Well, folks, the NFL draft is almost here! With the Combine being out of the way and just a little over two weeks until the draft, I believe it's time for another mock draft. As you will see, all of my picks have changed, this time I believe that I have a more realistic picture of what the Steelers might do. But then again, anything can happen in two weeks!
First Round: Rashaan Evans - LB, Alabama
I'm sticking with an Alabama product for my second mock draft in the first round. However, I now have a little more confidence that Evans could be around at pick 28. With the future of Shazier being uncertain, the Steelers acquired a hard-hitting Jon Bostic (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts), during free agency. While Bostic may be able to fill in at the starting role alongside Vince Williams for this season, I believe they should still look for the future at this positions. Evans could be the answer for the Steelers. In his senior season for the Crimson Tide, Evans finished with 74 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and six sacks. As a rookie, Evans could come in and be a key rotational guy to start the season and eventually move into the starting role of Bostic.
Previous Selection: Ronnie Harrison - S, Alabama
Second Round: James Washington - WR, Oklahoma State
After seeing his rise since the combine, it is clear to me that Leighton Vander Esch won't fall to the Steelers in the second round as I had hoped. With that in mind, I have the Steelers adding another weapon to their already loaded offense. James Washington out of Oklahoma State is a name that I believe should be even higher on draft boards. However, with some of the higher touted receivers, I could see him slipping to this spot. In his final season with the Cowboys, Washington finished with 74 receptions for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns. If Washington falls to the Steelers, I believe that this would be a huge steal! Washington could come in and easily be the fourth receiver on the depth chart as a rookie and possibly compete with Bryant for the third spot if he plays well enough.
Previous Selection: Leighton Vander Esch - LB, Boise State
Third Round: Duke Dawson - CB, Florida
In the third round of this mock draft, I have the Steelers getting some more help on the defensive side of the ball. I believe that the Steelers have a solid core of corners with Burns, Haden, and Hilton. However, I still believe that they could use some help. Dawson is a name that has been surfacing with the Steelers recently, having already had an official meeting with the team. In his senior season at Florida, Dawson accounted for 34 tackles, two tackles for loss, and four interceptions. Although he may not be a starter just yet, Dawson could definitely come in a be a key rotation guy in this secondary and mold into a starter in a couple seasons.
Previous Selection: Dante Pettis - WR, Washington
Fifth Round: B.J. Hill - DT, NC State
For the first fifth-round selection in this mock draft, I have the Steelers getting some much-needed help on their interior defensive line. Javon Hargrave has been a solid defensive tackle for the Steelers but he could use some help. B.J. Hill out of North Carolina State could be a great mid-round find for Pittsburgh. As a senior, Hill finished with 55 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. Hill definitely isn't starting material yet but he could rotate in to give Hargrave some rest and eventually earn more playing time.
Previous Selection: Troy Troy Fumagalli - TE, Wisconsin
Fifth Round: Quin Blanding - FS, Virginia
With the signing of former Packers safety, Morgan Burnett, it is safe to say that the Steelers have their starting safety duo set with Burnett and Sean Davis. However, a little depth never hurt. Quin Blanding could provide just that for this secondary. In his final season as a Cavalier, Blanding finished with 136 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, and one touchdown. Blanding could come in and provide some depth as a possible rotational guy and find a role on special teams. Even if he doesn't play right away, Blanding is a player that the Steelers could mold into a key contributor for the future.
Previous Selection: Rashaan Gaulden - CB, Tennessee
Seventh Round: Trevon Young - Edge, Louisville
In their first selection of the seventh round, I have the Steelers adding some depth to another position that I believe is already set. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree look to be a solid edge-rushing duo for years to come. However, as is the case with any position, you could always use some depth. Trevon Young would be a nice pick up for the Steelers this late in the draft. In his final season with the Cardinals, Young accounted for 62 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and five pass deflections. Young is another player that the players could mold into an eventual contributor as he would likely just see time as a limited rotational player and possible special teams guy to start off.
Previous Selection: Lowell Lotulelei - DT, Utah
Seventh Round: Jordan Akins - TE, UCF
With their final selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, I have the Steelers adding another weapon to their passing game. As of now, I strongly believe that the Steelers have a solid duo at tight end with Vance McDonald and Jesse James. However, every team could use a solid third tight end in today's game. Akins could be a late round gem for the Steelers at this position. In his senior season at UCF, Akins served as a vertical threat, finished with 32 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns. As we all know, Ben Roethlisberger loves having reliable tight ends in the passing game and Akins could be a nice rotational guy to give McDonald and James some rest.
Previous Selection: Skai Moore - OLB, South Carolina
As I have already mentioned, I strongly believe that this is a far more realistic mock draft for the Steelers than my first one. However, it is still likely that none of the picks actually happen. But a man can dream! I strongly believe that any of these players that I have mentioned would be a great addition to the Steelers, but then again I'm just a writer.