We are in the final stretch with less than a week to go before the 2020 NFL draft. There has been a lot of preparation up to this point to get ready for this. I’ve watched a lot of film and done a tone of research and now it’s time for the final mock where if I get one player correct it will be a success. The Pittsburgh Steelers front office did a fantastic job brining in veterans so there weren’t an abundance of pressing needs.
Factoring into my choices other than my own research included the research Dave did on Gil Brandt’s Hot 150 whose consistency is astounding. I hope the Steelers can get at least one more pick so let’s see if we can do it. First, let see where we are and what we need.
Current Draft Picks – 49, 102, 124, 135, 198, 232
Positions of need: LB, IOL, S, EDGE, IDL, OT, WR, RB, TE, QB
Let’s get started.
They traded up last year so let’s have them trade down this year.
Steelers trade 49th overall (410 points) and 2021 4th round pick (approx. 45) pick to the Minnesota Vikings
Receive 58th (320) overall and 89th (145) overall
Reasoning: I would really like Ashtyn Davis or Antoine Winfield at 49 but (a) the Steelers never take who I want and (b) I’m getting the feeling they will be gone. Coming in with only six total selections I would hope they could add at least one more pick. Minnesota has 12 picks and a need a wide receiver after trading Stefon Diggs. Based on Brandt’s list there are 5 WR’s listed in the late 40’s that may entice them to move up if they don’t address the position in the first round. This trade would give them 3 picks in the top 50 and still have another 8 picks and give the Steelers that 7th pick to fill depth. With the Steelers projected to get a 4th round compensatory pick in 2021, trading their original 4th round pick (which should be a late round 4th) works for me.
Round Two (58th Overall): Malik Harrison ILB Ohio State 6025 247 SPARQ – 130.8
Previous Pick: Ashtyn Davis S California (at 49th overall)
I knew linebacker was a need but the more I looked into the numbers it became a big need. Vince Williams played only 37% of the snaps last year and is 30 years old. They need to replace 750 snaps from the departed Mark Barron. The coverage snaps I think will be replaced with additional safety play and possibly with Ulysses Gilbert. They do need someone to challenge and possible take the BUCK linebacker spot.
As our Josh Carney pointed out in his profile he felt Harrison reminded him of Williams. A smart linebacker who reads and trusts his keys to get downhill quickly to fill gaps with a good closing burst and I love this line; he “takes it personally when teams try to run at him”. The Steelers do like their Big Ten/Midwest linebackers and he was at the Senior Bowl.
Others Considered: S Davis and Winfield, EDGE Bradlee Anae, IDL Justin Madubuike
Round Three (89th Overall): Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn 6050 308 SPARQ – N/A
Previous Pick: None, pick acquired in draft day trade
Alejandro Villanueva with be 32 in September and is in the last year of his contract. Matt Fieler is in the last year of his contract and Zach Banner is on a one year prove it deal. Chukwuma Okorafor has played 228 snaps in 2 years and we honestly don’t know if he can be a starter in the league let alone play left tackle. Depth is needed all along the offensive line.
Wanogho was one of the guys that I guys really got excited about watching this year and in my opinion should go much higher than this. I put him here because he was 81st on Brandt’s list. He has the ideal frame with good length. His footwork is strong and has good athleticism, balance and anchor. With better hand placement and pad level I think he can start for a long time in the NFL. There is also a Steelers connection with former guard Kendall Simmons being on the staff at his alma mater as an offensive analyst and Wanogho was also at the Senior Bowl.
Others Considered: OL Robert Hunt, OLB Terrell Lewis, OG Ben Bredeson
Round Three (102nd Overall): Brandon Jones S Texas 5111 198 SPARQ N/A
Previous Pick: Hakeem Adeniji OL Kansas
Depth is needed behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds specifically someone who can play the single high safety if you want to move Fitzpatrick around on the defense (including taking some of Barron’s coverage snaps) or if there is an injury. Speaking of injury, he like many others had an injury that needs to be vetted (torn labrum).
Jones has versatility to play in the box, in the slot or deep and has the speed and range to play over the top. He’s played in Zone and Man coverages as well as used to blitz. Alex Kozora had this to say in his profile, “Overall, I like Jones’ game. He can run, he can hit, and the tackling? That can be worked on. He isn’t a ballhawk and there may be a limited ceiling here, I don’t sit here and think “playmaker” with him but he’s a solid player capable of defending all situations. And that’s valuable.” He was a Senior Bowl invitee and met with the Steelers at the Combine.
Others Considered: EDGE Darrell Taylor, IOL Lloyd Cushenberry, RB Cam Akers
Round Four (124th Overall): Tyler Biadasz IOL Wisconsin 6035 314 SPARQ N/A
Previous Pick: Alton Robinson EDGE Syracuse
Maurkice Pouncey will be 31 in July and is under contract for 2 more years. His snap accuracy last year was all over the place. Stefen Wisniewski can also play center but he is also 31. New blood is needed and that is why I’m doubling up on the offensive line. Biadasz (bee-AH-dish) is another player who has the talent to go higher but he has injury concerns after hip surgery in 2018 and shoulder (AC joint scope) surgery in 2019 this year.
Biadasz an All-American, Rimington Trophy winner (given for the nation’s top center) and started all 41 games he played. He has good mental processing and mobility and is a strong blocker on the second level. He plays every play with the same competitiveness. He can play center or guard and wouldn’t have to start right away. It’s a risk with the injuries but if healthy this would be a steal and he would lock down the center position once Pouncey retires.
Others Considered: DB Reggie Robinson II, IDL Davon Hamilton, DB Josiah Scott
Round Four (135th Overall): Alton Robinson EDGE Syracuse 6026 264 SPARQ 127.3
Previous pick: Devin Asiasi TE UCLA
Like safety, depth is an issue behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree with the latter currently on a one year deal. Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper have shown promise but not enough to give me confidence to not take an EDGE rusher. Pass rush makes the pass coverage that much better. If you don’t have enough guys to get pressure on the edge the pass defense overall will struggle.
Robinson gives you a guy who has the flexibility to play on either side with an impressive first step; good mental processing to determine run vs pass and can win with power or quickness when rushing the passer. If he can improve his counters and strength to work against the run on the edge he could be a solid addition to the linebacker room. He had 34 starts in college with 32 TFL and 19 sacks and also was a Senior Bowl participant.
Others Considered: RB/WR Antonio Gibson, WR Isaiah Hodgins. DL Larell Murchison
Round Six (198th Overall): Broderick Washington, Jr. DL Texas Tech 6022 305 SPARQ N/A
Previous pick – Kalija Lipscomb WR Vanderbilt
The loss of Javon Hargrave will be hard to replace both on the field and as a fan favorite. As a fan I felt he was an integral part of the defense with his quickness and ability. The coaching staff seemed to disagree a bit. Maybe it was their thoughts on his ability or maybe it was a change in philosophy. Maybe they don’t value the true nose guard anymore. I waited to address this position because of that possible change in philosophy.
Washington played in a three man front at Texas Tech as a defensive end but that’s not where he fits in the NFL. He’ll move inside and play the 0-3 technique like he did at the Senior Bowl. He has a good motor, experience playing in 1 and 2 gap schemes and showed more promise as a power pass rusher from the inside. There is potential to be a rotation interior defensive lineman with potential to start down the road. He played in the NFL Collegiate Bowl before getting a call to play in the Senior Bowl which is always a good sign
Others Considered: OL Kyle Murphy, RB Keshawn Vaughn, OL Keith Ismael
Round Seven (232nd Overall): Quez Watkins WR Southern Mississippi 6001 185 SPARQ 115.4
Previous pick: Michael Turk P Arizona State
The Steelers offensive staff loves to have that receiver on the team that they can send down the sideline on a go route and throw it up with the hope that he occasionally will come down with it. Guys like Johnny Holton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have held down the role in recent years and Deon Cain may have a chance at that role but let’s give him some competition.
Watkins had the second fastest 40 time by WR’s at the Combine (4.35) and consistently was able to get over the top against collegiate DB’s. He has good hands, concentration and can make the contested catches along the sideline. Get him in space with the ball and he can take it the distance. He’s not just a deep threat but can definitely fill that role. New WR coach Ike Hilliard will work with him on beating the Press and clean up his route running. Adding speed (that can catch the ball) will be a welcome site for the offense.
Others Considered: RB Raymond Calais, DB Javaris Davis, LB Shaun Bradley