Not even the insanity surrounding COVID-19 can slow down the machine that is the Steelers Depot team and mock draft season.
As we move closer and closer to the start of the 2020 league year, I figured now was a good time to get my 1.0 version of my mock draft out before roster cuts and bargain bin free agent signings render it obsolete by the end of next week.
You’ll sense a theme with my first version: I stuck with Power 5 guys. I believe the Steelers are very close to competing for a Super Bowl in the next two years, and I wanted to grab guys from proven programs with ample playing experience.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my first version of a mock draft. Please leave me your thoughts at the bottom, and as always, I appreciate you all reading!
Round Two (49 Overall): Joshua Uche/EDGE/Michigan/6’1”, 241
Analysis: An edge this early, really? Yep, I went this direction with Uche. The main reason I like Uche is due to his athleticism and his position versatility. I think he has the ability to float between the edge and inside with the Steelers, and he’ll get a chance to reunite with former Michigan teammate Devin Bush.
Ideally, I see Uche playing in dime early in his career where he can drop into space and let his athleticism flourish. He’d be a solid backup right away at two positions, and could take over at either edge for Bud Dupree, or inside for Mark Barron or Vince Williams down the line.
With today’s game trending quickly towards speed on defense and positionless football, Uche seems like a wise decision to give roster builders for flexibility.
Round Three (102 Overall, compensation pick): Damien Lewis/iOL/LSU/6’2”, 329
Analysis: If the Steelers are serious about fixing the run game and providing more balance offensively with a successful rushing attack, Lewis is the guy the Steelers should target early in the draft along the interior of the offensive line.
Pop on LSU tape from the last two seasons and it’s tough to miss Lewis mauling guys inside. There’s a reason LSU’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award this year for the best offensive line in college football; Lewis was a big reason why.
He has the mean streak and a maulers mentality, which I love in offensive lineman, and he’s always looking for work and he has some nasty moments as a down blocker. He’s super solid as a pass blocker too, dropping an anchor against bull rushes with ease. I believe Lewis is a plug-and-play type guard that could be available late on Day 2.
Round Four (124 Overall): Albert Okwuegbunam/TE/Missouri/6’5”, 255
Analysis: There are few tight ends in this year’s draft class with Okwuegbunam’s size and speed. The problem is, that’s about it with the Missouri product.
He tracks the football well and is able to stretch the field vertically up the seam. However, he’s slow in and out of his breaks, doesn’t look very explosive changing directions, and is a timid blocker who lacks strength at the point of attack.
All that said, he could be a serious weapon for the Steelers as a strong No. 2 tight end out of the gates. No team is going to find a true No. 1 TE in this class; it’s just not going to happen. For the Steelers to add a guy like Okwuegbunam with his straight-line speed and production, it would be a significant upgrade to a depleted TE room behind Vance McDonald.
Round Four (135 Overall): Devin Duvernay/WR/5’11”, 202
Analysis: Team captain, slot weapon, and just a genuine good guy serious about football. Sounds like you can’t go wrong with Duvernay.
I do have concerns about overall athleticism, but the guy is just constantly open. He has a ton of burst and explosiveness in his game and he could be a potential killer in RPO reps where he’s isolated in the slot against slot corners and linebackers. He’s a serious threat after the catch, but he’s raw.
He’s just a guy I’d love to add to my locker room if I’m building a team.
Round Six (198 Overall): Geno Stone/S/Iowa/5’11”, 210
Analysis: A New Castle, PA native, Stone is a smart, positionally-sound safety who could thrive in as a backup in Pittsburgh, filling a key special teams role by backing up both positions behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds.
Stone anticipates plays developing in coverage thanks to quick processing and discipline with his keys to guide him to the football. Stone is a very strong tackler in space and rarely takes a poor angles in pursuit, pairing that with his anticipation to drive on quick hitting action at the line or in the backfield.
Round Seven (231 Overall): Robert Landers/iDL/Ohio State/6’1”, 285 Lbs
Analysis: I’m not a huge fan of waiting until the seventh round to address defensive tackle with the departure of Javon Hargrave weighing heavily on the minds of Steelers brass.
That said, Landers is sneaky good though. He has a really quick first step to beat blockers inside, and plays with good pad level thanks to his slight stature. He can anchor well against the run and could develop as a good interior pass-rushing piece down the line under defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.