Mock drafts can be fun but a lot of times they’re merely pure guesses on where a player will go. Anything can happen on draft day, prospects can fall, prospects that we’ve never heard of could get picked high and end up being good pro players.
A lot of my mocks are based on my draft grades given to said prospects and calculating the general consensus projection with those grades. It’s not a tested science and this is very new for me this year, so we’ll see how it unfolds and how accurate it ends up being.
For now, just “fear” the mock.
1st round: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
If I have learned anything from watching the draft it’s that QB can be unpredictable. Not many thought the Green Bay Packers would take Aaron Rodgers knowing they still had plenty of years of Brett Farve (at least that was the perception). You know what that gave him though? Time. Time to work with his coaches to fix his inconsistencies and learn behind one of the greatest to ever play.
Flashback to a year before that. Ben Roethlisberger ended up falling further than many expected and if some of you don’t remember, the team actually intended on passing him up in favor of offensive tackle Shawn Andrews. Dan Rooney though remembers what happened last time they passed up on a QB, who was Dan Marino and how it bit them in the butt.
My Dad talks to me about this all the time, he always wishes that the team had taken Dan Marino and he believed the team would have not fallen into a slump in the 1980’s. No matter what he thinks though, the decision to pass up on Marino forced Rooney to speak up about Roethlisberger to get the team to draft him, a decision that helped make the Steelers perennial Superbowl contenders.
Now fast forward to this year, Dan’s successor, Art Rooney II, talked about the importance of drafting a successor to Ben Roethlisberger. A need such as this people would think would be addressed in a later round with a developmental QB.
Well, that’s the thing, you rarely see a Dak Prescott, a Russell Wilson, or for that matter even a Tyrod Taylor. It’s pure dumb luck a lot of the time with a mixture of good evaluating. This is is why I made the pick of Patrick Mahomes II.
I made this pick because I simply haven’t been that impressed watching film of a QBs tape in this class, or last class (downright despised last year’s QB class) as much as I was his. What is also really impressing me is this guy’s desire, his work ethic and him knowing what areas he needs to fix in his game.
The most interesting thing, to me at least, about Patrick Mahomes is how much he knows he needs to work on his mechanics and footwork— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 10, 2017
he'll bring it up unprompted, and worked tirelessly on it during the 3 days I was with him— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 10, 2017
he knows that he's been stereotyped as a system QB, and he thinks people will be shocked by his accuracy and football IQ— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 10, 2017
First off, his accuracy and football IQ from what I’ve heard from a general consensus, are two areas people seem to not believe are his strong suits. That was not the impression I got from watching his film and I was in fact blown away by his ability to manipulate defenders with his eyes and throw people open.
I’m going to say this now, the teams that pass up on Patrick Mahomes II are going to pay in the future. The only time I’ve ever stood up for a labeled system QB was Marcus Mariota and it was because I watched him every year, saw the constant improvement in his game and his off the charts character.
I’m a believer that Patrick Mahomes II is not just the best QB in this class, I believe he’s one of the most underrated QB prospects I’ve scouted. For the record, when I was getting ready to watch him, I went into his film with the belief that I was going to absolutely hate him as a QB prospect because of his footwork.
There’s a difference between broken footwork and bad footwork. Broken footwork by my definition hampers a QB by making him super inconsistent, which often stems from having a tendency to throw passes into the dirt or too low, losing velocity on the throw and not being able to throw with bad mechanics. Bad footwork hampers a QB but it isn’t a death sentence if the QB is able to deal with it because they throw off platform so well.
Patrick Mahomes is hard at work on fixing his footwork and he’s a smarter QB than the public perceives him to be. I have the utmost belief the Steelers are going to do their homework on QBs big time this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided that Patrick Mahomes was their guy if he was there in the first round. All I know is that if I was put into this situation, I would pick Mahomes and never look back.
2nd round: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
This I won’t lie is very unrealistic based off where Engram is rated but there is a huge perception out there that Engram is a terrible blocker.
Lazy film study is what I call that. Engram for being almost 240 LBs, doesn’t get the credit for being a good blocker. What he can do on offense in the receiving game is absolutely deadly and his speed can really stretch the seam.
This TE class is too good and if Engram for whatever reason fell this far, I have no doubt Pittsburgh won’t waste a second making that pick.
3rd round: Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
You know what I like? Short, feisty, fluid CBs. Sutton is one of those guys who can play inside and outside, while playing in either a zone or man coverage scheme (or both). The Steelers have already shown interest in Cameron Sutton and while I’ve watched a bit of Cameron Sutton’s tape, I haven’t watched enough to gain a perspective on him.
From what I noticed from the 2 or 3 games that I watched was that he has enough speed to recover, plays bigger than his size and is normally on the hip pocket of the receiver he’s covering.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see yet another short CB go later than their perceived round. It happens a lot and Sutton in a lot of ways is in the Tavon Young mold of CBs that don’t put up a lot of INTs but are generally perceived as sticky cover CBs. Why those fall so far down the draft is beyond me and Pittsburgh will have an opportunity at quite a few at this time of the draft.
4th round: Ejuan Price, EDGE, Pittsburgh
He’s going to fall far in this draft. Whether it’s his height, age or injury history (the latter is what concerns me), all the reasons are there for him to fall. Just because he’ll fall though, doesn’t mean that he’s not a good player.
Believe it or not, Price may actually be one of the best edge defenders in this class but is commonly knocked for his issues such as size and of course the fact he’ll be a 24 year old rookie. See that’s concerning and all to some people, but not me and the Steelers see this guy play.
Price is a quick twitched, fluid, flexibile, explosive athlete that has natural leverage due to his size, which allows him to pull off a patented rip move like James Harrison. His ability to bend and flatten to the QB is some of the best in this class and he has a lot of NFL ready pass rush moves at his disposal. He doesn’t necessarily play with a ton power but he could benefit a lot from working out with James Harrison to fix that.
Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh ends up waiting for an edge defender by some chance. In my opinion, a lot of the best edge defenders in this class are the ones that aren’t being talked about as first round picks. Price is one of those guys and pending his medical check at the combine, I’d take him without a doubt.
5th round: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
The likelihood they take two Pitt Panthers is very low but James Conner might be the best available player at this point of the draft. I thought about mocking Samaje Perine here but I think James Conner might be way more underrated in the draft community than Perine.
We all know the story of how James Conner overcame cancer, which is a testament to his determination, will and heart, but sometimes I think that’s all people seem to know about James Conner. People don’t seem to look at James Conner and think he’ll amount to be anything special in the NFL, but I think that’s rushed judgement.
What surprised me when watching his 2016 tape was that Conner looked quicker than he was in previous seasons. He still has one of the deadliest stiff arms and has retained most of his power, but he looks like a better player than he was before. I was also surprised that he became a better weapon out of the backfield when it came to his receiving ability.
Not to mention the fact the guy has played defense and offense before in the past, he’s a versatile guy who’s showing that he’s willing to do anything he’s asked to. He could make a living off special teams early in his career but don’t discount him from making an impact on offense, or even possibly defense (the former is much more likely). For that reason, I take him in the 5th round.
6th round: George Kittle, TE, Iowa
I don’t care, I’m going to take two TEs whether you like it or not. Kittle is one of those guys I could just see being an outstanding blocking TE at the next level. I also could see him playing on special teams early in his career as well.
While that may not sound sexy, a lot of times this what you draft late round picks for. You draft them to push people in training camp and help fill a role that may not be sexy. I could easily see George Kittle knocking David Johnson off the roster and I believe that’s pretty good value for a 6th round pick.
7th round: Roman Buchanan, Safety/$LB, South Alabama
I’m going to take him again because why not. He’s a tough hard nosed player who’s played many positions on defense, while also doing dirty work on special teams. That alone will help get you a roster spot.
He’s an intriguing athlete as well who I’m very curious to see at their pro day. He doesn’t get very much attention but could possibly be one of those guys we look back on and said he should have gone higher. He’s got football bloodlines, being the cousin of Deshea Townsend and I’m sure the Steelers will do their homework on this guy, especially if they’re still intrigued by the addition of a hybrid LB/safety.
Let me know what you think of this mock in the comments below. Discussion is encouraged!