With the 2015 NFL Draft this weekend, the final Mock Draft Monday could be considered a highly anticipated event if you look forward to the draft every year. As Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com has done all year for BTSC, he has produced yet another mock draft scenario to give a glimpse and opinion on who teams will take in the first round overall.
This week Campbell sees the Pittsburgh Steelers sticking with a pass rusher in the first round, but unlike last week's selection of Eli Harold, this week Campbell sees the troubled Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory falling to the Steelers with the 22nd overall draft pick.
See what Campbell had to say about the selection:
Pittsburgh needs to improve it's pass rush. Who knows if Jarvis Jones will pan out for the Steelers, while Jason Worilds retired rather than explore free agency. James Harrison can't play forever, while this draft has more second-day depth at corner than edge rusher. In the past, Kevin Colbertt and Mike Tomlin have had the tendency to draft cornerbacks on Day 2. The Steelers take elite players who fall to them along with prospects they've brought in for visits. Gregory fits all of the criteria, and the question is if the team is comfortable enough with him off the field and in the locker room to pull the trigger.
Gregory is hands down the best pass-rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft, in my opinion. However, I have him sliding because of off-the-field concerns. In 2014, Gregory totaled 56 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble, three passes broken up and one interception while missing three games (knee, concussion, ankle). He was a beast for Nebraska in 2013 - his first year on campus. The sophomore had just 10 starts, yet racked up 66 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, one pass batted and an interception. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder should get even bigger over time.
There is no doubt that Gregory is extremely fast. His lightning first-step gives him an advantage to turn the corner against tackles. Gregory also has natural agility to drop his hips and maneuver his body by blockers. On top of his speed, he has phenomenal hands for a player who doesn't have a lot of experience. Gregory is very adept at getting blockers' hands off of him and shedding their blocks. He is also physical when putting offensive players into the turf. Gregory has a relentless attitude and can make some plays through a second effort. He uses a spin move, swim move and bull rush effectively. Gregory also is really smart about when he deploys those moves. However, Gregory could stand to get stronger for the ground game.
The Steelers selecting Gregory in this projection is certainly a double-edged sword. On one side you are getting a top tier pass rusher who would fill the role of spot player on the 2015 defense and should be able to contribute in some fashion as a rookie; however, on the other hand is a player who has had more than his share of issues off the field which would be entering a locker room already losing a great deal of veteran leadership.
Would Gregory help the Steelers in 2015 and beyond? No doubt, but is the risk worth the reward if Gregory continues to throw caution into the wind off the field, as he did by testing positive for a marijuana test prior to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Character vs. Talent. It is a fine line between the two, and if this projection comes to fruition this Thursday April 30th, the Steelers would be gambling on talent over character.