While Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley are certainly lobbying Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert hard for new offensive weapons in the early rounds of the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, there is a strong likelihood the team will have a more defensive-focused draft for the second year in a row.
In 2016, the Steelers selected just Jerald Hawkins in the 4th round, and Demarcus Ayers in the 7th round, as the only offensive players to be added via the draft. Other than that, the team added Artie Burns (1st), Sean Davis (2nd), Javon Hargrave (3rd), Travis Feeney (6th) and Tyler Matakevich (7th) on the defensive side of the football.
Will the 2017 selection process be the same? It isn’t likely, but the odds they go defense first are strong, barring a quarterback they like falling to their spot in Round 1.
In the latest SB Nation mock draft, Dan Kadar provides a 2-round mock which has the Steelers taking a pass rusher in Round 1, followed by a cornerback with the first pick of Day 2.
Take a look at who he has slated going to the Steel City in the latest simluation:
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
Watt can fill multiple roles for the Steelers, splitting time as a pass rusher and a traditional linebacker.
62. Pittsburgh Steelers: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King is the type of physical and active cornerback who could thrive in Pittsburgh, where he acts as a nice foil to Artie Burns.
The Steelers have shown a tremendous amount of interest in Watt. They met with him at the NFL Scouting Combine, and took him out to dinner after the Wisconsin Pro Day. He is a versatile, athletic defender who could help the Steelers in their sub package heavy defensive approach. He does lack experience, but is highly touted for his work ethic, very similar to his brother J.J. Watt.
Desmond King, although not necessarily considered a top tier outside cornerback, could come in and help the Steelers’ secondary in a variety ways. King could play the slot, is great with zone coverage schemes and can even slip back and play safety in certain situations, if need be. King has his limitations, as do almost all NFL prospects, but would be a good fit for a defensive secondary looking for a new face to help the interior secondary against pass happy offenses league-wide.
Personally, I wouldn’t complain much if the first two rounds of the 2017 draft fell this way, but there are certainly some out there who would be up in arms. What do you think about the picks?