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NFL Mock Draft 2018: With LBs off the board, the Steelers go Safety at No. 28

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The Pittsburgh Steelers tackle one major need in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft in the latest mock draft.

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

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ needs in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, it has always come down to two positions: Safety and Inside Linebacker.

Reports have already started to swirl regarding the eventual release of safety Mike Mitchell, and Kevin Colbert made the obvious known when he stated Ryan Shazier will not be playing in 2018. Those two actions right there equate to the team’s need at those two positions.

Depending who you speak to, everyone usually considers one position to be more important than the other. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the Steelers will likely keep their options open as the draft plays itself out in Round 1.

In Lance Zierlein’s latest mock draft, the following players are off the board before the Steelers make their selection at pick No. 28:

No. 17 — Leighton Vander Esch (Chargers)

No. 20 — Rashaan Evans (Lions)

No. 24 — Justin Reid (Panthers)

With those three players, along with several big name players who are considered Top 10 picks, the Steelers decide to go with the saftey they think can help keep their secondary afloat — Ronnie Harrison from Alabama.

No. 28 — Ronnie Harrison - S, Alabama

Harrison is a physical player with plus traits who fits a need.

The Steelers most certainly do have a need at safety, and there are other linebackers who could be had, as well as free agents, to help fill the giant void left after Ryan Shazier’s injury. But back to Harrison, for those who aren’t “in the know” of his skill set, here are his strengths and weaknesses per his NFL Draft Profile:

STRENGTHS

Possesses outstanding combination of size and speed. Quick pedal with easy transitions in two-deep. Is comfortable and experienced playing high or low safety. Has good makeup speed. Doesn’t get overly focused on routes. Finds time to read quarterback’s eyes. Capable of quality man coverage in certain matchups. Plays with route anticipation and ability to transition quickly to match. Plays under the route and uses his length to knock passes away. Physical hitter with punishment as his default setting. Takes rapid downhill approach as high safety in run supporter. Rangy with ability to leap into a long-distance tackle when pursuit angle goes askew. Quick to punch and discard blockers. Handles work near the line of scrimmage with desired level of aggression. Has blitz talent.

WEAKNESSES

Gets antsy and too willing to overreact. Will lose leverage with pursuit angles and allows talented running backs opportunities to beat him back inside. Needs to play under control and with better patience in open field. Complex routes can bait him into jumping an early break. Has the necessary speed to play over the top but doesn’t always access it on consistent basis. Can be too lackadaisical when rolling from one spot to another pre-snap. Has too many lead shoulder hits as a tackler. Has to become more willing to wrap rather than strike to prevent some of his missed tackles. Angular frame can take the worst of it in head-on collisions.

For the visual learners out there, here is a highlight reel of Harrison’s time with the Crimson Tide:

So, what do you think of the pick? Do you like the Steelers taking Harrison with the other prospects off the board? Or do you think there is another need which has greater significance? Either way, let us know what you think of the pick in the comment section below!