I usually leave the draft stuff to Chris who does a damn fine job and puts in way more time than he should but I know he loves it so what am I to do? Well, I get lots of people who ask me if I do a mock and to this point, the only one I do is the full, round one mock Chris and I do together. Finally I decided it was time for me to step into the fray of the mock draft world.
The first thing you need to know is that this is a mock based on what I think the Steelers will do, not what I would do. That can often be really hard to separate but it’s necessary to do if you want a legitimate experience. Therefore I present my 2016 Steelers’ Mock Draft.
Round 1: Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
Any time you hear people throw around names like “Bob Sanders-type” or “Troy Polamalu-like” you pay attention and that’s what I’ve done with Joseph who I believe can be something similar to those guys. Yes, the knee injury is a concern but ACL injuries aren’t what they were 10 years ago. I believe Joseph will have plenty of time to get into shape and could be starting by mid-season. Rob Golden is more than adequate in his stead. Joseph will provide the Steelers with the type of play-making in the secondary they need to turn teams over and send them to the sidelines on fourth down.
Round 2: Javon Hargrove, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina State
This young man was a nice secret a couple of months ago but suddenly he seems to be skyrocketing up everyone’s draft boards and with good reason. At small school South Carolina State, Hargrove dominated the opposition getting six sacks in one game from his defensive tackle position. The Steelers were just one of three teams at his pro day and I think they like him enough to grab him this early. He possesses the ability to play the nose or defensive tackle in a four-man front which is something the Steelers need. He’ll need some coaching, but he’s got all the tools and the hard-working mentality needed to be a multi-faceted guy on the interior of the Steelers’ defense.
Round 3: Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
The selection of Cooper is not meant as a replacement for the troubled Martavis Bryant as much as it is for the potential loss of Markus Wheaton in free agency next year. Cooper is an outstanding kid who comes from a military family. He’s not a burner and he doesn’t have great size but he’s a very good athlete who relies on short-burst speed and quickness. He also has good experience as a punt and kick returner. I’ll be honest; I’d love Sterling Shepard but I think he’s gone by the end of round two.
Round 4: Tavon Young, CB, Temple
The Steelers played more zone coverage than just about anyone else in the league last season and I don’t see that changing much. Young played in a very similar system at Temple so his zone coverage ability is a major attraction for the Steelers. Fans will likely not be crazy because at 5′ 10″ he appears to be another one of these smallish corners the Steelers seem to collect like beanie babies but this kid plays bigger than he is. He has good ball skills and held up well against some of the Owls’ best competition in 2015.
Round 6: Stephen Weatherly, OLB, Vanderbilt
What would a Steelers’ draft be without an outside backer? With all kinds of questions surrounding the future of Jarvis Jones, the Steelers took a chance on Weatherly who has size and speed and sets a very good edge which is a requirement of a Steelers’ OLB. He’s very smart and uses his long arms and massive hands well. He will need some development but could be a really solid special teamer and eventual rotational player on the edge.
Round 7: Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
Pittsburgh struck lightning back in 2002 when a defensive end from BYU fell to them in the seventh round by the name of Brett Keisel. Lowry is similar in size although his arms are shorter. What you can’t take away from this kid is effort. He has the type of motor you want from a defensive end and he is a team player through and through. His numbers in 2015 were actually better than those of Joey Bosa.
Round 7: Cody Kessler, QB, USC
The former USC Trojan was one of the first guys on the Steelers’ radar in the pre-draft process but don’t worry Big Ben fans – this isn’t a replacement pick – it’s a guy that hopefully can compete to be a solid back-up. What Kessler does really well is complete passes within 20 yards which is exactly why Todd Haley likes him. It’s possible he could slip out of the draft but I don’t think the Steelers will wait for that possibility.
Other Late-Round Possibilities: Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern, Justin Zimmer, DL, Ferris State (MI), Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central, Rees Odhiambo, G, Boise State, Elandon Roberts, LB, Houston, Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State