The 2018 NFL Draft is just a few short weeks away, and the big boys of draft coverage are starting to up their game. None more so than the ESPN draft duo of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.
With pre-draft visits ongoing, and Pro Days becoming a thing of the past, they are both putting their own spin on what they think will happen. Mock drafts, just like any prediction can be outlandish without any repercussion.
For instance, McShay could suggest the Steelers draft Lamar Jackson, even if he doesn’t truly think it will happen, merely to get fans of the black-and-gold to react. After all, in this business reaction is what you strive for with every strike of the keyboard.
Nonetheless, in McShay’s most recent 3-round mock draft, his selections for the Steelers certainly have fans scratching their heads.
Take a look at McShay’s latest:
Round 1 (28): Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Round 2 (60): Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Round 3 (92): Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Pittsburgh is coming off a playoff game in which Jacksonville’s offense hung 38 on them in Heinz Field, so defense will likely be a focus early. Hughes has very good ball skills and the speed to run with high-end vertical receivers. He’s also a difference-maker in the return game. Baker has great speed and athleticism, and can help replace the loss of Ryan Shazier. Pettis provides another WR who can stretch the field.
For whatever reason, I personally struggle with the thought of the Steelers drafting a cornerback with their first round pick. Unless they truly don’t believe in Artie Burns, I’m not sure why the pick would be considered necessary.
Yes, I understand the team drafts with Best Player Available (BPA) in mind, and there is a good chance a cornerbrack would be considered that best player. But at the same time, there are other needs which could be addressed. With Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen and Coty Sensabaugh all set to return in 2018, you have to wonder where the new draft pick would even fit.
Baker as the second round selection is the one which makes the most sense. The Steelers have a long history of drafting Ohio State players, and Baker, although undersized, is a versatile weapon the team can add to the defense. His 4.5 40-yard dash speed would certainly help the Steelers mask the loss of Ryan Shazier.
If the Steelers go with a wide receiver in the third round, I suspect it is a player they are really high on. The team has brought in a lot of mid-to-late round prospects, some receivers included in that mix, and Pettis brings with him the ability to be the punt returner the team has been looking for the past 3 years to get Antonio Brown off this duty. Pettis would also be able to fill the No. 4 receiver spot if Eli Rogers doesn’t return to full health after he tore his ACL in the Divisional round of the AFC Playoffs last year.
Again, mock drafts are nothing more than stabs in the dark, but it doesn’t mean there can’t be some validity to these predictions. I often focus on position more than player, and this is why McShay’s mock of a cornerback in Round 1 just seems off to me. What do you think about these picks? Let us know in the comment section below!