Steelers Take Wide Receiver In First Round Of Mel Kiper’s Latest Mock Draft

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. dropped his latest two-round mock draft today, and he has the Steelers going in a direction we haven’t really seen in many mocks. At No. 17 overall, Kiper has the Steelers selecting Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers, before turning around and grabbing Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison at No. 32 overall and Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents at No. 49 overall.

Kiper has Flowers as his top-ranked receiver, and the connection to Pittsburgh is clear as he played with Mike Tomlin’s son, Dino, at Boston College.

“This is around where we could see a run on receivers. Flowers is actually my top-ranked wideout. I love his explosion and ability after the catch. Pittsburgh’s wideouts had just five touchdown receptions last season, which ranked last in the league. The 5-foot-9 Flowers is a dynamo out of the slot, but he had plenty of grabs lined up outside too. He could be a nice fit with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. Quarterback Kenny Pickett had a special connection with former Pitt teammate Jordan Addison, but I think Flowers would be the better pick for the Steelers,” Kiper wrote.

Flowers was a standout for the Eagles with 200 receptions for 3,056 yards and 29 touchdowns in four seasons in Chestnut Hill. His senior season year he racked up 78 receptions for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns while dealing with a mess of a quarterback situation. There’s no doubt that Flowers is one of the top receivers in the draft, and he’s up there with the top slot option with Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Flowers was also mentioned as a name to watch at No. 32 by ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller yesterday.

But I’m not sure of the likelihood of the Steelers using this pick on Flowers. While Joey Porter Jr. became the last top cornerback to come off the board the pick before at No. 16, the Steelers didn’t have a large presence at Flowers’ Pro Day, sending just Assistant Director of Pro Scouting Dave Petett. They also didn’t have a Combine meeting with Flowers that we know about, and he didn’t mention there was one scheduled during his Combine press conference. While the team could throw a curveball and take Flowers, — I do think he is going to be a very good NFL player — I’m just not sure that’s the direction Pittsburgh would go, especially with Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. on the board at No. 17 in this mock.

Harrison’s been a popular name to Pittsburgh at No. 32. He could fit as a guy who sits behind Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor for a year before eventually taking over.

“This would be great value for Harrison, a smooth pass protector who started 24 games at left tackle in college,” Kiper wrote. “Dan Moore Jr. started there for the Steelers last season, and he ranked 34th among all tackles in pass block win rate. Harrison could compete with Moore from Day 1, but he also could beat out Chukwuma Okorafor on the right side.”

Adding a legitimate swing tackle who can push Okorafor and Moore is never a bad idea, and Harrison is a toolsy player who allowed just four sacks in three seasons at Oklahoma. He uses his hands well, and his upside definitely makes him intriguing in this spot.

Brents at No. 49 would be a no-brainer selection. He’s one of the two cornerbacks in this draft who checks every single box the Steelers look for and he made a pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh om April 3.

“I filled Pittsburgh’s hole at wideout in Round 1, which means it should focus on the secondary here,” Kiper wrote. “The 6-foot-3 Brents could learn the ropes from veteran Patrick Peterson in Pittsburgh. Brents has stellar length and will wrap up in the run game. He tested extremely well at the combine.”

The former Iowa and Kansas State cornerback’s athleticism is going to serve him well at the next level. While he can be a bit grabby at times, he has a lot of potential and the Steelers are going to love his willingness to defend against the run. At No. 49, the team could do a lot worse than selecting Brents.

All in all, this is a scenario I would be pretty happy with if it came to fruition. I just don’t see the team spending its first-round pick on Flowers, but if it did, he could blossom into a serious weapon in the slot. The Steelers hit on pretty much all of their big needs with a tackle, slot receiver and cornerback through their first three picks, which opens them up to go pure BPA later in what should be a very deep draft. While I don’t think this draft is all that realistic, it would be a good one for Pittsburgh.

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