With the combine now behind us, we get a little more information about the players and a little more information about who the Steelers have shown some interest in in interviews. Plenty of changes this time around for my Steelers mock.
1. Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown St
Previous pick: Carl Lawson, OLB, Auburn
I’ve had my eye on Rivers for some time now, and while I was a big fan, I was a little hesitant to take a guy from such a small school in the 1st round. After the combine though, I’m ready to slot him here. I really saw everything I wanted from Rivers in the drills, scoring well in his 40 time, 3-cone, bench press, and vertical jump. All of that only reinforced what I see on tape though. Rivers is a saavy pass rusher that uses a number of moves and a relentless motor to his advantage. I’d like to see him add a little weight and become a more physical run defender, but his motor and technique makes me optimistic that that will happen in time.
2. Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
Previous pick: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Call it a hunch; I think the Steelers are going to go wide receiver earlier than any of us expect them to in this draft. I keep going back to comments made by Art Rooney II… about not being able to rely on Martavis Bryant and about getting better at scoring in the redzone. Godwin has a lot of traits that I think the Steelers will really like. He’s a big bodied receiver that’s not a burner but is probably a better downfield threat than he’s given credit for. What I really like is his ability to track the ball and high-point it in 50/50 situations. Godwin shows great concentration when he’s thrown a bad ball. I could see Godwin being a downfield threat and red-zone specialist; but unlike some other Steelers’ field stretchers (Mike Wallace and Sammie Coates), he has some diverse route running ability to become a complete receiver.
3a. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee
Previous pick: Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
I’m speculating a bit here, but I think that the Steelers are going to come away with a starting caliber cornerback at some point in free agency, which will make the position less of an urgent need in April. The Steelers have met with Sutton twice now, and I think they’re really going to fall in love with his attitude. Sutton would be very different from any cover men they’ve had on the roster in some time. Sutton is a very experienced man to man cornerback that’s a fluid athlete with solid ball skills. However, he’s not very experienced in zone coverage, and not a big help in run support. My hope is his experience and competitve nature would help in those areas, but if the Steelers want to play more man cover than bringing in Sutton would be a good start. In a weaker draft class he’d go much earlier than this.
3b.(comp) Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
The Steelers struck gold last season in the 3rd round with a small school product. Could they do the same this year at the tight end position? Shaheen is another guy that didn’t play against great competition, so you have to just project how he’ll do at the NFL level. For now, he’s a massive frame with some athleticism that could help in the red-zone. There’s a lot of potential, and I’ve seen some mock him high in the 2nd round, but in this TE class I think that’s unrealistic. Shaheen’s blocking technique needs a lot of work, as he doesn’t get the most out of his large frame in that department. He’d be a project, but one with a lot of upside and the 3rd round is where the Steelers typically are a little more willing to take a longshot.
4. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Previous pick: Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
I think that the Steelers are definitely looking for Le’Veon Bell’s backup in this draft, and based on their interviews so far it appears they want a bruiser to handle that spot. Perine is a bruiser, possibly to a fault. He probably doesn’t have enough shiftiness in his game to ever be a full-time starter but he’s a load with the ball in his hands, and there’s some pass catching ability that the Steelers like to have in their backs.
5. Ejuan Price, OLB, Pitt
I’ve still got the Steelers doubling down on pass rushers. As I stated in my last mock, Price is going to drop a lot because he’s undersized, old, and has been prone to injuries. Despite all of that, he lived in the backfield in college and would have a perfect teacher in James Harrison, who’s won in the NFL for years despite a similar squatty frame.
6. Chunky Clements, DL, Illinois
Previous pick: Jamari Staples, WR, Louisville
Clements is a penetrating defensive lineman that would likely hit the practice squad for a couple of years. He has some pass rush potential but needs to get better at the point of attack. His motor has been questioned as well. John Mitchell’s group is always one of the best hustling in the league, so maybe he can motivate the kid.
7. Hardy Nickerson, LB, Illinois
Previous pick: Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati
Yeah, the son of that Hardy Nickerson. If Lawrence Timmons moves on, which it’s now sound like may be a real possibility, they may want to bring in a developmental inside linebacker. They may feel the need to go earlier than this though if they’re not comfortable with Matakevich taking on a bigger role.