At this point, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers might just start calling Mock Drafts "Which cornerback do these "experts" have the Steelers taking now?". It seems everyone with an opinion has Pittsburgh choosing a cornerback with the 25th overall draft pick in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. Some have said Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple and Kendall Fuller, but the latest mock draft from ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has them going with a different cornerback prospect.
The prospect? The man who increased his draft stock tremendously with a great NFL Scouting Combine -- Houston CB William Jackson III.
See what Kiper had to say about the selection:
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Steelers are an improved secondary away from contending for a Super Bowl, and the addition of another young talent to go with (hopefully) a solid debut for Senquez Golson could help.
Free-agency effect: The Steelers won't have the flexibility to do much in free agency and will need to bolster the team through the draft.
The caveat to the latest Kiper mock draft is how the expert is analyzing how free agency could possibly shine a light on the team's plans for draft day. His point on the Steelers' lack of flexibility in free agency certainly is considered valid. The Steelers don't have the salary cap space to go after most free agent cornerbacks, but the team did recently re-sign William Gay to help aid the sagging secondary going into 2016.
Cap space aside, is Jackson III a legitimate option for the Steelers in the first round? Our Draft Breakdown on Jackson shows a player with tremendous upside, but some glaring weaknesses in his game. Every prospect has weaknesses, but Jackson's are the variety which could take time to improve upon, and also which could be exploited by elite wide receivers.
In the first round, the Steelers need to find a player who can contribute, in some way, as a rookie. They were able to do that in 2014 and 2015 when both Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree were able to help the defense in their first season in the NFL. If the team feels Jackson is one of those players, then the pick could be warranted, but if he is nothing more than a great combine and a project, the team has other needs which could be addressed in the first round.