We’ve reached the period in the pre-draft process where it’s time to submit final grades, final mocks, and anything else that’s “final” before Thursday’s first round kicks off in Dallas. It’s almost like that time in school where the teacher administering a test tells you it’s time to put the pencils down.
For me, my final mock draft 3.0 is “pencils down” time, as this is the last pre-draft article that I’ll write for the 2019 NFL Draft. My mock 1.0 can be found here, and my 2.0 version can be found here.
It’s been a blast working through this pre-draft process with the team here at Steelers Depot, and I hope all you readers enjoyed it as much as we did.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my final seven-round, 10-pick mock draft, version 3.0.
First round, 20th overall — Byron Murphy/CB/Washington/5’11”, 190
Analysis: Yep, I’m not changing this pick from my previous mock draft.
While the Steelers threw major money at Steven Nelson in free agency and are poised to extend Joe Haden’s contract, the fact of the matter is the Steelers desperately need to continue adding talent in the secondary.
Murphy is a long, physical cornerback with above-average ball skills for the position. He brings an edge to the game, and the Steelers need that in the back end. Now, the question becomes how Murphy makes an impact in the first year, but I’m not really worried about that, and I don’t think the Steelers will be overly concerned with that either. Add good players to the mix and let talent win out.
If Murphy were to overtake Nelson, the Steelers could kick the free agent acquisition inside to the slot, giving them three solid corners across the board.
Like I said in my second mock, I truly believe this pick will come down to Murphy or Greedy Williams. I would be thrilled with either corner, but I prefer Murphy at this stage of the game.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State; 2.0 — Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Second round, 52nd overall — Juan Thornhill/S/Virginia/6’0”, 205
Analysis: I’m adding another secondary player to the mix, and it’s another one with good production and ball skills.
Juan Thornhill is a Virginia kid so Mike Tomlin will obviously have some interest. Thornhill could fill the dime roll, or could slot in as the centerfielder in the Steelers’ defense.
Kevin Colbert has said time and time again in this pre-draft process that he wants defensive backs that have a history of production when making plays on the football. It’d be hard to pass up arguably the top safety in the class at 52 overall, especially one with Thornhill’s resume that includes 13 career interceptions, including 6 last season.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson; 2.0 — Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
Third round, 66th overall — Miles Boykin/WR/Notre Dame/6’4”, 220
Analysis: The Steelers have shown clear interest in Boykin, who is a big, physical receiver that can win at the catch point and is a willing blocker on the outside. He profiles more as a vertical Z receiver, but he’s a huge target to add to the room after the loss of Antonio Brown.
Boykin didn’t have much production at Notre Dame and really only had one year as a starter, so those could be red flags for the Steelers, but it’s important to remember that Boykin never really had a quarterback that could take advantage of his skill sets. Here’s hoping Ben Roethlisberger can early on.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M; 2.0 Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
Third round, 83th overall — Miles Sanders/RB/Penn State/5’11”, 221
Analysis: A running back in the third round? Well, based on the pre-draft visitors the Steelers have had, there’s clear interest in a number of running backs. Sanders is the best of the bunch for my money.
Sanders had a really strong combine and put together a solid season as the starter in 2018 after taking over for Saquon Barkley in Happy Valley. He can run between the tackles and bounce it to the outside to run away from defenders. I love his frame and he has relatively few miles on his tread.
The Penn State product did struggle in big games, but he’s the ideal No. 2 compliment in this class to James Conner.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State; 2.0 — David Long Jr., LB, West Virginia
Fourth round, 122nd overall — Gary Johnson/LB/Texas/6’0”, 226
Analysis: Colbert attended his Pro Day, and the Steelers did bring in Johnson as a pre-draft visitor, so the interest is obviously there. Johnson blew up the combine for linebackers, posting a ridiculous 4.42 40-yard dash and added a 33.5-inch vertical jump.
However, his tape isn’t as good as his testing numbers showed as he struggled some in coverage. That said, he’s very solid against the run, has legitimate sideline-to-sideline range, and can shoot gaps coming downhill. He’ll need some additional development, but he’s an athletic profile to add to the mix.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Jordan Brailford, EDGE, Oklahoma State; 2.0 — David Sills IV, WR, West Virginia
Fifth round, 141st overall — Daylon Mack/DL/Texas A&M/6’1”, 336
Analysis: I really, really like Daylon Mack and how he profiles as a fit for the Steelers.
He’s listed at just 6-foot-1, but weights 336 pounds. He’s not an interior plug though. Mack is a powerful, athletic defensive tackle who can shoot gaps, rush the passer and realistically could play all three positions across the defensive front for the Steelers.
His athletic profile comes from being a running back in high school. Mack is right around the same size as current Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Both are athletic specimens for their size, so the Steelers could look to visit that well once again.
Previous selections: 1.0 — Khalen Saunders, iDL, Western Illinois; 2.0 — Daylon Mack, DL, Texas A&M
Sixth round, 175th overall — Alize Mack/TE/Notre Dame/6’4”, 249
Analysis: This is a bit later than I wanted to address tight end, but Mack is a guy the Steelers have shown interest in, so the fit here makes sense.
Mack has some good straight-line speed and a big, strong frame to go up and get contested catches. That said, he’s a bit limited in his routes at this point in his career, and struggles as a blocker in the run game. He’ll need some work in that area right away, but it doesn’t hurt to take a chance on a guy with this size and experience.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Greg Dortch, WR, Wake Forest; 2.0 — Jalen Jelks, EDGE, Oregon
Sixth round, 192nd overall — Ben Powers/iOL/Oklahoma/6’4”, 307
Analysis: Much like the Murphy and Mack picks earlier in this mock, I’m keeping Oklahoma guard Ben Powers right here in my mock because I feel so good about it. Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett spent so much time at the Sooners’ Pro Day talking to each member of the Oklahoma offensive line, so there has to be some real interest there.
Powers makes the most sense because he won’t cost a premium draft pick, and he can play all three interior offensive line positions, giving the Steelers coveted depth and versatility.
Powers started three years at Oklahoma and plays with a chip on his shoulder daily, due to not receiving a single scholarship offer coming out of high school before going the JUCO route. He’s a mauler in every way, shape and form. Sign me up.
Previous selections: 1.0 — Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State; 2.0 — Ben Powers, iOL, Oklahoma
Sixth Round, 207th overall — Ulysees Gilbert III/LB/Akron/6’0”, 228
Analysis: One of the rare athletic linebackers that didn’t receive a combine invite, Gilbert could be one of the more productive mid-round linebackers in this class thanks to impressive length, sideline-to-sideline range, and a lengthy resume with plenty of experience.
I do have some concerns about Gilbert’s ability to hold up inside at the next level because he’ll need to stay clean and his frame appears smaller for the position, but all he did was produce at Akron in 51 career games.
If the Steelers were going to double-dip at linebacker this year (they really should), I’d prefer they grab Gilbert III late in the draft.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Hjathe Froholdt, iOL, Arkansas; 2.0 — Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
Seventh round, 219th overall — Andrew Van Ginkel/EDGE/Wisconsin/6’3”, 241
Analysis: Van Ginkel, a college teammate of TJ Watt’s, was a late name brought in for a pre-draft visit. His tape isn’t great and he appears rail-thin for the position at Wisconsin, but he’s as athletic as they come.
Van Ginkel had a solid showing at the combine, posting a 6.89 3-cone. According to Mock Draftable, he has a similar athletic profile to current 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, whom I was really high on in last year’s draft.
At this stage of the draft, you’re basically throwing darts at the wall hoping to land a player worthy of a roster spot who might develop into a contributor. That’s what I see in Van Ginkel. He can play special teams right away at the very least and could provide some snaps off the edge.
Previous Selections: 1.0 — Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison; 2.0 — Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State