his long speed as February slowly starts coming to an end.
Another item worth noting about Baker is that he’s already 22 years of age and he’ll turn 23 in September, right before the 2019 NFL regular season gets underway. That’s quite old when it comes to the past decades’ worth of Steelers first-round draft picks made under general manager Kevin Colbert.
In case you missed it, Kiper, had the Steelers selecting Michigan linebacker Devin Bush in his first mock draft of 2019 that he released in the middle of January.