Steel City Underground

NFL Draft News & Coverage

The mock draft season is upon us, and its time for version 2.0 of the SCU Mock Draft Round-up.

There have been some revisits for prior players mocked to the Steelers, as well as some new additions in this edition. We finally know where teams are slated to draft, unlike in version 1.0 where all but two teams (those in the Super Bowl, which had yet to be played - and no including the coin flip between the 49ers and Raiders) were determined.

With that in mind, I have pulled some of the early Steelers projected picks from around the web, along with comments about the pick (if available). I also add my own two cents to the conclusion at the very bottom.

There's still a lot of speculation, draft visits, pro days and much more that will disrupt the crystal ball in the coming weeks, but as of now, let's take a (fun) look at who the "experts" think the Steelers will add to their 2018 roster.

Note: All picks are first-round selections.

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ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.)

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

What they said:

Vander Esch is a name I continue to hear for the end of the first round. I expect him to put up strong numbers at the combine. At 6-4, 240, he has the versatility to play outside linebacker, but I think his best fit is as an inside ‘backer in a 3-4. He’s a physical run-stopper who can defend tight ends and running backs -- he had three interceptions in 2017. Inside linebacker is an obvious need for the Steelers, who will have to replace Ryan Shazier.

This is also a spot where I could see a team trading up to grab Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who I think will be the fifth QB off the board.

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The Draft Wire (Luke Easterling)

Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

No comment by author.

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PewterReport.com (Trevor Sikkema)

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

What they said:

Ryan Shazier was one of my favorite players to watch, and even though it’s being reported that he’s trying to come back to football and think he’ll play again, the Steelers can’t exactly count on that, or him ever being the same if he does.

Jefferson is likely going to be one of those Combine freaks. He’s an explosive athlete for the position and would be a good replacement for Shazier’s speed in the Steelers’ defense.

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SteelCityInsider (Jim Wexell)

Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama

What they said:

Looks like they're going to have to find an ILB in free agency. I haven't seen Leighton Vander Esch but am hearing mixed reviews on him anyway.

I was hoping to wait until the second round to take a safety I have in mind for that spot, but Harrison hits hard enough to play dime backer right away. Slide Sean Davis over to free safety whenever Harrison's ready to start, although he might not get it for a while. That's my sticking point here.

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Walter Football

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

What they said:

Teams believed Lamar Jackson would return to school, but he has opted to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson has amazing upside because of his huge arm and great mobility, but he needs to work on his mechanics and ball placement. Sitting behind Ben Roethlisberger for a year or two would be ideal. Roethlisberger recently said he would play for a few more years, but how can Pittsburgh trust him to stay that long when he's been so wishy-washy?

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NFL.com (Charles Davis)

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

What they said:

The questions about Le'Veon Bell's future will continue, barring a long-term deal, and the Steelers hedge their bets with an RB who can fly but also run inside and catch.

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CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

What they said:

Evans is a big-hitting Alabama linebacker with impressive movement skills. He's precisely what the Steelers defense needs.

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Bleacher Report (Maurice Moton)

Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

No comment by author.

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Bleacher Report (Chris Roling)

Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

No comment by author.

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Pro Football Focus (Steve Palazzolo)

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

What they said:

Allen is still a project at this point in his development, but a worthwhile one for the Steelers as they maximize the tail end of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career.

Allen has a cannon for an arm and great size and athleticism, though he must improve his accuracy and touch in the short game as well as his decision-making that had him ranked 28th in the draft class at avoiding turnover-worthy plays.

Even with his accuracy issues, Allen has potential as a volatile, downfield thrower, and sitting on the bench for a year or two could be the key to unlocking his ceiling.

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Conclusion

Some of these picks take into consideration the Steelers primary needs entering the 2018 offseason (inside linebacker, safety) while others neglect even cursory knowledge of the team's strengths to shoehorn picks into specific slots. (Quarterback? Offensive Guard? Come on!)

I do believe those latter positional picks are preposterous. I'm willing to accept some of the choices, since this batch of mock drafts were based on lack of Combine numbers and other hard details; but first round picks for a quarterback or any offensive lineman are quite preposterous. While these are still guesses, I'd prefer at least fitting a player to a need at this point: granted, some of the prospects will rise while others will fall. That's part of the unpredictable prediction cycle.

However, I can't fathom a scenario where the Steelers don't go defense with their top pick.





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