Sporting News did the legwork of a seven round mock draft and gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a predictable, popular selection at #49. They have the team taking Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor with their first pick of the draft. Author Vinnie Iyer writes:
“The Steelers are in the market for an upgrade in the backfield given James Conner’s durability issues and pending unrestricted free agency in 2021. Taylor (5-10, 226 pounds) has great vision and burst as a runner. He also doesn’t get enough credit for what he can do as a receiver, which was on display more during his final college season.”
A fair assessment overall, though we’ve cast doubts on exactly how eager the team is to find another running back this season. Still, if Taylor slips to #49, he’ll be on the team’s radar and a difficult player to pass. Iyer makes a good point to highlight his improved hands and versatility. His reception numbers spiked from eight in 2018 to 26 last year.
At #102, the Steelers stick in the Big Ten but flip over to the defensive side of the ball with NT Davon Hamilton.
“The Steelers need to address their 3-4 front after losing Javon Hargave in free agency. Hamilton (6-4, 320 pounds) has the same baseline run stuffing with some potential pass-rush pop.”
Hard to argue with the rationale there. Hamilton is much more of a plugger than Hargrave but the one position the Steelers don’t have a starter for is nose tackle. Addressing it sooner than later would be wise.
From there, the rest of the mock just lists names without any explanations. Here’s where Pittsburgh ends up.
#124 – Josh Uche/EDGE Michigan
#135 – Hakeem Adeniji/OT Kansas
#198 – CJ O’Grady/TE Arkansas
#232 – Jordan Mack/LB Virginia
Uche would be excellent value in the fourth round given his pass rush and coverage ability. Adeniji is a name we haven’t often mentioned but has a ton of starting experience, 48 for the Jayhawks, with left/right tackle versatility.
O’Grady is the pick who makes the least amount of sense here, suspended and ultimately leaving the program last year. In a year where gathering information on players is as difficult as it’s been in the last 25 years, the Steelers are likely to stay away from those with off-field red flags.
Finally, Mack recorded 69 tackles with 8.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks. He finished his Cavs career with nearly 300 stops and an impressive six forced fumbles. He’s listed at 6’2, 230.
Overall, a decent mock draft that’s stronger at the top than it is at the bottom but makes a good amount of sense for a national media outlet.