Steel City Underground

SCU Mock Draft Insanity

Yesterday I reviewed prior versions of Mock Draft Insanity, to give a baseline of how things were before the NFL Combine.

With the combine behind us, it's time to see how stock in certain players has risen or fallen. But first, the rules.

Draft Rules

  • I can’t touch next years draft unless it’s really an amazing opportunity.
  • I can’t touch 2019 no matter what. I can trade back if it makes sense.
  • I can trade up if it makes sense, and the cost is reasonable.
  • I can offer trades, and listen to trades from other teams.

Really, my only restriction is hands-off of the future (unless it’s too good to be true). I’m also going to attempt to adhere to the Steelers stated philosophy of taking the best player on the board, with respect to value.

This is where things get tricky folks. Value encompasses the idea of need and overall value at the spot of the pick. How much does need override something like, for example, Mike Williams dropping from the top ten to pick 30? The Steelers certainly have their own way of valuing players; I am not privy to it, so essentially I’m making up my own “special sauce” here.

Also, as in the other Insanity versions, I’m going to use both Fanspeak’s draft simulator and’s simulator.

Round 1

Reuben Foster dropped out of the top ten, so before New Orleans drafted at pick 11, I attempted to make a trade with Cleveland at 12. I was able to get their 12th pick by giving up next year's one, and three.

Essentially, I kept my number one this year, and thought, hey, I can get Foster and another pick I need, and all I gave up was next year’s first and third picks which will be low in the draft. I didn’t think that it would get accepted (and in real life, it wouldn’t have) but it was in the simulator, so I did it.

Then New Orleans screwed my whole plan by taking Foster at 11. So Green Bay offered me their first, second, third and fourth round picks plus their number one next year, so I took the deal. I got four extra picks for the price of next year’s third round pick, unless Green Bay’s pick is worse than ours (which I kinda doubt).

Okay, on to the picks!

Christian McCaffrey, RB (Pick 29)

I had tons of options here and I passed on some really explosive guys (Corey Davis) to take McCaffrey. This is need/value put to the test right away. It helped a lot that I actually have pick 30 sitting in my back pocket so I can be a little aggressive and still address a need.

McCaffrey is dynamic and can add something to the Steelers without question. He can work in the slot, out wide, or out of the backfield, a lot like Le’Veon, only smaller. He has the potential kick return skills to help on special teams immediately and can relieve Antonio Brown (potentially) of punt return duties as well.

I doubt he really falls to 29, but if circumstances put McCaffery on the board when the Steelers are picking (especially with an extra pick), why not.

T.J. Watt, EDGE (Pick 30)

There was a bit of a run on EDGE guys early in this simulation. Guys who have been linked to the Steelers in other mocks were all gone (Takkarist McKinley, Haason Reddick, Charles Harris). There were some decent corners still on the board (Teez Tabor) but when you balance need and value, I felt that there was only one place to go: T.J. Watt.

J.J.’s little brother had a pretty good combine. He really only played a single season at Wisconsin, but you cannot discount his skills. He’s not as explosive as you might want (he’s not Bud Dupree). Still, I think he’s a good fit for the Steelers.

Other Options: Corey Davis, Evan Engram, Teez Tabor, Obi Melifonwu, Carl Lawson, Raekwon McMillan, Jarrad Davis

Round 2

I have the extra picks to try to move up and get someone in the second round, but the guy I have my eye on will, I think, fall in my lap. I got an offer from the Giants to move up (my 30th in the second and 29th in the third to get to 23). I also received offers to move back (Vikings 3/14, 4/15 and 5/14 for 2/29), but if there is one thing I’ve learned from my earlier insanity is that too many picks can be just as bad as not enough!

I countered some of those offers, trying to get future picks instead of more in this draft, but nobody was buying that, so instead, I just held my ground, and ended up with the guy I wanted, a guy I didn’t think would still be on the board.

Gareon Conley, CB (Pick 61)

I did not plan on looking at Gareon Conley here. I never in a million years expected him to be here. The fact that he wasn’t taken round one is surprising, the fact that he’s still on the board now is startling.

He was the best value left in the round, by far, so there was no reason not to take him. I did a full analysis on Conley in my corner Draft Prep piece, but the thing is, even though he isn’t as good as Marshon Lattimore, the other Ohio State corner in this draft, he still has Pro-Bowl potential.

He’s a steal here, and if Cockrell departs, a possible day one starter.

Duke Riley, LB (Pick 62)

There honestly aren’t a lot of guys who are fits for replacing Lawrence Timmons in this draft. Most of the ILB types are slower than I want, and sometimes even smaller.

If Rueben Foster fell to us in the first, he would be perfect, and I’d snap him up in a second. It’s happened a few times in some of the simulations, and with the hub-bub that happened at the combine, who knows. If he falls, and if the Steelers have done their due diligence on him and found no issues, I’d grab him. That’s not likely to happen, and that means the Steelers will need to sort through the rest of the linebackers to find a fit.

I think it’s Duke Riley.

Riley is a little undersized, but in a draft that is not stocked with inside guys, I think he may be the second best option available, so getting him in the second is a good fit for both value and need. Based on the board I used (CBS), in both cases, Conley and Riley were the top value picks on the board, so need and value kind of matched up really well.

Other Options: Curtis Samuel, DeDe Westbrook, Cooper Kupp, Gerald Everett, Malachi Dupre, Bucky Hodges, Cameron Sutton, Derek Rivers

Round 3

I come into this round feeling pretty good about my draft. I’ve got 3 picks to make some hay.

In this sim, Derek Rivers is still on the board, and frankly, there is no way that is going to play out in the real world. I think whoever is in charge of the CBS big board is really sleeping on Rivers. If he’s around when my trio of picks hits, I’m telling you now, he’s coming home (I say home because this is where Rivers belongs, not because he actually lives in Pittsburgh).

Dalvin Tomlinson, DL (Pick 93)

Rivers is still on the board, but since I had 93 and 94, they kind of blurred together. I already had an Edge guy in the bag, so I went D-line with 93. Tomlinson gets a lot of comparisons to the two DL’s that came out of Alabama last year (A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed). I like our top three guys (Heyward, Tuitt, and Hargrave), but he can add real quality depth and help spell the main men when needed.

Derek Rivers, EDGE (Pick 94)

I told you I was gonna bring him home.

Rivers is all over the place. One board has him as the 22nd best player in the draft, but most have him sitting somewhere between 40 and 60. Getting him at 94 is like finding an envelope with no address or information on it containing a thousand bucks. You want to give it back because you feel like you're stealing it.

His draft profile projects him as a potential backup, but I think they are nuts – this kid has starter potential. This would be the pick of the draft, in my opinion. I’m that high on this kid. If I was running on another board, I would have taken him at 30.

In fact, I’m on record as saying that if the Steelers want him, they are almost certainly going to have to use the 30th pick to get him.

Having him fall all the way to 93 is what made this the winning scenario of all the ones I ran.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (Pick 106)

Smith-Schuster reminds me of Hines Ward – he’s tough.

I know I pushed WR down on the needs list, so this is a bit of luxury pick here, but the value is huge (best value on the board at this point) and the only tight end that warrants this pick is Jake Butt.

It was a toss up between Butt and Smith-Schuster, and I went with the WR because there is a tight end I kind of like that I can get later.

Other options: Ryan Anderson, Rasul Douglas, Amara Darboh, Pat Elflein, Jake Butt, Justin Evans, Marcus Maye

Round 4

I would love to target a tight end in this round, but the pickings have gotten pretty slim. There is a guy who over performed at the combine who I have an eye on, though. Despite his combine, he may be around in the fifth round, so I am going to have to weigh value versus need. I’m fending off trade offers to move back left and right, but I don’t think I’ll do any more moving around. I have a lot of picks and really not many more needs.

I’m fending off trade offers to move back left and right, but I don’t think I’ll do any more moving around. I have a lot of picks and not many more needs.

Kenny Golladay, WR (Pick 134) & Jalen Robinette, WR (Pick 135)

I’m really playing crapshoot here because I’m drafting pretty much the same guy. Both of these guys can go up and get the ball. We don’t have room for them both, so I’m being kind of a WR diva here, but what the heck: the only real need I have left is a tight end.

If we can hide Robinette on the practice squad, and keep Golladay on the roster, it gives us some protection if Martavis comes back and is such a monster that in two more years when his contract expires, we feel like we can’t keep him because of the financial details. So both picks “thinking down the road” selections.

Other options: Pat Elflein, Artavis Scott, Nazair Jones, Tanzel Smart, Carlos Henderson, Howard Jones

Round 5

I have one more pick, and I took a chance last round that the guy I would want this round, might be gone by now.

But I got lucky.

I’m looking for that tight end and I got him.

George Kittle, TE (Pick 173)

Kittle surprised people with how well he performed at the combine, so it’s possible that he will go higher than this. He’s a former basketball player, and has really good hands and knows how to go up and get the ball. He blocks like another O-lineman and runs like a Y-type tight end. I’m really liking this kid, and he could be a steal all the way down here in the fifth.

Other options: Shaquill Griffin (who it was really hard to pass on, I like him a lot), Hunter Dimick, Ryan Switzer, Jonnu Smith, Matt Milano


There is no scenario where I can possibly imagine this draft actually occurring! If it worked out that Cleveland was willing to give up 12 for next years first and third, I would do that in a minute. If the Steelers could turn that into two picks in a row in the first four rounds (even if they are 29 and 30) from Green Bay, and getting their 2018 first rounder back, only costing them next year’s third round pick, I would wet myself I’d be so happy.

This scenario is more unbelievable than the one thrown out in the movie “Draft Day”, and that was some crazy stuff.

What do I have left on my “needs” list? Just quarterback, and you know what? I don’t care. You Landry haters can all lose your minds that we re-signed him – but it was the right thing to do, and the best option for the Steelers.

If you want to hunt Ben’s replacement, start next year when the kid from USC might come out as a sophomore. You’ll have to trade up to get him, but that may be worth doing because he will need time to grow.

The choices this year are the difference between filet mignon and hamburger. Really bad hamburger. Like the hamburger they use at bad fast food restaurants.

I think between now and the draft I will do one more of these after we see what kind of visits the Steelers take.

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