This is not my final mock draft, my final mock will release on Draft Day. This mock is a bit out there, out of the ordinary and uncommon picks. Usually the way the Steelers draft are guys we don’t see coming or are a bit off the radar. I’d rather not be repetitive.
R1 P30: Jordan Willis, EDGE, Kansas St.
I haven’t seen Willis mocked to the Steelers at all this off-season. He posted crazy athletic numbers at the NFL Combine that had every analyst go back to his tape. He shows good bend, strength to set the edge and is very good in the run game. His coach raved also him and said he is the epitome of Kansas State football. High character kid who can come in and compete immediately. The Steelers were at his Pro Day, but Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were too busy entertaining Dont’a Hightower to go to his Pro Day or have dinner with him. They also have yet to bring him in for a visit, but they may not tip their caps.
Other considerations: Budda Baker, Derek Rivers, Tre’Davious White
R2 P62: Marcus Maye, Safety, Florida
The Steelers have interest in Maye, dining with him at his Pro Day. The Florida product played mostly free safety in 2015 when Keanu Neal played the strong. In 2016, he played closer to the line of scrimmage more often. I like Maye in the box equally as much as a single high, but he also played in the nickel in 2014. The Steelers covet that versatility.
Other considerations: Fabian Moreau, Josh Jones, Justin Evans
R3 P94: Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
The Steelers have clear interest in Reynolds, bringing him in for a pre-draft visit and meeting with him at the NFL Combine. Reynolds is a big guy with length and jump ball ability. Won’t wow you with speed, but a better route runner than given credit for. Good, not great hands but he’s what the Steelers need on the outside. This pick is contingent on Martavis Bryant not being reinstated, let’s hope that changes before Draft Day.
Other Considerations: Jalen Myrick, Mack Hollins, Dawuane Smoot
R3 P105 (comp): Shaquill Griffin, CB, UCF
Griffin is a bit under the radar but the Steelers met with him before he put on a surprisingly good combine. Posting a 11’ broad jump and a stand out 40 yard dash at 4.38s. He has the athletic profile, size and potential the Steelers are beginning to covet in their cornerbacks. I have only watched a few of his games, so a draft journal and more information on Griffin will come soon.
Other considerations: Samaje Perine, Jourdan Lewis, Howard Wilson
R4 P135: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Praying Perine lasts this long and I’ll continue to butcher the pronunciation of his last name (P-ryne). The big, strong running back was a workhorse until the unpopular but more talented Joe Mixon came into the mix (see what I did there?) more predominantly in 2016. This is purely insurance to Le’Veon Bell, who will continue to take 90%+ of the workload. Bell is one puff away from an entire season on the suspended list and Perine is capable and comfortable taking on a workhorse-like assignment. If Perine is in the mix, it opens up a lot for the offense. Can have both in the backfield. Could have Perine at singleback and Bell in the slot. Or, he can just look like a beefcake on the sideline while Bell shows out. Perine is durable, has great balance, good vision and is a reliable pass blocker. Biggest knock on him is his experience in the passing game, which the responsibility was given to Mixon. He’s not the most athletic, but they already have that type of running back in Bell.
Other considerations: Wayne Gallman, James Connor, George Kittle
R5 P173: Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
I’m a huge fan of Roberts but not a huge fan of having the need of a tight end all over again. If (when) Ladarius Green takes another big hit and is wondering what planet he’s on, there will need to be insurance. Jesse James is what he is, a backup tight end, but he was better than expected filling in for Green in 2016.
Roberts has the experience inline blocking, but has raw technique. He is a bigger guy who has all the tools, just needs to put it together at the next level. In the passing game, Roberts scored 16 (!!) times. According to NFL.com, 80% of Roberts’ catches go for first downs. The Steelers sent tight end coach James Daniel to Toledo Pro Day and reports say there was an “in-depth sit down”, so there is interest.
Oh, he has 11.5” hands. Humongous.
Other considerations: Jeremy Sprinkle, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Carroll Phillips
R6 P213: Samson Ebukam, EDGE, Eastern Washington
The Steelers double dip here at edge rusher and dip into the FCS pool for the 2nd straight year. Ebukam’s story is a good one, you can read it here. The Nigerian descent linebacker is extremely athletic, posting Pro Day numbers of: 40: 4.45s, bench: 24, vertical: 39”, broad jump 10’ 10”, 3-cone: 7.07, 20yd shuttle: 4.34. Ebukam’s tape is really good and there is no surprise there is interest. He has the athleticism to drop in coverage, or to sway offensive lineman. Would be a special teams demon. I think the Steelers should and do double dip, why not with someone who they’ve shown interest in and who is an athletic freak?
Other considerations: Connor Harris, Keion Adams, Jerod Evans
R7 P248: Javancy Jones, OLB/ILB, Jackson State
A high energy guy who is relentless to the quarterback. Rare to find film on this guy, but the Steelers made the effort to attend his Pro Day. He is a late round flier and someone who I’d like to move to inside linebacker and play special teams. High character kid with a clean medical history. He will be on the next episode (episode 12) of the podcast as a guest.
Other considerations: Treyvon Hester, Glen Antoine, Marquel Lee
**Parting notes: I didn’t draft a quarterback. I think Brad Kaaya and Josh Dobbs are on their radar but are both off the board before their 3rd round picks. I waited long on an inside linebacker, I think giving Vince Williams the go-ahead starting job is the smart move. Draft one high in 2018 if need be, I think he filled in well as a starter. Remember, drafting a wide receiver that high is contingent on not knowing about Martavis Bryant’s reinstatement. The 3rd round compensatory pick and not picking a QB allowed me to have a ton of choices and options. I wish I could have selected a cornerback sooner and a safety later, maybe a cornerback at 62 and a safety at 94. Value too good to pass up at 62 though.
My other mocks are listed below, funny how things change as the off-season progresses.