Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 NFL mock draft roundup v3.0

We’re past the NFL Combine and well into the free agency period, and now with about a month to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s time for version 3.0 of the SCU Mock Draft Round-up.

I scoured the Internet for various mock drafts from a variety of websites, to see who some of the analysts out there felt would be a fit for the Steelers. I was surprised to see more of a consensus on some picks this time around, but there are still some headscratchers (as well as a total repeat pick and comment) in the mix.

Here’s what I found.

Note: All picks are first-round selections.

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The Draft Wire (Luke Easterling)

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

What they said:

No comment by author. (Note: Easterling has a full seven-round mock at the link below.)

Full Mock Draft

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Walter Football

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

What they said:

I’ve had the Steelers taking Lamar Jackson in my previous updates, but with Ben Roethlisberger saying that he wants to play for three more years, it makes sense for the front office to look elsewhere.

Pittsburgh obviously needs to replace Ryan Shazier, who won’t play in 2018. The team reportedly likes Leighton Vander Esch, who did not disappoint in the combine.

Full Mock Draft

NFL.com (Bucky Brooks)

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

What they said:

With Steelers GM Kevin Colbert announcing a few weeks ago that Ryan Shazier is out for the 2018 season, finding an active inside linebacker should be a top priority in the draft. Vander Esch is a long, rangy defender capable of dominating the game as a sideline-to-sideline defender.

Full Mock Draft

NFL.com (Charles Davis)

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

What they said:

After signing Morgan Burnett to bolster the safety position, the Steelers turn their attention to linebacker, and find an instinctive one in Vander Esch.

Full Mock Draft

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NFL.com (Lance Zierlein)

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

What they said:

With Steelers GM Kevin Colbert announcing a few weeks ago that Ryan Shazier is out for the 2018 season, the Steelers have a big hole to fill in the middle of their defense. Evans is an ILB with toughness, speed and rush ability.

Full Mock Draft

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NFL.com (Chad Reuter)

Justin Reid, S, Stanford

What they said:

Reid is a hard-hitting defender for the back end and will fill in quite well in Pittsburgh’s defense.

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SB Nation (Dan Kadar)

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

What they said:

A linebacker may be out of the question for the Steelers after the signing of Jon Bostic. If so, it’s challenging to find an overly obvious need on arguably the NFL’s most talented roster. You really have to wonder on draft night if the Steelers will try and be aggressive to move up and get one of the top safeties.

If they stick at No. 28, Harrison can set up in the secondary as a read and react safety who closes on the ball in a hurry. Keep an eye on the Le’Veon Bell situation, though. If Pittsburgh thinks the situation there is beyond the point of no return, a running back like Derrius Guice could be in play.

Full Mock Draft

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CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

What they said:

The Steelers need more talent and aggression in their secondary. Despite his smaller size, Ward is tenacious on the field and has the speed to run with wideouts downfield.

Full Mock Draft

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Bleacher Report (Maurice Moton)

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury made the existing need at inside linebacker even bigger. Even with the signing of Jon Bostic, the Steelers need to get better and faster in the middle of the defense. And with the offense pretty much set, the front office can use this offseason to keep building the defense.

Jefferson is a bit of a project, but his raw athleticism can’t be overlooked. If the Steelers are comfortable that his production and diagnosing skills can improve in the NFL with a better crew around him, then Jefferson is a match for the Steelers’ style.

Full Mock Draft

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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.

Though he may be sitting at the 28th spot on PFF’s mock draft, Allen’s odds to go 1st overall in the 2018 NFL Draft is not far behind favorite Sam Darnold. He’s definitely the best value out of the favored quarterbacks.

Full Mock Draft

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Conclusion

With free agency shaking out now, some of these mock drafts accurately reflect the adjusted needs of the Steelers, both presently and into the future. However, some of them, like the Denzel Ward pick, appear to be made by people with cursory knowledge of the Steelers needs.

I have said here at SCU that the Steelers needs are definitely on the defensive side of the ball, and especially at inside linebacker and safety (where their depth is nil). If they went in another direction, drafting a running back or even a quarterback, then that would be alright in my book too. (I have made a case for where I could at least empathize with the decision to draft Ben Roethlisberger’s heir.)

However, there are positions that would be a luxury to pick in the first round, such as wide receiver, or yes, a cornerback. For the first time in years, I feel the Steelers are set at those positions. That doesn’t preclude them from adding depth in subsequent rounds of the draft, but using their top pick on those would be, in my opinion, rather disappointing.

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