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2017 NFL Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers bolster secondary in first two rounds

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The Pittsburgh Steelers could benefit from a beefed up secondary, and that is exactly what they did in the latest 2-round mock draft for SB Nation.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is just days away, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are anything but certain as to what is going to happen between now and the selection process Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you think the organization which prides itself on the draft doesn’t quite know what is going to happen, neither do any of us at BTSC.

However, when there is a job to do, we step up, and this was the case as we embarked on the 2017 SB Nation writer’s mock draft to complete two rounds of picks for the team we cover.

If you follow the site closely, we posted articles for each of the picks, to get a feel for who you, the fans, think would be a good fit for the black and gold. At each stage of the game, the team needs certainly were at the forefront of our minds, and it a strong reason why the first two picks of 2017 mirrored the first two picks in 2016, from a positional standpoint.

That’s right, we took a cornerback in Round 1, and a safety in Round 2. Before fans go directly to the comment section bemoaning our selections, understand we had no control over the selections of other teams. In the first round the pass rushers were certainly pick over, and in the second we were determined not to reach on the selection.

Take a look at the draft picks, and the reasoning behind them.

Round 1

30. Steelers: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Hartman: The Pittsburgh Steelers need a pass rusher in a bad way, but they also need to add to their secondary. With some of the team’s favorite pass rushers off the board, the Steelers turn to their next best position of need and take a player who some consider the second best cornerback in the draft. Gareon Conley might not be as good as his teammate at Ohio State, Marshon Lattimore, but he is an NFL ready corner who can step in and compete for a starting position from Day 1.

While some might view this pick as a stretch, the fact Conley can play a multitude of secondary positions, as well as different styles of defense, will help improve the Steelers defense immediately. What he lacks in run support, he makes up for in his pass coverage skills. He is a great fit for both the Steelers’ zone coverage schemes, as well as their desire to run more press-man coverages in the future.

The Steelers hadn’t drafted a cornerback in the first round since the mid-90s, and could be doing so for the second straight year after taking Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The fact remains, with this pick, the Steelers recognize the pass rushing pool is much deeper than the secondary, and the team approach of Best Player Available trumps all when it comes to this selection.

Round 2

62. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Maye, S, Florida

Hartman and Martin: Marcus Maye played multiple roles at the University of Florida. Whether he was playing as a single high safety, or being an enforcer in the box, he's a interchangeable piece to any secondary. He shows the ability to match up on tight ends in man coverage occasionally, too. His ability to create fumbles sticks out to me, whether he's making a hard hit, or using the famous Charles Tillman peanut punch, the guy is hazard when it comes to ball security. He's has some lapses in coverage that caused him to give up some touchdowns and he did break his arm this past season; however, his athletic ability is a bit too enticing at this point of the draft, along with his scheme versatility.

The Steelers need to bolster their secondary, and even though they drafted Sean Davis in the second round of 2016, they are preparing for life without Mike Mitchell, all while getting a player who can help them in specific sub packages they run so often. Steelers fans won’t be happy with the back-to-back secondary picks with pass rusher still a strong need, but it is just the way the draft played out.