With one month now remaining until the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway, Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN decided on Tuesday to release his third mock of the offseason. Kiper’s latest version, however, includes him having the same selection for the Pittsburgh Steelers that he had in his previous version. In summation, Kiper once again has the Steelers selecting Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker 20th overall in the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh signed former Chiefs corner Steven Nelson in free agency, but the team could still target a defensive back in the round. As I wrote in my Mock Draft 2.0, former first-round pick Artie Burns had a rough 2018 season, and the Steelers need more depth at cornerback. Baker (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) had a solid combine workout, although he’s not an elite athlete. The Steelers are another team that could target an edge rusher early.
Baker is an interesting selection for the Steelers from Kiper in this version and especially now that the Georgia pro day has taken place. While Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was reportedly present at the Georgia pro day this year, general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin weren’t in attendance and that’s usually a key clue when it comes to players potentially being Pittsburgh first-round selections.
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. He 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.
At the annual NFL scouting combine, Baker measured in at 5110, 193-pounds with 32-inch arms and 9-inch hands. He ran the 40-yard-dash in Indianapolis in 4.52-seconds and did 14 reps on the bench. He also registered a 9’10” broad jump at the combine. Baker reportedly had a better showing at his pro day and that includes a slightly better 40-yard-dash time.
At this point in the pre-draft process, I will be surprised if the Steelers ultimately select Baker in the first-round of this year’s draft as there are just too many key indicators working against him at this point.
As for the rest of Kiper’s latest mock draft, he has the top two linebackers, LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush, going 5th overall and 11th overall, respectively. While Kiper currently has three cornerbacks being drafted in the first-round this year, Washington’s Byron Murphy isn’t one of them. In fact, after having Baker as his first cornerback off the board to the Steelers, Kiper has Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin as the second one off the board in the first-round with LSU’s Greedy Williams finally being selected 29th overall.
In addition to having three tight ends being drafted in the first-round this year, Kiper surprisingly has just two wide receivers being selected within the first 32 picks with Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin being the second one after Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf.