You can almost smell it it’s so close. We are inside of a week until the NFL Draft and here at Steelers Depot that mean we are going to mock your world right up until the draft. We have all the clues given to us by visits, Pro Days and other connections now it’s time to put on our prognosticator helmet and tell you who its’s going to be. This mock will be my guess at what I think the Steelers will do, not what I would do. Which is good because they never pick who I like anyway. So, let’s get to it!
ROUND 1 (#20 OVERALL): DESMOND RIDDER/QB CINCINNATI – 6033, 213 LBS.
Analysis: The honest truth for me is they could pick any of the top five quarterbacks and I will not be surprised at all. I personally like Sam Howell but that doesn’t matter here. My thought process is this. I think the Steelers have their top three quarterbacks as Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder and Sam Howell. I think that Willis and Kenny Pickett will be taken before the pick so Ridder is the choice.
He came in for a visit; they were at his Pro Day and saw him at the Senior Bowl. Ridder is a leader with plenty of experience helping bring his team to relevance the last couple years. The biggest question on him will be if he can clean up his accuracy. Hopefully quarterback coach Mike Sullivan and new assistant quarterback coach David Corley can get the best out of him.
Others Considered: QB Sam Howell, QB Matt Corral
ROUND 2 (#52 OVERALL) – JAQUAN BRISKER/S PENN STATE – 6013, 199 LBS.
Analysis: Safety is a need and they still may sign a veteran but adding a young quality player to the back end is never a bad thing. The Steelers had defensive backs coach Grady Brown at his Pro Day, he was a team captain and he is from Pittsburgh. He was invited to the Senior Bowl but he opted out. In three seasons at Penn State he played in 34 games starting 21 totaling 153 tackles and five interceptions.
Versatility is a big part of his game. He has the size and athleticism to cover tight ends or play in the slot. He can play the deep safety or in the box all the while supporting the run. This is a combination the Steelers like were value meets need. He may start right away, he may not but this is a quality defender.
Others Considered: LB Quay Walker, WR George Pickens, IDL DeMarvin Leal
ROUND 3 (#84 OVERALL) – ALEC PIERCE/WR CINCINNATI – 6031, 211 LBS.
Analysis: This is a holdover from my first mock draft but there are some dots connected. Pierce is yet another Senior Bowl invitee and at the Cincinnati Pro Day the group attending included offensive coordinator Matt Canada along with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert.
Right of the bat he has something that the Steelers wide receivers don’t and that is 4.33 speed. He is capable of playing inside or outside, can win consistently over the top as the deep threat and wins the 50/50 balls. They may not wait until the third to draft a wide receiver but I would have a lot less worry about the position adding Pierce.
Others Considered: S Brian Cook, S Nick Cross, CB Coby Bryant
ROUND 4 (#138 OVERALL) – JALYN ARMOUR-DAVIS/DB Alabama – 5114, 182 LBS.
Analysis: He did not play in the post season all-star games but was invited to the Combine and at his Pro Day the Steelers did send defensive backs coach Grady Brown along with Kevin Colbert. How much confidence do they have in their current corners? One starter played well for a third of a season and the other is new to the team. In today’s passing NFL depth at the corner back is huge.
He has good size and speed and comes from a program known for developing defensive backs. Alabama used multiple types of coverage and had him play outside and in the slot. He is just a one year starter in college but has the traits to continue to improve. He is a willing tackler to support the run and has plenty of special team’s experience. He’ll be able to learn behind the starters to hone his skill set.
Others Considered: DB Josh Jobe, TE Charlie Kolar, EDGE DeAngelo Malone, WR Danny Gray
ROUND 6 (#208 OVERALL) – ERIC JOHNSON/IDL MISSOURI STATE – 6043, 299LBS.
Analysis: The Steelers don’t dip their toe in the FCS pond too often but they he shown interest here. Johnson played in two post season all-star games (NFLPA Bowl/Senior Bowl) and the Steelers brought him in for a visit in the pre-draft process. The Steelers have taken a day three defensive lineman in eight drafts since 2012.
The defensive line has a few older players and we still don’t know about Stephon Tuitt. We know the Steelers like to look for guys that fit what they want. Johnson has nearly identical height/weight/length measurements as Tuitt, Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley. He has the motor they will like, processes plays well, can stack and shed blockers and has pass rush potential. Seems like a good fit.
Others Considered: EDGE Jeffrey Gunter, OL Cordell Volson, WR Kevin Austin, RB Sincere McCormick
ROUND 7 (#225 OVERALL) – ANDREW STUEBER/OT MICHIGAN – 6065, 325 LBS.
Analysis: The Steelers had Colbert and Tomlin at the Michigan Pro Day along with Area Scout Dan Colbert and College Scouting Coordinator Phil Kreidler. Stueber was also at the Senior Bowl, was a team captain and we know they like players from Michigan with four currently on the roster (Devin Bush, Mason Cole, Zach Gentry and Chris Wormley).
He’s a huge player and fits what they look for especially in their right tackles. He has very good length and has experience starting at right guard and right tackle. He would provide depth and competition for the veteran tackles on the roster.
Others Considered: LB Aaron Hansford, WR Jailon Nailor, S Quentin Lake, TE Lucas Krull
ROUND 7 (#241 OVERALL) – ELLIS BROOKS/LB PENN STATE – 6013, 226 LBS.
Analysis: Going back to Penn State for another player. There was obviously some interest in the linebackers at Penn State with Pittsburgh sending both linebacker coaches, Brian Flores and Jerry Olsavsky, to see Brooks, Brandon Smith and Jesse Luketa.
I missed out on and EDGE rusher (which I’m not happy about) but they haven’t shown a lot of interest in EDGE rushers. I also thought about doubling up on WR here but filling linebacker depth will have to suffice. I don’t know a lot about Brooks but looking around at other evaluations online you’ll see comments like fearless, high IQ, twitchy, route recognition, instinctive, athletic and effective range in coverage. I’ll take a chance on that. He is a bit on the smaller size but could have a role as a special teamer and sub-package player down the road.
Others Considered; WR Isaiah Weston, IDL Kurt Hinish, CB Josh Thompson, IDL Marquan McCall