It truly is mock draft season as more and more seven-round mock drafts have been dropping. Just a few days ago, The Draft Network dropped their own seven-round Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft which has general manager Omar Khan drafting a familiar name and tackling some pressing needs.
To start off Jack McKessy’s mock draft, he has the Steelers selecting Joey Porter Jr. son of former Steelers linebacker and coach Joey Porter. In his write up to why Pittsburgh chose Porter Jr. he referenced the family connection and the length advantage Porter has with his 34 inch arms.
“With great length and ball skills, Porter could ensure the Steelers’ secondary remains formidable without Sutton,” wrote McKessy.
While Porter does have great length him having good ball skills is debatable. Porter Jr only has one interception in his four season at Penn State. However, he does a good job preventing the ball from getting to the receiver with 17 career pass breakups and a passer rating against of only 63.6 this past season according to PFF.
The Steelers’ first second round pick is at 32. McKessy has the team selection Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison here citing the need to upgrade at left tackle from Dan Moore Jr. McKessy believes Harrison would be the guy to take the left tackle position away from Moore Jr.
“Harrison is one of the best left tackle prospects available outside of the top trio (Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson Jr., and Peter Skoronski) with good length and the pass protection ability that Moore is lacking as a better run blocker. Harrison needs to add a bit more functional strength at the next level but could be a solid upgrade over Moore as a blindside protector.”
Harrison is a bit on the shorter size at only 6’4″ but that has not affected his play at all. He was named to the First Team All-Big 12 by both the AP and the coaches around the conference. According to PFF Harrison was only at fault for one sack this past season, showing he does a good job of keeping the quarterback upright, something that Pittsburgh has struggled with in recent years.
Moving to the Steelers’ second pick in the second round at 49, McKessy once again has the team addressing a need. This time it is at inside linebacker, with Pittsburgh taking Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o. With the loss of Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, and Devin Bush, Pittsburgh needs to add more depth to the linebacker room and grab an athletic linebacker who can play the pass well. McKessy believes To’oTo’o can fit the bill.
“To’oTo’o has great instincts and mobility that have allowed him to succeed in pass coverage over the middle and from the slot. He’s also a solid tackler against both the run and the pass thanks to good speed and body control.”
To’To’o finished his collegiate career with 253 tackles, one interception, and six pass breakups. He was also named to the First Team All-SEC by the coaches of the conference showing that the guys in charge think every highly of him. While his numbers in coverage don’t jump off the page, the film says he does a good job at it. Jonathan Heitritter did a film breakdown earlier this year on To’oTo’o and praised him for it.
Moving onto round three and the Steelers’ last top 100 pick, McKessy has Pittsburgh selecting Baylor nose tackle Siaka Ika to help out in the run game and upgrade over Montravius Adams.
“What they’re still missing is a nose tackle that can take up space as an effective run-stuffer up the middle after Montravius Adams finished with just one tackle for a loss as a starter last year. The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Ika can be that guy. He’s surprisingly athletic for his size and has ridiculous strength that allows him to dominate the line of scrimmage.”
In addition to Ika’s ability to stop the run he has shown the ability to do well in rushing the passer as well. In his four-year career, Ika made 70 tackles and five sacks. While he would not be an every down player Ika would certainly be a great addition to a team sorely lacking a nose tackle in a division filled with run heavy teams.
In Pittsburgh’s last pick before the seventh round, McKessy has them TCU EDGE rusher Dylan Horton. As of right now there is a big hole behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith so selecting an EDGE in the middle rounds makes a ton of sense.
“Watt and fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith have been an unbelievable duo on the edge for the Steelers, but the team could still use some extra depth and rotational pieces at the position. Horton has excellent athleticism at the position paired with a high motor that always keeps him in a play.”
As of now an EDGE rusher in round four makes sense. If Pittsburgh decides to bring back Bud Dupree or bring in another EDGE in free agency I would say the odds of this pick decrease substantially. In college Horton was impressive, recording 143 tackles and 17.5 sacks in five seasons. Horton’s best year was last season where he recorded 48 tackles and ten sacks. At 6’4″ 257 pounds he could be a good choice to have back up the two studs of Watt and Highsmith.
Now we get to the seventh round, where the Steelers have their last two picks. With their first pick in round seven at #234 McKessy has Pittsburgh selecting LSU cornerback Mekhi Garner.
“It never hurts to add positional depth in the later rounds, and Garner provides just that at a position of need that could become even needier if the aging Peterson gets banged up. Garner is a good tackler against the run and pass and has the high football IQ needed to succeed in zone coverage.”
At LSU, Garner had a productive career with 104 tackles, three interceptions, and 19 pass breakups. At 6’2″ 212 pounds he has great size and could be a steal come late in the draft and learn being Patrick Peterson and possibly be a valuable cornerback down the line.
With the Steelers’ last pick in the NFL Draft McKessy has the team grabbing some wide receiver depth with Mayland’s Dontay Demus Jr.
“Another depth addition in the seventh round, Demus has similar measurables to current Steeler George Pickens at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds. He could play a role in Pittsburgh as the team’s backup X receiver.”
Demus Jr. has great size but not the best production. In five years at Maryland he caught 128 passes for 2,008 yards and 14 touchdowns. While not amazing numbers they aren’t awful either and for a seventh round pick it isn’t terrible. To make the roster Demos Jr. would have to contribute on special teams.
Overall this mock draft is pretty good. I hope the Steelers address EDGE in free agency so they can take a wide receiver in the middle rounds and not have two wait until round seven because the depth at that position is not good. McKessy tackles all the needs though, so there really isn’t too much to complain about. This mock draft makes the team better.