There is no denying where the Pittsburgh Steelers largest team needs reside as they head into the 2017 NFL Draft — the defense.
Even after the team spent the majority of their 2016 selections on the defensive side of the football, it was clear the team still needs help on the defense. The AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots was evidence enough of this glaring need.
If you were to rank the Steelers’ defensive needs, it would probably be the following positions:
- Defensive Line
With that said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone most, if not all, mock drafts have the Steelers targeting a pass rusher in the first round. After all, this crop of pass rushers is not just one of the best, but is also very deep in regards to quality players being available in the back half of the early rounds.
In the latest Walter Football mock draft by Charlie Campbell, they have the Steelers taking defense in the first two rounds. In fact, they have the team taking a pass rusher and cornerback in Rounds 1 and 2.
Take a look at the selections, and why they like the pick:
Pittsburgh Steelers: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
I admit that I was wrong on Jarvis Jones. After him dominating the SEC for two years, I thought he would turn into a good NFL player, but that hasn't happened. The Steelers could use an edge rusher to pair with Bud Dupree.
Entering this season, Charlton flashed for Michigan but was mainly a backup and also was used inside at tackle. In 2016 though, he racked up 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss as the bookend defensive end with the impressive Chris Wormley. The 6-foot-6, 272-pounder Charlton is athletic with versatile size to be a base end in a 4-3 defense or a standup linebacker in a 3-4.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
The Steelers grab a corner to pair with Artie Burns.
Douglas (6-2, 204) is a junior college product who didn't play much as a junior. However, he made the most of his senior year as he tied as the nation's leader with eight interceptions. He also recorded 70 tackles and eight passes broken up.
Sources say that Douglas has good size to him for the NFL, and they see him being a big press-man corner with ball skills. He also has early round potential, but sources say that since Douglas is a 1-year wonder, he's going to need to impress at the Senior Bowl and the Combine.
The Steelers snagging two defenders in the first two rounds wouldn’t shock anyone. The prospects they select, well, that could be debated from now until the actual draft. This is why mock drafts are both enjoyable, and frustrating, because fans do their best to project the events about to take place, but in all reality it is anyone’s guess.
Did anyone see the Steelers taking Artie Burns in the first round in 2016? Nope, not one mock draft that I covered. With that said, let the debate begin...