This is the final installment of my Steelers’ Mock Draft series. The first mock draft is available here. The second is available right here. The Steelers of course have a very straight-forward approach with their first round picks. Young, athletic and from a Power 5 school. With no first round selection will that paradigm hold true with their first selection being at 49?
Before I get to that though, I see the Steelers with no real target. In other words, I don’t think there’s a guy at 49 (short of a first rounder dropping like a brick) they are in love with so moving down becomes a great choice here. I would LOVE to see it happen but I won’t predict it here.
NOTE: When I create a mock draft, I do so trying to emulate what I believe the Steelers will do rather than what I personally would do.
Pick #49 (Second Round) – Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
Notes: Akers was an all-state quarterback in Mississippi where he threw for over 8,000 yards and ran for another 5,000. At Florida State he played behind a below average offensive line but still managed to put up tremendous numbers. His vision and ability to find running room are excellent and I like his nose for the extra yard as he’s always moving forward. He’s tough enough but needs to work on his pass protection technique and will need to take better care of the ball as well.
Rationale: We can talk all we want to about the need for depth at the quarterback position but the running back position needs the same depth as well. Akers provides a home run threat with every touch and seems to be much more durable than what James Conner has shown. Dominate, every down backs aren’t what they used to be but Akers can give the Steelers that option.
Pick #102 (Third Round Compensatory Pick) – Chase Claypool, WR Notre Dame
Notes: The native of British Columbia, Canada put in some serious work at Notre Dame. At 6’4″ and possessing a vertical jump of over 40″ Claypool gives the Steelers exactly the big man on the outside they have seemingly coveted. There is nothing fancy about his game. He isn’t going to ‘juke’ anyone or be elusive but his physicality and ability to track the ball are something the Steelers can’t pass up. And he’s an excellent run blocker as well.
Rationale: Call me a sucker because I’m going to believe the hype about the Steelers getting Ben Roethlisberger that ‘big wide receiver’ we always hear about. Claypool isn’t the ‘take the top off the defense’ guy I really think they need but he’ll garner immediate attention from opposing defense nonetheless. The Steelers are stunned to see him fall this far.
Pick #124 (Fourth Round) – Kenny Robinson, S, West Virginia (XFL)
Notes: This is a rare ‘out of character’ pick for the Steelers lately. Robinson was dismissed from WVU for academic fraud and rather than transfer, he went to the XFL. He is your prototypical free safety who covers a ton of ground and is a ball hawk who creates turnovers whenever possible. His tackling is not good. Can it be improved? I believe it can.
Rationale: The Steelers like a three safety look and with Terrell Edmunds not panning out quite like they hoped, perhaps the addition of Robinson will allow Edmunds to slide down into a hybrid/LB role where he can be more physical closer to the line of scrimmage. Regardless, they have to build depth here.
Pick #135 (Fourth Round) – Ben Bredeson, OL, Michigan
Notes: A four-year starter and two-time captain at Michigan, Bredeson has the ability to play either guard or tackle at the pro level. He’s not what you’d call athletic, but if the Steelers get back to the running game the way I think they want to, then Bredeson checks some serious boxes there. I really like his hands and punch in pass protection and the former Wisconsin high school player of the year is a mauler in the run game.
Rationale: I think the Steelers like last year’s late round pick Derwin Gray but I’m not sure how much. If Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner can’t hold down right tackle then Matt Feiler has to and that opens up left guard where Bredeson could immediately have an impact. Regardless, the Steelers’ O-line has to get younger. There’s no getting around that.
Pick #198 (Sixth Round) – Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
Notes: At the NFL level, Muse isn’t a safety as he doesn’t possess the footwork and quickness necessary. I believe he’ll be converted to more of a linebacker role which will immediately help the Steelers with depth there. He’s got good size and excellent straight-line speed too.
Rationale: Muse fits exactly what the Steelers have been looking for in recent drafts. He’s well respected by his teammates, he’s durable, athletic and works his tail off. He will be a huge impact on special teams from the get go and if he can handle the physicality and and some weight I think he can be a very good reserve linebacker and emergency safety if necessary.
Pick #232 (Seventh Round) – Casey Toohill, EDGE, Stanford
Notes: Toohill is not the fastest or the strongest or the most technically sound guy but he’s a very good athlete and tested extremely well in Combine categories. He’s going to have to pack on a few more pounds in order to be more solid against the run but I don’t see that being an issue.
Rationale: With Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt locked in, you still need depth. As much as I like Tuzar Skipper and Ola Adeniyi I’m not sure either can’t be beaten out and that’s where Toohill comes in. He will instantly be a star on special teams and will provide challenges in practice from day one with his ‘never-stop’ attitude.