A lot of times mock drafts can be really unforgiving because when you try to project a player and you have high round grade on him, it makes you conflicted on where he might go.
*Note, this does not include compensatory picks.
1st Round: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Steelers could be in a situation where they don’t have to take need in the first round due to so much depth a positions like EDGE, TE and CB. That is why I selected McCaffrey because I believe that not only if he fell would he be the best player available (BPA), he would be able to knock a few needs out of the way.
McCaffrey is a really nice runner with great lateral quickness that compliments his patience really nicely. He also shows really nice hands when pass catching and Stanford sometimes used him as receiver by splitting him out wide. He’s also a really good kick and punt returner, which could allow the Steelers to take AB off PR duties.
Remember, Le’Veon Bell is a special player but RBs have a short lifespan and if the Steelers had the opportunity to take some like McCaffrey, you better believe they wouldn’t hesitate to pick him, especially if he’s the best player available on the board.
2nd round: Joe “JoJo” Mathis, EDGE, Washington
I’ve talked about him a lot and you can find my scouting report on him here. I have him graded as a first round player but there’s a lot more that goes into the draft than just grading a player. Needs get taken first, this is a very deep EDGE class and some players get lost in the shuffle due to rising players that put up great numbers at the combine or take huge advantage of all star games, such as the East West Shrine game and Senior Bowl.
For those reasons alone, it would not surprise me if Mathis gets lost in the shuffle and falls to the Steelers in the 2nd round. I believe he’ll show up strong in some events at the combine and even though speed can be overrated sometimes, it would not surprise me if he posted less than spectacular numbers in the 40.
It’s also important to remember that Mathis had a small sample size of tape and some teams will probably weigh that against him. Again, it’s not grade wise that I believe drops Mathis, it’s external factors, which is why projecting him is tough. I believe the 2nd round though is the ideal spot to get a player of his caliber. This isn’t because he wouldn’t be a worthy first round pick either, the draft is about projecting and McCaffrey wouldn’t have fallen to this spot but Mathis has a better chance of falling here.
Round 3: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
Cornerback should not be ignored. There’s a reason why the Steelers don’t run a lot of man coverage, it’s not because they refuse to, it’s because it doesn’t fit their personnel’s strengths.
Right now Kazee is my Tavon Young candidate for the 2017 NFL draft and there’s a lot of traits I like about him. First off, very fiesty, can be quite physical, has a light quick feet (feet remind me of Desmond Trufant’s feet), hips seem fluid (want to see him flip his hips at the combine), he has speed to recover, great ball skills, and is scheme versatile.
I’m eager to see him at the combine because it normally confirms everything I need to know about a CB. I don’t know if the Steelers are interested in him but if they wanted a more scheme diverse CB, this would probably be the round to take one.
Round 4: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Jake Butt could fall not only because of his injury but because of how deep this TE class is. While TE doesn’t seem like a major need, Jesse James is a good #2 TE but he is not a #1 TE. Ladarius Green simply can’t be trusted to stay healthy, so it would be a great idea to add a quality talent to this position.
Jake Butt is a really good receving option, often showing twitch and suddeness after the catch and out of his breaks. Butt has some pretty good hands and can become a nice security blanket for any QB. Butt isn’t the best blocker but has improved steadily over his career and he is very capable of becoming a good blocker.
I believe in this juncture getting Jake Butt is a steal but it is very possible he could slide this far in the draft. More will be known as the process plays along but I believe this is a realistic spot to snag Jake Butt.
Round 5: Eddie Jackson, Safety, Alabama
Players are going to get lost in the shuffle. Out of all the players in my mock, this one to me seems the least likely to happen but it cannot be ruled out.
Jackson is a very nice center field safety who shows tremendous ball skills and range to cover on the back end. Mike Mitchell is a pretty good, versatile safety but he will be turning 30 years old and in a draft so deep like this at safety, I expect the Steelers to snatch at least one safety.
Eddie Jackson’s injury could cause him to fall but I don’t believe it would be this far. That said, I am keeping mind the amount of players rising up boards like Lorenzo Jerome, which could allow Jackson to fall further than people would have anticipated.
Round 6: Tanner Vallejo, ILB/$LB, Boise State
Not many know who this is but he’s personally one of my favorite sleepers in this draft. Vallejo is fast and instinctual, very rarely do you see him hesitate in the open field and when coming downhill.
His speed is evident on film as he can just absolutely fly from sideline to sideline which gives him excellent range at stopping the run and being able to make plays in the passing game.
He is most certainly not the biggest player but I believe there is room to add to his frame. He may not be an every down player (hence the $LB tag) but he has a lot of traits to be able to help you on special teams and on passing downs at the very least.
Round 7: Geroge Kittle, TE, Iowa
Tight end is really deep this year and this guy from Iowa might not be much as a receiver but I believe he could replace a guy like David Johnson with his blocking capability.
If you’ve never watched Kittle before, I don’t blame you. That said, from what I gathered from watching him, I saw a guy who played with tremendous technique as a blocker and was relied on a lot to open key holes for the running backs. In fact, his tape is absolute blocking clinic.
PFF in 2015 graded him among the top blockers at the TE position. Kittle would be a nice player to have, especially this late in the draft. He would definitely be an Isaac Redman training camp candidate.
- So did you like the mock, did you think it sucked? Let me know in the comments section. Please, I encourage discussion!