I think that in about two to three weeks we’ll have the clearest picture yet of a Steelers draft when we get through the start of free agency. By that time we should know what the Steelers are doing with most of their own free agents.
Steel City Blitz has some interesting new ideas planned for that time, but for now, here is my best shot at a Steelers mock coming out of the combine.
1. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Previous Pick: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.
So prior to the combine I saw us going WR then CB in 1-2. I’m changing it based on the talent at WR as SteelDad mentioned following the combine. I’ll admit it was tough for me, because I love Benjamin, but I think this is how the Steelers go.
Gilbert is just what the Steelers need. He’s a big play machine, he plays well in off-man and zone coverage, and he’s a talented return man. There’s a good chance Gilbert’s scorching 40 time puts him in the top 15, but I’m not going to let that deter me here, because you never know. He could simply drop based on runs at other positions, or a team could like Dennard’s man to man ability better to push him above Gilbert.
Plus, with so much depth in this draft someone is going to drop. There’s going to be someone on the board that everyone is telling us there’s no way they’re there.
2. Kyle Von Noy, LB, BYU
Previous Pick: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
I’m tempted to go Allen Robinson here, because I think he’ll be here and would be a solid pick. With the depth in this draft though, there’s going to be a first round talent a this pick, it’s just trying to figure out who falls. I could also see a big run of receivers going towards the end of the first, early second round; leaving the Steelers reaching if they go WR. If Jason Worilds leaves in free agency, Woodley will stay, but I think a high pick goes towards OLB to possibly oust him in the next couple of years.
Von Noy is a very intelligent player, and uses his superb technique and brains to make plays more than an overwhelming physical skill set. He doesn’t have the ceiling of some of the first rounders in this draft but he seems low risk, potentially high reward to me. I could see Von Noy potentially fitting inside if needed as well if Woodley suddenly bounces back.
4. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Previous Pick: Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
This pick was hard for me. There’s just so many receivers with talent in this draft, that I’m guessing somebody falls. I considered Moncrief, Martavius Bryant, Jared Abbrederis, or possibly even Jarvis Landry if he doesn’t improve his 40 at his pro day. I may move Moncrief to the 3rd if we pick up a compensatory pick there in a future update.
Moncrief really appears to have it all as a wide receiver, but just didn’t produce his last season as well as everyone expected him to. He’s got good size, and isn’t Mike Wallace but good deep speed. He is prone to drops, but he has the upside to be a very good receiver.
5. Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
Previous Pick: Aaron Lynch, OLB, USF
Gardner moves down a round in this update. I still think he could go higher but I’ve also seen him projected to go towards the very end of the draft.
Gardner is a guy that’s dropping because injury issues, but prior to a torn pectoral muscle Gardner looked like a second round pick to me. As a Cincinnati alum, I was a big fan of Derek Wolfe a couple years ago, and Gardner reminds me of him.
Gardner was used all over the line at Stanford, and could probably fit in a lot of different schemes, but looks like a 3-4 DE for the Steelers. He’s very well rounded could set the edge, as well as provide some pass rush for the Steelers. Gardner’s also a very smart player and future team captain type of player.
6. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Previous Pick: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
I’ve seen thomas projected as a first rounder, and a 7th rounder depending on what website you look at. The consensus is that he should have returned to school for his senior season because he had a down year.
I don’t like the idea of taking 175 lb. RB’s early in the draft, but at this point it’d be ok. The Steelers need depth at the position, and need a return man. Haley has shown that he loves backs like Thomas. Chris Rainey didn’t work out, but Thomas may prove to be a dangerous return man, and change of pace back.
7. Bennett Jackson, CB/S, Notre Dame
Previous Pick: Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
I could see the Steelers doubling up on corners in this draft, given that Cortez Allen and William Gay could be the only players on the team with any experience at the position, very soon. Jackson has good size and could project as a safety, which is also a need. I would like to see Aaron Colvin selected here, who would likely sit a year due to blowing out his knee at the senior bowl… but that’s not typically something the Steelers do.