Free agency is just days away so I wanted to unveil my second mock draft before the next two weeks naturally shake everything up. If you missed it or want to compare, here’s the link to my first mock.
This one, of course, is updated to reflect the Marcus Gilbert and Antonio Brown deals. My next mock will come after free agency has settled down and we know what moves the Pittsburgh Steelers have made. I will have my mock offseason, one of my favorite articles to write each year, out bright and early tomorrow. Plan a long lunch and buckle up for that one.
Round One (20th Overall): Devin Bush/ILB Michigan – 5’11 234
Analysis: Yes, there’s some assumption of Bush falling to 20 after a stellar Combine workout but if he is, he might be their guy. On the surface, he checks the obvious boxes. Underclassmen, Power 5 conference, excellent athlete at a position of need.
He’s the three-down, sideline-to-sideline linebacker this team needs and Kevin Colbert has admitted, I mean, it’s painfully obvious, hasn’t properly replaced. They have to make the move this year. With White and Bush clearly in their own tier, waiting means risking not finding the guy that fits their needs. Colbert said, as he did last year, the depth isn’t great in this class, filled with specialists and niche players who don’t fit that weighty three-down bill.
No, we don’t know what direction the team will take in free agency but cornerback is deeper than inside linebacker, making it more reasonable to address the secondary there and the linebackers in the draft. For whatever it’s worth. Bush would be the Day One starter next to Vince Williams.
Others Considered: WR Hakeem Butler, CB Byron Murphy, DIME Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Round Two (52nd Overall): Deebo Samuel/WR South Carolina – 5’11/2 214
Analysis: Carrying Samuel over from my previous mock, separating himself from Georgia’s Riley Ridley, who didn’t test with much athleticism. Someone I believe can be the “X” receiver in working towards – obviously not doing so fully – replacing Antonio Brown. He has the quickness, better strength than you’d expect, with the ability to beat press and move around the offense. High character guy who produced when healthy. Strong Day two option.
Others Considered: CB Amani Oruwariye, ILB Blake Cashman, WR Kelvin Harmon
Round Three (66th Overall): Amani Hooker/DIME Iowa – 5’11/3 210
Analysis: Talked up Hooker before and after the Combine. Had a really impressive workout showing straight-line speed, a 4.48, and quickness that will let him play near the line of scrimmage, turning in a 4.1 in the short shuttle and 6.81 three cone, two of the top numbers for his position group.
Hooker is Morgan Burnett’s replacement with more athleticism, playmaking, and probably versatility. Picked off six passes the last two years, including four in 2018 for the Hawkeyes. Began his career playing in a more traditional safety role but became the hybrid/star last season as part of the defense’s 4-2-5 package. In Pittsburgh, it’d be a 3-3-5, which they showed in Week 17, opting for a third safety instead of corner. Value in having bigger bodies to support the run, blitz, and matchup on this new wave of “big” slot receivers, like the Steelers have in JuJu Smith-Schuster.
He checks all those boxes and can come in and play right away. This is probably on the low-end for him but it’s a strong safety class that could push him down into the very early portions of the third round, where pick #66 comes in.
Others Considered: S Juan Thornhill, CB Julian Love, OLB Chase Winovich
Round Three (84th Overall): Foster Moreau/TE LSU – 6’4/1 253
Analysis: Right now, assuming the Steelers are losing Jesse James to free agency. If he returns, then this could obviously change but without James, there’s no clear #2 on the roster. Rookie tight ends rarely make an impact but you can’t let Xavier Grimble have the spot without a push. Moreau seemed like a Day Three sleeper but after an excellent Combine workout, running a 4.66 and jumping 36.5 inches at 253 pounds, he’s shaping up to be a Day Two selection.
He’ll be another weapon for the offense when they decide to go 12 personnel all in that effort to replace Brown’s production, especially in the red zone. Moreau’s experience in LSU’s run-first offense helps, too.
Others Considered: SS Taylor Rapp, OLB Ben Banogu, CB David Long
Round Four (123rd Overall): Iman Marshall/CB USC – 6’0/5 207
Analysis: I know, I know, waiting until the fourth round and fifth pick for a corner – to me, the biggest position of need – is weird. Here’s the reason (that I’m sure the comments will ignore and yell at me for). I’m assuming the Steelers will sign a free agent corner to start opposite Joe Haden. If they don’t, this mock will change but that’s the purpose of the pre free agency mock.
Marshall began his Trojan career with a bang, picking off six passes his first two years. Things trailed off the rest of the way, admitting poor effort as a junior, and he didn’t intercept a pass the last two seasons. But I like his size, physicality, and instincts. He’ll start at corner with the possibility of shifting to safety if he’s not fast enough there.
With Haden, Hilton, Sutton, the presumed free agent, Marshall, B. Allen, Burns and a UDFA, the latter three will compete for spots in camp, you have an improved corner group. And Hooker is another get for the secondary.
Others Considered: EDGE Justin Hollins, DE Charles Omenihu, RB Darrell Henderson
Round Five (142nd Overall): Justin Hollins/EDGE Oregon – 6’5/2 248
Analysis: Took awhile to address the EDGE position but this is a team that’s led the NFL over the past two years. Hollins is a well put together prospect with versatility standing up and putting his hand in the dirt. Quality production, 36.5 career TFL and 14 sacks with a whopping seven forced fumbles, who tested well at the Combine. Ran 4.5 flat and jumped 36 inches in the vert.
Will come in to compete with Anthony Chickillo, should he be re-signed, and Ola Adeniyi, for playing time.
Others Considered: RB LJ Scott, NT Greg Gaines, S Donovan Wilson
Round Six (176th Overall): Devine Ozigbo/RB Nebraska – 6’0 220
Analysis: Factoring in his weight, Ozigbo tested really well at his Pro Day after being snubbed by the Combine. He ran 4.54 in the 40 and jumped 37 inches in the vert. Possible he goes higher than this but only one year of production hurts him. Still 2018 was a great one for him, averaging seven yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. 49 career receptions isn’t too shabby considering his role/playing time, too.
Steelers have a hole as their #3 running back behind James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. And this team likes their backs big, right around what Ozigbo weighed in at.
Others Considered: RB Qadree Allison, OL Zack Bailey, EDGE Carl Granderson
Round Six (194th Overall): Austin Seibert/K Oklahoma – 5’9/2 213
Analysis: Kicker time. Art Rooney II has repeatedly discussed how much the kicking game hurt the Steelers last year, again, stating the obvious, and has been adamant about adding competition for Chris Boswell. Matt McCrane isn’t enough. So I think there’s a puncher’s chance they draft one. If they can take a long snapper here, they can a kicker. Seibert has a ton of experience, the Sooners’ kicker all four years, who had to fight some adversity through a tough sophomore season (11 for 16). He bounced back, going 34/40 (85%) his last two years.
Little Pat McAfee in his background too, serving as the team’s punter each year. Though he didn’t perform particularly well, a career 41.7 average, that versatility is nice to have in case of emergency.
Others Considered: WR Stanley Morgan, DE Terry Beckner, LB Jahlani Tavai
Round Six (209th Overall): Garrett McGhin/OL East Carolina – 6’6 319
Analysis: Like we had with Zack Bailey in mock #1, I like McGhin because of his versatility. Starts at center, guard, and right tackle. Coaches valued his smarts and toughness. Here’s what ECU’s NFL liasion said about McGhin at the start of the year.
“He’s a good looking guy and on the hoof, he’s what you want,” Overton said. “He’s played a lot for us here. When he played center, he was making the calls, which is good for him. He played guard last year and this year we kicked him out to right tackle cause of need. … That’s all very positive. He’s a great student. He’s already graduated and is in grad school. That shows his commitment to his academics and taking care of business.”
Offensive line becomes even more likely after the Steelers shipped Marcus Gilbert out for a 6th, presumably pick 209, the lowest of the three Arizona has in this round.
Others Considered: P AJ Cole III, TE Dawson Knox, OLB Sutton Smith
Round Seven (221st Overall): Nate Brooks/CB North Texas – 5’11/7 186
Analysis: Sorta like the Gerod Holliman pick, though I’m betting Brooks isn’t nearly the atrocious tackler Holliman was. Shot in the dark, gambling on a player with strong college production and a knack for coming away with the football.
Picked off nine career passes for the Mean Green, including five as a senior, and then nabbed another at the NFLPA Bowl. Forced three fumbles and recorded 61 tackles in 2018, showing he’s comfortable being around the football. Basically a four-year starter, entering the lineup mid-way into his true freshman season.
Others Considered: EDGE Jamal Davis, LB Tre Watson, WR Kelvin McKnight