You ever watch, listen, or read about a player and just go, Yeah, that dude’s a Steeler. You might not quite be able to articulate how or why but you can just picture him in your head.
That’s how I feel about these seven guys. They’re not necessarily the best players in the draft or even always ones seemingly squarely on the team’s radar. But they feel like they should end up in black and gold.
Listed in no particular order, here’s the group.
Robert Hainsey/OL Notre Dame
Classic tough guy born and raised in Pittsburgh? Come on. That’s a Steelers’ pick if I’ve ever heard one. Hainsey may lack tremendous upside and isn’t big or athletic enough to remain at right tackle where he played in college, but he could make for a very good center. He’s physical, tenacious, and his favorite pizza place is Mineo’s. That’s a guy you draft in the fourth round and he’s on your roster for seven years. Maybe a starter, maybe a backup, but a Chris Hubbard/Doug Legursky-caliber player whose always hanging around, ready to step in whenever (and wherever) you need him.
Zaven Collins/LB Tulsa
I know, I know. Small school, not at his Pro Day. I get it. Not saying Collins will be the pick. But how great would it be if he was? A 260-270 pound linebacker that we haven’t seen since Levon Kirkland. He’s a physical tackler, apt blitzer, with a little bit of EDGE versatility and an explosive athlete down the line. No system fits Collins’ skillset better than Pittsburgh’s. Him next to Devin Bush is a nightmare for offenses.
Pat Freiermuth/TE Penn State
A pretty obvious pick because it sure seems like the team is high on Freiermuth. At least, TEs coach Alfredo Roberts is. Freiermuth is the classic, well-rounded tight end with sure hands and the ability to make tough catches in traffic. He’s not a dynamic, downfield weapon, but he’s a guy who could be your sturdy, if unspectacular, #1 tight end for the next eight years. Calling him the next Heath Miller is a touch strong and a bit blasphemous, but there will be some muuuuuth calls when he’s catching passes at Heinz Field.
Daelin Hayes/EDGE Notre Dame
Hearts and smarts. That’s the Steelers’ draft mantra. And that’s Daelin Hayes. A five-star recruit, he had a history of shoulder injuries that partially derailed his career and limited him to just nine sacks. But he’s versatile, playing both sides, and has dropped a little bit into coverage. And he will fill the need at EDGE, even if he’s a double-dip candidate. Assuming that shoulder holds up, at worst he’ll be a quality special-teamer, great locker room guy, and terrific member of the community.
Asante Samuel Jr./CB Florida State
The Steelers love bloodlines. And Samuel Jr. has them, as evident by the junior tag at the end of his name. He’s the son of ball-hawking corner Asante Samuel and would be another name in a long line of Steelers’ first-round picks whose father played in the NFL, joining the likes of Cam Heyward, Devin Bush, and Terrell Edmunds. Mike Tomlin was at his Pro Day and probably would love to draft this guy. The focus is on offense, so the odds of him being the pick at #24 feel kind of low. But he would look good in black and gold.
Derrick Barnes/LB Purdue
Well-built, physical linebacker with EDGE and off-ball experience, playing more of a pass rush role in 2019 before playing off-ball last season. Jerry Olsavsky put him through drills at his Boilermakers’ Pro Day. He’s an explosive player with hit power and from the Big Ten who could be had Late Day 2 or Early Day 3.
Braylon Jones/OL Houston
Late round guy worth mentioning. More of a “gut feeling” kind of thing that’s difficult to articulate, but we know offensive line coach Adrian Klemm talked to him in some form or fashion during the pre-draft process. Center/guard versatility, though Klemm said he viewed Jones as more of a center. If the Steelers are looking to round out their offensive line with a sixth/seventh round pick and want some versatility, key to making the roster as a late Day 3 guy, Jones would be a good fit.