1. Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor – Prospect Profile
Personally I’m still holding out hope for William Jackson III in the first round, but I think the Steelers will stick to their long-held philosophy of improving the front-7 over the cornerback position. The Steelers staff is doing their due diligence on the kid; sending Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, Keith Butler, and even Mean Joe Greene to the Baylor pro day. Coach Tomlin was seen chatting with Billings’ parents and Joe Greene had dinner with Billings that night. Clearly, they want to get to know Billings better.
On the field, the Steelers coaches probably are already knowing what he’s capable of, and the answer is a lot in their scheme. Billings would step into 3-4 packages from day 1 as a nose tackle, but what makes him worth a 1st round pick is he wouldn’t leave the field as the schemes change. Heyward, Tuitt, and Billings would give the defense three guys more than capable of holding up against the run but more importantly, can also get home when rushing the Quarterback on passing downs. Billings to me, looks like the new-age NFL nose tackle.
2. Karl Joseph, SS, West Virginia – Prospect Profile
I listed Jeremy Cash here in my last update, and I’ll be honest I don’t have a great reason for changing it other than personally, I like Joseph more. If the Steelers want a guy that will play exclusively in the box and punish running backs; then Jeremy Cash or Su’a Cravens would be an adequate pick at this spot. If they want someone that can do that and cover the deep part of the field when asked, the Joseph is your man.
I’m hoping to get a better sense of where the team’s interest may lie from the reported visits to the team’s facility. Darian Thompson would also be a good pick at this spot, but something tells me they want someone that inflicts more punishment, and Karl Joseph is definitely that kind of guy.
3. Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
Prior to this mock update, I’ve been thinking this is the year the Steelers finally grab a cornerback in round 1. They still could, but most of the team’s meeting thus far have been with later round cornerback prospects. Harlan Miller is one of those guys; having sat down with a formal meeting with the Steelers at the combine. Miller didn’t have a great weekend at the combine, running a 4.65 forty yard dash, and only managed 6 reps on the bench press.
None of those things really worry me though. I would like to see Miller get stronger, but the low bench rep total doesn’t surprise me as he has a very long, wiry frame. Miller has exceptionally quick feet, and reacts quickly on the ball and uses his long arms well. While he’ll likely struggle tackling somewhat due to his thin frame, he’s a willing tackler and uses good technique when wrapping up ball carriers. Miller’s lack of strighat line speed would be covered up somewhat in the Steelers’ zone heavy scheme. While Mike Tomlin typically likes to have offensive players return kicks, Miller also has experience as a punt returner which has to be attractive to the Steelers’ coaching staff.
4. Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
Allen has some things to like about his game, but he also has some serious physical limitations. At worst, he’s probably a solid career backup, but I could see him having some success as a starter if he has enough talent around him. The Steelers have shown interest in Allen and are said to “like his makeup.” Allen is a smart player that’s said to be a great locker room leader. He’s undersized, and has small hands that are probably the reasons he’ll be a backup, but he has a pretty good arm and good accuracy on short throws. He benefitted from a lot of play-action at Arkansas, but that’s ok, as he could do the same with Le’Veon Bell in his backfield.
I know some won’t love this, and it feels a little early to take Allen to me, but I think he’s gone by the 6th. I could see Dak Prescott or Cardale Jones being better picks if they fall here. I think that Steeler nation needs to prepare to possibly be angry about another Quarterback earlier than you would like.
6. (comp) Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State
Ervin is an undersized back that runs like a power back. That could lead to him getting dinged up down the line, but the Steelers don’t need him to come in and be their bellcow. Ervin has some impressive ability to find a hole, but the Steelers will be more interested in his experience returning kicks and punts. The senior back returned 101 kicks during his college career, taking 3 of them to the house. He was less experienced on punts, returning just 14 but made them count scoring on 2 of them.
7. Derrick Alexander, DE, Tulsa
I think the coaching staff really wants to stock their defensive line behind their two talented ends this off-season. Alexander met with the coaching staff durign the Tulsa pro day. The end/tackle tweener is a high motor guy with some pass rush ability from the end position.
7. Jay Lee, WR, Baylor
Lee is the other Baylor receiver with a lot of raw athletic ability, but a lot of holes in his game. He’s got solid size, long arms, and pretty good speed. He’d likely start out as a practice squad guy given the Steelers’ depth at the position, but Lee is a guy that could eventually be a nice backup with some work. Baylor’s offense tends to be on that doesn’t translate to the NFL game easily. Lee showed some solid blocking ability, especially on screens that the Steelers would like about his game. Could probably also return kicks.