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Mel Kiper’s 2017 Positional Rankings show promise for Steelers in several key spots

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With NFL Draft season upon the Pittsburgh Steelers, we look at Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest positional rankings to see who might be of interest for the black and gold.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are now faced with preparing for the 2017 NFL Draft. Draft time is fun, but is also means another football season in officially in the books. For the Steelers, who fell one step short of the Super Bowl, moving on is certainly bitter sweet.

However, it is onward and upward for the black and gold, and looking at Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest position rankings, there is some value for the Steelers are several key positions of need.

I focused on the following positions as positions the Steelers could be targeting in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft (in no particular order):

OLB/EDGE Pass Rusher
Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End
Inside Linebacker
Defensive Tackle

Kiper’s rankings are great for debate, but also show just how deep certain classes are in specific positions. For instance, this upcoming draft class is loaded at the pass rusher position. Good news for the Steelers, even with the 30th pick in the first round. There will still be plenty of talent available in the back half of the selection process.

Go ahead and take a look at Kiper’s rankings, and let the debate begin for not only who the Steelers might target, but who should be higher as well as who may be available for the Steelers to take at some point throughout the selection process.

Outside linebackers

1. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
2. Tim Williams, Alabama
3. Jarrad Davis, Florida
4. Ryan Anderson, Alabama
5. Haason Reddick, Temple
6.*T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
7. Tyus Bowser, Houston
8. Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
9. Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh
10. Devonte Fields, Louisville

Davis (6-2, 226) is an every-down linebacker at the next level who can cover tight ends and backs in the passing game.

Defensive ends

1. *Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
2. Jonathan Allen, Alabama
3. **Solomon Thomas, Stanford
4. Taco Charlton, Michigan
5. *Derek Barnett, Tennessee
6. *Charles Harris, Missouri
7. Jordan Willis, Kansas State
8. *Carl Lawson, Auburn
9. Chris Wormley, Michigan
10. DeMarcus Walker, Florida State

Six of these guys made my latest Big Board. It's a loaded class for pass-rushers.

Running backs

1. *Leonard Fournette, LSU
2. *Dalvin Cook, Florida State
3. *Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
4. *D'Onta Foreman, Texas
5. **Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
6. Matthew Dayes, NC State
7. *Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
8. Jamaal Williams, BYU
9. *James Conner, Pittsburgh
10. Corey Clement, Wisconsin

Mixon (6-1, 226) is a phenomenal talent with major character concerns. His teammate Perine (5-10, 235) is a different kind of runner with a different kind of build -- he'll punish defenders downhill.

Wide receivers

1. *Mike Williams, Clemson
2. Corey Davis, Western Michigan
3. *John Ross, Washington
4. *Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
5. *JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
6. *Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
7. *Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
8. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
9. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
10. Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky

Henderson (5-11, 185) led the country in receiving touchdowns with 19. He had a game with 326 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Tight ends

1. O.J. Howard, Alabama
2. *Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
3. Jake Butt, Michigan
4. **David Njoku, Miami (Fla.)
5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson
6. Cole Hikutini, Louisville
7. Gerald Everett, South Alabama
8. Pharaoh Brown, Oregon
9. Evan Engram, Mississippi
10. Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas

Njoku is another third-year sophomore. At 6-4, 244, he's an incredible athlete. He had 43 catches for 898 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

Inside linebackers

1. Reuben Foster, Alabama
2. *Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
3. *Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
4. *Anthony Walker, Northwestern
5. Kendell Beckwith, LSU
6. Duke Riley, LSU
7. Marquel Lee, Wake Forest
8. Ben Gedeon, Michigan
9. Keith Kelsey, Louisville
10. Hardy Nickerson, Illinois

Not many changes here. Foster (6-1, 236) is in a league of his own at the top.

Defensive tackles

1. *Malik McDowell, Michigan State
2. *Caleb Brantley, Florida
3. Carlos Watkins, Clemson
4. *Elijah Qualls, Washington
5. Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
6. *Charles Walker, Oklahoma
7. Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
8. Ryan Glasgow, Michigan
9. *Davon Godchaux, LSU
10. Montravius Adams, Auburn

Watkins (6-3, 305) had 10.5 sacks for the national champs after limited production the rest of his career.