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2015 NFL Combine: Based on performances, Steelers have good options in first two rounds

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The Combine confirmed it. When you do the math, Pittsburgh is almost certain to have a shot at tremendous talents who also fit a position of need. The Board is in our favor.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the teams knew what the measurements would be ahead of time, and had a really good guess at what the various leaps and times would be too. Form them the Combine is a triple-check on their evaluations, and a central place to do an efficient medical exam. Things are different for us, however. We actually learn stuff from seeing the prospects go through the various tests. And one of the things we gained is information about who won't be available at #22, who might be available, and thus who the Steelers will be most likely to pick.

Prospects Playing Lesser-Need Positions Who Won't Be Available at 1:22. I like hypothetical "what-ifs" every bit as much as the next guy. "Sure it's unlikely, but would/should the Steelers pick Kevin White or Amari Cooper if he falls to 1:22...?" It can be a fun game, but for this exercise we're going to assume that weird bolts of draft-lightning do not strike the community of GM's, and the truly elite talents will be the first ones off the Board. Here is a list (with numbers only to keep a running tally, NOT to indicate draft order):

1.

QB Jameis Winston.

2.

QB Marcus Mariota.

3.

RB Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley. A second running back before 1:22 falls in the "good chance but not certain" category.

4.

DL Leonard Williams.

5.

DL Danny Shelton.

6.

DL Arik Armstead.

7.

DL Malcom Brown (or one of the other dancing bears on the "good chance" list). One of these four is very likely to be gone in the top 20, making four defensive linemen in all. There's a good chance it will be five or even six D-lineman, but that's on the next list.

8.

WR Kevin White.

9.

WR Amari Cooper.

10.

WR Devante Parker.

11.

OL Brandon Scherff or La'el Collins. An immediate starter at Guard who may also be Tackle-capable? One is guaranteed to be gone, and there's a good chance it will be both.

12.

OL T.J. Clemmings (or one of the other tackles from the "good chance" list). What are the odds that no one in the top 20 will pick a potential Tackle? Zero. So at least one of the top four is a lock before 1:22, with a good chance that it will be two or even three.

13.

The top ILB (Paul Dawson, Benardrick McKinney, or Denzel Perryman). One is very likely, but probably not two.

14.

S Landon Collins.

15.

S/LB/RB Shaq Thompson.

Prospects Playing Positions of Need Who Will Be Gone Before 1:22. I hate to admit it, but there are a few pass rushers and corners who are pipe dreams too. So let's add them in:

16.

OLB Randy Gregory.

17.

OLB Dante Fowler, Jr.

18.

OLB Shane Ray.

19.

OLB Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree. There's a good chance that both will be gone, but a virtual certainty that at least one will go by 22.

20.

CB Trae Waynes.

That's twenty (20) prospects that are all but locks to be gone before the Steelers pick at #20. But as they say in the infomercials, "Wait! There's more!" Who will come next, and how do we account for the inevitable "Mr. Surprise?" Here is a list of the players who have a good chance to be #21 or to cut into the top 20.:

21.

The other RB (Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon).

22.

4-3 DE Michael Bennett.

23.

DL Eddie Goldman.

24.

DL Carl Davis.

25.

DL Jordan Phillips.

26.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham.

27.

WR Jaelen Strong.

28.

WR Sammie Coates.

29.

WR Phillip Dorsett.

30.

WR Devin Funchess.

31.

The other Guard/Tackle (La'el Collins or Brandon Scherff).

32.

OT Ereck Flowers.

33.

OT D.J. Humphries.

34.

OT Andrus Peat.

35.

OL Cam Erving.

In other words, there are thirty-five (35!) viable prospects who either should or easily could be gone before 1:22 that are either pipe dreams or players at a position where the Steelers have fewer needs. All of which translates into this: At least three (3) of the following five (5) players should be available to the Steelers at 1:22, all of whom would be the Best Player Available (BPA) while also filing a position of primary want/need:

36.

OLB Bud Dupree or Vic Beasley.

37.

CB Marcus Peters.

38.

CB Jalen Collins.

39.

CB Kevin Johnson.

40.

CB P.J. Williams.

Do the math however you like. There will be surprises. I'm sure that many of you will want to move a player or two from the "virtual lock" list down to the "good chance" category. Others will want to move a player up. The point, however, is this: unless something truly, truly weird happens the Steelers will have a Best Player Available (BPA) option at #22 overall who also happens to play one of the two positions we most want to target.

Rejoice, Steeler Nation. Rejoice.

For what it's worth, here's a bit of bonus analysis. The Steelers pick at 2:24 translates to #56 overall. We're already up to pick 2:9 (#41 overall). Let's extend the list of "most likely picks" on down and see who's most likely to be available. First the players other than pass rushers and pass defenders:

41.

QB Someone. Just because it's hard to imagine only two quarterbacks going in the first two rounds.

42.

RB Jay Ajayi.

43.

RB Tevin Coleman.

44.

RB Duke Johnson.

45.

WR Devin Smith.

46.

OL Cedric Ogbuehi.

47.

OL Someone Else. (There is a lot of talent in this class that deserves a Round 2-3 grade. It's very, very likely that all of the top 8 will be gone by #56 and quite probable that another one or two will go as well).

48.

4-3 DE Mario Edwards.

49.

LB Eric Kendricks (a 3-4 ILB or a 4-3 OLB).

And then the players at the "more targeted" positions:

50.

OLB (or 4-3 DE) Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

51.

OLB Nate Orchard.

52.

OLB Hauoli Kikaha.

53.

OLB Eli Harold.

54.

OLB Danielle ("da-NEEL") Hunter.

55.

OLB Markus Golden.

56.

CB Alex Carter.

57.

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

58.

CB Quinten Rollins.

59.

CB Ronald Darby.

60.

CB Lorenzo Doss.

61.

CB Charles Gaines.

62.

CB/S Eric Rowe.

63.

TE Maxx Williams.

Ow. Yes, one reality of those lists is that we are likely to lose a lot of favorites between Pittsburgh's 1st and 2nd picks. That will hurt. But on the other hand, we've now reached a total of sixty-three (63) prospects (not counting additional "Mr. Surprises"), and the Steelers pick at #56. The odds are excellent - almost overwhelming - that 6-7 of the prospects who combine BPA and position value will be available when the Steelers go on the clock in Round 2.

And just in case you want a bit more in the way of reassurance, here's a quick list of the pass-rushers and defensive backs we've rated as "value but not a bargain" for the pick at 2:24:

64.

OLB (or 4-3 DE) Trey Flowers.

65.

OLB (or 4-3 DE) Preston Smith.

66.

OLB Lorenzo Mauldin.

67.

CB D'Joun ("Dijon") Smith.

68.

CB Kevin White.

69.

CB Senquez Golson.

70.

S Derron Smith.

71.

S Cody Prewitt.

So what is the bottom line? If the Steelers want to address both OLB and CB in the first two rounds, it is all but certain that players will be there who combine BPA value while also - and coincidentally - filling a position of need. Does that make it a certainty that Pittsburgh will go OLB/CB or CB/OLB in the first two rounds? Not at all. But it does mean that any player picked at a different position must be very special indeed.

I repeat: rejoice, Steeler Nation, rejoice. It looks like an exceptionally promising draft.

* The list of prospects and general rankings area were cross-checked against both the CBS and Walter Football Big Boards.