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2017 NFL Draft: Predicting who the Pittsburgh Steelers will take in Round 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long list of positions they could target in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but who will they actually take? I give you my prediction...

The 2017 NFL Draft is a different beast. There aren’t the main players on the board who everyone knows is going to go early in the draft. In fact, there is still some debate as to who will go No. 1 overall when the Cleveland Browns make their pick.

What does this mean for the Pittsburgh Steelers? It means they will have to sit back and watch to see who falls to them at pick No. 30 in Round 1.

While the team is taking a wait-and-see approach doesn’t mean I can’t try to figure out just what is going to happen, who is going to be around and which player the team will ultimately select.

I have made my selection, and you can hear in-depth just why I made that specific pick in the podcast above, but I figure I would walk you through the mental process which led me to this particular prospect.

First, is identifying team needs, by position. Outside linebacker is obvious, cornerback running back, tight end, wide receiver, inside linebacker, quarterback and defensive line could all be warranted for one reason or another. However, not all of these positions will be on the docket when the team picks in Round 1.

Time to eliminate some positions which I don’t feel will be the target on Day 1. Gone are quarterback, defensive line, wide receiver and running back.

Next, trying to figure out just which position will carry the most value of those remaining on the needs list. Tight end is enticing, but there are bigger fish to fry here. Inside linebacker also is a good thought, but most of the targeted players will be off the board by 30th. That leaves cornerback and outside linebacker.

The class of defensive backs doesn’t have the big-time stars in it, but plenty of quality talent in Rounds 2 and 3. With that said, the time to take a pass rusher is now.

Finally, figuring out which prospects will be available when the team picks in the back end of the first round. Myles Garrett, Takk McKinley as well as other big name pass rushers will likely be gone, but several remain.

Charles Harris of Missouri, Carl Lawson from Auburn and Derek Rivers of Youngstown State are all still on the board. Of those three, I buck a major trend with the Steelers draft history, and take a player from a non-power conference for the first time since 2004, when Ben Roethlisberger was drafted.

The Pick: Derek Rivers, EDGE rusher, Youngstown State

There is no denying the Steelers’ interest in Rivers. They met with him at an All-Star game, again at the NFL Scouting Combine, went to his Pro Day to give him a workout and had him in Pittsburgh for an official pre-draft visit. There is no better way to show interest than continually meeting with the small school product.

The Steelers like this guy, and there is a reason. He will be able to spell James Harrison, and learn his rookie season before joining Bud Dupree as the team’s bookend linebackers on this defense.

I talk about this, and more, in the above podcast. Give it a listen!

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