In the days leading up to free agency, there is bound to be a lot of “smoke and mirror” games across the league. Some, if not most, is unsubstantiated, but it’s a period where teams begin to fill in the blanks on their rosters. The Steelers have long been a team that prefers building through the draft, nurturing their own draft picks into star-caliber players. With more cap room than they’ve had in quite some time, perhaps this year will be an outlier as the team looks to not go through a rebuild, but simply reload at several spots.
With mock draft season fully upon us, most of the mock drafts floating across the internet are marrying the team to a quarterback via their first-round draft choice at 20th overall. This is a huge need, no doubt, but one could also argue anther sore spot is along their defensive line. Due to injuries last year, the team was forced to start rookies as well as some undrafted players, and the result was a run defense that ranked dead last in the league.
Yahoo Sports’ latest mock draft this morning no doubt had this in mind, where they penciled in Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt to the team. An AP Second Team All-American this past season, Wyatt doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as his mountainous teammate Jordan Davis, but Wyatt was the main reason Davis was pulled from the field on passing downs. Labeling his game as disruptive would be an understatement, as he frequently explodes off the ball, while also maintaining good pad level. He uses his hands very well in getting off blocks to provide a pass rush, and is equally adept in the run game.
Standing 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, Wyatt has arguably a higher ceiling than Davis in the eyes of many scouts and front office personnel around the league. Although almost 50 pounds lighter than Davis, Wyatt ran a very impressive 4.77 40-yard dash of his own. Yahoo’s Sam Farmer had the following to say regarding their selection:
“Many people see the Steelers taking a quarterback here, but if Willis and Pickett are gone, it’s time to address the need up front.”
With the overall age of the defensive line, this pick would seem to make a lot of sense. Although recent reports on Stephon Tuitt’s return seem upbeat, the fact that he’ll turn 29 prior to next season and also be the youngest of the starters indicates this could become a problem area in short order. It remains to be seen what the team will do, if anything, in free agency to shore up the QB spot that hasn’t been a need area since 2003. That may be the pendulum that ultimately decides what the 20th pick actually becomes. Let me know your thoughts on the Wyatt selection in the comments below.