NFL Draft

Mel Kiper Jr. Has Steelers Going Mostly Defense In 2019 ‘Grade A’ Mock Draft

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his annual three-round “Grade A” mock draft for 2019 on Thursday and his four selections for the Pittsburgh Steelers are certain to create some discussion.

Kiper has the Steelers selecting Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker in the first-round, Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson in the second-round and Missouri wide receiver Emanuel Hall, and Boston College safety Will Harris in the third-round.

The Steelers have lost some star power this offseason, but they still have the talent to compete for the AFC North title. Where are Pittsburgh’s biggest needs? I look at cornerback, where former first-round pick Artie Burns had a disappointing 2018, and inside linebacker, where the Steelers still haven’t replaced Ryan Shazier. So as the GM here, that was my plan. Baker is my top-ranked corner, a steady and reliable lockdown cover defender. Wilson is a sure tackler who can slide into Shazier’s former role.

The Steelers have the No. 66 pick from the Raiders (in the Antonio Brown trade), and they could find a starter at the top of Round 3. Hall was Drew Lock’s deep threat at Mizzou. He averaged 23.5 yards per catch over the past two seasons, which led all FBS players with at least 35 receptions. Harris could compete to start at one of the safety spots.

Kiper mocking both Baker and Wilson to the Steelers isn’t overly surprising. For starters, Kiper has already mocked Baker to the Steelers in the first-round several times so far this offseason. For whatever it’s worth, the Steelers recently had Baker in for a pre-draft visit.

As for Wilson, who most draftniks now have being selected in the second-round after originally having him as the best or second-best inside linebacker in this year’s draft class, it’s not surprising to see Kiper mock him to the Steelers where he did. The Steelers had a large contingent art the Alabama pro day this year and that group of people included general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin in addition to defensive coordinator Keith Butler and Jerry Olsavsky, who coaches inside linebackers.

As for the wide receiver that Kiper mocked to the Steelers in the third-round, Hall, he measured in at this year’s scouting combine at 6017, 201-pounds with 33 1/4-inch arms and 9 3/4-inch hands. He ran his 40-yard-dash in Indianapolis in 4.39-seconds, did 15 reps on the bench and registered a 43.5-inch vertical jump to go along with an 11’9″ broad jump.

During is four seasons at Missouri, Hall registered 97 receptions for 2,016 yards and 16 total touchdowns. He had been invited to participant in the Senior Bowl this year but ultimately backed out because of a groin injury.

Hall might be best-suited to play the Z receiver position at the NFL level because of his ability to stretch the field. Hall struggled with a few injuries during his college career, had more than his fair share of drops, and also wasn’t much of a run blocker. It short, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers having much interest in Hall.

As for Harris, who measured in at the combine at 6010, 207-pounds with 31 1/4-inch arms and 9-inch hands, he ran his 40-yard-dash in Indianapolis in 4.41-seconds, did 20 reps on the bench and registered a 36.5-inch vertical jump to go along with as 10’3″ broad jump. His short shuttle time at the combine was 4.12-seconds and his 3-cone time was 6.91-seconds.

Harris had 5 interceptions during his four seasons at Boston College to go along with 225 total tackles, 7 passes defensed and a forced fumble. He was a Senior Bowl participant this year and might just be on the Steelers radar during the draft when it comes to a possible mid to later-round selection.

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