I can smell it in the air. I can feel it in the winds. I can read it from every knucklehead or ne’er-do-well who thinks they know what will happen near the end of April. Yes, it’s the time of year when expectations begin to build and speculation runs rampant. When the prognosticators begin to say anything and everything and logic itself simply goes on holiday.
It’s mock draft season.
A couple of years ago I started something called “Mock Draft Insanity”. The rules were pretty simple – I could do whatever I wanted to do, and speculate that through the most ridiculous of draft day scenarios the Steelers could somehow acquire an inordinate number of picks, and essentially fill any and every gap possible in a single draft.
Silliness, I know.
The point was twofold. First, to introduce prospects in a hurry (because with 15 or 16 picks in a single draft, that’s a lot of prospects). Secondly, to show just how silly most mock drafts are. It’s early in the season of Mocksanity, and while we did one “insanity” style draft on an earlier podcast, I felt it was time to take the bull by the horns and put out the first Mock Draft Insanity article of the season.
Before we begin, here are the ground rules (for whatever those are worth)
- I use Fanspeak’s Mock Draft Simulator, and I select for ONLY the Steelers. (Sorry Draft Network, I’d use your’s, but you don’t do trades and I can’t get insane without trades!)
- Trades are allowed (and encouraged). I can trade picks for 2019, 20 and 21. While I cannot trade players – because of the "Mr. Big Chest" world we live in, I can trade him.
- I have to be able to give some theory for why a trade was accepted by another team. That reason does not have to be logical (because the point is that logic is on vacation).
- I have to sit through the movie “Draft Day” prior to starting in order to obtain the appropriate sense of lunacy.
(And remember – this is supposed to be ridiculous... Wait two hours while I go watch Draft Day.)
That’s it. It’s a no-holds-barred draft throwdown! Let’s get to it!
Regardless of the ultimate conclusion to the Mr. Big Chest saga, the Steelers have needs, and the way I look at them, they are as follows:
CB, ILB, WR, EDGE, S, TE, DL, OL, RB
To me, the most pressing need is another corner. This is the complete opposite of what I felt last year when I had hopes the other 'AB' (Artie Burns) was going to flower. Instead, he wilted and now the Steelers truly need another solid CB to go with Joe Haden. You can’t really debate the need at ILB, it’s obvious and needs to be addressed. Wide receiver might surprise you if Antonio Brown stays, but even if he does, I think the Steelers need to be insulated from potential Big Chest Drama and another receiver will do that. The rest are mostly depth (although a nice Edge guy would not be upsetting).
Let’s start off with a projected trade of Antonio Brown, a.k.a. Mr. Ronald “Big Chest” Ocean. In this scenario, I have the Raiders trading their twenty-fourth pick in the first, second pick in the third and third pick in the fifth as well as a 2020 second-round pick for the rights to endure the ongoing joys of employing Brown. I juiced it a little assuming that there are going to be multiple suitors and the price goes up just enough.
In the first round, I trade back from 24 not once, but twice. First with the Chargers who give me the twenty-eighth pick and their second-round pick. Then again with the Chiefs who give me the twenty-ninth pick and their second-round pick for pick 28. Lastly I accept a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for the first pick in the second round and the first pick in the third giving them 28 and 29 in the second. Frankly, that one surprised me but hey, I’m cool with it.
So the haul is this:
Add to that the 2020 second rounder the Raiders gave up and I’m ready to go!
The Picks: Round 1
Pick 20 – DK Metcalf – WR (Mississippi)
6’3”, 225 lbs
I am large and in charge of the DK Metcalf #Hive (and the conductor of the hype train as well). I love Metcalf and I know Ben Roethlisberger will too. He is my no-holds-barred WR1 in this draft and while I’m starting to develop some love for a few other guys, it’s still not that close to me. Size, athleticism, speed all together in a package that might be a once-in-a-decade type of receiver.
I’ll be honest and say that if Metcalf tests like I expect him to at the combine he will never be there at 20, and might be a Top-10 pick. But if he is there (or the Steelers can move up to get him) I’m on board.
Pick 29 – Ed Oliver – DL (Houston)
6’ 2”, 290 lbs.
A defensive lineman? In the first round? Am I crazy? Well, no I’m not. First off, there is no way in the world that Oliver is around at the end of the first round – but in this Fanspeak scenario – he was. I passed on him at 20 to take Metcalf, who I saw as a clear need, and because I have the first pick in the second and the LB target I have should still be there, I used this as a luxury pick.
Oliver has elite penetration ability and teamed up with Jayvon Hargrave on the interior when the Steelers are in sub-packages you are talking about a quick off the ball two-some like we haven’t seen in a while. If this was still the Dick Lebeau system, I would never even consider Oliver as it would be a waste. However; in the current Steelers defense, where d-linemen can make plays, Oliver is a playmaker and the added pressure he can provide will help make our secondary better as well.
Luxury? Yes, but letting him slide any further would be plain silly.
Pick 1 – Devin Bush, Jr. – LB (Michigan)
5’11”, 222 lbs
I’ve said this repeatedly on the podcast, but I’m not in love with any of the guys in this linebacker class as first round picks. However, I think if Bush falls into the second, you have a guy who might be a solid player. He’s small, and that’s unfortunate – but if he can play “bigger” then he has the potential to be a contributor for the Steelers.
He has great blitz ability, and he is the kind of linebacker who can take advantage of the quality defensive line that the Steelers have. He can be an asset in coverage as well, although I worry about him taking on much larger tight ends. It’s not my favorite choice but it feels like a solid value even this high in the second round.
Pick 20 – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – S (Florida)
5’11”, 207 lbs
I’m not really sure that I think safety is a true need, and I view Gardner-Johnson more as a sub-package kind of player, maybe even a slot corner. I don’t know if he’ll contribute right away, but he might. He’s shown a lot of inconsistency in his play, and he needs to work on his tackling – but he could be a solid contributor down the road.
Pick 1 – Joejuan Williams – CB (Vanderbilt)
6’ 2”, 208 lbs
I wanted a corner higher, but they just didn’t slide into the spots where I felt the value was there and while I could have had Deandre Baker at 29, I couldn’t pass on Ed Oliver to take him. Everybody else I liked was long gone in the first, and by the time I had my second pick in the second as well.
Williams is more of a project, but I’m okay with that in the third round. He struggles against good route runners, but he does seem to show he can rise to the challenge of top-level receivers. I don’t think he’s an immediate help, which is unfortunate, but he could be someone who develops.
Pick 2 – Kaden Smith – TE (Stanford)
6’ 5”, 253 lbs
He’s big and he’s strong and he’s smart. I like all that. He’s not a great route runner, but that can be developed. He has really good burst and can be a good compliment to Vance McDonald if Jesse James leaves (or even if he stays). I like the way he attacks the ball and his ability to adjust.
Pick 19 – Terry McLaurin – WR (Ohio State)
6’ 0”, 205 lbs
I watched McLaurin all season as a Buckeye fan. He is deceptively fast, he creates separation, he battles for the ball at the catch point and he’s the kind of guy I want on my team. It does help that he’s a Buckeye, but I’m a big Terry McLaurin fan and if he’s around in the third I’d take him.
Pick 20 – Austin Bryant – Edge (Clemson)
6’ 5”, 265 lbs
I’ll be honest, from here on out it’s really no big surprises and mostly “best player available”. The draft starts to get top heavy with running backs and wide receivers in these later rounds. With two receivers already drafted, and no running back that feels like a good pick, I just sorted through the list until I found a guy who seemed to be a solid value based on the board.
Bryant is probably never going to be a starter, and is more likely a special teams contributor, so the fourth round may seem a bit high for him.
Pick 3 – Ben Powers – G (Oklahoma)
6’ 4”, 314 lbs
Powers is a guy who isn’t flashy and isn’t all that great at any one thing. However, it looks like he has the skills to develop into a Ramon Foster type player who could be a solid starter down the road. With the Big Ragu starting to get up there in age, and with B.J. Finney showing some weaknesses in pass blocking it’s not a bad idea to draft a developmental interior lineman.
Pick 2 – Martez Ivey – T (Florida)
6’ 5”, 315 lbs
He’s huge. That’s really about all I have to say about him. He’s not really great and hasn’t shown the type of development in college you want, so it may be a stretch to project him here.
But he’s huge.
Pick 19 – Wyatt Ray – Edge (Boston College)
6’ 3”, 250 lbs
Ray, in my view, needs a lot of development, but he fits the type of late round edge guy the Steelers take to project into something down the road. That’s the thing about him, he’s gotten better at every step, so who’s to say he won’t continue that trend?
Hell, it’s a crap-shoot this late in the draft, and I don’t have a problem taking a flyer on an edge guy who has potential here. In fact, I might even do it again.
Pick 5 – Maxx Crosby – Edge (Eastern Michgan)
6’ 5”, 265 lbs
Good length and good hand usage. He needs to pack on some muscle to that big frame though, but there is room to do it. Again, he’s a project – but who isn’t in the seventh round?
And yeah, this is the third “edge” prospect I’ve drafted. However, they are all late round guys, and you are really just throwing darts at the board to see if any stick. So my philosophy is, make sure you have a lot of darts!
There it is, the first Mock Draft Insanity draft for 2019. You know it will only get crazier, and the second round will come after the combine before I start to settle down into less and less crazy scenarios.
Hell, maybe we’ll even know what we get for Mr. Big Chest at some point.