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Mike Mayock’s latest positional rankings could provide map for Steelers draft

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The positional rankings of NFL Network’s Mike Mayock could provide a map to the Steelers’ draft strategy.

NCAA Football: California at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Network pays Mike Mayock money, probably a lot of money, to talk about the NFL Draft. He is at the combine, he is being interviewed nearly daily about the draft and he puts out his own positional rankings leading up to the big event.

Now, Mike Mayock is not some boy genius when it comes to the draft, and his rankings, but you could research any number of rankings and see the same names, in a slightly different order.

What is interesting to me about Mayock’s rankings is how they match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers team needs. Most would assume the Steelers team needs would resemble the following positions:

  • OLB/pass rusher
  • CB
  • RB
  • ILB
  • TE/WR/S

With those primary positions identified, you look at the rankings and try to distinguish who will be there, and who won’t, when the Steelers pick 30th in the first round. If we assume pass rusher is where the Steelers want to go with their first pick, there is a good chance the top 4 players on Mayock’s rankings are gone before Pittsburgh makes their pick.

So, would they want to take a second tier pass rusher, rather than a top tier player at a position like cornerback? When looking at cornerback, it isn’t unrealistic to see the team being able to snag the No. 2 or No. 3 defensive back off the board. This is where it seems the Steelers would be headed if the draft played out this way. Don’t just take a pass rusher to take a pass rusher, but take the best player at a short list of positions.

There are certainly other positions to keep an eye on, quarterback being one of those, but I’m not so sure there is a quarterback who will be available in the first round, who is worth the lofty draft pick. The Steelers draft needs might seem scattered, but in the latest Mike Mayock Positional Rankings you can see plenty of value in the positions of need for the black and gold.

Take a look at the latest rankings below, and try to decipher just what could, and possibly might, happen when the 2017 NFL Draft officially gets underway.

Quarterback

1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

2. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

3. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech

4. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

5. Davis Webb, California

Rise: Watson (2), Trubisky (3), Mahomes (4)

Fall: Kizer (1)

Running Back

1. Leonard Fournette, LSU

2. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

3. Dalvin Cook, Florida State

4. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

T-5. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma

T-5. Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

Rise: Mixon (previously No. 5 in special exceptions), Samuel (NR)

Fall: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma (5)

Wide receiver

1. Mike Williams, Clemson

2. John Ross, Washington

3. Corey Davis, Western Michigan

4. Zay Jones, East Carolina

T-5. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC

T-5. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington

Rise: Williams (2), Ross (3)

Fall: Davis (1)

Tight end

1. O.J. Howard, Alabama

2. David Njoku, Miami

3. Evan Engram, Ole Miss

4. Gerald Everett, South Alabama

T-5. George Kittle, Iowa

T-5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson

Rise: Leggett (NR)

Interior DL

1. Jonathan Allen, Alabama

2. Chris Wormley, Michigan

3. Malik McDowell, Michigan State

4. Caleb Brantley, Florida

T-5. Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte

T-5. Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama

Rise: Wormley (5), Tomlinson (NR)

Fall: Brantley (2), Ogunjobi (4)

Edge rusher

1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford

3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee

4. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

5. Charles Harris, Missouri

Rise: Harris (NR)

Fall: Tim Williams, Alabama (5)

Linebacker

1. Reuben Foster, Alabama

2. Haason Reddick, Temple

3. Jarrad Davis, Florida

4. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

5. Alex Anzalone, Florida

Cornerback

1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

2. Gareon Conley, Ohio State

3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

4. Tre'Davious White, LSU

T-5. Adoree' Jackson, USC

T-5. Kevin King, Washington

Rise: Conley (4), White (NR), Jackson (previously No. 1 in special exceptions)

Fall: Humphrey (2), King (3), Fabian Moreau, UCLA (5, added to special exceptions)

Nickel

1. Budda Baker, Washington

2. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

3. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan

4. Desmond King, Iowa

5. Damontae Kazee, San Diego State

Safety

1. Jamal Adams, LSU

2. Malik Hooker, Ohio State

3. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

4. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut

5. Marcus Williams, Utah

Rise: Adams (2), Hooker (3)

Fall: Peppers (1), Marcus Maye, Florida (T-5)

Special exceptions (Injuries)

1. CB Sidney Jones, Washington

2. CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA

3. TE Jake Butt, Michigan

4. LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU

5. QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

Additions: Moreau (previously No. 5 CB), Beckwith (NR), Kelly (NR)

Moved: Adoree' Jackson, Curtis Samuel and Joe Mixon move to positional list