It’s time for the final version of my Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 mock draft and If you missed by previous two mocks, you can find them at the links below.
As always, I ask that you focus on the players I have mocked to the Steelers and not so much on the round. I understand that a few might go higher or lower than what I have them, but the value in doing these mocks is the overall discussion about the players and whether or not they fit the Steelers.
As usual, I like to cheat when it comes to my final mocks and by that I mean I usually include several players who had pre-draft visits with the team. I also adhere to several other historical principles related to past Steelers drafts when putting my final mock together. One of those is making sure I pay close attention to players who played in the annual college all-star games as we’ve seen the Steelers draft quite a few of those players from rounds four and on over the years.
In short and as if you didn’t already know it, the ten selections I have below certainly won’t be all correct. In fact, I’ll probably be lucky to hit one or two picks this year. With that said, I’m happy with the finished product, if that’s such a thing with a complete guesstimation.
In addition to providing my guess for every round, I also included four other players I considered mocking so you can see where my head was at while putting this final one together. As usual, my primary goal is to have several of the 50 total players listed below ultimately wind up being selected by the Steelers.
I invite everyone to post their final mocks in the comments below and hope all of you enjoyed our pre-draft coverage this year. We look forward to covering the real thing for you beginning Thursday evening.
1st Round (Pick No. 20 overall) – Darnell Savage Jr. – Safety – Maryland – 5106, 198 lbs. – With all of the other staff members having their Steelers mock drafts in that have included the likes of cornerback Greedy Williams, edge-rusher Clelin Ferrell and cornerback Byron Murphy as the team’s first-round pick this year, I figured I would go for the presumed “reach” in mine and thus go with Savage out of Maryland. There’s been a lot of buzz this past week about Savage ultimately going in the first-round, despite many draftniks having him more as a third-round selection, so consider this pick me taking the late media bait.
On paper, the Steelers selecting Savage would go against quite a few trends the team has had over the years with the primary ones being that he’s not an underclassman and neither general manager Kevin Colbert nor head coach Mike Tomlin attending his pro day. In defense of breaking both of those trends, Savage won’t turn 22 years of age until late July, so he’s still relatively young and thus like drafting an underclassman. When it comes to Colbert and Tomlin not being at Savage’s pro day this year, that’s explainable as well as the annual league meetings were going at that same time. No way was Tomlin going to make the Maryland pro day, but the logistics for Colbert to be at the early-morning event after being in Arizona would have been tough as well. The Steelers did bring Savage in for a pre-draft visit, however, so that’s worth respecting. Savage was also a Senior Bowl participant this year so I’m sure the Steelers already spoke some with him there as well as some at the scouting combine. By the way, Savage was voted the practice player of the week for defensive backs at the Senior Bowl this year. Also, Tomlin’s son committed to Maryland not to long ago and Matt Canada, who was the temporary head coach last season for the Terrapins, certainly is no stranger to Tomlin. In short, I’m sure the Steelers no a great deal about savage by now.
Savage checks a ton of other boxes as well when it comes to him potentially being the team’s first-round selection this year as not only was he a team captain at Maryland, he played in 46 total games during his college career and started 37 of those. At Maryland he was also a very versatile defensive back as not only did he play some at cornerback, he also played both safety spots as well as some in the slot. He’s probably best-suited to play near the line of scrimmage at the NFL level and maybe even as a dimebacker. Should the Steelers not get a gift in Michigan linebacker Devin Bush falling to them in the first-round Thursday night, they should think about drafting a player who has some significant speed and physically in his game that can help initially in sub packages. Savage posted pSPARQ score of 128.2, and the Steelers like players with those high scores.
At Maryland, Savage recorded 181 total tackles of which 9 resulted in lost yardage. He also registered 22 total pass breakups to go along with 8 interceptions. Keep in mind that current Steelers safety Sean Davis is also now in the final year of his rookie contract and that team essentially doesn’t have a great dimeback option for 2019 following the release of veteran safety Morgan Burnett this offseason. If the Steelers decide to “reach” for a player again this year in the first-round, Savage has a great shot at being that player. Ideally, the Steelers would probably like to select Savage in the second-round, but I have doubts he’d still be on the board come time for that pick. If Savage does get bypassed by the Steelers in the first-round, maybe Colbert can trade up in the second-round to grab him. That’s my reach and now you know why I went with Savage.
Other players considered: Devin Bush, Clelin Ferrell, Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy
2nd Round (Pick No. 52 overall) – Julian Love – Cornerback – Notre Dame – 5106, 195 lbs. – The Steelers obviously could stand to draft another young cornerback this year to throw into the mix despite signing Steven Nelson this offseason during free agency. There are quite a few attractive ones that the Steelers should have a shot at in the second-round should they not get one in the first and Love is included in that group. Colbert was at the Notre Dame pro day this year as was new defensive assistant Teryl Austin, who put Love through a set of drills. Love played various coverages while at Notre Dame and that includes man, press and zone. He is more than willing to help against the run and has a solid character. He even played some in the slot at Notre Dame in some nickel situation and was among the FBS leaders in passes defensed each of the last two seasons, breaking the school record with 44 for his career. Love intercepted 5 passes while at Note Dame, had 176 total tackles and forced one fumble. After running the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.54-seconds, Love reportedly ran it in 4.45-seconds at his pro day. Hi pSPARQ score of 120.1 should be more than good enough for the Steelers. Like Savage, Love should also be an instant core special teams player during his rookie season for whichever team winds up drafting him.
Other players considered: Chase Winovich, Justin Layne, Sean Bunting, N’Keal Harry
3rd Round (Pick No. 66 overall) – Miles Boykin – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame – 6036, 220 lbs. – Boykin declared for this year’s draft as an underclassman and has since helped his stock with a solid showing at the annual scouting combine. Boykin mostly played the X receiver position at Notre Dame and that’s exactly the kind of wide receiver the Steelers will likely be looking to draft this year after trading away wide receiver Antonio Brown a few weeks ago. While Boykin didn’t consistently separate from defenders on deep routes in college, he’s good at getting open underneath and using his body to box out defenders. He possesses a large catch radius and usually catches the football away from his body with very few drops. He tracks the deep ball well in the air and is a very willing run blocker. Boykin is still very raw and thus will need some time to develop. He does, however, possess a nice ceiling that has yet to be scratched. During his college career at Notre Dame, Boykin registered 77 total receptions for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns in the 37 games that he played in. 59 of those receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns came this past season. 37 of his college catches gained 15 yards or more and 11 of them resulted in gains of 25 yards or more. The biggest concern with Boykin is that he was essentially just a one-year producer at Notre Dame and that’s something the Steelers generally stay away from when it comes to wide receivers. In Boykin’s defense, however, he didn’t have very good quarterbacks throwing him the football while in college and he was underthrown deep quite a bit.
Other players considered: Germaine Pratt, Blake Cashman, Josh Oliver, Renell Wren
3rd Round (Pick No. 83 overall) – Ben Banogu – Outside Linebacker – TCU – 6034, 250 lbs. – In addition to needing another safety and cornerback in this year’s draft, the Steelers could certainly stand to select another edge-rusher for outside linebacker as Bud Dupree figures to be gone after the 2019 season. Currently, Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adeniyi and Keion Adams are on the outside linebacker depth chart behind Dupree and fellow starter T.J. Watt with the latter two being very inexperienced. Enter Banogu, who was a Senior Bowl participant this year after a two-year career at TCU that included him registering 106 total tackles of which 34 resulted in lost yardage. 17 of those were sacks and he also forced 5 fumbles and defensed one pass in the 27 total games that he not only played in but started as well. As a team captain at TCU, Banogu played on his feet quite a bit and has a decent amount of experience dropping into coverage. One of the knocks on him is his age as he turned 23 in January. Banogu followed up his good week at the Senior Bowl with an impressive scouting combine showing that included him running the 40-yard dash in 4.62-seconds, doing 23 reps on the bench and registering a vertical jump of 40-inches to go along with a 11’02” broad jump. His short-shuttle time was 4.27-seconds in Indianapolis while his 3-cone time was 7.02-seconds. His pSPARQ score came in at a stellar 144.9. He also has long 33 5/8-inch arms to boot. Like most players I am mocking this year to the Steelers, Banogu also seems to have an impeccable character and the team brought him in for a pre-draft visit this year, which wasn’t surprising to see.
Other players considered: Charles Omenihu, Darrell Henderson, D’Andre Walker, Jordan Brailford
4th Round (Pick No. 122 overall) – Ben Burr-Kirven – Inside Linebacker – Washington – 6000, 230 lbs. – Yes, I know, yet another defensive player. After failing to address the much-needed inside linebacker position earlier, I had to finally do it in the fourth-round. If, however, the Steelers do the same, they could do worse than Burr-Kirven. An East-West Shrine game participant this year, Burr-Kirven posted a very respectable pSPARQ score of 132.7 at this year’s scouting combine. Not yet 22, Burr-Kirven registered a FBS-best 176 tackles in 2018, the most by a Washington defensive player since 1987. He had double-digit total tackles in 12 of 14 games in 2018 as well. He finished his college career with 338 total tackles of which 11.5 resulted in lost yardage and also had 4 sacks during his college career to go along with 6 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions and 16 total passes defensed. Burr-Kirven should be a core special teams player during his rookie season. The Steelers brought him in for a pre-draft visit this year so they obviously have some level of interest in him.
Other players considered: David Long Jr., Justice Hill, Te’Von Coney, Vosean Joseph
5th Round (Pick No. 141 overall) – Foster Moreau – Tight End – LSU – 6042, 250 lbs. – If there’s one single player who has seemed destined to become a Steeler this year since the Senior Bowl, it’s probably Moreau. His best fit in the NFL is likely as a second tight end and with the Steelers, specifically, as a replacement for Jesse James. Moreau is not a flashy receiver or blocker, but he’s more than adequate in both areas and he should be able to contribute some on special teams to boot. He was a team leader at LSU and has impeccable character to go along with a strong football IQ. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Steelers draft a tight end somewhere in this year’s draft and they could do worse than Moreau in the middle rounds. Moreau had 52 receptions for 629 yards and six touchdowns during his college career at LSU and was even issued the coveted No. 18 jersey as a senior. Colbert and Tomlin were both at the LSU pro day this year. Is the fifth-round a round too late or early for him? We’ll see.
Other players considered: Ben Powers, David Sills V, Ross Pierschbacher, Alize Mack
6th Round (Pick No. 175 overall) – Isaiah Buggs – Defensive Lineman – Alabama – 6031, 306 lbs. – Buggs, another Senior Bowl participant this year, is a player that Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar likely knows a little bit about as he coached him one year at Alabama in 2017. While Buggs is a bit undersized in height when it comes to traditional 3-4 defensive ends, it helps him some when he fires out of his stance properly. In his two seasons at Alabama, Buggs registered 102 total tackles of which 17.5 of them resulted in lost yardage. 11 of those were sacks and he had two forced fumbles and 3 passes defensed in 29 games played in of which he started 28 of them. Buggs played up and down the defensive line at Alabama and even some over the center. The Steelers could use a player with Buggs’ position flexibility as a backup moving forward.
Other players considered: Ben Powers, David Sills V, Ross Pierschbacher, Alize Mack
6th Round (Pick No. 192 overall) – Alex Barnes – Running Back – Kansas State – 6003, 226 lbs. – In lieu of going with the running back that Alex Kozora has been married to throughout the pre-draft process, Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr., I’m going to go with Barnes, the running back that best-matches what the Steelers normally look for in his recent study of the position as far as measurables go. A two-year starter at Kansas State, Barnes led the Big 12 in rushing in 2018 with 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns on 256 carries. He also caught 20 passes for 194 yards in 2018 and seemed fine in pass protection. Duruing his college career at Kansas state, Barnes had 28 rushes that produced at least 20 yards and 78 that resulted in gains of 10 yards or more. He also played some on special teams in 2016 and in total, played in 36 total games of which he started 25 of them.
Other players considered: Benny Snell Jr., Tony Pollard, Mike Weber, Alex Bars
6th Round (Pick No. 207 overall) – Hjalte Froholdt – Guard/Center – Arkansas – 6045, 306 lbs. – Froholdt is a versatile offensive lineman who participated in the NFLPA BOWL game this year. Originally from Svendborg, Denmark, he mostly played left guard at Arkansas but was forced to play some at center due to injuries. According to his college bio, Froholdt ended his collegiate career with 2,446 snaps on the offensive line, with 1,291 in pass protection, allowing just three sacks, all coming in 2016. His 31 1/4-inch arms is a huge knock on him, however, and will likely be one of the many reasons he slips into the later rounds of the draft. He will need to get much stronger at the NFL level and might need be a practice squad player with hopes of developing into a backup.
Other players considered: Michael Jackson, Sr., Kris Boyd, Dillon Mitchell, Lil’Jordan Humphrey
7th Round (Pick No. 219 overall) – Matt Gay – Kicker – Utah – 6000, 232 lbs. – The Steelers could decide to draft a kicker this year due the struggles that Chris Boswell had last season and they might be able to even get Gay in the last round. In two seasons at Utah, Gay made all 85 of his extra-point attempts and was 56 of 65 on his field goal attempts. He won the Lou Groza Award as the country’s top kicker in 2017 and was a semifinalist for the same award in 2018. 8 of his field goals made were from 50 yards and out.
Other players considered: Andrew Van Ginkel, Stephen Denmark, Cole Tracy, Kerrith Whyte Jr.