Free agency is largely over save for a few more depth pieces and potentially Terrell Edmunds or the Honey Badger, but I quickly digress. This is version 3.0 of my mock draft and I’m starting to get a feel for where Kevin Colbert is going. That doesn’t mean a whole lot because Colbert will do what he does which is often very different from what the rest of us think.
As always, this mock envisions what I believe the Steelers will do rather than what I would do. With free agency addressing several positions, it’s time to see how the Draft will shake out.
This current version the actual draft slots rather than the late round projections.
Round 1 Pick 20: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
Johnson is exactly what you look for in today’s interior offensive linemen. He plays with aggression, moves better than any man that size should and comes with loads of experience. This is a ‘plug and play’ selection right here.
Reasoning: I see no way the Steelers can go into the season with Kendrick Green at center. Will he be improved from his rookie season? Yes, but there are still too many concerns. I believe they’ll slide James Daniel to the middle and plug Johnson in to his right.
Mock 1.0: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Mock 2.0: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Round 2 Pick 52: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Moore had an exceptional career in the MAC and would join fellow MAC Alum Diontae Johnson in the lineup. He does not possess huge size (5’11”) and isn’t the route runner that Johnson was coming out of Toledo but he’s a tenacious catcher of the ball. He’s very tough and will battle for every single throw. He wasn’t thought to be much of a burner but then ripped off a 4.41 at the Combine.
Reasoning: The Steelers are desperate for a slot receiver and granted, this would be a bit early for Moore based on most projections but he isn’t going to be there in the third round.
Mock 1.0: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Mock 2.0: Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Round 3 Pick 84: Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
This is a big man who can move. He isn’t exceptionally quick off the ball but he’s really good against the run and has shown the ability to be a disruptor in pass rush situations. His experience across the D-Line is vast. He’s played everything from a 5-tech to a 0-tech. His addition to the Steelers would see him immediately fit in at the nose and then they can expand from there.
Reasoning: I’m tired of wondering if Stephon Tuitt will be back or not but either way, the Steelers need depth along the D-Line and especially on early downs over the center. Mathis fits that perfectly.
Mock 1.0: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
Mock 2.0: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
Round 4 Pick 138 (Compensatory Pick for Bud Dupree): Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
This isn’t the ‘change of pace’ back many, including myself, want to see but Pierce is a stud. He was not used nearly enough in my opinion at Florida and that benefits any team that drafts him. You know he’s committed to his team too as he chose to play in the Gators’ bowl game despite many others in his situation opting out. Pierce runs with aggression and authority and is sneaky fast despite being a big back.
Reasoning: Mike Tomlin seems destined to not learn from his past running back mistakes by running the wheels off his top dog. Pierce would allow Najee Harris some breathers without missing the pounding he brings as Pierce would fill that void.
Mock 1.0: Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford
Mock 2.0: John Ridgeway, DL, Arkansas
Sixth Round Pick 208: James Mitchell, TE, Va Tech
Mitchell is one of the more athletic tight ends you’ll ever see. He lined up all over the formation for the Hokies and has the ability to stretch defenses. His blocking is so-so but the effort is there which I’ll always take. This is a guy who moved from tight end to QB his senior year of high school because of injuries and still won player of the year in his state.
Reasoning: At some point the Steelers have to wake up and realize that a field-stretching tight end is part of the game. Pat Freiermuth is the long-term starter and was an excellent selection last year. But the Steelers seem to always load up on blocking tight ends. How about one that can consistently catch the ball and create space for other receivers too?
Mock 1.0: Josh Ross, LB, Michigan
Mock 2.0: Isaiah Palo-Mao, S, USC
Round 7 Pick 225: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
Ok, here’s your “speed guy.” Melton zoomed to a 4.34 forty at the Combine immediately drawing a reaction from the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium. Melton is not what I would call a great receiver as he has some questionable hands and isn’t built like today’s wideouts. That said, he suffered through some brutal QB play at Rutgers and is also special teams monster as a gunner. If he can slide his way into the fifth WR spot I think he becomes a really valuable guy to have on the roster.
Reasoning: This offense needs speed. Get Melton on the field for a handful of snaps per game and see what he can do. But more than that, he becomes a valuable special teams guy and you can never have too many of those.
Mock 1.0: Josh Thompson, CB, Texas
Mock 2.0: D’Vonte Price, RB, Florida International
Round 7 Pick 241 (Avery Williamson trade): E.J. Perry, QB, Brown
Here’s your quarterback! Not really but hear me out. Seventh round picks are essentially free agents and the Steelers will likely find themselves in need of a QB in Camp. Perry originally played at Boston College before transferring to Brown where he played for his Uncle. He has above-average arm strength but not exactly a big arm and his mechanics are so-so. But he is very much a Taysom Hill/Swiss Army knife type of guy that can be used from time to time.
Reasoning: The Steelers need a Camp arm and Perry would fit. But he also gives you that opportunity to toy with him as a gadget should Matt Canada choose that route.
Mock 1.0: Connor Heyward, TE/FB, MSU
Mock 2.0: Jeremiah Gemmel, LB, North Carolina