So we have now gotten through NFL Free Agency and Pro Days for that matter. This is the last Steelers Mock of this year. There are significant changes in this draft from before. Remember this isn't who I think the Steelers will draft, this is who I want them to draft. The more I think about this draft the less I want to trade back so I'm doing this with no trades. I have five defensive players and four offensive players. So it might not be as defensive minded as most want but I think having three out of the first four picks on the defensive side makes up for it.
1. Kelvin Benjamin 6'5 240lbs WR Florida State
Post Combine Pick : Kelvin Benjamin
I'm sticking with this pick and I will defend it here. As a reminder this is all just personal opinion and I don't claim to be an expert on anything, these are just my thoughts. I have long wanted an elite corner in Pittsburgh, back since Rod Woodson left. I can't think about the last time the Steelers have had a chance to draft arguably the best corner in the draft. But as I look at Denard I just don't feel he'll be the next Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, or Richard Sherman. Denard grabs a lot for a college back. In the NFL the rules are much more strict as it pertains to how much a corner can touch a wide receiver than it is in college. Then when you add in the fact that Denard doesn't have elite speed and isn't particularly tall for his position you have a hard time imagining that he won't have to grab even more against the better talent of WRs that are in the NFL or at the very least that it will take a while for him to adjust. Plus the obvious fact that it will take a year for him to get acclimated to the Steelers' system. Many others have talked about Aaron Donald but personally I'm not sure if thats the direction that Dick Lebeau wants to go with the defense so I wouldn't mock him to us unless I had more of a hint that the Steelers want to go in that direction. So I'm basically going offense with this pick keeping with the tick/tock flow that the Steelers have been alternating between offense and defense with the first pick of the draft. So the choices will be between Ebron and Benjamin. I'm picking Benjamin still because of the outside threat he possesses. Also as I expounded before on the idea that you can use Benjamin as a second tight end also since he has the size and has been used in that way before. I dont think the risk is that high if he is in the structure that the Steelers culture provides. Also the fact that Ebron is a tarheel really makes it hard for me to even consider him. Personally I'd take him off my draft board, if you went to UNC then I have serious questions about your character. Feel free to blast this pick.
2. Stephen Tuitt 6'5 305 lbs DE Notre Dame
Post-Combine Pick: Keith McGill
In my last mock I reached for a corner. I really think the Steelers will go with best player here though. I really think Tuitt is going to fall to the Steelers in the second round. I think with all the offensive talent, the TEs and WRs that are going to go in the bottom of the first and the top of the second which will push Tuitt down the board. Plus the fact that he has been in a boot basically all off season and no one has really had a chance to get a look at him. I really love him as a DE prospect in the 3-4 defense. He's big and mobile, long and strong. He also has shown that he can rush the passer with 20+ sacks in his career at Notre Dame, pairing Tuitt with Heyward will not only affect offensive lines with their sheer talent but it will also allow Jones and Worlids to flourish behind them since offensive lines will be so preoccupied with how to block Tuitt and Heyward. I really think Tuitt also fits the mold (if he can keep his weight down) of being able to play in a 4-3 look also, since he can rush the passer so well, or even a 2 down alignment with just him and Heyward. So he fits the multiple sets idea that was talked about with Aarond Donald earlier. Its just that he fits much better in the 3-4 than donald does. You might call this wishful thinking that Tuitt will be here but if he is I'd love it if the Steelers would pick him.
3. comp pick Keith McGill 6'3 211 lbs CB Utah
Post Combine Pick : Taylor Hart
I had taken him higher in the previous mock but after coming to my senses I realize he can probably be had later in the draft. This much later, I'm not sure. But he is a bigger corner who has shown good hip movement and ran well for his size at the combine. He is more of the Richard Sherman mold of corner and if that fails could transition to safety. He ran a 4.51s 40 at the combine. McGill could really use Coach Lake's teaching and he could flourish in Pittsburgh.
4. Phillip Gains 6'0 193 lbs CB Rice
Post Combine Pick: Xavier Grimble
Gains stock has been on the rise since his 4.3s 40 yard dash time and measuring 6' ft at the combine. But if he last to the bottom of the third I wouldn't mind the Steelers taking him here. Gains has decent size and elite speed to be an elite NFL corner. Since a corner is likely to take a year to develop in the system it makes much more sense to take a corner here than with the first pick. The hope here is for Allen to slide into Ike's spot next year with Gains moving in to Allen's spot next year. But this year Gains could force Will Gay out of the nickel corner duties. But we definitely will draft a corner somewhere in this draft.
5. Jerick McKinnon RB 5'9 209 lbs Georgia Southern
Post Combine Pick: Dri Archer
Not many know about McKinnon but he has a very fast 40 time, and tied for the fastest 10 yard split at 1.46s. I think the fifth round is the right time to add some speed to our running backs group and another person to compete for KR/PR duties. Now that Chris Rainey is gone, and this guy is faster. And he weights about 210 lbs at 5'9 so he has decent size to go with that speed, at least size to hold up in the NFL.
5. comp Xavier Grimble 6'4 257 lbs TE USC
Post Combine Pick: Justin Ellis
I really think Xavier Grimble is going to surprise people. I feel the Steelers could try to find a diamond in the rough here which is essentially what you are looking for in these rounds. I feel if you give Grimble a better Qb he'll produce. Either way he is worth the risk here and can come in as the 3rd TE and learn behind Miller. Thats why I've stuck with him through all of my mocks.
6. Beau Allen 6'3 325 lbs NT Wisconsin
Post Combine Pick: Ryan Groy
I really like Beau Allen's potential. He had a nice season last year at wisconsin and has the size to play NT although he is a little bit tall. I had Justin Ellis in the previous draft but he has since shot up most draft boards and I don't see him lasting this late in the draft. But Allen isn't a bad consolation prize. Steelers need beef up front and playing behind McLendon Allen can learn and develop his craft.
7. AJ Tarpley 6'2 238 lbs LB Stanford
Post Combine Pick: Pat O'Donell
Its not a Steelers draft without a linebacker. Here they get a guy to compete with Vince Williams and Sean Spence in the ILB spot. I don't see Tarpley winning it but it provides depth at a position that may very well need it. Tarpley was a rotational player behind Shayne Skov at Stanford but he had decent production while he was in the game. He could be a case of being behind a really good player and not getting more time to shine.
7. comp Ryan Groy 6'5 316 lbs T Wisconsin
Ryan Groy was in my last mock but I moved him down. His injury is serious so I think he'll still be available. It would be nice for him to fall this far. An athletic tackle, he is an excellent prospect for munchak to mold.