NFL Draft

2019 Steelers Mock Draft Guide: Tips & Trends

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Are you looking to put together one last 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft in the coming days like many of us on the site are? If so, below is a guide you might want to follow that may help you hit on several players that the team will ultimately selecting this next weekend.

Colbert at pro day for first-round pick – The Steelers have a long history of drafting players in the first-round that general manager Kevin Colbert attended their pro day. In fact, you have to go all the back to 2009 and the Steelers selection of defensive lineman Ziggy Hood to find the last time the team didn’t select a player in the first-round who didn’t have Colbert in attendance at his pro day. You can find all of Colbert’s known pro day stops this offseason in our annual Steelers pro day tracker. If you mock a player to the Steelers in the first-round and he hails from a college that Colbert wasn’t at the pro day, have a real good reason for doing so.

Power Five conference player in first and second rounds – Another long trend the Steelers currently have when it comes to their first and second round selections revolves around them usually picking players who played their college football for a Power Five conference team. Those Power Five conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference. Only once since Colbert came to Pittsburgh in 2000 have the Steelers not selected a Power Five conference player in the first-round and that was in 2004 when they drafted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami of Ohio with the 11th overall pick. Additionally, only once since 2000 have the Steelers not selected a Power Five conference player in the second-round and that was also in 2004 when they drafted cornerback Ricardo Colclough out of Tusculum.

At least one non-Power Five conference player after second-round trend – In each of the last 10 drafts the Steelers have selected at least one player who didn’t play for a Power Five conference team in rounds three through seven. However, putting more than three non-Power Five conference players in a mock probably isn’t advisable.

Underclassman player likely in first-round – While not a sure-thing by any stretch, the Steelers have shown the propensity to draft an underclassman in the first-round under Colbert and especially when they have a top 25-selection, although former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and nose tackle Casey Hampton were both exceptions to that rule. When the Steelers selected defensive linemen Cameron Heyward (2011) and Hood (2009) and guard Kendall Simmons (2002), they picked 30th or later in the first-round. If you do decide to go with a non-underclassman in the first-round, you might want to make sure that player was at the Senior Bowl this year. Here are the names of 103 players who were granted special eligibility for the 2019 NFL Draft and the 32 players who fulfilled their degree requirements with college football eligibility remaining that were also eligible for selection this year.

Pre-draft visitor list as a guide – The Steelers are allowed 30 pre-draft visitors outside of their local area every year. Additionally, local college players out of Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Kent State, or players who are from the Pittsburgh area, can come in for visits and not count against the 30. Luckily for us, we know who all of this year’s Steelers pre-draft visitors were and you can find that list here. It’s a good bet that two to four players on this year’s pre-draft visitor list will ultimately be selected by the Steelers.

Second-round trend to consider – 7 of the last 8 second-round selections made by the Steelers either came in for a pre-draft visit or had Colbert or head coach Mike Tomlin at their pro day. The lone exception was wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2017.

Careful with underclassmen outside of second-round – It’s fine to mock an underclassman to the Steelers outside of the second-round but don’t go overboard. If you decide to mock an underclassman to the Steelers outside of the second-round, I would advise to have only one with that player being a wide receiver, running back, tight end or offensive lineman, based on history of Steeler drafts under Colbert. Whatever underclassman you choose to mock to the Steelers outside of the second-round, I would check to see if that player came in for a pre-draft visit to help increase your odds and also see if that player had a good bit of playing time and statistical production in college.

College All-Star Game players – When it comes to the Steelers drafting seniors in any round, they have a long history under Colbert of selecting players who played in one of the three annual college all-star games (Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, NFLPA Bowl). The rosters for each of those bowls are linked. If a senior player you mock to the Steelers didn’t play in one of those three games, or wasn’t invited to play in it, you might want to check the team’s pre-draft visitor list to see if he was brought to Pittsburgh.

Combine-only players is advisable – While the Steelers have drafted players in the past who weren’t invited to the annual scouting combine, it’s advisable to only mock players to them who were in Indianapolis this year. It’s very, very rare for the Steelers to draft a player who want invited to the combine. Outside linebacker Keion Adams was the last such player. It’s worth noting, however, that Adams was one of the Steelers pre-draft visitors that year after playing in the NFLPA Bowl. Here are the 2019 combine results.

The more SPARQy the more better – The Steelers, like most teams, love athletic players regardless of the round. Before mocking a player to the Steelers check out his SPARQ score here.

FCS players are few and far between – It’s fine to mock a player to the Steelers from a FCS school, but if you do, have a good reason other than just thinking he’s a sleeper. Did that player play in one of the three college all-star games? If not, did he come in for a pre-draft visit? Did he participate in this year’s scouting combine?

Gil Brandt’s Hot 150 as guide for first two to three rounds -NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt recently released his annual Hot 150 and I have found it to be a great guide when it comes to determining which players are most-likely to be drafted in the first three rounds. If you mock a player to the Steelers in the first three rounds that is not included in Brandt’s top 150, make sure you have a really good reason for doing so and make sure that player meets a lot of the other criteria listed in this guide. If a player is not included in Brandt’s 150, I certainly wouldn’t mock him to the Steelers in the first two rounds.

No QB necessary this year – With the Steelers selecting quarterbacks in each of the last two drafts, it would probably be wise not to mock them one this year.

Maybe a kicker this year – Due to the problems the Steelers had last season with kicker Chris Boswell and combined with the team seemingly pushing back his roster bonus due date earlier in the offseason, I wouldn’t blame anybody if they included a kicker in their mock draft this year. If you choose to go that route, think about using one of the team’s currently scheduled six-round picks on one. On the surface, it appears as though Matt Gay, Cole Tracy and Austin Seibert are considered to be the top three kickers in this year’s draft class.

Summation: Obviously most of the tips in this mock draft guide are based off of trends so there are no hard and fast rules. That said, most of these trends are very hard to ignore and all of the data you need to build a near-perfect Steelers mock draft should be linked in this one post. By using every aspect of this guide, along with a little common sense when it comes to team needs this year, one should be able to build a list of about 100 players to build your mock draft off of. When it doubt, trust your gut and happy mocking.

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