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Mike Mayock’s position rankings leave options for Steelers in Round 1

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The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely be thinking defense in the first round of the NFL Draft, and Mike Mayock’s latest positional rankings give hope to the black and gold.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Nebraska v Tennessee Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to address the defense in the first round of the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, but the position which they target is certainly up for debate.

Most would agree the team should be targeting an outside linebacker/EDGE pass rusher, cornerback, inside linebacker or hybrid defensive lineman, in no particular order. With those positions targeted, when NFL Draft experts release their position rankings, you tend to gravitate your attention towards those positions.

Mike Mayock of NFL Network recently released his latest position rankings, and there is good news, along with questions, for the Steelers who draft 30th in the annual selection process.

Edge rusher

1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

2. Tim Williams, Alabama

3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee

4. Solomon Thomas, Stanford

5. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

Linebacker

1. Reuben Foster, Alabama

2. Haason Reddick, Temple

3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

4. Jarrad Davis, Florida

5. Alex Anzalone, Florida

Cornerback

1. Sidney Jones, Washington

2. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

4. Teez Tabor, Florida

5. Tre'Davious White, LSU

Interior DL

1. Jonathan Allen, Alabama

2. Caleb Brantley, Florida

3. Malik McDowell, Michigan State

4. Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte

5. Chris Wormley, Michigan

Analyzing these rankings is worth the time, and discussion, but what constantly strikes me when talking about where the Steelers will head in Round 1 will be which position will have the most NFL-ready player on the board when they submit their pick.

For instance, everyone knows Myles Garrett is not going to be available for the Steelers when they select in Round 1, but if they are so focused on a pass rusher in Round 1, will they be drafting a project, or a player who can contribute right away?

This is where the Steelers selecting with the Best Player Available (BPA) philosophy pays huge dividends. The team will have a list of positions they want to target, along with position rankings underscoring those positions, and whichever player is available at No. 30 is the likely player they will target.

Regardless of what you may believe the team’s top priority is, from a position standpoint, the Steelers are in need of a player ready to play his rookie year. The team was fortunate to have those players in the 2016 draft with their top three picks. Can they repeat that success? It could be the difference between success and failure next season.