With the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine now behind us and the annual schedule of college pro days now underway, it’s time for me to release my second Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the offseason. So, here it is below for you in all its glory.
As usual, I chose not to use a mock draft simulator for my second offering this year as I just don’t like going that route this early if I can avoid it. As usual, I ask that you focus on the individual players I selected for the Steelers while critiquing this mock draft instead of the rounds they were taken in. Tell me what you like and dislike about each of the players I have mocked to the Steelers and which players you would have selected instead.
With all the disclaimers that I’m sure you failed to read out of the way, here is my second mock draft of 2020. Remember, this mock is what I think the Steelers might do.
2nd Round – C Cesar Ruiz – Michigan – 6026, 307, 33 1/8, 11 – Is Ruiz the best center in this year’s draft class? It’s possible but if not, he’s probably the second-best. Should the Steelers lose backup center/guard B.J. Finney in free agency, they’ll likely want to draft a center-centric player somewhere in the early rounds and potentially even one that can play some guard. Ruiz played a little guard while at Michigan in addition to being their starting center the last two seasons. It’s not uncommon for centers to slip in drafts and especially if they’re not the top one in their class. A lot of teams night consider Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz as the best center in this year’s draft class and if that’s ultimately the case, the Steelers should be able to still the underclassman Ruiz at 49 overall. Drafting a center early this year isn’t sexy, but it might perhaps be the safest selection for the Steelers and especially with Maurkice Pouncey likely having just two seasons left in him.
3rd Round (Compensatory) – S Antoine Winfield Jr. – Minnesota – 5091, 203, 30 1/8, 9 1/2 – Does that name sound familiar? It should, because Antoine Winfield Sr. played 14 years in the NFL as a cornerback. The elder Winfield also played for the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was the defensive coordinator there. Winfield Jr. is one of the more versatile safeties in this year’s draft class and if not for injuries suffered in 2017 and 2018, he’d likely be projected to go much higher than the third or fourth-round in this year’s draft. He played in the slot, in the box and deep during his career at Minnesota and played in a lot of cover-2 coverages. He can play downfield against the run as well. If the Steelers are looking for that extra safety to help immediately in the dime, Winfield Jr. could potentially be that player and possibly even as late as the team’s compensatory selection in the third-round. The Steelers love NFL bloodline and tough physical players that are smart and the younger Winfield is all those things in one.
4th Round – WR Devin Duvernay – Texas – 5104, 200, 30 5/8, 9 1/2 – Duvernay is perhaps one of the most underrated wide receivers in this year’s very, very strong class at the position. What’s not to like? He played outside and inside during his career at Texas. He’s very physical with good hands and was even a team captain. He was a 2020 Senior Bowl participant and that will also work in his favor when it comes to potentiality being drafted by the Steelers. Turn on Duvernay’s tape and go read the Oct 11, 2019 ESPN.com story on him. If you do both of those things, I dare you to come back to this post and tell he’s not a perfect wide receiver for the Steelers in the fourth-round.
4th Round – TE Cole Kmet – Notre Dame – 6056,262, 33, 10 1/2 – This year’s tight end class is very meh and thus several from that position will likely be pushed down into day-three. I expect Kmet to be one of those tight ends pushed down. He’s an underclassman with some upside and that will likely entice the Steelers even if they do keep veteran tight end Vance McDonald for the 2020 season. Kmet could use a red-shirt year in 2020 just the same so that he can develop more as a blocker and route runner. From an athletic profile standpoint only, Kmet might be the best tight end in this year’s draft class.
6th Round – OLB/EDGE Jabari Zuniga – Florida – 6033, 264, 32 7/8, 10 3/8 – The perfect sixth-round edge prospect for the Steelers. He’s one of those classic tweeners primed for a conversion to a 3-4 outside linebacker at the NFL level after not playing on his feet much during his college career at Florida. At 6033, 264-pounds, Zuniga is a bit of a tough sell as a 4-3 base end. With this year being a deep edge class and with Zuniga missing a lot of games in 2019 due to an ankle injury, he’s primed to be a mid-day-three selection. He was at the Senior Bowl this year, so the Steelers probably know a good deal about him.
7th Round – DT/NT Benito Jones – Mississippi – 6010, 316, 32 7/8, 9 3/4 – Jones is a classic interior plugger out of the SEC and destined to be a late day-three selection. He had 10 sacks over the course of the last three seasons and 53 total run stops, according to PFF stats. He was predominantly used as an A and B-gap defender most of his college career. His intriguing athletic profile when combined with his inconsistent play makes him a late-round defensive tackle option for the Steelers, who will likely lose Javon Hargrave to free agency a few weeks from now.