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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Jr.’s first prediction has Steelers going LB again in Round 1

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The Pittsburgh Steelers will need some help at ILB, and Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft has the Steelers doing just that in Round 1.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, and with that comes mock draft season. With the focus now turning to team needs heading into the offseason, the annual selection process of the 2018 NFL Draft will be on the forefront of many fans’ minds.

With that said, there are several NFL Draft pundits whose opinion seems to weigh heavier than others for fans of the process. Two of those would be ESPN’s draft duo of Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. Whenever these two release mock drafts, they are always met with heavy criticism.

Kiper just released his first mock draft of the 2018 draft season, and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a, you guessed it, linebacker in the first round.

See who he has them taking, and his reasoning behind it:

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

The big looming question for the Steelers is Ryan Shazier’s future, and no one knows if he’ll play again. Even if he returns, though, the Steelers need depth at linebacker. Evans is versatile enough to play inside or outside, and he had 15 career sacks at Alabama, where he often played on the edge and blitzed. He is a perfect fit in the middle of a modern-day defense -- he can play every down.

The selection of a linebacker shouldn’t shock anyone. As Kiper states in his summation, the future of Ryan Shazier is anything but certain, and the Steelers need to prepare as if he won’t be returning. With that said, it has been a long time since the Steelers have taken a player from Alabama in the NFL Draft.

While linebacker is a clear need for the Steelers, there are some other positions which could also be targeted with the top pick in the draft:

  • Safety
  • Quarterback
  • Tight End
  • Among others...

While most assume the Steelers will draft solely on the defensive side of the football on Days 1 and 2, as they did in the 2016 NFL Draft, the 2017 NFL Draft showed you never know with Pittsburgh. Their second round pick of JuJu Smith-Schuster turned out to be a tremendous selection as the USC receiver had nearly 1,000 yards receiving in his debut season.

What do you think of the Rashaan Evans of Alabama? Would his versatility and speed to play both inside and outside linebacker be beneficial to Pittsburgh? Or is this another athletic, but raw, prospect the team has failed to develop in the past?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below!