The NFL Combine is in the rear view mirror and the Pro Days are underway. That means it’s time to start my Mock Drafts. For this exercise, Version 1.0 assumes that the Steelers will keep Bud Dupree and that there will not be any trades.
Pick #49 (Second Round) Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Notes: Seems to have all of the physical tools necessary to play either tackle spot but I think he’s best suited for the right side. Ideal size and length but will need to work on his overall balance at the Pro level.
Rationale: The Steelers are faced with the prospect of having to slide Matt Feiler down to guard if Ramon Foster is cut and B.J. Finney signs elsewhere. At this moment, I don’t have enough confidence in either Chuks Okorafor or Zach Banner to be the full-time right tackle.
Pick #102 (Third Round Compensatory Pick) Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
Notes: It’s no secret that the Steeler love guys who can run quality routes. Jefferson runs superb routes. He’s not a burner and will have to work to get off bigger cover guys but he battles and likely to be a slot guy but has some versatility.
Rationale: While I believe JuJu Smith-Schuster will rebound and that Diontae Johnson will continue to get better, the jury is still out on James Washington. I think the Steelers would prefer a speed guy here but they’ll take a veteran guy with excellent skills.
Notes: He has good size, follows blocks well, catches the ball nicely and loves to see DBs in his path. He isn’t going to blow anyone away with speed but he has the ability to accelerate through the line and is an absolute bear to bring down. Probably not a guy who can get to the edge but he’s a good, safe selection here.
Rationale: In a perfect world, James Conner is healthy for the majority of the season and splits some carries with Benny Snell. I can’t gamble on that though and that is why Moss is an ideal pick.
Pick #125 (Fourth Round) Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Notes: Athletic young man who combines a lot of the attributes you want in a receiving tight end. His blocking is suspect and often times it’s bad due to a lack of urgency in my opinion. But he can get open quickly and be an immediate threat in the passing game.
Rationale: There is no guarantee that Nick Vannett re-signs. Although the Steelers like Zach Gentry I don’t see him as a viable number two option so the need for a capable, receiving tight end is there and the Steelers can’t pass up this kid.
Notes: Wonnum is a high-motor guy who will need to be coached up a bit in terms of pass rush moves and technique but he seems more than willing. At 6’5″ 250lbs there’s room to add on his frame and he was used in a variety of ways by the Gamecocks.
Rationale: Tuzar Skipper was a great Training Camp story last season. The Steelers let him go but then eventually brought him back. Ola Adeniyi is also a guy to keep an eye but here’s the thing, can either be relied upon to play serious amounts of snaps if necessary?
Pick #209 (Seventh Round) Raequan Williams, DT, Michigan State
Notes: Williams is a bit of an agitator for opposing offensive lines. He’s just over 300lbs and stands 6’4″ and is long to boot. He does a solid job with his bull rush and can hold his ground fairly well. Not sure how well he can extend things down the line however.
Rationale: This is pretty simple. Javon Hargrave is not coming back. Stephon Tuitt cannot be relied on to be 100% available. Therefore you need to add some bodies here.
I’ll be posting version two in the coming weeks.