Though far from an exact science, ESPN has put together a cool new draft predictor that highlights this year’s top prospects and the range in which they’re expected to be drafted. Courtesy of ESPN analytics, the exercise is broken down into two categories: the odds a player is picked at a certain spot and the odds a player is still on the board by a certain point.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it names three players with the highest probability of being the team’s pick at #17.
1. Georgia OT Broderick Jones – 10.5%
2. Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. – 8.5%
3. Tennessee OT Darnell Wright – 7.5-8%
3. Ohio State OT Paris Johnson – 7.5%
(Ed Note: Including OT Darnell Wright here too, who also has very similar odds to Paris Johnson).
For the record, I’m eyeballing their graph so these percentages may not exactly be 100% accurate. But the list includes the top two offensive tackles and one of the top corners in Porter, who has obvious connections to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have done their homework on all three, Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan attending the Georgia and Ohio State Pro Days (OL Coach Pat Meyer was at Ohio State, too) while DC Teryl Austin and DBs Coach Grady Brown at the Nittany Lions’ Pro Day with Porter coming in for a visit, which was considered local. Meyer also attended Wright’s Tennessee Pro Day.
The only issue with these three? Their odds of being on the board at #17 are below 50%. Using the other part of ESPN’s predictor, here are the chances it gives each to be available at the Steelers’ pick.
1. Broderick Jones – 45%
2. Joey Porter Jr. – 33%
3. Paris Johnson – ~27%
Jones has the best odds but it’s still easily worse than a coin flip. Though a strong QB class will push other names down, it’s hard to believe there won’t be two tackles taken in the top 16 (assuming Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski is being drafted as a guard) given the value placed on tackles in the draft, especially left tackles. Porter may be the third corner taken in his class but there are plenty of CB-needy teams in the draft, including Washington, which has the highest chance to select him at #16.
Wright is an outlier here with a strong chance to be on the board at #17, which tracks with how most mock drafts and projections have gone.
Other notable odds at #17 include Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy just over six percent, Pitt DT Calijah Kancey at roughly six percent, Boston College WR Zay Flowers at just under six percent, Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njbia at four percent, and Maryland CB Deonte Banks at two percent. This predictor is certainly simplified to look just at ranking and team need without considering scheme fit and interest so take the data with a grain of salt. The “on the board” odds are more useful than trying to predict a certain player to a certain pick. But it’s a fun chart to play around with and help build your next mock draft.