The Pittsburgh Steelers have three picks in the first round of the draft meaning they can add players in this year’s draft who have high ceilings. With three picks, there are many ways general manager Omar Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin can address the needs of the team. Unfortunately, we won’t find out how they elect to use those draft picks until April. But, we can look at mock drafts, and just the other day Jaime Eisner of The Draft Network released his two round mock draft.
With the Steelers first pick at 17, there are many directions the team could go in, but as of now the consensus opinion is that Khan and Tomlin either draft an offensive tackle or cornerback. Eisner follows this trend in his mock draft but has Pittsburgh drafting a new name: Julius Brents, cornerback out of Northwestern.
“I’ve been high on Julius Brents throughout this draft process and he firmly established himself in the first-round conversation at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine,” wrote Eisner. “His 34″ arms are stupid long and he plays with desired aggression. He is disruptive to receivers at the line of scrimmage and at the catch point and will stick his nose in the run game.”
Brents is an older prospect at 23-years-old, but has great measurables. As Eisner wrote he has long arms at 34″ and Brents stands at an impressive 6’3″ and weighs 198 which would immediately make him the biggest corner on the roster.
He also had good production in his two years at Northwestern. Brents is credited with 94 tackles, five interceptions, eleven pass breakups and one forced fumble. In his senior year, Brents picked off four passed, made eight pass breakups, made 45 tackles, and forced a fumble. His great senior year saw him be named to the Coaches First Team All-Big 12.
Moving on to Round Two, Pittsburgh has the first pick in the second round meaning they have a chance to pick another very good prospect. Eisner has the Steelers now addressing their offensive line with the 33rd pick (32nd due to the Dolphins forfeiting their first round pick), drafting massive Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones.
“Pittsburgh addressed their need at CB in round one of this NFL mock draft and now add a MASSIVE piece to boost their OL in Dawand Jones.”
Massive is right as Jones is is 6’8″ 374 pounds with 36 3/8 inch arms. A huge human being who can play either right or left tackle. Jones was named to the Second Team All-Big 10 in 2021 and this past season received an impressive 82.1 PFF grade where he did not allow a single sack.
After knocking out what most would consider Pittsburgh’s two biggest need with their first two picks, Eisner addresses Pittsburgh’s EDGE position with their third pick of the draft and second pick of Round Two. At pick 50 (49), Eisner has the Steelers selecting Georgia Tech EDGE Keion White.
“Mike Tomlin spent a lot of time in the trenches at the Senior Bowl and got to see Keion White up close and personal. White is a freak athlete with the skill set that can keep him on the field on all three downs.”
With Alex Highsmith needing a new contract and little to no depth behind him and T.J. Watt, EDGE is certainly a need in the NFL Draft. White, standing at 6’5″ and weighing 285 pounds is certainly athletic as he had a 34 inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine.
White had an incredible redshirt senior season where he recorded 54 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and one pass breakup. His ability to produce plus his measurables make him an intriguing target come the NFL Draft, but at already 24-years-old you have to wonder what his ceiling will be.
Eisner’s mock draft addresses the needs of the Steelers but there are some question marks. While Brents has good measurables, drafting him over Joey Porter Jr., one of the consensus top cornerbacks in the draft, is questionable. When our own Tyler Wise did a draft profile on Brents he said he believes Brents is a third round talent.
In addition, Pittsburgh may want to address their defensive line before they address EDGE. As of now, both Chris Wormley and Larry Ogunjobi are going to hit free agency next week, and if Pittsburgh doesn’t re-sign any of them and doesn’t make a move for a higher end defensive lineman in free agency it is possible that we see a repeat of 2021. With Cameron Heyward approaching the end of his career as well I think Pittsburgh will want to try and find a young and high quality defensive lineman for the future and I expect that to happen either this year or next year depending on free agency and how the board falls.