With the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine almost here, I felt it was time to put my spin on this whole mock draft thing before everything kicks off on March 1st. I’m aware of “The Window” closing on Ben Roethlisberger, and also the loss of the undeniable production from the possible trade of Antonio Brown and departure of Le’Veon Bell.
With that said, let’s take a look at who is predicted to be selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Round 1 Pick 20 - T.J. Hockenson TE, Iowa
I think as Steeler fans we remember the last Tight End we drafted in the first round, and just like Heath Miller, this young man won’t disappoint. Hockenson is a great blocker with soft hands and can open up the field by running any route. With the Steelers’ outstanding Offensive Line, unlike the days of No. 83 when he had to stay in and block and could only become a safety valve instead of a true threat, Hockenson could blossom in the current offense. I get the team has Vance McDonald “The Vanimal” and could possibly resign Jesse James and this would seem like overkill, but they have to look long term in some situations because the future also matters. The great thing about this pick is it could pay off in the immediate future as well. Think two TE sets with Vance and T.J. and the versatility that brings and don’t forget — he can block.
Round 2 Pick 36 - Amani Oruwariye CB, Penn St.
I have had to go back and take a closer look into Oruwariye, his first impression was less than stellar. Digging deeper, his underneath defense of curls and comebacks are impressive. Nice ability to break back on the ball without committing penalties. Physical at the line of scrimmage, has flexibility to play press or can drop into zone. As Nick mentioned, he could be a perfect match for what the Steelers do on defense. The size and length and his overall defense is impeccable. I do think he will require help over the top on occasion, but improvement and consistency at the LOS could help with that.
Round 2 Pick 52 - Taylor Rapp SS, Washington
A true in the box thumper, one of the best tacklers in this defensive class. Won’t be confused with the athletic freaks already on the roster in Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds. What he lacks in athleticism, and it isn’t all that bad, he makes up for by being where he is supposed to be. He is just a football player, and this team needs football guys. Does show the ability to cover tight ends, so he has that to his credit.
Round 3 Pick 83 - Emanuel Hall WR, Missouri
Could be Martavis Bryant 2.0, minus the off the field stuff. Has the speed to take the top off of coverage and stretch the field, also is blessed with that other gear to create separation. As was the case with Bryant will get dinged for some drops. Unlike Bryant, Hall has a more defined route tree. Size, speed with an improvement in the technical aspects, this could be the Wide Receiver steal Steelers fans have become accustomed too seeing during the draft.
Round 4 Pick 122 - Terrill Hanks ILB, New Mexico St.
This is one of those future picks that may not present anything significant in year one, or year two for that matter, other than special teams play and at best, some sub package schemes. A position switch from Safety to ILB, Hanks showed some nice coverage skills and it is obvious the Steelers need coverage players on defense. He has work to do, but the upside is there and in all honesty he may not make it to pick 122.
Round 6 Pick 175 - Daylon Mack NT, Texas A&M
The definition of a run stuffer and occupier of blocks and space. Sound familiar? Okay, a comparison to Casey Hampton “Big Snack” may be a stretch, but the play resembles that of the former first round selection out of Texas. With all the sub-package football being played, this position group has been phased out of the defense, especially in Pittsburgh. Maybe this is exactly what the defense needs. A player that can eat up run downs and allow the Gravedigger to get spelled, so he can spell the guys on the left or right of him. Keep things fresh, so to speak.
Round 6 Pick 192 - James Williams RB, Washington St.
When a player draws comparisons to James White, this gets my attention. There is a clear need for a RB3 in Pittsburgh, and I grew accustomed to the multi-versed play of Bell. James Conner and Jaylen Samuel also provide that, but this guy is a true pass catcher that has some running ability as well. He isn’t your between the tackle kind of back, but did manage to have 12 rushing TDs this year.
Round 7 Pick 219 - Emanuel Butler WR, Northern Arizona
Yes, it’s at the FCS level, but this guy is a play maker. Great hand-eye coordination coupled with soft hands. Can make contested catches and is aware of his size and uses it to his advantage. How that translates to the next level remains to be seen, but it is certainly worth a look at pick 219.
Feel free to speak your mind about this mock draft in the comment section below!