NFL Draft

Round 1 And 2 ‘Prospect Buckets’ From A Steelers Point Of View

We are getting very close to publication of the full Steelers Big Board, which this year will amount to a full draft guide almost 45,000 words long. Alex and I are discussing the best ways to get that out to y’all in a usable and timely format(s). In the meantime I wanted to take a moment to look at the big picture that most fans will care about first: How should I organize the prospects for my next online mock?”

The best approach is to divide the board up into general “buckets” of prospects, which you can then subdivide and reorder according to personal taste and views on team wants/needs. What follows is my best take on those buckets for Rounds 1 and 2 of the NFL draft. Please share your thoughts on any players you thing are in the wrong buckets. They will be used to help finalize the grades on the actual Big Boards.


The first row includes four prospects I’ve simply removed from consideration because it would be absurd to drop them by as many slots as the team needs/fit analysis would require. In prior years we called this the “Ain’t Gonna Happen List.” All deserve solid Round 1 grades on any “all-teams” board. It’s only the Steelers’ specific situation and schemes that rule them out for our purposes. I only hope that all four of them get picked before 1:20, which they could.

The term “Colbert Specials” comes from a pearl he dropped many years ago. The basic idea is that every draft contains 5-10 players who are so good that you simply do not pass them by if they happen to be available. This trumps all discussions of positional need because you really can’t know what is going to happen in the future. Genius makes its own rules; these are your football geniuses; and that’s the end of that.

The “Almost Specials” row includes four players that many people put in the “Specials” category, and others do not. You could also call them “Steals At 1:20”.

  • DT Jordan Davis drops from “almost a special” because he is a defensive tackle. I would only consider a true Colbert Special in Round 1 because this team is so very loaded at that position. Davis is a double dilemma. If he is a true “Special” (your call), he drops a bit anyway due to the position, but only by one box. If he is just really, really good, he should be off the board completely like his equally talented teammate Devonte Wyatt.

The rest of the rows should be self-explanatory.

  • OT Trevor Penning drops by a bucket because of prejudice in the Steelers front office. This team values OT’s a little lower than other teams, and it almost never selects either small school players in Round 1, nor anyone in Round 1 who hasn’t had a team meeting. Penning checks all three of those taboos. He should probably go down by two buckets instead of just one, but I’ve decided that would be unreasonable.
  • IOL’s Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson drop by a bucket because of the team’s several free agency moves. There is still a lot of room to improve the current roster at Guard and/or Center, and I believe that both of these players would be an improvement over what we have now, but they would be only marginal improvements. Neither guy is a DeCastro or Pouncey.
  • WR Treylon Burks is a more athletic Juju clone. That profile is not where the current team is focused.
  • CB Roger McCreary is a mighty mite slot CB who is just a little too small to forecast as a multipurpose coverage guy. I love what I’ve seen of his tape, and also what I’ve heard in interviews, but some discount is required because the team has a more limited need in that area.
  • QB Kenny Pickett drops by two (2) buckets because Pittsburgh is focused on finding a higher ceiling, and a lot of his value lies in possessing a higher floor.

Please note that I have clustered the players together within each box by position, not by preference. The order goes first offense, then defense, and big to small within those categories.

But that odd thing where certain positions dominate one box but not the others? That is an oddity of the draft’s talent distribution, not anything I have tried to impose. At least not consciously, except that any DT’s, RB’s, and TE’s who might have been in the “2:20 fall back” bucket were dropped to a Round 3 group and therefore do not appear on this list at all.

That covers it. I look forward to discussing all this in the Comments!

REMOVED DUE TO POSITION/STYLE CTR Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa (only fits an outside zone team)
WR Drake London, USC (too much like Claypool)
DT Devonte Wyatt (Heyward, Tuitt, Loudermilk & Wormley leave no room)
EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue (only fits as a 4-3 DE)
COLBERT SPECIALS OT Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu, North Carolina State
OT Evan Neal, Alabama
EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
SAF Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
ALMOST SPECIALS OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati
CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
GOOD VALUE AT 1:20 QB Malik Willis, Liberty
WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
DT/NT Jordan Davis, Georgia [dropped per note above]
SOLID VALUE AT 1:20 WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
FALL BACK VALUE AT 1:20 OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa [dropped per see note above]
OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M [dropped per note above]
G/T/C Zion Johnson, Boston College [dropped per note above]
QB Matt Corral, Mississippi
QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
QB Sam Howell, North Carolina
WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
ILB Devin Lloyd, UtahSAF Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
SAF Lewis Cine, Georgia
SAF Daxton Hill, Michigan
2:20 STEALS WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas [dropped per note above]
EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
CB Roger McCreary, Auburn [dropped per note above]
2:20 GOOD VALUE OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
OT Rasheed Walker, Penn State
QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh [dropped per note above]
WR John Metchie III, Alabama
WR George Pickens, Georgia
ILB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati
ILB Quay Walker, GeorgiaSAF Bryan Cook, Cincinnati
SAF Jalen Pitre, Baylor
CB Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
2:20 FALL BACK VALUE OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
G/T Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
G/T Sean Rhyan, UCLA
G/T Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
G/T Sean Rhyan, UCLA
G/T Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
WR David Bell, Purdue


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