clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers stack a trio of defenders with first three picks

New, comments

The Pittsburgh Steelers need defensive help, and in the latest mock draft they do just that by going straight defense in the first three rounds.

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

The easy part of the offseason is recognizing the Pittsburgh Steelers need help on the defensive side of the football. To be honest, most people with the ability to see, and watched the Steelers play last year, know they need help on defense.

The difficult part of the process is trying to figure out who the team will take at crucial positions like inside linebacker and safety.

Of course, analysts are putting out mock drafts at a ridiculous clip, and giving their best predictions for the Steelers’ 2018 NFL Draft selections. The latest mock draft from Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com took a stab at the Steelers’ first three picks in the selection process.

Take a look at Campbell’s analysis:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

The Steelers could use a strong safety to pair with Sean Davis.

In 2017, Harrison totaled 74 tackles with three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and four passes batted. He played really well as an enforcer in the middle of the field. Aside from coverage issues, Harrison had a quality 2016 season as the strong safety when he totaled 86 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions.

Harrison (6-2, 207) is a tough run defender who has the athletic skills to cover, but he has issues covering receivers in man coverage. Team sources have said an example of that is Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow really abusing Harrison in the past, and that is why Minkah Fitzpatrick served as the coverage safety for the Crimson Tide. Playing zone in the middle of the field is a better fit for Harrison. Because of some coverage limitations, Harrison is a strong safety type for the NFL.

The selection of Harrison shouldn’t shock anyone, except those who realize the Steelers haven’t drafted a player from Alabama since Deshea Townsend, and Harrison certainly fits the bill at safety. Was very impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson, ILB, Texas

Even if Ryan Shazier makes it back, the Steelers could use more linebacker talent next to him.

Jefferson totaled 110 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks in 2017. He played his best football in 2017 and worked hard for Texas. In 2016, he recorded 59 tackles with 5.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Jefferson (6-2, 236) was highly recruited and showed why as a freshman contributor for the Longhorns. He totaled 61 tackles with seven for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. Jefferson was a bigger presence than the stats illustrate.

The junior possesses a nice combination of size and speed, plus a ton of athletic upside. However, some sources have said they’ve heard that Jefferson doesn’t love football. They say that can be seen in his work ethic, preparation and lack of production. Jefferson was supposedly unhappy with how he was used by the previous staff, and that led to that perception, but either side of the argument brings concerns for NFL evaluators.

The Steelers have to make a pick at inside linebacker, but my guess is they try to shore up the position via free agency, not having to rely on a rookie on a team who should be able to compete for a championship with a slightly improved defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Lorenzo Carter, 3-4OLB, Georgia

The Steelers could use a third edge rusher to go with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.

Carter (6-6, 242) was improved as a senior and is still full of athletic potential. He showed dangerous edge-rushing skills against Notre Dame and made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs win in South Bend. Sources say they are giving Carter third- or fourth-round grades, although the team that likes him enough to draft him could take him earlier.

In 2017, Carter totaled 61 tackles with 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 7.5 tackles for a loss. He recorded 44 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles in 2016. Carter notched 4.5 sacks as a freshman.

Did you really think the Steelers would go a draft without taking a pass rusher? Ha! Carter is yet another potential player who could be used in obvious passing situations. He still has a lot of work to do before making the jump to the NFL.

So, what did you think of the picks? Do you agree with Campbell’s selections, or do you disagree with all of them? Either way, let us know what you think in the comment section below!