The best time of the year is finally here as we sit less than a week away from the start of the 2020 NFL Draft.
It’s been a long, challenging road to get here for all of us, but let’s now kick back and enjoy the three-day draft.
With COVID-19 affecting not only the general way of life for most Americans, but also the scouting process overall for all 32 teams, you’ll notice a theme here with my final version of a Steelers’ mock draft: I stick with all Power 5 guys, all of whom were at the Combine.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my final 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): Tamurice (Tee) Higgins/WR/Clemson/6’4”, 216 Lbs
Analysis: With my tinfoil hat on here, I tried to connect some obvious dots, as well as those that might not really exist. We keep hearing about guys like Michael Pittman Jr., Antonio Gandy-Golden, and Lynn Bowden Jr. for the Steelers, but if one thing is certain, it’s that Ben Roethlisberger wants big, fast receivers that can win 50/50 balls.
Guess what Higgins does better than 95 percent of the receivers in this class? Runs fast in pads and wins contested catches at a high rate.
There was only one Pro Day Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were able to attend this year before the virus shut most things down, and it was Clemson. Sure, there has been no buzz or reporting of the Steelers meeting with Higgins, but they never met with JuJu Smith-Schuster either.
Colbert loves his big, fast, potentially character concerning receivers, especially ones out of Clemson. Higgins has the potential to be a great receiver, and can play all three WR positions, should he be asked to. This pick could go a long way towards making the Steelers’ WR room unguardable.
Round Three (102 Overall): Rashard Lawrence/iDL/Louisiana State/6’2”, 308 Lbs
Analysis: With the departure of Javon Hargrave to Philadelphia leaving a massive hole at nose tackle, the position has to be a high priority for the Steelers in the draft.
Enter Rashard Lawrence.
The LSU product has freakishly large hands and long arms, and has the exact attitude this defense needs: a bulldog in the middle. He’ll fit in well next to Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
The effort is always there with Lawrence; you’ll never have to worry about him taking snaps off. He’s certainly not the pass rusher that Hargrave was, but Lawrence can eat up blockers against the run and provide the occasional pocket push as a pass rusher.
He’s the type of character pick Colbert and Tomlin love to build around.
Round Four (124 Overall): Ben Bredeson/iOL/Michigan/6’5”, 325 Lbs
Analysis: Honestly, Ben Bredeson reminds me a ton of Ramon Foster. He doesn’t have the ideal body type for the position, nor the standard athleticism most high-end guards have in today’s game, but Bredeson is as steady as they come, smart as can be, and has some serious toughness.
He’s at his best moving downhill in the run game, but he’s shown on the tape the ability to mirror pass rushers and handle stunts and twists well, serving as a four-year key cog on the Michigan offensive line.
Hearts and smarts, experience, and high character goes a long way for Bredeson. Plus, he’s a Michigan man. We know Tomlin loves that.
Round Four (135 Overall): Brandon Jones/S/Texas/5’11”, 198 Lbs
Analysis: Brandon Jones, much like Higgins, was at the Combine but didn’t compete in drills. That’s okay though, as the Steelers have done extensive research on the thumper out of Texas.
Needing safety depth and a guy who can handle a number of roles in a defense, Jones appears to be the ideal safety option for the Steelers in the middle rounds. He can play single or double high and can thrive in the box with his physicality and processing abilities.
The best thing about Jones is his closing speed. He’s a missile in the open field closing the gap on opponents. My only concern with Jones is his lack of ball skills and overall production in the turnover department. He’ll be a key special teams cog and could push Terrell Edmunds in Year 2.
Round Six (198 Overall): Sewo Olonilua/RB/Texas Christian/6’3”, 232 Lbs
Analysis: If you’ve followed along with me throughout the draft process, you know how in love I am with Sewo Olonilua. I think he’s the most underrated back in this class.
He’s a unique combination of size, speed, and lateral agility to create angles on defenders. He reminds me a ton of Le’Veon Bell when watching film. That’s not me saying he’ll be Bell, but his movement skills and build give me déjà vu of Bell.
He could probably stand to shed some weight to add to his explosion, but he has the makings of a complete back that could be a workhorse down the line.
Round Seven (232 Overall): Alvin (A.J.) Green/CB/Oklahoma State/6’1”, 202 Lbs
Analysis: Two Alvins on one team sure would be something.
This was the hardest pick for me to decide on. I went back and forth between another linebacker (say, Michigan special teams ace Jordan Glasgow), a depth tight end, and Green.
I settled on Green, largely because the Steelers have done their homework on him and this move would give them another developmental piece to work with at corner, providing long-term depth behind Joe Haden and Steven Nelson.
Green has really good size and length for the position, but his long speed is a concern in today’s game. That sounds a lot like Justin Layne, no?
Green is a good press coverage corner due to his length and can really bully smaller receivers, but he has average athleticism and doesn’t break on the ball all that well.
For a seventh-round pick though, he’s a defensive back worth taking a chance on.