CBS Sports kicked off this Monday with their latest mock draft, doing a two round prediction of what will happen next April. And while plenty of mocks go astray when in it comes to addressing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ needs, this one does a decent-enough job.
With the 20th pick, one that’s becoming pretty popular, the team takes Washington corner Byron Murphy. Writer Ryan Wilson notes of the pick:
“Murphy didn’t test well at the combine, and while he may be undersized, he is a tenacious defender who would immediately upgrade a Steelers secondary looking to replace Artie Burns.”
Of course, this isn’t perfect reasoning. Pittsburgh has found their replacement for Burns, inking Steven Nelson to a three-year deal early in free agency. But as we wrote after NFL.com also mocked Murphy to #20, it’s possible he could kick inside to the nickel spot and be an upgrade over Mike Hilton, who has played well but someone the team seemed to sour on down the stretch.
Capable of playing on the outside too, Murphy could definitely play inside too. His quickness, hiding a lack of elite speed or size, with the physicality to bump inside, blitz, and support the run. Getting this secondary to do a 180 from its issues last year means overhauling much of the group so while it’s no longer the #1 need, the pick makes sense.
At #52, the Steelers selected WR Deebo Samuel, a name we’ve discussed plenty on here already. Wilson pens:
“Samuel is a four-down player who can line up anywhere. He’d be a lot of fun to watch alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster, especially as the Steelers try to replace Antonio Brown.”
Short, sweet, to the point, but also an accurate way to describe Samuel and the fit. He can play inside or out, versatility that’s important in this offense – moreso without Antonio Brown – and a dynamic threat downfield and in the red zone. He’s like a more explosive, quicker version of Donte Moncrief.
Of course, the elephant in the room here is inside linebacker and the fact it isn’t addressed here. This mock shows the difficulty of doing so. Devin White and Devin Bush went in the top 11 while Mack Wilson is arguably a reach at 20 for the Steelers but also likely to be off the board before the team picks again at 52. Like he is in this mock, taken #41 to the Denver Broncos. That’s the compelling reason to make every honest attempt to trade up to get someone like Bush, though the cost won’t be cheap.