For probably the first time from this website, this draft season, you’ll have a few different opinions on what direction the Steelers will go, which is a good thing. You can check out Cnic’s first mock here.
A lot can change between now and April, but here’s my first stab at things.
1. Carl Lawson, OLB, Auburn
Cnic went with Takkarist McKinley in the 1st, and he’d be my pick as well if he’s there. However, I think Takk could end up being like Dontari Poe the year he came out. Around this time he was a popular mock pick to the Steelers, but ended up going 11th after blowing up the combine.
We stick with the OLB position though, because Rooney’s end of season comments are always extremely transparent. He said the team needs to fix the pass rush, and get better at red zone scoring. That, to me, almost guarantees an edge guy round 1.
While Lawson isn’t the athlete that Takk is, I think there’s still a lot to like about his game. I see him as a very well-rounded edge defender that can win in a lot of different ways. I really like the way he uses his hands to keep blockers off of his frame, which will be important because he doesn’t have prototype height or length for the position; and maybe it’s just because I’ve watched so much of James Harrison but that doesn’t bother me too much.
2. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
This is another guy I really like despite a lack of great measurables for the position. This team needs to find a replacement for William Gay and at this point we have no idea what Senquez Golson is going to end up being. Lewis is a guy that would probably be getting talked about as a very high pick if he was 3 inches taller. Lewis is very technically savvy and I think that will make up for his lack of size in the NFL. Guys like Jason Verrett and Chris Harris have had plenty of NFL success mostly in the slot, but also on the outside.
I wouldn’t put Lewis on AJ Green, but the team already has Artie Burns for that… but when they see the Patriots again and a guy like Julian Edelman is lining up in the slot; someone like Lewis could be a huge help. I think in today’s NFL, you almost have to have 4 cornerbacks you feel good about playing a lot of snaps.
3. Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
Typically round 3 is where the Steelers tend to go a little outside the box. Personally, I’d like to grab the next DeAngelo Williams in free agency (his former teammate Jonathan Stewart wouldn’t be a bad option if he’s cut like some have speculated he may be) and then maybe you grab a big receiver or a tight end at the spot instead. While it stinks to take a back this early when you have the best one in the league, how much has this team had to rely on DeAngelo over the past 2 seasons? While I think that Le’Veon will be tagged, and then ultimately work out a long term deal, the team can’t ignore the possibility of Le’Veon just wanting too much money, or getting suspended again.
Despite all the things I just said about not loving a RB, I love Jamaal Williams. I’m not sure he has the receiving or blocking ability that the Steelers covet, but as a runner I think he’d be a perfect fit for this offense. I don’t want to compare anyone to Bell, but like Bell he’s a guy that has excellent vision in choosing his hole. While he won’t make as many guys miss as Le’Veon he’s more willing to take on contact. There’s a lot of runs on tape where you can’t help but love his determination in moving a pile and keeping his legs moving.
4. Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
Art Rooney II’s second bullet point was red-zone scoring. Enter Michael Roberts. Roberts to me, could be an absolutely perfect fit for what the Steelers needs. They need a red-zone scorer and a better in-line blocker at the tight end position. Roberts does both of those things.
Primarily a blocking tight end for most of his college career, Roberts has plenty of size and ability to do the dirty work in the trenches. However, it’s whopping 16 touchdowns last season that has him getting noticed now. Roberts probably won’t wow anyone with his combine numbers, and won’t ever be a guy that beats a ton of guys with his route running but he has very soft hands that measured an insane 11 5/8.”
I have big hands. Toledo TE Michael Roberts has bigger hands. pic.twitter.com/Nz8RBA9pAe
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) January 25, 2017
5. Ejuan Price, OLB, Pitt
I really wanted to put a QB here, but I just am really having a hard time finding anyone I like to the Steelers in this class. I may slot on here later as I watch more guys. For now, I grab another edge rusher. Price’s production is elite, but many think he falls to late day 2, or even day 3 because they’re not sure he has a position in the NFL. He’ll also be a very old rookie, at 24 years old. That being said, Price has been a back-field mainstay during his college career and if he falls this far (and I think he could), he’s worth taking a shot on.
6. Jamari Staples, WR, Louisville
I could be wrong, but I’m not sure the Steelers see either Martavis Bryant or Sammie Coates being involved in the team’s long-term plans at the receiver position. I could definitely see the team shocking everyone by taking one on day 2, but it wouldn’t be crazy to not see one either. Staples could be a big body to stash on the practice squad in the even those other guys leave one day. Staples had a solid college career but played in an offense that spread the ball around a lot.
7. Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati
Kiel is more a Mettenberger replacement, than Landry Jones, so I’m not sure they wait this long, but like I said I don’t have a great feeling about anyone earlier right now.
As a Cincinnati fan and alum, I’ve heard plenty of rumors about Gunner and the reasons for him being benched as a senior. I also think in some instances he got screwed by his coaching staff. The interview process will be big for his stock.
Gunner’s decision making was awful at times at Cincinnati, but I think some fixable mechanics issues lead to a lot of his bad throws. I do think he’s a smart kid with enough arm talent to make all the throws you want from an NFL quarterback. He’s probably never a starter but I could see him being what we all wished Landry Jones would become.