The NFL draft has arrived. After many hours of research and tinkering, I've finally completed my final Steelers mock draft. There's only one point I want to get across before diving in:
THIS IS WHAT I THINK WILL HAPPEN, NOT WHAT I WANT TO HAPPEN.
This mock was based on team needs, pro days, and pre-draft visits. Let's not waste any more time here.
Round 1: Greedy Williams (CB) - LSU
The Steelers are in a weird spot because aside from inside linebacker, I don't think they have any urgent needs. Yes there are areas like wide receiver, safety, and outside linebacker that needs depth, but I don't think any of those spots have crying needs like we've see in past years. For their first pick, I'm going with a player who fills a depth need and has been highly connected to the team.
Not everybody's going to love Greedy Williams, but he makes a ton of sense for the Steelers. First of all, Mike Tomlin was all over him at his pro day (which you can see in this video) and history says that the Steelers tend to select players who had Tomlin & Kevin Colbert both at his pro day.
Regarding need, I think Pittsburgh is perfect for Greedy because it allows him to come and take a year or so to develop. People dog is work ethic and unenthusiastic tackling, but I think it would greatly benefit him being mentored by Joe Haden and Steven Nelson for a season. And I know people will bring Artie Burns comp's, but he enters the league with a lot more polish than Burns did. Greedy has the size, speed, and cover skills that you want in a corner, he just needs to learn how to be a pro.
Also considered: Chase Winovich (EDGE), Clelin Ferrell (EDGE)
Round 2: Darnell Savage (S) - Maryland
It wasn't long ago the Steelers took a cornerback and safety with their first two picks in the draft, well here we are again. Darnell Savage would be an absolute perfect pick for the Steelers for many reasons.
1) After cutting Morgan Burnett, the Steelers are in need of a third safety who can play in dime as well as rotate around the secondary. 2) The Steelers secondary needs a playmaker and somebody with ball skills. 3) With Sean Davis' uncertain future, the Steelers may want to draft a safety in case he's not brought back in 2020 or flops this season. Savage fills every single one of these needs. He plays fast, tenacious, and is capable of bringing back a Troy Polamalu-like presence that the Steelers thought they were getting when they drafted Shamarko Thomas. Savage will be able to contribute to the defense from day 1 and make an impact.
There are talks of him going high and maybe even sneaking into round 1, but I'm hoping the depth in this safety class, the history of safeties falling in the draft, and the overall depth at other positions like wide receiver will enable him to fall to Pittsburgh.
Also considered: Julian Love (CB), Terry McLaurin (WR)
Round 3A: Miles Boykin (WR) - Notre Dame
It kills me not putting rushing Ben Banogu here, but Miles Boykin just makes too much sense in the third round.
Miles Boykin is an unpolished receiver, but he has the size and speed we know the Steelers love. Given the current depth chart, in the short-term Boykin could be used in a simple role - screens, vertical routes, etc. I'd expect it to be similar to how Martavis Bryant was used early in his career.
If you look around and read scouting reports on Boykin, the most common negative is his lack of refinement. This makes him a perfect fit for Pittsburgh who is well-known for their ability to draft and develop receivers. Boykin wouldn't be forced into a starting role, he would be brought along at a steady pace and used in a limited role. He isn't going to replace Antonio Brown by any means, but he's an X-receiver who can help fill the void and add some versatility to the offense.
Also considered: Ben Banogu (EDGE), Bobby Okereke (ILB)
Round 3B: David Long Jr. (LB) - West Virginia
This is another pick where I'd like to point out that this mock is "what I think will happen." David Long is a linebacker who has been flying under the radar due to being injured throughout draft season. However, he's been a guy that the Steelers have paid a lot of attention to - sending Tomlin and Colbert to his pro day as well as bringing him in for a visit.
Though not everybody on the web loves Long, nobody denies how fast and aggressive he plays on the field. I'm not about to compare him to Ryan Shazier, but Long would be the closest thing they've had to replicating his presence. He's knocked for poor tackling and playing out of control at times, but because the Steelers have Mark Barron they won't be forced to rush Long on the field. You can teach tackling, you can't teach speed.
There are certainly other linebackers I could see the Steelers drafting such as Blake Cashman or Bobby Okereke, but I just have a feeling the team is in love with Long.
Also considered: Kahale Warring (TE), Andy Isabella (WR)
Round 4: Foster Moreau (TE) - LSU
Considering all the acquisitions the Steelers made in free agency this years, its actually surprising they left a whole at tight end. With Jesse James' departure and Xavier Grimble better serving as the third guy, the Steelers will surely be looking to add a tight end.
Foster Moreau is another player who I think would be a perfect fit for the roster. Moreau primarily was a blocker in college, but he has the athleticism to develop into a receiving threat. Given the Steelers need for a number two tight end, Moreau could slide right in.
While some have him as a third round player, it's completely feasible that teams overlook him for tight ends who were more productive in college and project as more of a receiving threat. We could be looking at this years George Kittle...
Also considered: Justice Hill (RB), Maxx Crosby (EDGE)
Round 5: John Cominsky (DE) - Charleston
Round 5 was one of the more difficult spots for me to select. All the major needs are filled, so they do double dip here or get more depth at other positions? I went with the latter and am going with John Cominsky.
Cominsky is a small school player who blew up the combine and showed he's an elite athlete. At 6'5 286 lb's, he's sort of a 'tweener and could be an edge rusher or a defensive lineman. My plan for him would to have him add on 20 lb's and play defense end. He fits the mold of a more traditional defensive end, a type the Steelers don't really have on the roster besides Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
With Tyson Alualu and Javon Hargrave on the roster, Cominsky would be able to sit, add weight, and develop. He has the athleticism that the Steelers will want to bet on and would be a great add to the roster.
Also considered: Gary Jennings (WR), Ugo Amadi (S)
Round 6A: Jordan Brailford (EDGE) - Oklahoma State
Edge is a sneaky need for the Steelers in 2019. While they have their starters, Bud Dupree is playing on a 1 year deal and isn't guaranteed to return in 2020. While I'd love for the Steelers to land Chase Winovich or Ben Banogu, they have other needs that may be more urgent.
Jordan Brailford is intriguing because I've seen people discuss how teams may want to move him to inside linebacker, but I believe that versatility his why the Steelers are interested in him. Based on pre-draft visits, I'm confident the Steelers are interested in drafting a versatile edge rusher. The three guys they brought in - Brailford, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Ben Banogu - are all athletic and capable of moving around the front seven.
I had the chance to interview Ben Banogu (shameless plug) and he told me during his Steelers visit he discussed with Mike Tomlin being used in a roll similar to TJ Watt. Brailford is also capable of playing this role but comes at a much cheaper cost than Banogu.
Also considered: Isaiah Buggs (DT)
Round 6B: Tyrel Dodson (LB) - Texas A&M
The Steelers have a rich history of double-dipping in the draft. Last year we saw it with Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen, this year I could see it happening with wide receiver or linebacker. While both could happen, I'm going with linebacker and taking Tyrel Dodson.
Colbert attended Texas A&M's pro day so I'm sure he got a good luck at Dodson while he was there. While it's unlikely he sees the field on defense early on, he's athletic and has solid size. If he makes the roster he could contribute on special teams while he works on his game. It'd also benefit the Steelers bringing in more competition for Tyler Matakevich and Jon Bostic - two players who aren't bad but are very limited athletically.
Also considered: Cody Thompson (WR)
Round 6C: Travis Homer (RB) - Miami
The Steelers looked at running backs this offseason more than anybody would have guessed. It's pretty clear that they'll be looking to add more depth. Based on all the guys they brought in they could be taking a running back as early as the third, but I think Travis Homer in the sixth makes a lot of sense.
He's isn't a big, 225+ lb back we know the Steelers like, but what he brings is speed and explosiveness. As we've seen before teams can pretty much find solid running backs anywhere, so the two main draws to Homers don't have anything to do with him as a runner. I think the Steelers will like him because of his experience in pass protection and on special teams - two areas the team values greatly and will help Homer's odds of seeing the field.
Also considered: Gary Johnson (LB)
Round 7: Stephen Denmark (CB) - Valdosta State
At this point in the draft, the Steelers would have pretty much filled all their needs. More than likely the Steelers will trade up at some point in the draft and give up some picks, but in this scenario the Steelers sit in the 7th round with the freedom to pick whoever they want.
I'm going with cornerback Stephen Denmark because A) he's big and athletic with lots of potential B) he had a pre-draft visit with the Steelers. Cornerback isn't necessarilly a need for the Steelers with how this draft played out, but in their situation they would likely target a high upside player who may be able to develop into something worthwhile.
Also considered: Andrew Van Ginkel (EDGE)
Bonus - potential undrafted free agents
- Garrett Brumfield (OG) - LSU
- Nehari Crawford (WR) - Duquesne
- Quadree Ollison (RB) - Pitt
- Dravon Askew-Henry (S) - WVU