I think we all know what the Steelers’ team needs are but the hard part is figuring out how they prioritize the positions. Obviously draft day is an exercise in flexibility as there’s plenty of curve balls constantly being thrown out. That being said, I think it’s probably not a stretch to think the team has some sort of high level plan going in. For example, maybe they like the depth at cornerback on day 2, so they want to get their edge in the 1st (just a hypothetical).
I’ve said in the past that I don’t think the Steelers really bother with smokescreens during draft season. They don’t show interest in guys just for the heck of it. For that reason I attempted to organize the list of prospects the Steelers have shown interest in, to see if I could maybe gain some insight into what they’re planning. I’ve probably missed some names that they’ve looked into, and the round grades that I have are purely my own opinion on where I think they get picked, so the Steelers’ board could be drastically different (last season I thought Artie Burns was a possible 2nd rounder and Sean Davis 3rd rounder for the Steelers).
Not everyone here is visits, some are just interest that the team showed at the combine or pro day, and I’m sure I’ve missed some names.
QB Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech – 1st
S Obi Melifonwu – UConn – 1st
S Budda Baker – Washington – 1st
CB Marlon Humphrey – Alabama – 1st
OLB Carl Lawson – Auburn – 1st
OLB Derek Rivers – Youngstown State – 1st/2nd
OLB Takkarist McKinley – UCLA – 1st/2nd
OLB TJ Watt – Wisconsin – 1st/2nd
S Josh Jones – North Carolina State – 2nd
ILB Jarrad Davis – Florida – 2nd
ILB Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt – 2nd
WR Zay Jones – East Carolina – 2nd
ILB Raekwon McMillan – Ohio State – 2nd
S Marcus Williams – Utah – 2nd
DE Chris Wormley – Michigan – 2nd/3rd
WR Josh Reynolds – Texas A&M – 2nd/3rd
WR Chris Godwin – Penn State – 2nd/3rd
OLB Tim Williams – Alabama – 2nd/3rd
QB Davis Webb – Cal – 2nd/3rd
S Marcus Maye – Florida – 2nd/3rd
QB Nathan Peterman – Pittsburgh – 3rd
RB D’onta Foreman – Texas – 3rd
CB Jourdan Lewis – Michigan – 3rd
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon – Villanova – 3rd
RB Marlon Mack – RB – South Florida – 3rd
TE Jake Butt – Michigan – 3rd/4th
RB Wayne Gallman – Clemson – 3rd/4th
WR Kenny Golladay – Northern Illinois – 4th
CB Jalen Myrick – Minnesota – 4th
CB Rasul Douglas – West Virginia – 4th
WR Shelton Gibson – West Virginia – 4th
OLB Vince Biegel – Wisconsin – 4th
RB James Conner – Pittsburgh – 4th/5th
S Montae Nicholson – Michigan State – 4th/5th
OLB Carroll Phillips – Illinois – 4th/5th
WR Mack Hollins – North Carolina – 4th/5th
OLB Keion Adams – Western Michigan – 5th
QB Joshua Dobbs – Tennessee – 6th
QB Jerod Evans – Virginia Tech – 6th
OLB Samson Ebukam – Eastern Washington – 6th/7th
CB Ryan Lewis – Pittsburgh – 6th/7th
OLB Javancy Jones – Jackson State – 6th/7th
NT Treyvon Hester – Toledo – 6th/7th
TE Jason Crooms – Tennessee – 7th
TE Scott Orndoff – Pittsburgh – 7th
Here’s just some of my takeaways from what I’m seeing.
- A lot of theses guys feel like “just in case” they drop further than where I have them listed. The Steelers brought in Mahomes before his hype really started heating up, so it’s possible they were intrigued in case he fell to them in the 2nd. Same goes for some of the receivers like Godwin and Reynolds who they’d pounce on if they fell into the 3rd.
- On the wide receivers front though, Martavis Bryant might need to earn his way back into the fold if/when he’s reinstated, and guys like Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward Bey might need to be worried. I’ve felt the receiver interest was probably just in case Martavis isn’t reinstated, but there’s just seems to be a lot of smoke here for there not to be a fire.
- Ladarius Green can probably sleep tight. Despite this being a really deep draft at the tight end position the Steelers haven’t spent much of their time scouting them. I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t pick one at all.
- No shocker here, but edge rusher seems very much in play at 30, and is where I’d place my money if I was a betting man.
- I, like many of you, have assumed all along the team comes away with an edge and a cornerback after the first 2 rounds. Way back in February Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat the “NO CORNERBACK” drum during one of his online chats stating “… just like last season, the Steelers view Golson as a second No. 2 draft pick for 2017. That doesn’t mean they won’t draft a cornerback, but it won’t be in the first two or three rounds. It’s more likely they will draft a safety before a corner.”
At the time, I thought he was crazy, but maybe not. Where’s the visits for guys like Adoree’ Jackson, Chidobe Awuzie, Kevin King, Cordrea Tankersley, or Fabian Moreau? All those guys would be round 1/2 options. Instead they’ve spoke mostly to round 3-5 guys.
- I’ve had to argue with a lot of yinzers this off-season, that Knile Davis was not signed to be Le’Veon Bell’s backup at running back. I feel very strongly they’ll take one before round 4 is over, but I don’t have a strong feeling for which one.
- I personally am a big fan of Vince Williams, and while it’s great having an inside linebacker that can cover like Shazier, I think a lot of fans dwell on it a bit too much. From this list though I’m sensing maybe I was wrong in assuming the team is happy with Vince completely. If Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham, or Raekwon McMillan were to fall to their 2nd pick I think they’d love to grab them.
- What I feel is a more likely solution, is they grab a safety project that could hopefully take over for Mike Mitchell in 2-3 years, but help out playing in the slot or as a hybrid player that could play linebacker on passing downs in place of Vince Williams; Obi Melinfonwu, Budda Baker, Josh Jones, or Marcus Maye are some guys that could fill various roles. I could see Mike Tomlin being totally in love with Josh Jones, but I think they’d have a hard time keeping him off the field for 2 years while Mitchell starts (who’s also a Tomlin favorite).
- I don’t completely understand why, but I think the Steelers grab an undersized outside linebacker late in this draft, that probably ends up primarily a special teamer. They took Travis Feeney last year who I liked as a football player, but he looked 100% like a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme to me. Some mid to late rounders like Carroll Phillips, Keion Adams, and Javancy Jones feel similar to me.
- I’m guessing the Steelers pass on quarterbacks completely, but if they do take one I think it’ll be on day 3, and it will be competition for Zach Metterburger, not Ben or Landry.
- I’m not expecting any guys in the trenches, offensive line or defensive line unless it’s a very late pick. I could see a backup nose tackle to compete with Dan McCullers being a possibility.