Mel Kiper Jr. Speculates On What Steelers Could Do With First Three Draft Selections

Appearing on NFL Live earlier today, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. speculated on what the Pittsburgh Steelers could do with their top three picks in the draft, all of which fall within the top 50 selections.

In the first, Kiper believes the Steelers should go corner, and one name he threw out was Emmanuel Forbes of Mississippi State, who he called “an interception waiting to happen.” He then had the team taking Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Breese at No. 32, before selecting Wisconsin OL Joe Tippman at No. 49.

“Bryan Bresee to Pittsburgh, there you get the defensive lineman who two years, three years ago was outstanding, he had the injury,” Kiper said about the team taking the former top recruit.

Tippman, a C/G, would “bolster that group well,” Kiper said about adding him to the team’s offensive line. With J.C. Hassenauer currently a free agent and no sign he’s coming back to Pittsburgh, adding a guy who has recently played guard in the draft wouldn’t be a bad move. But Pittsburgh just invested heavily in the interior offensive line in free agency by bringing in Nate Herbig and Isaac Seumalo. It’s worth wondering whether the team would really go back to that position so early in the draft, especially with Mason Cole and James Daniels on the roster as more than capable options.

As far as drafting Forbes at No. 17, it may be a little bit of a reach, especially given his historically small size (6’1, 166 pounds). He does have six career interceptions returned for touchdowns and 14 career interceptions. His ball skills almost assuredly make him a Day 1 or Day 2 selection, but the Steelers were burned in the past by taking a small corner with ball skills. The team selected Senquez Golson in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and Golson never saw the field due to injuries.

From a strictly size perspective, taking Forbes is a little bit of a risky proposition but Forbes projects better than Golson, who was only 5’9 and 176 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers value Forbes that highly, especially in a deep cornerback class.

Breese at No. 32 would be decent value given he was projected to go a lot higher throughout much of the pre-draft process and during the college season. There are concerns with his hand placement and his college production, but his relative lack of recent production can be traced back to injuries. Breese is the type of player the Steelers usually love given his high character and pedigree as a former top recruit at an elite ACC school. He has a prior relationship with Mike Tomlin, and given the need for more interior defensive line depth, Breese and the Steelers seem like they could be a solid match.

At the end of the day, no one can say for sure what the Steelers are going to do or how their draft board is going to shake out. But all three of these players make sense as far as what the Steelers typically look for, so it’s not all that far-fetched to believe one or more could end up wearing the Black and Gold next season.

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