Irish accent time: Top o’ da mornin’ to ye laddies, you’ve found gold today with a brand spankin’ new Steelers mock draft. Cnic is back in Fanspeak and will be using Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s big board. I feel lucky on this St. Patrick’s Day, how about ye? Yank up that kilt and hold on to ye caps. This is no hurling, this is football!
Round 1 Pick 30: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
Apparently I am circling back to my first mock draft here. McKinley is my favorite edge rusher not named Myles Garrett. Converts speed to power, can set the edge well (did it with a torn labrum as well as a fracture in his shoulder), can play the run very well and can cover better given credit for. McKinley’s underwhelming combine performance left more to be desired. His shoulder surgery, which occurred on March 4th is scheduled to sideline the UCLA product for four-six months. Combining is sub-par combine with his surgery, I see Takk falling to 30.
Round 2 Pick 62: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
A part of an excellent Colorado secondary, Awuzie stood out to me last year and again this season. Has a nose for the football, a very gritty, aggressive player on the field and a respectful high character guy off the field. Awuzie is one of my guys that I feel fits the Steelers very well. He can play boundary or slot, which helps a ton. His long speed is a question, but with his fluid hips, his technique just needs tweaking. There is a plethora of cornerbacks, so I am confident a very good one falls to the Steelers at 62, and in this instance, I was right.
Round 3 Pick 94: Tarell Basham, EDGE, Ohio
Is EDGE rusher really that big of a need to double dip this early? Yes. Why? Let me explain. For one, we drafted Takkarist McKinley, who is rehabbing his shoulder. This insurance lets him take his time and not rush back, which can cause re-injury. The depth behind Bud Dupree is uninspiring. It is tough to say this is James Harrison’s last year because we’ve been saying that for what seems like 10 seasons now, but it is like 2017 is his final season. Who else is there? Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo. Feel inspired yet? Moats is a rotational guy and was bumped out of his starting job in 2016 for Chickillo, who is very undistinguished and is underwhelming in run support. Basham offers a different skill set than Dupree, Moats and Chickillo and most similarly to Deebo. A speed to power guy who can set the edge very well and gets to the quarterback routinely.
Others on the board considered: RB Kareem Hunt, S Josh Jones, DL Carlos Watkins
Round 3 Pick 105 (Compensatory): Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State
The Steelers brought in Dont’a Hightower in for a visit and have met with many inside linebacker prospects thus far. They seem adamant about adding more talent and wanting to create competition. As was said “ we are a Shazier injury away from Vince Williams and Dirty Red Matakevich being our starters”, scary stuff. Lee provides production, cover ability and leadership to the defense.
Others on the board considered: TE Jake Butt, TE Gerald Everett, LB Kendall Beckwith
Round 4 Pick: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
This guy just screams Steelers. A bigger running back who is used to being a workhorse if ever needed. Very raw catching out of the back field, but is decent in pass protection and is one of the most underrated running back prospects in this class. His teammate Joe Mixon took most of the spotlight, but Perine still had a great season. It seems the Steelers are searching for a bigger back, to offset and supplement Le’Veon Bell’s skill set. The Steelers have also met with Perine at the NFL Combine.
Others on the board considered: RB Jamaal Williams, TE Gerald Everett, S Delano Hill
Round 5 Pick 173: Damonte Kazee, slot CB, San Diego State
Haven’t heard of Kazee? You should have. The kid is very undersized and still has arguably the best ball skills in this draft. He will play slot cornerback at the NFL level and that position needs supplemented with William Gay and Senquez Golson being huge question marks. Kazee has a knack for turning the ball over, which is very much needed in Pittsburgh. According to NFL.com, Kazee broke up 43 passes and 16 interceptions the past three years. Incredible for a guy who is 5’10”. Dominic DiTolla is somewhere in Arizona shaking his booty at this pick.
Round 6 Pick 213: Isaac Rochell, DL, Notre Dame
The Steelers need some talented defensive line depth. It was very discouraging how the defensive line played when Cameron Heyward went down in 2016. Heyward and Tuitt need to have some rest time, but can’t do that if their supplementation is a tremendous drop off. Rochell is a guy who the Steelers have pegged an interest in. He also hangs out with former Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. Needs to get better at rushing the passer, but has power and ability to limit gaps. Was named team captain as a senior and is a durable guy.
Others on the board considered: DL D.J Jones, S David Jones, NT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu
Round 7 Pick 248: George Kittle, TE, Iowa
Kittle is very underrated and might get lost in this great tight end class. Kittle is an excellent blocker who has very good technique. Ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, has the ability to develop into a passing threat down field. A reliable target, only dropping one pass of his 48 catches. A poor man’s Heath Miller (no he is not Heath Miller, they have a similar skill set, though). Kittle would be able to bump David Johnson off the roster. Has the capability to be the number two tight end early in his career if Ladarius Green watches the movie concussion and decides to retire, or actually receives another concussion.
Others on the board considered: S Damarius Travis, S Johnathan Ford, QB Cooper Rush
What is missing??: Quarterback. Landry Jones is in town for more years, buckle up. Wide Receiver. Justin Hunter is in the fold now in an already crowded room. Offensive line: Steelers may get an offensive tackle and a center as UDFA. Safety. This is tough for me but I think when Mike Mitchell is on his way out, they’ll draft his successor.
Hit me up on the twittersphere (@Cnic__) or in the comments. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, be SAFE tonight.