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2019 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers replace Le’Veon Bell with a talented runner from Oklahoma

Another 2019 Mock Draft, and another analyst predicting the Steelers will be replacing Le’Veon Bell with their top pick.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oklahoma vs Georgia Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft concluded just over a week ago, and several outlets are already filling the empty space with projections for the 2019 NFL Draft. While this may seem ridiculous to some, including me, there has been more and more credence to these in this online space.

The picks may be long shots, but it creates a great amount of discussion on multiple levels. What do you think of the position your team is projected to take, as well as the player predicted to go to your team in the first round of the selection process.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay released his 2019 NFL Mock Draft but did have some words to the wise before readers completely rip apart his predictions:

Let’s start by emphasizing the first part of the headline above: way-too-early. There’s a reason we use that terminology for this piece. I have not studied tape on most of these players, so Mitch Leidners do happen.

A few more important notes before we launch into my 2019 way-too-early mock draft:

Most of my evaluations below came from what I’ve been able to see watching players in person or on TV. I start watching tape next week, so we still have a ton of work to do on everyone in the 2019 class.

Last year, 12 players who were featured in my way-too-early mock draft ended up going in the 2018 first round. As we saw with Maurice Hurst, injuries or medical issues are impossible to predict and can affect draft stock.

I didn’t decide on the draft order. It was generated by Football Outsiders, using its early projected records for the 2018 season.

Underclassmen are noted with an asterisk.

With that said, it is time to see what direction he has the Pittsburgh Steelers heading with their first round of next year’s draft.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

There are off-field concerns for Anderson, but the on-field talent is clearly there. How much will he miss Dimitri Flowers as a blocker?

First, let me say the fact McShay has the Steelers picking 30th, making it to the AFC Championship game and losing, is heartbreaking enough. However, on top of this, McShay spells out the hard truth the Steelers likely won’t have Le’Veon Bell on their roster after this season.

If the Steelers were to try and place the franchise tag on Bell for a third straight year, it would cost them over $20 million dollars for one year of service. This type of deal is a no-go when handling the ever-complex salary cap. So, assuming no long-term contract will get done between the Steelers and Bell, the team needs to find their answer through the draft.

What is troubling about the pick of Anderson is how he has dealt with off-field issues while at Oklahoma. The last thing the Steelers want, or need, at this juncture is a player who has issues staying out of trouble off the football field. After dealing with Bell’s suspensions, Martavis Bryant’s suspensions and Antonio Brown’s antics on social media, there is a reason the team has put a high emphasis on character in recent drafts.

Needless to say, while the player might not match up with what the Steelers are looking for, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see the team take a running back early in the NFL Draft process if/when the team cannot come to terms on a new contract with Bell.

What do you think of the pick? Let us know in the comment section below!